Your Gluten Free Guide to Sweet Treats
The purpose of this article is to serve as a guide to choosing gluten-free candy. However, all candy, including gluten free candy, should be eaten sparingly.
It is understandable to want to enjoy an occasional sweet treat. But when selecting gluten-free candy it’s important to educate yourself on what candies you should avoid. And remember, moderation is key, as sugar in excess is detrimental to health.
This article will cover how to know whether or not there is gluten in candy, and will provide a list of some candy, candy bars, and chocolate that are considered gluten-free.
Note that while you may see some “traditional” candy (like those made by the mass producers Hershey, MARS, and Nestlé) marketed as gluten free, they are not recommended for a number of reasons. Primarily, these candies and chocolates contain other substances that are harmful to your health, like processed sugar, artificial dyes, inflammatory oils, and emulsifiers.
What Candy is Gluten-Free?
Candy can be a common source of a number of gluten-containing ingredients. In addition to obvious things like wheat in candy with cookie pieces, candy can also contain multiple forms of gluten that are not always obvious. Common examples of gluten on candy ingredient labels include:
- Wheat, barley, and rye – classic grains containing gluten
- Oats and oat derivatives – oats are commonly labeled gluten free despite the fact that many with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity react to them.
- Malt or maltose – a processed sweetener derived from barley
- Corn syrup – according to food label laws, corn is allowed to be labeled gluten free. The gluten found in corn is a common cause of persistent inflammation in those with celiac and non celiac gluten sensitivity.
- Rice syrup and rice crisps – like corn, rice is considered gluten free despite research showing that it too can be problematic for those with gluten sensitivity.
- Starch or modified food starch – commonly derived from wheat or corn
- MSG – otherwise known as monosodium glutamate. MSG can be fermented from wheat, corn, and other plants.
- Maltodextrin – a sugar often derived from wheat or corn.
When seeing the above terms listed on candy labels, or other packaged foods proceed with great caution. It is important to do your research on a company using these ingredients to get clarity and prevent gluten exposure. Look for a certified gluten free seal, or check the company website to ensure they manufacture in a dedicated gluten free facility. Many companies will claim that they do not use gluten ingredients, but this does not guarantee that there is no cross contamination.
Here are a few options for gluten free candy:
- Koochikoo offers organic gluten-free candy that is sweetened with prebiotic tapioca fiber
- Amrita Health Foods has gluten free bites that are sweetened with dates and balanced with chia seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut, and cacao butter.
- You can also make your own gummies using only pure fruit juice and grass-fed gelatin. Try these tart cherry gummies for a slightly sweet and collagen rich treat.
Gluten Free Candy Bars
GF candy bars are a bit trickier than traditional sweet candy, since they are more likely to contain cookie or graham-based ingredients. Here are a few recommended options for gluten-free candy bars:
- Eating Evolved Chocolate Bars are paleo, vegan, and gluten free. They are lightly sweetened with organic coconut sugar.
- Hu Kitchen candy bars are certified gluten free and made with real, simple ingredients. They are also vegan, paleo, organic, and fair trade.
- High quality food bars like Bearded Brothers or Thunderbird Bars can stand in for a traditional candy bar when you are craving something sweet. They also offer protein, fiber, and healthy fat for a blood sugar balancing snack that feels a bit indulgent.
Is chocolate Gluten-Free?
Pure chocolate is indeed gluten free. However, chocolate is rarely eaten in its pure form. Since pure chocolate isn’t sweet or creamy, manufacturers typically add sugar and milk (more about dairy on a gluten free diet here) to chocolate to make it more appealing.
While traditional gluten-free candy should be avoided due to its potential for cross contamination and toxic ingredients, there are some better options available made with higher quality ingredients that are safe and satisfying. Just remember, all candy, even gluten-free candy, should be eaten sparingly.