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3 Signs You’ve Accidentally Had Gluten Exposure + How to Recover Quickly

got glutened

It happens. Either you’ve experienced cross contamination at a restaurant or your favorite sauce changed ingredients, and now you’ve unintentionally had gluten exposure. Yikes!

You’ve been “glutened.”

You’re super careful with your diet, but sometimes gluten can hide in sneaky places. If you have celiac disease, the immediate signs of gluten exposure can be subtle. It can take DAYS to figure out exactly why you’ve been feeling so yucky and even longer to recover.

Studies have shown that it can take anywhere from 2 to 12 weeks for your gut to health after getting exposed to gluten or more depending on the extend of the injury*.

Common Side Effects of Gluten Exposure

Knowing you’ve accidentally eaten gluten, however, can prepare you for the side effects. Here’s what I experience if I’ve been glutened…

Mental Fogginess

This can be one of my first signs of gluten. In the worst case scenario, I can’t even form a sentence that makes sense. Talk about speaking jibberish! While brain fog for me is often associated with being glutened, I’ve experience this when I’m over tired, over worked and stressed out. You might not know you’ve been glutened until one of the other symptoms shows its ugly head.

Stomach Ache

The next sign is usually some minor or major gastrointestinal issues. For me it starts off like heart burn and generally leads to crippling stomach pain that puts me in bed sitting in child’s pose.  I’ve even heard of some people who vomit when they have been glutened. If you begin to feel sick, your thoughts may go to food poisoning. That may be the cause. However, it might also be gluten. Other digestive symptoms can include GERD or heartburn, or gas and bloating.

Rapidly Changing Emotions and Depression

My third sign of gluten is typically moodiness. I’m not talking having a little change in my mood – it’s easily a 180 degree switch that happens in about 2.5 seconds. One minute I will be having the best ever and the next I need an entire box of tissues! It’s not uncommon to feel sad or depressed, or be quick to cry.  As a woman it’s easy to blame this moodiness on fatigue, hormones, and other girlie excuses. The truth is that gluten can highly impact your emotions. It’s even been tied to chronic depression.

These are my top three signs that I’ve been glutened, but there’s many others.  Here are some more signs that could mean you’ve been glutened:

  • Coughing
  • Congestion
  • Increased thirst
  • Rash
  • Acne
  • Itchiness
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • General malaise
  • Fatigue
  • Headache/Migraine
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling like your legs won’t settle

Now What Can You Do After Gluten Exposure?

What can you do if you’ve been glutened? The answer is that it depends. It depends on the nature of your celiac disease, gluten allergy or sensitivity. It takes about 21 days for your body to stop producing antibodies in response to the gluten. This means that your symptoms may last for about three weeks, and there’s no quick fix. However, you can at least help ease symptoms quickly.

Deal with the Side Effects

Many people experience diarrhea as a result of eating gluten.

You can take an Imodium or other anti-diarrheal to alleviate those symptoms. Antacids can help as well. Personally, I like to give my body natural products especially as I’m healing from something like gluten exposure. There are oils for supporting digestion, detoxing the body from contamination, and probiotics focused on immediate and long-term relief.

Want to learn more about essential oils for digestion? Click here to register for my FREE upcoming webinar that covers 7 essential oils for everyone with digestive issues.

Stay Hydrated

Many people also experience relief by making sure that they’re extra hydrated. For me, dry skin and chapped lips are a major sign that my body needs to recover from getting glutened.

Consider drinking tea to help. 

Green tea, peppermint tea, and ginger can all help reduce gastrointestinal symptoms.

Eat to Heal Your Gut

Be extra careful about your diet for the next few weeks, and that you completely eliminate gluten from your diet. Especially if this was a  “hidden” gluten. It will take time, but your health will get back to normal soon.

When you give your body clean foods that are easy to digest or cleanse your gut, then it can help speed the recovery. Anytime I deal with gluten exposure (or after I have to take antibiotics), I go through my Clean Eating Cleanse program that will detox your body.

This program removes dairy, soy, processed foods, refined sugars, alcohol, caffeine, and other top allergens from your diet to give your gut the time it needs to heal. Then slowly reintroduces the foods like an elimination diet schedule, so you can uncover any ingredients that cause headaches, bloating, indigestion, moodiness, or other symptoms.

No matter how careful you are, accidentally ingesting gluten happens.  Don’t be hard on yourself.  

While it can be painful, sicking and take a while to feel like you again, learn from the experience. How did you unintentionally consume the gluten and what can you do to prevent it from happening again? Make notes on what helped alleviate your symptoms so if it happens again, you know exactly what to do.

*Blikslager AT et al. “Restoration of Barrier Function in Injured Intestinal Mucosa” Physiol Rev 87:545-564, 2007.

Have you ever been glutened? Share your experience in the comments below.

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