What to Do When You Accidentally Eat Gluten
As a celiac, it is crucial to emphasize a gluten-free diet while resisting any chance of cross-contamination. But still, most celiac patients have to deal with uncertainties while following their gluten-free routine.
These are those unfortunate situations when you gulp an ounce of gluten while eating at a new restaurant or at a friend’s house.
Accidental consumption of gluten can damage the small intestine leading to symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, or gas.
Around ninety percent of Indians are unaware of celiac disease, claimed a panel of experts at the International Symposium on Wheat Related Disorders (ISWD) hosted by the Celiac Society of India (CSI) on January 12, 2019. This increases the chances of gluten ingestion for celiac at some point in time.
Fortunately, you need not panic if you have been following a gluten-free diet for a while. Even if there is a minor effect on the inner lining of your intestine, it usually heals in a few days.
What Happens When You Get Accidentally Glutened?
When gluten is accidentally consumed, everyone reacts differently. Some people have terrible indigestion, bloating, gas, or urgent diarrhea, but others get headaches, skin breakouts (acne, rashes), and exhaustion.
Some unfortunate patients encounter a combination of these dreadful gluten symptoms. The reaction varies from person to person and may depend on whether you ate a large amount of gluten or just a crumb.
Many will feel primarily normal once your body has cleared the gluten from its system. Many people can metabolize or eliminate gluten fast. Others, they’re not so lucky.
Here are a few things that you can do to speed up your recovery
→ Tip 1 – Stay Hydrated
The first step is to hydrate yourself once you discover that you have ingested gluten. Ensure you have a lot of water to help flush what you eat through your system.
Since many individuals witness symptoms that include diarrhea, drinking enough water covers the fluid loss and will eliminate any chance of becoming dehydrated.
Moreover, consider having green tea with lemon and ginger to help digestion and settle your stomach.
→ Tip 2 – Take Probiotics
Adding good bacteria to your gut improves your symptoms and eventually helps your stomach recover from an accidental gluten intake.
If you are already taking probiotics, you may need to double the dose after an incident so that your gut heals quickly.
Probiotics also aid your immune system, which further builds a defense for your system if you accidentally eat gluten. Make sure you discuss this with your doctor during your next visit.
→ Tip 3 – Consider Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal is one way to treat poisoning or drug overdose. The toxins and unwanted substances bind to the charcoal, and the body gets rid of them easily without absorbing them.
The toxin-absorbing properties of activated charcoal are widely used to treat drug overdoses and can help relieve the symptoms if you consume gluten or your meal is cross-contaminated.
But still, it is highly recommended to talk to your physician before you consider taking activated charcoal.
→ Tip 4 – Don’t Overburden Your Stomach
Since you have already had a meal that is not good for your gut, the next thing is to focus on a diet that is friendly for your digestive system.
Make sure your diet includes easy-to-digest food such as bananas, rice, or ginger lemon tea, as mentioned earlier.
Stay away from hard-to-digest foods, as they can worsen the symptoms. Besides this, you must avoid dairy as it takes a lot of time to digest.
→ Tip 5 – Don’t Stress, Rest Up
Being a celiac is a tough job, and you cannot avoid periodic mistakes. Many veteran celiacs find themselves in a situation where they unknowingly consume cross-contaminated food.
Nothing can change the fact that you have consumed gluten and stressing about it would only worsen things.
Thus, take a deep breath and calm yourself. In the future, do your best to ensure that the food you are consuming is not cross-contaminated or that the ingredients labeling is reliable.
→ Tips 6 – Drink bone broth
Bone broth has numerous benefits that can help you improve the digestive distress caused by a variety of digestive illnesses, including celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, IBS, and others.
Thus, if you have accidentally ingested gluten, you can make yourself a piping hot bowl of bone broth to placate the sensitivity.
It will not only help calm you down but also help flush out any toxins from your digestive system effectively.
→ Tip 7 – Take Epsom salt baths
Epsom salt baths can help with the digestive difficulties and joint discomfort that occur after consuming gluten. This is due to magnesium, a mineral known for calming muscles and easing aches.
If the first symptom after you ingest gluten is body aches, drawing yourself a hot bath infused with Epsom salts would be the way to go.
Just like the bone broth consumption, this too will calm your nerves and make you feel relaxed, eliminating any bodily pains you might be experiencing.
→ Tip 8 – Drink ginger or peppermint tea
Ginger aids in the repair of intestinal walls that have been damaged by gluten sensitivity, resulting in unpleasant digestive issues as well as an inability to absorb nutrients. Ginger can help you deal with nausea and vomiting that come with gluten sensitivity.
Peppermint also does the same thing. Hence, a cup of ginger or peppermint tea can also do the trick if you’re suffering from gluten sensitivity.
This is always a better alternative than self-medicating which can go wrong in so many different ways.
→ Tip 9 – Eat fermented foods
Fermented foods are a great way to combat any symptoms that may arise due to gluten indigestion. The probiotics in fermented foods promote good gut health and eliminate the chances of any discomfort caused by gluten ingestion.
Here’s a list of our top picks:
- Fermented Carrot Sticks
- Cultured Salsa
- Lacto-Fermented Dill Pickles
→ Tip 10 – Get acupuncture treatments
Acupuncture and TCM medicines treat Celiac disease holistically, easing unpleasant symptoms and providing extensive guidance for lifestyle and nutritional adjustments to help people manage Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.
Suppose you’re new to acupuncture and unaware of its myriad benefits. In that case, you can book an appointment with a certified acupuncturist and see the pain and discomfort caused by gluten ingestion just vanish.
→ Tip 11 – Avoid Difficult Tasks
There are better ways to go about things than over-exerting yourself when accidentally ingesting gluten. It is highly recommended to take things easy and rest up as much as possible for your body to minimize the effects of gluten ingestion.
You will be likely to experience muscle cramps and body aches in the next few hours after consuming gluten, hence keeping physical activities to the bare minimum is highly advisable. Also, it is recommended always have a gluten-free guide with yourself in case you get glutened.
→ Tip 12 – Skip Lactose-Containing Foods
Even if you are not lactose intolerant, it would be advisable to skip lactose-containing foods for the time being, such as dairy products, etc.
This is because lactose can aggravate your condition and make you feel even queasier than you already are. Instead, consume more water and focus on flushing the toxins out of your system at the earliest.
Instead of lactose, you can switch to consuming more fermented foods and whole foods.
→ Tip 13 – Revert to Whole Foods
This is always a good time to revert to whole gluten-free foods as it will help you combat gluten insensitivity and also get you on the track to recovery.
Whole foods have the inherent ability to provide your body with fiber which is essential to flush out any toxins that might be causing your body malaise.
Here are some gluten-free foods we’d recommend:
- wheat berries
→ Tip 14 – Add Beneficial Bacteria i.e., Probiotics, to Your Gut
If you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity and your symptoms haven’t improved with a gluten-free diet, probiotics may help.
Probiotics have been demonstrated to significantly improve the efficiency of a gluten-free diet and alleviate celiac disease’s obstinate digestive symptoms.
It will also promote good gut health and provide your body with the bacteria needed to thrive after an incident of gluten ingestion.
→ Tip 15 – Heating Pad
Just like warm Epsom salt baths, heating pads can too help relieve abdominal pains that accompany gluten insensitivity. Just make sure to use the right heating pad at the right temperature and in the right amount for maximum benefits.
Target the pain points with the heating pad and focus on them for prolonged periods to alleviate any sort of discomfort that might accompany your gluten ingestion.
The above-mentioned tips can help you relieve short-term symptoms that arise when you accidentally consume gluten. This doesn’t mean you can use these to cheat and eat food products containing gluten, as its long-term intake can severely affect your overall health.
It is essential to ensure you don’t repeat your mistakes and avoid a meal if you have any doubts.
Disclaimer: These are some techniques that have helped me in the past. Each individual is unique; what worked for me may not work for you. Please consult your doctor and discuss the strategies that will benefit you in your specific condition.