Where to buy Gluten Free/Lactose Free in Dubai

Buying allergy friendly food is so much easier than it was a few years ago. Here’s where you can find gluten free and lactose free products in Dubai:

  • SPINNEYS: You will find a range of dairy free milks here. They stock soy milk, rice milk and almond milk. They also have a jam that is labelled gluten free, by a company called Duerr’s. They stock quinoa, gluten free rice cakes, gluten free flours, and other gluten free snacks like cookies, macaroons and tomato-cheese sticks by Mrs Crimble’s. They also have some gluten free pastas and rice noodles as well as rice paper wrappers. I use those for samosas! I’ve also seen some small crisp sized packets containing flavoured gluten free rice cakes. These were in the section for food for infants. They even stock products by Waitrose. The most amazing think I saw was gluten free vegetable stock by Kallo! I can’t have these due to other allergies, but if you can, then hooray!
  • CHOITHRAM: The Choithram that I’ve been to in Dubai Silicon Oasis has an aisle for health conscious people. They have rice cakes, quinoa, and dairy free milk.
  • CARREFOUR: I always buy my gluten free spaghetti from here. They stock this brand called Peacock’s and have a variety of gluten free spaghetti noodles which are white rice noodles, brown rice noodles and vermicelli noodles. This is the cheapest (7-8 AED) brand of gluten free spaghetti I have found in Dubai. Most cost over 20 AED and contain corn which is something I cannot have. Carrefour also stocks lactose free milk by Al Marai. Look for it in the UHT section. They also sell soy milk but I have never seen any almond milk there.
  • LULU HYPERMARKET: I have heard about Lulu’s stocking lots of gluten free food but I don’t usually go there so I don’t know what they have. I recently found out that they stock almond milk by a brand that I’ve heard about repeatedly, especially from consumers in the US: Almond Breeze. I don’t drink this because apparently there is some amount of soy in it, but everyone gives it great reviews!
  • HYPERPANDA: They have a tiny little section dedicated to gluten free food, which makes me so pleased. There, I have seen rice crackers, Peacock’s gluten free spaghetti, and quinoa.
  • HOLLAND & BARRETT: This is a small, nifty little store just outside Hyperpanda in Dubai Festival City. They’ve got quinoa and lots of gluten free grains and flours.

You can always also go to ORGANIC FOODS AND CAFE in Dubai Mall but I don’t usually go to Dubai Mall. (Can you blame me? It’s always so crowded and takes ages to get from one end of the mall to the other!) There is also a Waitrose store there. In both stores, you will find a range of allergy friendly products. I haven’t listed any here because I’ve never been there.

For quick reference, use the lists below when you go shopping. The first list is sorted by product type, and the second is by store.

SHOPPING LIST

  • Gluten free/lactose free rice cakes in Spinneys and Choithram
  • Dairy free milk in Spinneys, Choithram, Lulu Hypermarket and Carrefour
  • Lactose free milk in Carrefour
  • Gluten free spaghetti (Peacock’s) in Carrefour and Hyperpanda
  • Gluten free flours in Spinneys and Holland & Barrett
  • Gluten free jam (Duerr’s) in Spinneys
  • Quinoa in Spinneys, Choithram, Holland & Barrett and Hyperpanda
  • Gluten free snacks and treats in Spinneys
  • Rice paper in Spinneys
  • Rice noodles in Spinneys
  • Gluten free vegetable stock in Spinneys

SHOPPING LIST

  • SPINNEYS: Gluten free/lactose free rice cakes, dairy free milk, gluten free flours, gluten free jam, quinoa, gluten free snacks, rice paper, rice noodles, gluten free vegetable stock
  • CHOITHRAM: Gluten free/lactose free rice cakes, dairy free milk, quinoa
  • CARREFOUR: Dairy free milk, lactose free milk, gluten free spaghetti
  • LULU HYPERMARKET: Dairy free milk
  • HYPERPANDA: Quinoa, gluten free spaghetti
  • HOLLAND & BARRETT: Gluten free flours, quinoa
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10 Gluten Free, Allergy Friendly Survival Tips

After having been gluten free, dairy free, almost Top 8 free for a year now, I have come up with some survival tips that I hope will help some of you.

  1. Step away from the food that anyone else offers you
    It might be rude but trust me, it’s not worth it. They could tell you that it’s gluten free but did you know that there are quite a few people who don’t know what items contain gluten? What if they added soy sauce to it? Or maybe some oats? What if it actually is gluten free but they packed the food without having washed their hands after making a sandwich? Not worth it, my friend.
  2. Beware of restaurants
    Avoid eating at restaurants unless they have a clear understanding of what it means to be gluten free. Regular restaurants will be sharing kitchen equipment, utensils, space, etc. all contributing to cross contamination.
  3. Salad dressing is your enemy
    If I go out to eat, I will sometimes have salads but skip the dressing. Unless the waiter/waitress can provide you with an ingredient/allergen list for the dressing, you’re not going to know what’s in it. Keep it simple – drizzle with olive oil or squeeze a lemon over it but skip the dressing.
  4. Always read the ingredients
    With the above being said, I cannot stress the importance of knowing what’s in your food. Even at restaurants that have allergy friendly/gluten free food, always double check the ingredients. Also, don’t forget to read the ingredients on other products like handwash, body wash, shampoos, creams and makeup. You might be surprised to see that they contain ingredients like gluten, milk, and oats. To make matters worse, they use the technical names of these items, making it harder for the common person to identify. I have gone to the extent of googling each and every single ingredient on a product to make sure that none of them are derived from offending foods. Don’t just go by the sticker that says “gluten free.” Some gluten free foods STILL contain gluten, but those amounts are apparently ‘negligible.’ Tell that to my stomach.
  5. Take note of gluten free restaurants
    Google for a list of restaurants in places that you are likely to visit often. If you have pro memory skills, store this data mentally. Otherwise, a list on your phone or in your diary/wallet will suffice. Go to the websites of these restaurants and have a look at their gluten-free menu online. If you find meals that are suitable for you, make a note of it. If you wish to call the restaurant for further clarification, do so. This way, the next time you go out with your friends, you can suggest a restaurant where you can also (finally) eat a meal with them, instead of sitting in the corner of the table away from all the gluten with an empty plate, trying hard not to let your tears fall onto it.
  6. Carry plastic spoons, hand sanitizer and tissues/wipes
    This has been a life saver. Sometimes, I carry food with me when I know I’m going to be out for long hours. Because of this, I bought a set of plastic spoons and take them with me, so that I can avoid using spoons in my friends’ houses. The reason is that sometimes, it just gets a bit awkward to have to wash the spoons in someone else’s house before eating. Also, when you’re being served and you’re given a spoon at the table, you’re just not sure whether the person handing it to you has gluten on their hands or not. It would be really weird if you’re served at the table and then get up to go wash the spoon and come back. It also helps when you’re out and you want to avoid eating with your hands (like I often do, in case I might have some gluten on me from shaking hands with people or something). The hand sanitizer and tissues or wipes work well for when you want to clean your hands before eating or after handling items that may be contaminated. It’s not always convenient to find a place to wash your hands (and honestly, I can’t always be bothered to wash my hands after coming in contact with things).
  7. Carry snacks with you
    Have you ever been at school or work, packing up, ready to go home and then you’re told that you need to put in an extra couple hours? Then your stomach starts rumbling in rebellion. Go grocery shopping and look for little snacks that you can nibble on when you’re on the go. Lately, I’ve been carrying Mrs Crimble’s Apple Flavour Rice Cakes since they come in convenient travel packs. ALWAYS carry snacks with you when you go out. Keep some in the car, throw some in your purse. You never know when you might be stuck outdoors, and for how long, without an allergen-free bite to eat. Sometimes you get so hungry that you think that you can afford to risk it and try to order a supposedly gluten free meal at a restaurant and then your stomach punishes you for it later. I used to do that. If my friends were going somewhere to eat, I’d just order fries thinking it would be safe. Potatoes, vegetable oil, salt. That seems pretty safe. Except that it wasn’t. I found out the hard way later. It’s not worth risking. It would be wise to invest in some travel sized airtight containers to pack your snacks in. I actually have a little bag that’s stacked with plastic spoons for when I eat outdoors. Pick a nice looking bag, stack it with tissues and plastic spoons and use it to carry food or snacks with you when you go out.
  8. Fruits are your friends
    When I went on holiday to India earlier this year, every time I got hungry, we’d stop by a fruit vendor and buy bananas and apples for me to eat. I still continue the practice here. Stop by any gas station or grocery store and buy bananas or any other fruit. Keeps you going for a few more hours at least! Great and healthy snack.
  9. Learn to cook
    Try replicating some of your old favourite meals without the allergens. It’s amazing that today, compared to several years ago, many allergy friendly recipes are available online. Tweak the recipes and experiment to find out what works for you. Bake cakes and indulge in cookies. Make smoothies. Give yourself a treat once in a while!
  10. Don’t cry
    I know it’s hard. I know you feel lonely. I feel awful every time I go out and can’t eat, or when I’m at a birthday celebration and everyone’s eating cake, while I stare. The good news is that over time, you will learn to cook for yourself and you will eventually come to realize that you are now eating so much healthier. Once I cut gluten out of my diet, I automatically ended up losing all the junk food. I never realized how much rubbish I had been putting into my body really. You get accustomed to living like this and then you find that it’s not so bad. You just have be a little more careful about your food choices but it’s worth it in the end. Nothing is worth the pain that comes with eating the offending foods. You’re feeling better and that’s all that matters. It’s difficult, but you can do this! 🙂

Cosmetics Companies on their Gluten Free Status

I’ve been emailing cosmetics companies to find out about how allergy friendly they are. I am on a mad hunt for safe, gluten free cosmetics. I just can’t find any in Dubai! So far, I have received responses from Annabelle/Marcelle, Avon, Beiersdorf, Boots, Ecco Bella, MaxFactor (P&G), Prestige, and Sephora.

  • ANNABELLE/MARCELLE COSMETICS
  • [22-07-2013]

“We acknowledge receipt of your email and would like to thank you again for your interest in Marcelle®and Annabelle®Cosmetics.

Further to your last email, we are pleased to inform you that the vast majority of Marcelle® products and Annabelle®Cosmetics do not contain any gluten or gluten-derived ingredients.  This should make your next purchases easier.

The products which do contain gluten and/or gluten derivatives and those you should avoid are as follows: (correction from the first email)

Gene Youth Regenerating Eye Care, Gene Youth Regenerating Day Care, Gene Youth Regenerating Night Care, Gene Youth Generating Serum Concentrate,  New.Age Comforting Foaming Cleanser, First Wrinkle Eye Contour Cream, Revival Intense Anti-Aging Eye Contour Care, Revival Intense Anti-Aging Day Care, Revival Intense Anti-Aging Night Care, Roll-On Deodorant and our I-Bronze Self Tanning Cloths.

**Regarding the tocopherol/tocopheryl acetate information ; we received confirmation that are not derived from wheat.

One issue remains: because we do manufacture products which contain gluten and its derivatives, we are unable to claim our facility a gluten-free plant.

For anyone with a known allergy or with sensitive skin, we strongly recommend always performing a patch test before using any new skin care product of any brand.

The patch test is helps determine if one may have allergic sensitivity to a product.  It is best performed by first applying the product on the inside of the wrist or elbow and wait 24 hours to observe any skin reactions or irritations.  If the skin does not present any abnormalities following the first application on the inside of the elbow, then the product may be applied on the neck.   Once again, it is best to keep the product on the skin for a minimum of 24 hours and evaluate how the skin reacts to it.  If there are no reactions on the neck, it is highly unlikely that the product would cause a reaction on facial skin.

All Content within this email is provided for informational purposes only; is not a substitute for professional medical advice, care, diagnosis or treatment. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, you should contact your professional healthcare provider through appropriate means.

We take your inquiry very seriously and hope that everything is to your satisfaction. Please do not hesitate to contact us again if we can be of further assistance to you or should you require additional information.”

UPDATED TO ADD:  “Regarding the tocopherol/tocopheryl acetate information ; we can also say that it’s  dairy, soy and corn free.”

  • AVON
  • [23-07-2013]

“We have been looking at your enquiry and unfortunately we could not find any official report about Gluten. Although Avon sells very high quality products, there is always possibility of contamination during manufacturing or changes/substitutions of ingredients. As with everything related to Celiac Disease, Dermatitis Herpetiformis and Gluten Intolerance, products, ingredients and preparation may change over time; your reactions to a specific product, ingredient may be different from the reactions of others. Like eating at a restaurant, you have to make a choice whether to consume/use a product. This means that I cannot guarantee that a product is 100% free of gluten as I have not any official report.”

  • BEIERSDORF [Labello, Nivea]
  • [18-07-2013]

“Please be informed that Tocopherol (Vitamin E) and tocopheryl acetate are widely used as antioxidants in personal care products as well as in foodstuff and in pharmaceuticals. Tocopheryl Acetate we use in our products is derived from chemical synthesis. It is therefore an inorganic ingredient and shouldn’t bear any risk for the consumer.

Moreover, The Lipcare Angel Star does not contain any ingredients derived from wheat, rye, corn, oat (containing gluten) or soy. However, it can never be excluded that small traces may be found for production reasons as our raw materials are not investigated for traces of gluten or soy.

Beiersdorf cosmetics are not specially developed for people with celiac disease. The consumer should consult a physician which cosmetics are suited. In cases of severe allergies, new cosmetic products should be tested at the treating dermatologist.”

  • BOOTS NO7 COSMETICS
  • [02-08-2013]

“Further to my colleague Kirsty’s earlier email, please find below the answers you require.

No7 Stay Precise Liquid Eyeliner – Gluten free
No7 Beautifully Matte Foundation ? contains tocopheryl acetate
No7 Lift and Luminate Foundation ? This product contains oats and soy and tocopheryl acetate
No7 Stay Perfect Blemish Cover – contains tocopheryl acetate
No7 Natural Blush Tint Powder ? contains tocopheryl acetate
No7 Intense Volume Waterproof Mascara ? Gluten free
No7 Perfect Light Loose Powder – contains tocopheryl acetate
No7 Sheer Temptation Lipstick Cuckoo Coral – Gluten free

Can you please confirm if these products are free from gluten, wheat, corn, rye, barley, oat, soy and dairy?
Are they manufactured in a gluten free facility? We cannot guarantee that our manufacturing facilities are gluten free

Do you have a list of gluten free, soy free, corn free cosmetics products available in Boots? ? No This is an ongoing piece of work we are building, however this means contacting and reviewing every raw material from every supplier which will take some time

Also, a lot of your products contain tocopheryl acetate/tocopherol/vitamin E. Where is this derived from? Can you please confirm whether the source is from gluten, soy, or corn? Yes almost all of our mascara?s and foundations contain tocopheryl acetate as it has wide spread benefits. The source that we use is synthetic”

  • ECCO BELLA
  • [19-07-2013]

“Regarding your product questions, all Ecco Bella products are 100% gluten-free, wheat, rye and barley-free and dairy-free. We do use organic extract of oat in the leave-on invisible exfoliant/blemish remedy. There is organic grain alcohol used in the parfums is derived from corn. Our vitamin e tocopherol is derived from soy and the vitamin e tocotrienol is from palm.”

  • MAXFACTOR (P&G)
  • [04-08-2013]

“Hello and thanks for taking the time to write to us.

If we add gluten, wheat or wheat extract to a product, it will be listed in the ingredients on the label. The only exception in which it won’t be listed in the ingredients on the label is if wheat or wheat extract is added to the perfume at a very low level.
If you are concerned about using a product with a perfume, we recommend you use fragrance-free products, not unscented products. Unscented products may contain a fragrance to mask the smell of the ingredients.
As our products are used on the hair and skin, it would be very unlikely that a person with a wheat intolerance or celiac disease would have a reaction from trace amounts of gluten.

If you are not sure, speak to your doctor.

Thank you again for contacting us.”

I wrote back to P&G asking if they could confirm the source of tocopherol/tocopheryl acetate in their products. This was the reply I received:

“Hello and thanks for taking the time to write to us.

All the information regarding the ingredients of our products are available at http://www.P&G.com

Thank you again for contacting us.”

  • PRESTIGE COSMETICS
  • [30-07-2013]

“We apologize for the delay in answering your request as we only just received your e-mail due to a ‘computer’ glitch.

Gluten free products are not necessarily produced in a Gluten free factory.

However, all equipment prior to manufacturing is cleaned and sterilized to prevent cross contamination.

Tocopheryl Acetate and Tocopherol used in our formulas are synthetically produced.”

  • SEPHORA
  • [31-07-2013]

“Thank you for contacting Sephora.com regarding our gluten free products.

To view a list of brands that we carry that are gluten free, please visit this Sephora Advice page:

http://community.sephora.com/t5/Products/Gluten-Free-Products/td-p/142507”