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What to Do When You Get Glutened

What to Do When You Get Glutened

So you know you can’t have gluten.  You modify your diet, check all the labels, and you even start cooking most of your own food.  You’re feeling that pep back in your step and all is well.  And then out of nowhere, it hits you.  You get “glutened”.

Getting “glutened” refers to when anyone with Celiac’s disease, or any gluten sensitivity or allergy, accidentally injests gluten.  No matter how much you mercilessly quiz the waitstaff about the menu, getting glutened will just happen from time to time.  I like to call it getting a whammy.  Remember this?

When you are gluten sensitive, eating out is a little like playing Press Your Luck.  You never know when that whammy will pop up.  And not all whammies are caused from gluten.  Any food allergy or sensitivity can lead to one.

Getting glutened is never fun.  It can cause all kinds of unpleasant physical symptoms that vary widely from person to person, such as diarrhea, constipation, excessive gas, vomiting, rashes, headaches, and fatigue. And since the gut and brain are so interwoven, getting glutened can also cause many neurological symptoms like depression, anxiety, brain fog, mental confusion, irritability, and insomnia.  In short, whammies ain’t fun.

What can be especially confusing is that many people do not react to the trigger food right away.  Often people experience delayed reactions up to a few days after the trigger is ingested. Everyone’s gluten reaction is completely unique, but the longer you’ve been around the gluten free block and get more attuned to your body, you will notice your own symptom profile.

For me personally I experience the digestive symptoms from gluten pretty quicky (gas, stomach cramping, the runs 😮) and then on day 3 is when the neurological symptoms (major anxiety, lethargy, brain fog out the wazoo, confusion) hit me.  Those ones suck the worst in my opinion because until the gluten is out of my system, I just don’t feel like myself.  The best way I have come up with describing it to others is that it feels like a war going on inside my body (which is fact…there is).

Although all whammies will eventually ride themselves out over time,  there are a few things you can do to speed your recovery from getting glutened and allow yourself to be more comfortable in the process.

Here are 12 tips to try when you get glutened:

water pouring in glass

1) Hydrate – Many people experience digestive problems as a result of getting glutened, which can lead to dehydration, so drink a lot of water.  Also increasing your water intake helps to detox and flush your system to speed your recovery.

2) Detox – There are a ton of ways to do this, but Epsom salt baths are an easy and inexpensive thing to try.  Not only do Epsom salts promote detoxing, they will relax you and lessen those irritating neurological symptoms.  Simply add 2 cups of epsom salts to a warm bath and soak for at least 15 minutes.  Add a few drops of lavender oil for a spa-like experience, turn on some chill music and relish it.

3) Drink tea – Just the simple act of slowing down to savor a cup of tea will help calm your nervous system.  But peppermint and ginger tea are particularly helpful as they are known to aid digestion.  Using prepared tea from the store is just fine, although fresh ginger tea is incredibly easy to make. To view a simple how to video click here.

4) Soothe the gut – Many products can help to soothe an irritated gut and foster healing the gut lining.  Glutamine, aloe vera, marshmallow root, and slippery elm are just a few.  It’s a good idea to have some of these handy so you’re prepared when a whammy hits.  In that moment you will not feeling like running to the store or waiting around a few days for an order to arrive.

5) Rest up – Many people get very, very tired when they get glutened. Get more sleep than usual.  8 hours is good, but get more if you need it.  And don’t be stingy with the naps either.  Listen to your body and give it what it needs.

6) Drink bone broth – Bone broth is not only extremely helpful to your immune system, but it helps heal the gut and is rich in minerals.  Something you’re likely depleted in if getting glutened leads to you spending extra time in the bathroom.  For directions on how to make homemade bone broth click here.  It’s good idea to freeze a couple jars for those unexpected whammies so you always have some on hand.

7)  Rally the troops – Give your army of beneficial bacteria a little help while your body recovers by consuming probiotics. If you already regularly take probiotics, great!  You will still want to increase the dose for a while until your tummy has calmed down and you feel more like yourself.  Consuming fermented foods like kombucha and raw sauerkraut can be very helpful as well.  Keep your internal army well supplied!

8) Drink fresh juices/smoothies – If you’re dehydrated and your digestive system has gone wacky, you need to get some good nutrition in you in an easily digestible way.  Save your tummy the task of breaking that food down and give it some liquid lovin’.  Bonus points for your belly if you add fresh ginger to your juices or smoothies!

9) Digestive enzymes – Digesting food uses up quite a bit of your body’s energy resources.  Since your belly is in a weakened state, taking digestive enzymes will help break your food down so your body’s energy can be more focused on healing.

10) Warn the peeps – Getting a whammy can often cause a Dr. Jekyll  and Mr. Hyde type of experience. Give the people in your life a heads up that you’ve been glutened.  That way they won’t take your crankiness or moodiness personally.

sitting yogi with hands in heart

11) Do some yoga –  If you’re an avid runner, crossfitter, kickboxer, etc.  take a break from that for a bit until your body calms down.  When you get glutened your adrenal glands are already stressed, and lots of exercise will only add to that.  Focus on movement that will calm and relax you, not stimulate you.  Twists are particularly helpful as they wring out the internal organs.  If you’re not up for going to a class, check out some free yoga videos on youtube or get a gaimtv membership.

12) Give yourself a break – Procrastinate.  For real… You are not running on all cylinders right now.  If you need to cancel or reschedule some things, then do.  No one wants to go interview for that dream job or go on that first date when they are in a brain fog, irritable as heck, or constantly running to the bathroom.

Although getting glutened is never a fun experience, it can help you put things in perspective and realize how much better you feel when you eat clean and avoid your trigger foods.  After all, before those triggers were identified, you felt crappy all the time! Knowing your trigger foods is a blessing.  Knowledge is power.

Be easy on yourself as you recover.  For some people a gluten hangover only lasts a few days.  For others, it can last a couple weeks.  Just breathe and ride it out.  If you get frustrated with the brain fog, or feel guilty for getting cranky at others, remind yourself it’s the gluten, not you.  Remember that although getting glutened is definitely unpleasant at best, and debilitating at worst, it is temporary.

This too shall pass.

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2 thoughts on “What to Do When You Get Glutened”

  • Thank you THANK YOU for sharing your wisdom! I stupidly glutened myself yesterday when I went out to lunch with my Mom and sisters. I didn’t think I was THAT sensitive to gluten. Boy was I wrong! I’m really paying for it now. I’m going to pamper my poor body with a nice epsom salt bath and a good nap.

    • Oh bummer Terry, sorry to hear that 🙁 Yeah, it’s never fun but it will just happen from time to time. It does give you some healthy perspective about how much better you feel without the stuff (even though I know it really sucks in the moment). Hope you feel better soon! xo

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