chalkboard with "gluten free" written on it and chocolate dripping down

What’s the Difference Between Gluten-Free and Gluten-Friendly Foods?

People have different reasons for choosing gluten-free diets. For most of them, it’s a physical necessity. They have either been diagnosed with Celiac disease or suffer from a similar sensitivity to gluten. Labels like gluten-free and gluten-friendly have a special meaning for them, and their health depends on being able to trust them.

Gluten Dietary Restrictions

Celiac disease is actually an autoimmune disease. There are many different autoimmune diseases that have different causes, but they all involve the overreaction of the body’s immune system. The immune system attacks healthy cells in the body and causes damage to these cells. In the case of Celiac disease, ingesting gluten results in the inflammation of the walls of the small intestine, which keeps the body from being able to absorb nutrients. The results can be neurological disorders, some kinds of cancers, reduction in bone density, and malnutrition. Celiac disease is also accompanied by several uncomfortable and painful symptoms.

For others, avoiding gluten is a lifestyle choice. Some believe that it can aid in weight loss and that foods that contain gluten are high in carbohydrates. For example, ketogenic diets allow foods that are low in gluten and are followed by individuals who want to lose weight or to manage certain medical conditions in addition to Celiac disease.

Understanding Nutrition Labels

That’s why it’s so important to understand the difference between labels. Misunderstood labels or the failure to be certain that a food meets gluten-free standards causes a lot of misery for people who can’t tolerate gluten. The term “gluten-free” is a definition that has been determined by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Foods labeled “gluten-free” must contain less than 20 ppm (parts per million) of gluten or be certified to be free of barley, rye, or wheat. Additionally, the food cannot contain any product derived from a wheat/barley/rye source that has not been processed to remove gluten and if it does, it must not contain over 20 ppm of gluten.

Gluten-friendly is another matter entirely. The term has no standard definition and is not government-regulated so it could literally mean anything from gluten-free to the inclusion or presence of any amount of gluten in a food product. People with sensitivity or Celiac disease need to be especially careful of this label and should always get more information before trusting that the food they receive will be harmless to eat.

Being on a gluten-free diet doesn’t mean that you have to deprive yourself of your favorite foods. There are many gluten-free treat options nowadays, which is great for gluten-sensitive individuals. Fernwood Candy offers many choices of gluten-free chocolate delights that include dark and milk chocolate mint sandwiches, peppermint , almond, and cashew bark, and pecan logs. We provide full disclosure of allergen information so that you can be certain you will receive an indulgent confection that is both delicious and safe to eat. Visit one of our stores or our website to discover all of our decadent creations and to join our mailing list to receive special offers.