Why would gluten-free candy upset my stomach?

Amy Keller, MS, RDN, LD, is a dietitian and celiac support group leader from Bellefontaine, Ohio.




Q: I have diabetes and celiac. I bought a bag of sugar-free candy that was labeled gluten free, but my stomach got very upset after I ate several pieces. Do you think the label is wrong?

A: I think the more likely culprit is the sweeteners that are often found in sugar-free candy, gum, mints and even some medications. In candy, sugar alcohols such as xylitol and mannitol are used to sweeten with fewer calories and carbohydrates. They are derived from many sources, including some fruits, vegetables and wheat, but the final product is so refined that there is no gluten protein left. However, they can cause significant gastrointestinal upset, such as diarrhea, bloating and gas, especially when too many are consumed at one time. Be assured, however, that they don’t contain gluten.

Q:  My brother works at an Italian restaurant. He told me that the same pot of boiling water is used to cook pasta all evening long and that sometimes they cook vegetables in it too. Is that true?  


A: Yes, restaurants may use one pot of water for pasta throughout a mealtime. If you plan to order gluten-free pasta or vegetables, ask the restaurant to prepare yours in a separate pot of water that hasn’t been used to cook other food and to drain it separately. If the dish calls for sauce, ask for fresh sauce and a separate ladle that has not come into contact with gluten-containing pasta.

For more of Amy Keller’s advice on following and thriving on the gluten-free diet, check out these Q&As:

To read resident pharmacy expert Steve Plogsted’s advice and information on gluten-free medications, check out these Q&As:


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