It Happened. I Got Glutened.
(the scene of the crime)
I was really hoping I could get through 5 months of international travel and NOT have to write this post. And I was this close, with just over 3 weeks left. But uhh, no such luck. Because this week I got smacked down, roughed up and reminded about the whole, “Oh, yes, I have celiac disease” thing.
In typical Murphy’s Law fashion, it also happened the day after I proclaimed on Instagram how easy it’s been to travel and find gluten-free, healthy, whole food options – virtually everywhere. Including sleepy little fishing villages in northeast Bali.
Oh, life. You always keep it interesting.
So what happened? Well, here’s the short of it.
I left Amed, Bali (aforementioned remote fishing village) and did a 4-hour, glorious motorbike ride through the mountains to Ubud. Think remote Balinese villages, picturesque volcanoes and gorgeous vistas. Simply stunning. PS – this rivaled the road to Pai in Thailand. So if you’re an adventurer, add this to your must-do list!
From Ubud, I picked up my luggage and took a taxi 1.5 hours further south to the beachy, surfer-vibe town of Canggu. In one day, I literally went from one coast of Bali, straight through the middle to the other coast. How cool is that?!
As luck would have it, my villa in Canggu was literally 3 minutes from a very popular and hyped “healthy” cafe. Awesome! After all that riding and driving, boy was I hungry!
I scanned the menu and decided on a beef burger, hold the bun. The prior week I was in a wellness retreat in Ubud with all raw food. I also had lots of delicious seafood on the northeast coast. So at this point, my body was craving a little red meat.
I tell the waiter I have a wheat/bread/gluten allergy (alergi in Indonesian). No problem he says. The burger also comes with a side salad, where I again re-confirm the ingredients in the dressing…olive oil, balsamic vinegar, onions, spices…I’m good to go.
When my food arrives I’m ravenous so bite right in. The flavor tastes a little “off” to me. The menu said “premium beef” and I know from experience that beef in different countries can sometimes have a different flavor. So I ignore my gut instinct (BIG MISTAKE) and continue eating. Then, the little birdie in my brain says something’s just not right with the texture. But again, I continue eating (translation: don’t do as I do!).
I wash the burger and salad down quickly with a berry coconut smoothie. But literally within 5 minutes my body feels…icky. That’s the scientific term for feeling like you just got hit by a semi truck.
By the time I pay my bill and arrive at my villa, now 10 minutes later, I feel woozy, light-headed and nauseous. All the gluten-sirens within my body are sounding. Or so I assume. Because it’s the first time I’ve been glutened since my celiac diagnosis 3 years ago!
I should also mention that before I was diagnosed with celiac I didn’t have “classical symptoms.” I had no “run to the toilet” moments or stomach cramping when eating gluten. Just extreme fatigue, eczema and constipation. That’s made me wonder since my diagnosis if my body would be able to tell if I’ve been glutened. If I would be symptomatic or not?
Well, I can now confirm with a resounding YES!
After healing my cute little intestinal villi over the last few years, my body instantly recognized the glutenous invader. Score one point for Team Immune System!
So where did this leave me? Not feeling great. At all. In fact, a few hours later I Facebook messaged the restaurant and asked the ingredients in their “premium beef” burger. Secretly, I was also looking for confirmation that I wasn’t losing it. No joke, this was their reply:
- Minced beef
- Yellow mustard
- Smoked paprika
- Lea and Perrins
- Salt and pepper
BREADCRUMBS!!! In. The. Burger!! Now, slap me silly, but these ingredients look a heck of a lot more like meatloaf versus a premium beef burger, right?
Back in my room I was thankful I had digestive enzymes on me – so I downed a few of those. I also raced to the local health food store where I found some activated charcoal. And for the next few hours I chugged A LOT of water.
Yet all of that didn’t prevent me from waking up several times in the middle of the night in hot sweats. Or prevent my stomach from blowing up, looking 5 months pregnant.
Which is not a cute Bali bikini look for this single gal.
The next day, while my type-A, busy-body brain wanted to explore and suss out the new, undiscovered Canggu, my body had other plans. My entire day looked like this…
Recouping. Lounging. Resting. And repeat. There was nothing I could do to speed up the healing process. Gentleness was on order…while my body, immune system and gut did it’s thang.
The good news, 48 hours later – I’m feeling heaps better. My appetite is even slowly slithering back. Hallelujah!
And while this episode is not one I’d like to repeat anytime in the near future, I always try to find the bright side. So what’s the bright side here? The fact that my body now recognizes gluten – the little autoimmune beasty antigen that it is. That’s huge.
It also means my healing has come a long way in the last few years.
As for other words of wisdom or lessons learned. That’s gonna have to wait. Right now, I’m surrendering (albeit a day late and a dollar short) to the wisdom of my body – who just wants a little more rest.
Have you ever been accidentally glutened? Or unknowingly poisoned with another food allergy? I’d love to hear what you did to recoup!
Make sure to check out Roaming Free – A Whole Food Approach for Traveling the World Healthy, Happy and Gluten-Free for tips, advice and wanderlust inspiration!