What are Some Gluten Free Snacks?

We’ve all done it: eaten something between meals. (It must be the hobbit in us.) When you’re on a gluten free diet, however, it’s important to be aware of what snacks are gluten free; inexpensive; and healthy. Even snacks labeled “gluten free” can be problematic for someone with celiac disease. Often, too, manufacturers make gluten free products with large amounts of refined sugar. There are plenty of safe options, however, and that’s what this article addresses.

As you try out gluten free snacks, pay attention to what your gut is telling you. If a certain snack is giving you digestive trouble, it might be time to eat something else. Your body’s trying to heal itself, and foods that are harder to digest won’t help.

Natural Snacks

Of course, natural, less processed snacks are a great way to go. Not only are they fewer in filler or “mystery” ingredients (like “natural flavors”), but they’re often easier on your digestive tract. Some examples could include:

Fruits, such as apples, oranges, clementines, plums, or fresh berries.

Vegetables, including carrot sticks, celery, or sweet potato chips.

Nuts, lightly salted, unsalted or raw (but make sure the brand you buy is gluten free). More and more stores are selling raw nuts these days, making them an easy-to-digest snack that’s also easy to get your hands on.

Dried fruits, including apples, pineapple, raisins, cranberries and banana chips. Do be aware that sugar content may be higher in dried fruits than their fresh counterparts. Craisins, for example, actually have added refined sugar. Their total sugar content per 1/4 cup serving is a whopping 29 grams!

Processed Snacks

There are hundreds of gluten free snacks out there, and at least a few should be available in stores near you.

Unfortunately, many gluten free products (especially baked goods) replace gluten with extra sugar, so you really need to check labels here, even if a product’s labeled “organic,” “healthy,” or “all natural.” One example is the Soft Baked Snickerdoodle cookie from Enjoy Life, a popular gluten free brand. The first two ingredients are brown pure cane sugar, and juice concentrate.

Warning aside, there are decent gluten free snacks out there:

Crackers made from rice, tapioca, corn or other gluten-free flours.

Snack bars (but watch the sugar content here), including many Kind and Brookside products.

Fruit snacks (again, watch the sugar).

Many chip varieties, including tortilla and most Utz chip products.

Jerky, whether beef, chicken or even, in some stores, squid.

Trust, But Verify

Whatever you decide to snack on, always, always check the label. Something that’s “naturally gluten free” may still come into contact with gluten during the production process. Most products will warn of any potential cross contamination near the ingredients list.

Something marked with a “certified gluten free” label should always be a safe bet. Look for this emblem:

It represents a “safe” zone for individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Products that are certified gluten free have been tested for gluten amounts as low as 20 ppm (20 parts per million), a level deemed safe by the FDA.

Shop Around

Gluten free baked goods and other products are often more expensive than their gluten counterparts. It pays to shop around, comparing prices at your local stores. Some goods—Rice Chex, for example—remain constant (and cheap), but other products may vary in price significantly.

In Summary

To sum up:

Look for natural snacks that are low in sugar and easy to digest.

Avoid baked snacks (or any other snack) with large amounts of sugar.

Check for the “Certified Gluten Free” label.

It pays to shop around.

Adjusting to a gluten free lifestyle takes time, but it is possible. Happy snacking!

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