Stomach cramping, bloating, lethargy… If you’re a celiac and you accidentally glutened yourself, I know the feeling. Fortunately, I discovered some ways to help get through the times when gluten seems to inconveniently (and often at the worst times) find its way into my body. When a celiac eats gluten, the result is a lot of discomfort and it will take some time to recover after gluten exposure. If you are a new celiac or just someone looking for options, this list of remedies celiacs use for relief after accidental gluten exposure will be helpful.
The moment you take a bite from the wrong sandwich or any food that contains gluten for that matter, and you feel the panic start to roll in is the worst feeling of all for us celiacs. Accidental gluten exposure can easily turn your day upside down really quick!
If you have ever “been there, done that, never again” like me, you won’t want to miss out on these tips celiacs should follow when accidentally glutened!
Mistakes happen, and while we try to be as good as we can by avoiding gluten, it doesn’t always work out. And that’s totally OK! Well, not for our bodies, but don’t let yourself get too upset over this error.
It’s not as if every piece of fresh food, like pizza or non-packaged bread, has a gigantic sign yelling “I CONTAIN GLUTEN” at you! Take a deep breath, and follow these things I found to have helped me with my gluten intolerance. Here we go!
#1: H2O – and A LOT of it
Drinking a lot of water has never been a new thing. This has already proven to help with so many health issues and even bad skin. But when a celiac eats gluten, drinking a lot of water is important. Aim for 2 liters per day (varies depending on your weight, age, etc.), and you can help ease the symptoms. This has got to the the most important of all the remedies celiacs use to help with symptoms after accidental gluten exposure. DRINK UP!
Boosting your water intake can help flush out toxins and keep things moving in your stomach, which is why it makes sense to drink more when you have stomach pain!
#2: Medicinal Solutions
Before you get terrified and run away from the word “medicinal,” hear me out! There are different natural methods you can try (but painkillers are also an option). You could try taking probiotics, activated charcoal, and even peppermint oil tablets. These have shown to help some celiacs recover from eating gluten. These are remedies celiacs use to help to recover after gluten exposure.
Probiotics give your gut good bacteria and optimize gut maintenance. You can take these as a preventative method as well as after an accidental glutening.
Activated Charcoal comes in a pill form made with a fine powder and can help absorb, attract, and carry out gluten as well as toxins.
Peppermint Oil Tablets can help ease indigestion, bloating, and cleanse the body of harmful toxins.
Other over the counter medications are helpful to relieve symptoms, and personally I always have some one hand and with me when I travel. These are essential remedies celiacs use after accidental gluten exposure.
#3: Tea Time
What I found surprising is that the teas I love to drink, like peppermint and chamomile tea, do also help with easing the symptoms of gluten intolerances. Not only that, but they also have a wide variety of other health benefits in addition to easing stomach pains and bloating. You could also try ginger tea, fennel tea, and green tea with lemon. I really find tea helps me recover after gluten exposure.
#4: Special Liquids
Ginger beer, apple cider vinegar mixed with apple juice or water, and even coca-cola have helped some celiacs I know. You might also find your own special liquid that works for you and your symptoms. Everyone is different! I’ve even heard of others using cranberry and grape juice. Sometimes it takes time to find with of the remedies celiacs use that work best for you personally.
#5: DON’T REPEAT
I REPEAT, do not REPEAT. Check the label of the food you ingested, as well as any other labels nearby of food you’re regularly eating. Look for any gluten and pay attention to new foods added to your diet. Know the cause so you can prevent it, and the horrible symptoms, from happening again! Accidental gluten exposure hopefully won’t happen again after you finally recover.
#6: Rest Up, Buttercup
When a gluten intolerance makes you feel like you’re dying (trust me, I know), you don’t want to be going swimming, pumping weights at the gym, or dealing with customers at work. It’s a good time to cozy up in bed and rest with your favorite hugging pillows. Switch on some hidden gems on Netflix, and you’re in the perfect space to recover. Be gentle on your body and don’t push it to its limits, or you will take longer to heal!
All of these remedies celiacs use to recover after gluten exposure will work better if you rest up. Trust me. REST!
#7: Tummy Comfort
If a celiac eats gluten, they are likely going to suffer from major tummy discomfort. To help comfort your stomach pains and bloating, you can try a hot water bottle and lay it across your stomach where the pain is most prominent. There are also some fun teddy-bear designs of these water bottles so you can feel more relaxed with it. The warmth from the hot water bottle can help relieve pain from deep within your body.
And did you know that this works because the heat physically shuts down your body’s normal pain response? That’s why so many use it for period pain and stomach aches! It also just feels really soothing and comforting.
#8: Bath Time
Run yourself a nice hot bath to relax your cramped muscles. It will also help you calm your mind, so you can focus less on the pain/discomfort and more on the soothing goodness of the warm water. Add some soft music, candles, bubbles, or even a movie, if that’s what you like. Make it a tranquil space where you can feel totally blissed.
#9: Coconut Oil is QUEEN
If you accidentally glutened yourself and have skin symptoms, like a rash or inflammation, you should definitely try coconut oil to soothe it. This stuff is literally magical and makes my skin feel super soft afterward.
#10: Eat Healthy Foods
Without gluten, of course. Find foods that can be easily digested, like rice, potato, chicken bone broth, vanilla yogurt, or jelly. These can all help soothe the symptoms after a celiac eats gluten. But if not, don’t eat anything until you feel better! Like I said, every body is different in how they react and recover. Avoid eating unhealthy, processed foods to prevent further irritation.
Side note: Bone broth has genuinely helped my stomach feel better whenever I have stomach pain or bloating, whether it’s from eating gluten or not. Chicken, fish, and beef broth are high in anti-inflammatories for rapid healing, and are also quite affordable (or make your own at home!). Make sure they are gluten-free and low in sodium. Plus, they taste great, and I love eating them while watching my favorite movies!
#11: Omega-3s, Please
Salmon, flax oil, chia seeds, and omega-3 supplements will also be your friend during this unbearable time. Omega-3s help decrease the inflammation in your body, which is what happens when a celiac eats gluten. So, to reduce the inflammation, try increasing your omega-3 intake!
#12: Dairy Timeout
Give dairy a miss for now if you have accidentally glutened. Dairy can further aggravate your digestion if your system is also trying to battle the gluten. Don’t give your body more of a war than the one it is already fighting! Once you start to feel better, then gradually reintroduce dairy back into the diet.
#13: Fiber Power
The fiber content in psyllium is incredible. Fun fact, this fiber-packed food (and any other food with very high fiber) can help absorb toxins. These toxins are “cytokines” and flare up after eating gluten. Activated charcoal and bentonite clay can also help, but it’s best to consult with your doctor before using them.
#14: Meditate & Alleviate
OK, before you go ahead and laugh at me like “how is meditating going to fix me,” let me explain. When you meditate (properly), you reduce your anxiety that stems from eating gluten, and did you know anxiety can aggravate a glutening even more? This also includes stress. So when you meditate properly, you are calming your mind and becoming more relaxed to help your body heal quicker – similar to having a bath!
If you aren’t sure how to start meditating, there are some great meditation apps, as well as beginner YouTube videos.
#15: “Fast” For Faster Recovery
According to some recent studies, fasting could be a good way to help reset your immune system and get it back on track. You can fast for a couple of days or fast for 14-16 hours each day and eat gentle foods on the stomach. Be sure to check with your doctor first, though.
#16: Light Exercise
Yes, I know I said to avoid lifting weights and heavy exercise, but light exercise can actually be good if a celiac eats gluten. When you stretch, do some yoga, and walk moderately (only if you can tolerate it, of course), you can improve your body’s circulation. Doing light exercise can also help eliminate toxins through your liver – all in a natural and efficient way.
#17: Digestive Enzymes
Digestive enzymes can help give you relief after an adverse gluten reaction because they assist with bloating, a common side effect of gluten intolerances. These enzymes break down things like complex sugars, fats, and proteins into smaller pieces. This results in healthier digestion and helps your body process foods that are difficult to digest. Sound familiar?
#18: Antihistamines To The Rescue
You could try taking antihistamines like Benedryl, Claritin, or Zyrtec to get relief from your gluten reaction, which is also ideal for skin flaring up. Most people will use these with other remedies, too, so the benefits increase.
#19: Methyl-B12 To Detox
Taking Methyl-B12 (as long as it is gluten-free) after being accidentally glutened can help encourage the body to detox, thus speeding up recovery. If you’re not sure about how much to take, you can always ask your doctor for a recommendation.
#20: Ginger Ninja
Ginger is a famous age-old remedy often used to help ease stomach discomfort. The chemicals inside ginger speed up stomach contractions, moving foods along that are causing you discomfort. They may also help reduce nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. You could try ginger tea or adding some to your food.
#21: Avoid Toxicity
Things like alcohol and smoking cigarettes should be 100% avoided during this painful process. These all further aggravate your body, and it’s not ideal if you’re trying to recover. Alcohol can also damage the liver and stomach lining, worsening the symptoms.
#22: Try Cinnamon
Cinnamon is rich in antioxidants that can help ease digestion, irritation, bloating, gas, cramping, and damage to your intestines. You can try it while making sure that the cinnamon is 100% gluten-free.
#23: Aloe Juice
Many celiacs have found quality aloe juice to help their gluten intolerances significantly by reducing inflammation and encouraging healthy bowel movements. It can also balance digestive bacteria and reduce excess stomach acid – all positive reactions to reduce nausea, vomiting, flatulence, and even heartburn. I have a friend that always recommends this as one of the best remedies celiacs use when they are trying to recover after gluten exposure.
#24: Avoid Gas-Producing Vegetables
If you’re suffering from horrible flatulence, it’s best to avoid the gas-producing vegetables for now – like broccoli, asparagus, and brussels sprouts. These will only worsen the situation. Avoiding these gas-producing vegetables or other foods that may irritate your digestive system will really help you recover after gluten exposure.
#25: Wait It Out
If all else fails, you’re going to have to wait it out. For some, these methods might work and make them feel better within the hour. For others with a more stubborn immune system, you could be waiting out the symptoms instead. Your body sometimes just needs time on its own to flush out the toxins.
Grab your pillow, a book, or do anything else that can help take your mind off the pain and discomfort! Also, keep the toilet nearby, of course, and visit your doctor if things get progressively worse.
I hope these things that I have learned over the years of being accidentally glutened can also help you out when you need it most! This list of remedies celiacs use should help you recover and manage your symptoms after accidental gluten exposure.
Being a celiac is tough – believe me, I know. It’s never easy trying to find foods that don’t contain gluten, and even when you try your best to avoid them, it still doesn’t always go to plan. A single exposure to gluten won’t do any long-term harm. Your intestines will heal if cared for properly!
If you have any tips that I should add to this list if you are a celiac and accidently glutened, let me know. There are a lot of remedies celiacs use for relief after accidental gluten exposure….and I am sure I missed some.
Bella Bucchiotti is a storyteller, food lover, dog mom and adventure seeker living on the Pacific coast. She shares her passion for food, dogs, fitness, adventures, travel and philanthropy, in hopes of encouraging followers to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places and stand for a cause. Bella lives with Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease.