Triumph Dining Gluten-Free Grocery Guide Review

Years ago, when we were first diagnosed with celiac disease and went grocery shopping we had to drag along a large looseleaf binder listing gluten-free foods we could safely eat. I had it organized into sections for different parts of the grocery store. Always hated having to carry around this cumbersome binder every time we went food shopping.

And back then we had to call most of the manufacturers ourselves to check to see which of their products were gluten-free. And half the time the person on the other end of the phone didn't have a clue what gluten-free was and so you had to run off a big long spiel explaining it all. And even then you'd get off the phone and wonder if they actually understood what gluten-free was and what you were really asking.

It seems the founder of Triumph Dining carried around a similar binder with a collection of hundreds of lists from hundreds of companies, too. But thankfully Triumph Dining found a way to make our lives easier when it comes to gluten-free grocery shopping.

Triumph Dining developed The Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide. The guide is currently in its 5th Edition. The 472 page guide now contains over 44,000 products and 3,300 brands. Triumph hopes the guide will help make life a bit easier for those of us following a gluten-free diet.

The Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide

The first page of the book gives a quick guide of several of the symbols or icons used in the book. Below is a short summary of these symbols and the guide also gives you a more detailed review of each symbol.

  • Reading Symbol: Gluten-free based on review of ingredient label
  • GF Lines of Facility: No chance of cross-contamination
  • Gluten Testing – products are tested for gluten content
  • Calendar – Gluten-free but based on last year’s list – the guide tells you to use caution with these items which may be out of date
  • Shared Facilities List with Procedures to Prevent Cross-Contamination
  • Products Where Cross-Contamination is Possible
  • No Icon – The company claims products is gluten free but provided no further information.

The book begins with a table of contents, introduction, General Tips for Shopping, An Overview of the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, Using the Product List and the Limitation of the Guide.

It’s organized into ten color coded chapters: 

  • Dairy & Eggs 
  • Beverages 
  • Baking Aisle 
  • Canned & Prepackaged Foods 
  • Bread, Cereal, Pasta, etc. 
  • Condiments 
  • Snacks 
  • Baby Food & Formula 
  • Frozen Foods 
  • Meat 
  • Index 
  • Ingredients Table

Each of these chapters is then broken down further into sections. The guidebook has taken one step out of your gluten-free shopping experience – they have contacted manufacturers to confirm which products they may produce that are gluten-free.

But, as I was reminded of just last week as a matter of fact, manufacturers are not always correct. I had phoned a manufacturer to ask about possible allergens in their product and was told emphatically that there weren't any. Tell that to my nauseas, bloated stomach and brain fog. Unfortunately, too, manufacturers often change their ingredients and the person who handles customer service and answers your phone calls or your emails isn't always aware of this.

How to Use this Gluten-Free Guide Book

It’s in the best interest of those following a gluten-free diet to use this book for what it was meant to be - a guide. Look through the hundreds of pages of gluten-free products. Find those you'd like to use. Then follow-up and do some research on the products you find. When you find the products in the stores, read the labels – are there any questionable ingredients that could possibly contain gluten? Search the internet for possible gluten reactions. It’s as simple as doing a search on google: “name of product” and the words “gluten reaction” and you can do the search with the quotes and also without – and then see what results you turn up. And also be sure to check out the gluten free product database at Gluten Zap to see what the gluten-free community there may have found out about a certain food or product.

My main concern with gluten-free guidebooks is that often people, especially those new to the gluten-free lifestyle, rely heavily on the book and think “Well, if it’s in the book, it’s safe for me to eat.” You have to remember this is a guidebook and will help you find products that could possibly be safe for you to eat but you really have to do some follow-up work yourself.

The Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide reminds readers of this and several other points in their "Limitations of the Guide" on pages 23 - 24. After reading over these pages then use this book as a starting point: 

  • Look through the gluten-free grocery guide 
  • Find products you’d like to try 
  • Research them further on the internet 
  • Read their ingredient labels 
  • Try only one new food or products at time to gauge if you have any reaction to it 

We have several other food intolerances and sensitivities so once we discover that a food is gluten-free, then we need to check is it dairy-free, soy-free, corn-free, yeast-free and nut-free? As you can imagine, few processed foods can meet the above criteria, but still through the guide I was able to find several more possibilities to check out further.

Triumph Dining has been helping the gluten-free community since 2005. They are publishers of the most comprehensive gluten-free restaurant guide in North America. They also produce gluten-free dining cards that come in several languages to help you order gluten-free at restaurants where language barriers can often make things even more difficult.

The Triumph Dining Gluten-Free Grocery Guide as well as their Restaurant Guide and other products can be purchased through the Triumph Dining website.

Image credit: "Supermarket Shopping" by Ambro  -

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