Read labels, read labels, read labels! I can’t stress this enough. It’s up to you to spot those pesky gluten ingredients. When you’re out shopping or dining, having a list of “yes” and “no” foods is very helpful, too. Never be shy about asking a store manager for information! Many stores even have lists of the gluten-free foods they carry right at the front door. Or you might want to grocery shop with a nutritionist who’s well-versed in gluten-free lifestyles. This is particularly helpful as you begin to make the transition.
Most companies have extensive gluten-free/allergen information on their product websites as well as toll-free customer support phone numbers. Use either or both of these methods to get a clear definition of a company’s ingredients and manufacturing practices.
Attending gluten-free events will all assist you in learning about a whole new lifestyle, too, so keep your eyes open for local gluten-free events such as tastings and educational talks. (Libraries and community centers often offer talks and classes about gluten-free issues, plus you can often find gluten-free cooking classes at community centers, too.) And joining a local support group is one of the best ways to learn from and support others who are eating the same type of diet as you are.
Until you have researched a product to determine if it is gluten-free, I suggest you avoid it, particularly if it’s a more-processed product. (Example: buying tahini, lemons, chickpeas, garlic, and extra-virgin olive oil to make hummus is a safe option, whereas buying pre-made hummus is risky since manufacturers often include wheat-based soy sauce in their mixes.) It’s almost always safer to buy individual, simple ingredients and use them to prepare items yourself so that you know exactly how the food was prepared and that there was no cross-contamination.