First Step to Finding Gluten

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by Jennifer Fugo on March 1, 2011

I remember the moment that I received word that gluten and I needed to ‘break up.’   It had been a wonderful love affair of pasta, pastries and bread for most of my life growing up in an Italian family.  This news was pretty devastating for me.  At the time, it honestly felt like a curse.  I even joked that somebody turned the ‘evil eye’ on me… a lover of all things glutenous.  Though I felt like sulking, the first step to actually addressing my situation was to educate myself on gluten and what I’d need to generally avoid.

What’s gluten anyway?

Gluten is a spongy protein that naturally occurs in certain grains.  You could probably think of it as ‘nature’s glue.’  It literally helps things stick together.  The best example- gluten gives bread and other baked goods their beloved squooshiness.  It binds together ingredients and can also act as a thickener.  So, can you see why it is used in so much processed food?  ‘Nature’s glue’ certainly gets around!

From here, you’ve got to learn the language of gluten in order to know where its found.  Gluten is a common ingredient in many products on the market to make them ‘better’ in a certain way that’s more appealing to customers.  Though I could point you to long lists that are, frankly, overwhelming with glutenous ingredient names, its best to go one step at a time.

Keep it Simple

First comes first.  Understand the basics and keep the process simple.  It will help you to remember what you need to avoid and you can slowly grow the list upon this foundation.  To help you, I’ve got a great acronym that my nutritionist Samantha Grant shared with me.


B – barley

R – rye

O – oats which are contaminated and NOT marked gluten-free

W – wheat (all varieties are included)

S – spelt

Though this list is a general rule of thumb, it can be tremendously helpful if you’ve no clue where gluten comes from.  Plus, the list makes it easy to explain to others who don’t understand where to find gluten.  Remember, the simplest explanation can sometimes be the best one.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

thehealthyapron March 2, 2011 at 7:20 am

I can only imagine how hard it is to break up with gluten! I have plenty of people I know that need to follow a gluten free lifestyle. I like your acronym: BROWS! REally easy to remember!


Jennifer Fugo March 2, 2011 at 12:59 pm

It was quite tricky to do, but it’s possible! The acronym is a huge help, so please share it and if you know of anyone that could benefit from my upcoming call, then let them know!!!


Laury @thefitnessdish March 2, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Very exciting, Jen! Will have to pass the word along!


Jennifer Fugo March 2, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Thanks so much Laury!! I appreciate your help! 🙂


Kris | March 3, 2011 at 2:17 pm

I will be on this call!! I can’t wait for all your knowledge to fill our ears and hearts!!

Keep rockin it girl!



Jennifer Fugo March 3, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Thanks Kris for your words of encouragement and enthusiasm!


Dom Castaldo August 26, 2012 at 2:04 pm

I enjoyed your article about gluten.


Deborah Berry January 31, 2013 at 6:44 am

Very useful information!!!!


Judy Ccarbone November 11, 2013 at 6:00 pm

I have been having serious arthritic joint pain issues and I have been told the cause of the severity is gluten. So here I am educating myself. I look forward to reading more articles.


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