Gluten-free pizzas are made for people who are gluten intolerant, have wheat sensitivities, or avoid gluten for health or lifestyle reasons. They’re made with digestive comfort in mind and often have a healthier reputation than traditional pizzas.
But, there have been instances where people have reported feeling sick or bloated after eating GF pizza. So, you’re not alone if you’ve ever felt something you shouldn’t have after indulging in a gluten-free pie.
But what’s causing this? Is it cross-contamination or something else entirely?
Often, the reasons you may be feeling discomfort or bloated after eating a gluten-free pizza are because of the alternative ingredients used in the crust or the toppings, or there are higher amounts of gluten traces in your pizza than you can tolerate and could very well be contaminated.
Let me give you a quick rundown of what I mean by alternative ingredients and higher amounts of gluten traces and offer some tips on what you can do to avoid eating gluten-free pizzas that don’t sit well with you.
Alternative Ingredients in Gluten Free Pizzas
Gluten-free crusts are typically made with a combination of non-wheat flours such as rice, almond, chickpea, tapioca flour, refined starches such as corn, tapioca, and potato starch, and binding and thickening agents such as xanthan gum, eggs, or yeast.
You’re probably already consuming all of these ingredients in your other foods.
But these ingredients are often in higher amounts in gluten-free pizzas because they are trying to mimic the texture and taste of traditional wheat-based crusts, and if any of them don’t agree with your digestive system, they can easily cause bloating or discomfort.
What to do?
Keep Track and Identify Patterns
Well, there’s some food-detective work to be done on your end.
Obviously, you need to have some knowledge of your food sensitivities and intolerances. But beyond that, identifying patterns can also help.
Does bloating or discomfort occur when you eat a store-bought or a restaurant GF pizza? Does it happen with all GF crusts or just certain types (almond flour vs. rice flour)? Is it only when you have a particular topping on your pizza?
Keep track of what ingredients or toppings are triggering discomfort and try a different recipe because not all GF crusts or pizzas are made of the same ingredients.
For instance, Trader Joe’s plain GF crust is mainly made of cauliflower, cornstarch, and rice flour, whereas Schar’s GF crust is made of cornstarch, rice flour, and potato starch. Maybe one will work better for you than the other.
So, next time you’re eating gluten-free pizza, pay closer attention to how your belly responds and do a quick research on the ingredients used in your crust and toppings.
Use Apps to Look Up Ingredients and Allergens
Speaking of researching ingredients, there are mobile apps that can look up and categorize ingredients in packaged foods, as well as tell you if they contain common allergens like gluten or dairy.
These apps greatly help people who want to track the ingredients in their packaged foods and see the preservatives used.
They’re free and have paid upgrades for added features, so use them to better understand what’s going into your GF pizza and if it contains any allergens or ingredients, you may want to avoid.
Higher Amounts of Gluten Traces
When we’re talking about higher gluten traces, for the most part, we’re talking about cross-contamination.
Cross-contamination can happen in the manufacturing process, where gluten-free pizza products are made, or it can also occur during food preparation and cooking at pizza restaurants.
It’s important to know whether your discomfort and/or bloating occurs when you eat a store-bought or restaurant GF pizza or even both to determine if cross-contamination may be a factor.
Usually, cross-contamination is an issue with pizzas made at restaurants since most pizza places also serve traditional wheat crust pizzas and use the same equipment and surfaces to make them.
But I suppose it can also be possible with premade frozen pizzas.
So, here’s what I recommend doing.
What to do?
Look for Gluten-Free Certification Seal
For store-bought frozen GF pizzas, check if they have a gluten-free certification from organizations like the Gluten Intolerance Group or National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.
This certification means that their products are made in a facility where gluten cross-contamination is controlled and monitored, reducing the risk of it occurring during manufacturing.
For the restaurants, however, it won’t be as easy.
Inquire About Pizza’s Prep and Cooking
To begin with, most pizza restaurants will have a disclaimer saying they cannot guarantee their gluten-free pizzas are completely gluten-free due to possible cross-contamination in their kitchen, which is where most cross-contamination is likely to occur anyway.
But it still doesn’t hurt to inquire about their GF pizza’s preparation and cooking process.
Do they have dedicated equipment or surfaces for preparing and cooking it? Do they at least take any precautions like changing gloves or using separate utensils or even a separate area for cooking it?
For instance, I did reviews of MOD’s, Pieology, and Blaze’s gluten-free pizzas, and during my visit, I noticed that the staff at Blaze Pizza were much more cautious and knowledgeable about cross-contamination when it came to their gluten-free crusts.
MOD’s and Pieology employees took preventive measures as well, but Blaze’s were super careful about it, so I felt more confident in their preparation.
The moral of the story is that if you feel any bloating or discomfort when eating at a pizza restaurant, for the sake of your belly, you need to choose your pizza place very carefully to make sure you’re not unintentionally eating more gluten than you can tolerate.
And the best way to find the best option for you is to ask about their prep method and observe how cautious and knowledgeable they are about cross-contamination.
And, of course, always listen to your own body and how it reacts to the pizza you’re eating.
Ultimately, we all have sensitives and intolerance to different ingredients, so we have to do our own research and understand what works best for our bodies.
Gluten-free pizzas work out great for millions of people who have adopted the gluten-free diet for medical or lifestyle reasons, but it’s important to also be aware that they’re not necessarily free of other allergens people may have.
I, myself, can’t tolerate sugar substitutes like xylitol or sugar alcohols, and the way I learned this was through trial and error, as well as keeping track of my reactions to different foods containing these substitutes.
So, a bit of researching and tracking ingredients will go a long way in finding the best and safest pizza you can comfortably enjoy!