5 Things to Do When You’ve Been Glutened

April 10th, 2014 at 6:06 am
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What to Do When You've Been Glutened | Tips from Hallie at DailyBitesBlog.com

Getting glutened is the pits. Let’s just get that out of the way right off the bat.

If you’re sensitive to gluten or have celiac disease, consuming even the smallest bit can send you straight to couch (or the bathroom…) within less than an hour. Symptoms range in severity and variety, but you’ll most commonly experience stomach pain or cramping, a feeling of indigestion, diarrhea, fatigue, bloating, headaches, and swelling and/or water retention.

For the first time in years, I got glutened last weekend. I prepare almost all of my food myself, rarely eat out, and take great care in situations that pose potential risk for cross contamination. So how did I get glutened? Simple: I got lazy.

I failed to read a label, assumed the food was gluten-free, and threw it down the hatch. My stomach cramps a few hours later prompted me to go back and read the label. Good old barley and rye greeted me in bold black ink.

I could have sworn any number of bitter profanities at the package! I was so upset with myself for making a “rookie mistake.” How many times have I given talks and classes where I’ve told people to never, ever skip reading a label and to never, ever make assumptions? It still frustrates me to think about my mistake.

After I cooled down, I realized that beating myself up over the whole episode would do no good. Even the most seasoned among us slip up from time to time.

While I hope that you aren’t getting glutened frequently—and while I hope that I don’t get glutened again for a long time (forever would be nice)—the fact is that we live in an imperfect world. Mistakes and slip ups are going to happen.

So let’s take a look at 5 things to do when you’ve been glutened. These are steps that I took last weekend and will continue to take in the future.

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1. Stop, drop, and rest.

I know. We all hate being slowed down. But the single most beneficial gift you can give your body during such a stressful physiological experience is rest. Cancel any obligations that you can and stay home. Don’t hit the gym and try to “push through.” Your body will be focusing all of its attention on fighting off the offender and repairing the damage done. Give it time to do its job.

We’re all totally unique, so your body might bounce back quickly (within 8-12 hours)…or your symptoms could go on for a while. I have friends that won’t feel back to “themselves” for a full 7 days. In my case, it took about 3 days.

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2. Guzzle back the fluids.

When in doubt, water is the answer to so many health issues! While it won’t “fix” what’s just happened to your body, it will help flush out excess fluids and toxins, helping to reduce bloating. For the ultimate anti-bloat cocktail, sip warm water with lemon and ginger (and add some fennel seeds if you have them).

If you experience diarrhea as a symptom, it’s all the more important to stay super hydrated. You can also sip coconut water in small amounts (3-4 ounces at a time) to replenish electrolytes.

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3. Drink broth.

The day that I accidentally got glutened, I just so happened to be simmering a fresh batch of bone broth. What luck! I’ve been enjoying mugs of it ever since to both soothe the intestinal tract and replenish with supportive minerals and collagen.

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but store bought broth won’t cut it. Most broths are very thin and taste mostly like seasoned water. The nutrient profile isn’t nearly as optimal as homemade. (Many broths also pack in preservatives, sky-high amounts of salt, and even MSG and gluten extractives. YIKES.)

My approach: Always keep a few jars of broth in the freezer. Then, when tragedy strikes, they’re ready and waiting for me!

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4. Eliminate allergenic foods.

After getting glutened, your system will be on high alert for incoming offenders. Commonly allergenic foods could easily be “red flagged” by your body and therefore trigger another autoimmune response, sending you deeper into the throws of your symptoms. For at least the first week after the gluten episode, avoid cross-reactive foods like gluten-free grains (including quinoa, millet, and corn), dairy, and—depending on your sensitivity level—eggs and nuts.

I personally avoided grains, dairy, and eggs in the first several days after my glutening and kept nuts and seeds low. Focus on a diet rich in healing foods like broth, sweet potatoes or winter squash, vegetables, fruits, organic meats, and quality fats like olive oil, avocados, and coconut oil.

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5. Add probiotics.

Probiotics are essential to getting back on the road to supportive gut health. If you already take a good quality probiotic daily, consider increasing your dose for a week or two to inoculate your GI tract with beneficial bacteria. I also love incorporating probiotic-rich foods like raw sauerkraut and lacto-fermented vegetables (my friends Ali and Tom have a great video tutorial here). Stay away from yogurt or kefir until you’re fully recovered to prevent a dairy cross-reaction.

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Popping up online and in some health food stores these days are supplements that supposedly help to break down gluten more easily. I’ve never tried them so I can’t vouch for their effectiveness.

But what I can say is that no pill or potion can make it all better. They might offer some relief if taken soon enough, but thorough healing is a process that takes time and patience.

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Now it’s your turn: What action steps do you take when you’ve been glutened? Leave a comment and share your experience below.

 

 

Comments

  1. Stephanie M said on April 10, 2014 at 7:24 am

    Hallie,
    This is a great post! I, too, am very careful….but sometimes it just happens. I usually can’t trace where the exposure came from. One of my first defenses is quercitin. I take it often until I can feel some of the inflammation leaving my system. It really helps me.
    Hope you are feeling better now!
    Stephanie

  2. I take charcoal at the first sign of poisoning. Fortunately it rarely happens but I carry charcoal in my truck and my swim bag and I keep it in the house. Tonic water also helps (or Alka Seltzer Gold…but only that one). I rely heavily on the charcoal though because it’s easy to keep handy.

  3. Thanks for the tips, I hope you feel better soon! I had never thought of eliminating other highly allergenic foods but it makes sense, thanks again for the info :)

  4. Sally T. said on April 12, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    I got Glutened so bad~this time the worst,it lasted three weeks and counting.Istarted with throwing up,continued with the diarrhea.I know from past experience that I do dehydrate fast,so knowing that I do have to drink a lot of water.I also,drank much ginger ale,thankfully,on the mend now,but I pray that I never get that sick again.

  5. When I get “glutenized” I take L-Glutamine! It is an amino acid that helps to repair the intestines, essentially. it works every time for me by speeding up the recovery.

  6. I find digestive enzymes can help a little if I realize I’ve been glutened soon enough.

  7. Doris Parker said on April 14, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Thank you for a Great article. I have been gluten free since Nov 2013 and I have tried to never mess up bit I have a few times and realize that I have to be more careful!! Thanks for tips.. I sure need them!

  8. A nice warm bath with lots of Epsom salts really helps me. It gets rid of my joint pain and the salts help to detox my body. Plus nice soothing herbal teas. I have a few specially for gastric distress.

  9. I take lots and lots of hot soaks in the tub, chew Nauzene (I should buy stock in that) and drink Pedialyte (the orange is my fave, best served cold – I should buy stock in this, too).

  10. Tammy Thomason said on April 14, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Its bad enough when your gluten free but try when you cant have milk,egg,peanuts,orange also.

    • Stephanie Cook said on April 15, 2014 at 11:07 pm

      Let’s not compare how challenging one’s dietary restrictions are. Some have it better than you, and some are worse off than you–in our house we have to avoid the top 8 allergens, plus gluten, sunflower, pea, onion, quinoa, carrageenan/agar, chicory/inulin, lettuces. And I’m sure there are many who have to avoid even more than we do!

  11. I’m glad I came across this blog, I was at my sisters for dinner Saturday night and I’m always careful but something didn’t agree with me and the cramping & diarrhea kicked in, it doesn’t happen often but when it does I drink water, rest and eat low key the next couple of days to get back on track. Thanks for the info. .

  12. This happened last night and I had that wanting to die feeling. I am glad to read this. I did take into account some of the things on the list, but it is always nice to see what others are doing. I was definitely not thinking in the right mind last night.

    Thank you for the post!

  13. It’s happened to me before too. Apple Cider Vinegar and Kombucha are also great for when you’ve been *glutened*.

  14. great post to read, full of lots of very useful info, explains the last week to me my daughter made me a sandwich and used the wrong bread (She later said well you didn’t have any bread) explains why i was on the loo within the hour and had a bad tummy for the next 4 days. Wish i had read this post then. Hope you fell better soon too too all of us who been “glutenized” in the last few weeks

  15. I take Benadryl to help with any sinus issues that it gives me, and i take tylenol to help with headaches, and I take Drenamin by Standard Process to help my adrenal glands recover from the exhaustion and anxiety that the gluten gives me. Plus I take probiotics and Zypan by Stand Process for any stomach discomfort. Then I bathed in Epson salt bath to help me detox the gluten out of my body and sometimes I may have to sleep with a heating pad or ice packs on my stomach depending on the severity of the bloating and stomach cramps.

    • I just looked into the diff things ppl take to recover, to add to my list of supports…but when I looked up the thing you suggested (Drenamin, it had wheat listed in ingredients) Here is the list from website:
      Proprietary Blend: 730 mg
      Calcium lactate, defatted wheat (germ),
      bovine liver, bovine adrenal, porcine stomach, nutritional yeast, bovine adrenal PMGTM
      extract, choline bitartrate, alfalfa extract, dried buckwheat (leaf) juice, buckwheat (seed), magnesium citrate, oat flour, mushroom, bovine bone, para-aminobenzoate, allantoin, porcine brain, veal bone, carrot (root), soybean lecithin, rice (bran), and mixed tocopherols (soy).
      Other Ingredients: Honey, cellulose, niacinamide, ascorbic acid, calcium stearate, riboflavin, and pyridoxine hydrochloride.
      Three tablets supply approximately:
      50 mg bovine adrenal and 40 mg bovine adrenal PMGTM extract.

  16. For the bloating and pain : Two drops of peppermint essential oil (I use Young Living) mixed with a small amount of a carrier oil (almond, coconut, etc) and massaged across the stomach will greatly relieve the discomfort.

  17. I’m currently in the renovation/eventually moving process, and have been relying on eating out more than I would like. I’ve been glutened maybe 4-5 times in the last 3 months, the last time being Saturday night. Charcoal pills definitely saved me and made me somewhat functional Sunday for a kid’s birthday party.!

  18. Do probiotics really help on a daily basis? If so
    Please suggest several good ones! Gluten
    fatigue is the worse.

    • Saccharomyces boulardii is a strain that is talked about a lot when in association to celiac, chrohns, and other intestinal problems. I’ve noticed a difference in taking just one Garden of Life Primal Defense Ultra every morning. (No telling what would happen if I upped it to 3 a day!!) I also notice I don’t feel as well if I go too long without them. I buy mine from Vitacost because they are like half the price compared to those in our small town health food store. Other brands have the strain, I just like this one, personally. (I’ve was diagnosed celiac in Nov. 2010.)

    • Ther-biotic Complete by Klaire Labs is the best!
      I have tried many and my nutritionist recommended these. The best! My son has also been taking these, or the chewable kid version when he was a little guy. No issues getting him to take them either! Grampa will also do the chewable kids ones too!! So from age 6 to 70, they are the best!

    • Stephanie Cook said on April 15, 2014 at 11:12 pm

      Just make sure whatever brand/kind you buy is pharmaceutical grade! Otherwise you’re wasting your money and not getting the supplement. (I had been told this too, but recently discovered just how true it was! For example: Melatonin did nothing for me (I would take 5 and they would have NO effect); now, once I switched to a pharmaceutical grade one, it actually works to help me sleep!)

  19. Christine said on April 14, 2014 at 10:43 am

    I take a product I found called Glutenease 2X and it really helps break down any gluten OR dairy that I have accidentally ingested. Also probiotics, lots of them!

  20. Great blog! Thanks for addressing this unpleasant topic. The tips about bone broth, quercetin, and charcoal are awesomely helpful! Me, personally, the first thing I do is force myself to throw-up. But my symptoms are maybe as acute as they can be without being anaphylactic: I get a migraine in minutes. So my motivation is very strong to get the poison out as quick as I can.

    Another tip I can share is Gluten-Flam by Apex Energetics. I find it helps my body recover more quickly from an incident. Here are some reviews: http://www.amazon.com/Apex-Energetics-Gluten-Flam-K-52-Capsules/product-reviews/B007K7LFN2

  21. Lots of extra water, a sugary drink to help fight the fatigue and generally plain food is a must. So irritating and frustrating when we’re so careful but what a motivation to keep on the gluten free path!

  22. First and foremost you’re assuming that everyone’s symptoms with gluten are digestive. That’s just not the case a great many ppl with gluten sensitivity have no digestive reaction at all so they have no immediate response to having beeglutenated. It’s frustrating to see bloggers that get ppl thinking that gluten intolerance symptoms are shown by digestive responses. You’re leading ppl to believe the only symptoms are bathroom related, not the case. Please know that gluten symptoms might not show up for 3 days. It might be joint pain, swelling, it might be a sore throat, difficulty breathing, asthma issues, it might be a headache, fatigue, sinus issues, ear ache, and the list goes on and on. You’re fortunate if you have the digestive sign so you can immediately respond but many aren’t aware that their symptoms are a result of getting gluten in their diet. That all said food enzymes are a must for all of us, they help the body process our foods regardless of gluten. Juicing to help the liver process is another helpful resource. Histamine blocker can help depending on your response. Curcumin and fish oil for those with joint pain. Most importantly keep the diet simple and no refined sugars

    • Diane Decker said on April 15, 2014 at 12:18 pm

      I agree that not all symptoms happen quickly. Several times lately I have been glutened by my non-GF adult children (we all share one home). They put their dishes in the dishwater without scraping or rinsing, letting the sludge drift to the sink strainer. I come along to wash dishes, no dishwasher, and have a strainer full of gluten and no one home to clean it out. Every time they have real spaghetti, I get a headache, fatigue, irritability, but no digestive issues. Once, they left for the long weekend without cleaning up their spaghetti pot (soaking in the sink) and the crumb-filled garlic bread pan on the counter, dishes with leftover spaghetti sitting every where. I couldn’t make myself something to eat until they returned. None of us realized how this would affect me, but young twentyish people think I’m just being a drama queen. We’re all very new at this, didn’t even know what cross-contamination was until after the spaghetti incident. I have never gotten the digestive problems since going GF, but the muscle aches, headache are the worst.

    • agree my gluten symptoms are more pain, headaches muscular pain fatigue I feel these symptoms becoming stronger and stronger each time (though I try) and they now last longer and longer sometimes over a week I have been a diagnosed coeliac since 1999

  23. This is helpful, though it tends to take so much longer to be back to normal. It’s weeks after I have a bad one. The worst is over that quickly, but the fatigue and joint aches go on longer. I become sensitive to dairy, betacarotine (so sweet potatoes are out),sugars, grains and seeds, and high fiber veggies, too. So for about 3 days it’s water water water and mild stuff like GF white toast, simple GF crackers or pretzels and of course extra vitamins. I can usually start doing some juice fairly soon. But if I overdo it with food too quickly after, I am right back where I started and it takes that much longer to overcome. I also tend to have the ‘glutened’ symptoms when in high stress or after I have a stomach bug. It took years to get the right diagnoses, so I wonder if I have a lot of irreparable damage.

  24. I was glutened by a gluten free fiber supplement used to help control my cholesterol. Less than 20ppm is what they said on the package. Well, that’s not gluten FREE then!! A couple of cups of hot tea made with fennel seeds boiled in water really calms down the ouch for me.

  25. I use ACV every day

  26. Lisa Long said on April 14, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Whenever I get glutened, I drink plenty of fluids and try to rest as much as I can. For the next day, at least, sometime two days I have a stand by that I can eat that is very gentle on my system. I eat Gerber Rice baby cereal with pureed banana mixed in. I realize that it doesn’t sound very appealing but trust me, after a day or two of the horrible symptoms that accompany being glutened, the fear of eating anything is very real and I know for a fact that I can tolerate this and helps me keep up my strength.

    • Gerber Baby food contains Gluten.
      Not in Swedish baby food, they ban gluten in all baby food. % of celiac & autism have dropped over there.

  27. A couple months ago I got glutened for the first time in about a year after eating at a restaurant that I had eaten safely at many times before. Usually I have unbearable pain for about 12 hours, and then 2-3 days of feeling generally useless to the world. This time I used raw apple cider vinegar for the first time, chugging 1-2 TB of it every hour for the first few hours. It took the edge off the pain and it stopped hurting after 6 hours, so definitely helped a lot, but I still had a few days of feeling non-functional. After that episode I learned about Gluten Digest (digestive enzymes), and now take that whenever I eat out or fear cross-contamination. Can’t say for sure whether it works, but I haven’t had any episodes since I started taking it. Thanks for all the tips above – I’m glad to know about the helpfulness of bone broth and charcoal, and the importance of avoiding allergenic foods for a while.

  28. I was told to eat applesauce (I like the one with cinnamon in it or plain) But found that Pineapple juice works lots faster. If i have a hard time getting the juice down I do 1/2 juice and 1/2 Ginger ale (Be sure to read the label). These really work fast. There is also Gluten Ease our there. Agreed on the rest and relaxation also.

  29. I am also very careful and rarely eat out but one time they were out of Rudi’s original so I thought I picked up the Multi grain gf…nope…I picked the wrong one up and knew 20 mins later when the nausea and gas started….I too read the labels but not this time….It was coming out both ends for hours…I just latex on the bathroom floor until that was over(4 hours later) I hope I don’t make that mistake again…these tips are good to know for that rare time I let my guard down..thank you

  30. I find drinking Kombucha as soon as I find out helps to settle the stomach upset. It dosen’t help the hives and skin issues, but getting the gi tract settled down is a big plus.

  31. Thanks for the idea, guys! I “glutened” myself pretty bad a little while back on an oatmeal extravaganza (surprise! I react to those to now!) and got the belly blowout, excruciating pain, and that exhaustion that feels like you’ve ODed on Nyquil. The only thing that helped my stabbing stomach pain was an anti inflammatory (Aleve), but my herbalist friend just told me about Turmeric and bromelain (?) , as a powerful natural anti inflammatory. I also drank Muscle Pharm L-Glutemine powder (it repairs leaky gut!) And sulphur powder (also helps repair the body.) If you like charcoal, try Bentonite Clay powder! You can mix it into water and drink it, bathe in it to pull out toxins, and even make a poultice to put on your stomach. I got all these things from Amazon. (Lots of helpful tips in the reviews sections.)

  32. Gail Coulter said on April 14, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    When I get glutened I do eat the yogurt, because it has the probiotics that I crave. I have had a problem with the yogurt re acting on me. I also, sleep a ton, I also, don’t eat for about the first week accept the yogurt. No solids for me. Than slowly I re introduce food starting with scrambled eggs minus the milk and I build from there with some boiled chicken and carrots. Than from there I work in vege’s and salad and my usual diet.

  33. Sydney Crumbleholme said on April 14, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    When this happens to me I take the Gluten Cutter. I get it at Walgreens. It comes in a little green box, and it’s $10 or $15! Each box has 30 pills. It breaks down the amino acid chains so they are small enough to digest. I feel results within 10 minutes.

  34. I take some turmeric for the inflammation. I’m not sure it helps

  35. Angela MacVicar said on April 14, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    I have only been diagnosed for 5 months and so just finding my way around it all and I suppose making mistakes is the way we learn.
    Strangely enough I have been an Arbonne distributor for 6 years and never realised the importance of these products being gluten free, nor did I consider that my skin care can be absorbed through my skin! Not sure if this made much difference I am glad I choose to be totally gluten free. I now take Arbonne digestive enzymes daily and their protein shakes which use pea cranberry and rice protein.
    I feel this energises me and gives me the extra vitamins which doesn’t go wrong. Recently I have been taking their calcium also. Drop me a line and I can show you how to get these at a discount if you want. Arbonneglasgow@myarbonne.co.uk
    Good luck to you all, this is a horrid thing to deal with but just being careful can make such a huge difference in your life.

  36. This last time I took 20mg Prednisone once a day for two days in a row to calm my immune system. It really seemed to reverse my symptoms of fatigue, belly aches, and dermatitis.

    • some brands of prednisone have gluten in them, found out the hard way, remember to check medications too

  37. I have been gluten free since 2009, my sensitivity the dr say is one of the worst. In August I was poisoned while at a bike event. I ended up on an ambulance with my stomach in spasms that would not stop. Upon arriving at the ER I had a great dr. Did blood work & put an IV in & ordered a whole round of medication but one really helped, it was Phenergen. He came back and told me my white cell count was horrible, my body was fighting a losing battle. I was lucky I came bt ambulance and got there when I did. I carry and eppi pen and never even thought of it, it hit too fact and had no clue what it was, was out of it for some time. Now all my friends realized and is is talked about often. But my dr also gave me a script of phenergen.

  38. Dr. Hein said on April 15, 2014 at 2:49 am

    Nice one.
    rest – water – broth Why not but ‘probiotics’??? Forget it. Bacteria bill ‘help’ your Colon, maybe. But not your Duodenum!
    Probiotics are invented to gain money! Nothing more.

  39. Excellent piece.

    Taking a day or two seems extremely important. Water in the initial stage will help the heartburn/cramps. I tend to get hives and lots of skin problems (like poison ivy.) Long pajama, Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) and bed rest for the first 24 hours helps. Raw pineapple seems to help in the early stages. Then it’s just work through and abstinence for around a week.

  40. My 6 yo daughter with celiacs had 2 accidental glutens this year – both my fault. She gets severe stomach cramps and then throws up 3 times. Thankfully she is just a little tired and then bounces back. But it breaks my heart.

  41. So glad I saw this article. Eating gf for almost 8 years with my son who was diagnosed at 3 1/2. Rest of my family just began eating gf in the past year. Just this past weekend, I did the EXACT same thing and I was so mad at myself! I didn’t say anything to anyone, who each had eaten a very small slice of pizza with gluten. I wanted to see after eating “clean” for so long, if it would affect any of us, without anybody knowing to “be on the lookout” (many comments from people that we “look” for feeling bad and it’s all in our heads). By that afternoon, my youngest son had a headache, felt emotionally bad, and had stomach cramping. The next morning, my oldest son had lower abdominal cramping. Somehow, my husband and I escaped any side effects this time, which is unusual for me, but I was very thankful! It took about 5 days for my youngest to feel better :(

  42. Carole Edminson said on April 15, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    My gluten symptoms are progressively worse with each episode. Now along with all the gut issues I am getting rashes, hot flashes, and sweats when eating. Already done with the whole hot flashes/sweats thing and not wanting to go back. So my ways of dealing are sleep, sleep, and more sleep until the brain fog clears. Ginger ale and chicken broth for the tummy issues. Coconut oil (COLD hardened in the fridge), scrape off a small amount and put on rashes to stop itch and burning. The hot flashes and sweats are a new thing from getting glutened 2 weeks ago. Don’t have any ideas for that one.

  43. Hey : O. This is first time I have seen Duodenum mentioned in any post… My biggest and consistent issue is very painful Duodenum. It took me 3 years to finally diagnose myself. What is best for healing Duodenum after gluten mishap?

  44. I tend to react to be being glutened by swelling up to the size of a house complete with cramping. I have plenty of water and peppermint tea or even better fresh mint leaves in water. I then ‘assume the position’, now this is not glamorous in the slightest but it does work. I get down onto all fours and I rock backwards and forwards. This helps to release the excess gas and pressure. I also find that resting on my forearms with my behind elevated works best. As I said not glamorous but it certainly helps relieve the pressure.

  45. Being celiac for over 10 years, I’ve relied on plain baked potato or gluten free brown rice pasta for relief from stomach cramping after being glutened. It does the trick most of the time. Also avoid acidic foods, especially tomatoes or products containing them. Very irritating to glutened stomach. Hope this helps and the best of luck and strength to all of you fabulous gluten free friends!

  46. I always carry IBERGAST DROPS with me, & take 20 drops in warm water, several times over several hours when I’ve eaten ‘disguised’ Gluten. It’s really just a stronger version of Swedish Bitters. In Australia it’s readily available at most Chemists, but at my local Health Food Shop I had to talk to their Naturopath (at no cost) to gain a ‘prescription’ – whilst at other times I could just buy it off the shelf.

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