It Happened. I Got Glutened.


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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
  • Onion
  • Yellow mustard
  • Parsley
  • Smoked paprika
  • Eggs
  • Breadcrumbs
  • 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…

It happened. I got glutened.

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!

About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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  1. Literally, “listen to your gut” instincts too! I ordered a personal GF pizza in a hip Portland OR restaurant and noticed the delicious chewy crust. Uhh oh! I asked my waiter if he was sure this was GF and he looked at it and ran back to the kitchen. Nope, I had just downed half a pizza (it was so good) that was wheat. My GF reaction takes 2 weeks, in the form of itchy hives on my body, that can last a month from that one mistake :(
    By the way, thank you for all your amazing help and guidance on this journey. I only discovered your Youtube videos a week ago!

    1. Welcome to the Downshiftology community Jennifer! Always trust your instincts – especially when it comes to things that are potentially labeled as “GF”.

  2. Hi Lisa,

    Your link to the activated charcoal went to a mascara link in amazon… Can you update the link or send me the link to the activated charcoal you use?

    Thank you!

  3. Amen, brother. Getting glutened is terrible. We get so cavalier because we want to be normal and LIVE life. Nothing like a gluten attack to smack you down for awhile. I applaud you. I’ve become slightly chicken and cook for myself. The pretentious gluten free people have made jokes of the serious Celiac people who truly need to be be gluten free that even serious chefs get weary of gluten free requests. 
    You do make me want to venture out and be bold again.

    1. Yes, it can definitely be a little nerve-wracking sometimes. But the adventures and memories are definitely worth it! Glad I could inspire you to be bold and venture out again. :) x

  4. I know this is an old post – but do you outline any places you stayed in Bali? I’m gluten-free so your guide is great. I just got glutened at home and know this feeling! I am looking first to go to Ubud for yoga, healthy eating and relaxation but also want to head to the coast etc. Not in my early 20s for partying but want to explore a bit. I know you can rent a lot of places but will be there for a few weeks so can’t do luxury every day! If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Thanks for the GF food guide! (do you also have a search function on your website – I can’t find on your blog).

    1. Yes! I wrote a whole Bali Travel Guide: You’ll fall in love with Ubud and the coastal areas are wonderful. I’m jealous! Definitely rent a villa (some are quite cheap) and make sure to ask for a discount if you’re staying in the same spot for several weeks (I talk about this in my ebook). Unfortunately I don’t have a general search function, just one for recipes, but that will be fixed in a few months once my website is redesigned. So happy for you and your Bali adventures! :) x

      1. Also, if you just do a Google search for “downshiftology” and “bali” other articles will show.

  5. I’m so happy to read you’re almost ok now!
    Oh I accidentally get’s histamine-overdoses what feels like all the time… Or at least every now and then. Sometimes by eating healthy, tasty but histamine liberating food (thats a cost-benefit kind of question for me…) and sometimes when invited to friends or eating out. Luckyli nowadays I can recoup quite quickly now I know more about the condition…
    But one thing is for sure- hunger is NOT beneficial for the ability to listen to your gut feeling ;)

    1. Oh, you are so right about the hunger part! Whenever we get the “just this once” notion…that’s when we should really listen to our gut. Experience is a wonderful teacher. ;)

  6. While getting “glutened” sounds like it was a nasty experience I like that with every negative you always manage to find a positive – as in what to take and how to put it into perspective. Glad to hear that this didn’t last long and you will soon be back to your adventures.

  7. Oh no, Lisa. I’m so sorry. Sounds absolutely awful and I can totally relate. Although, there always seems to be a silver lining, and in this case, but it was to share your experience with all of us. So interesting how it happened right after you had published your blog post on GF street food eating. Funny how the universe does that, isn’t it!? I’m so happy to hear you are on the mend and feeling better.

    1. I know! Sometimes I love the universe, other times not so much – ha! But yes, back to 100% now and ready to tackle the next adventure! xo

  8. Oh noes! You poor thing. That sounds like my kinda burger – but these days I put quinoa flakes instead of breadcrumbs (or just none at all). I hope you’re recovering okay today and thank goodness for time out in the pool. I’m loving reading all about your awesome trip! xx

    1. Thanks! I’m feeling almost back to 100% today – phew! :) Must be an Aussie thing with the burgers – but I like mine without any fillers – all red meat and a little salt, pepper and garlic. Now, I’ll be extra cautious in the future!! PS – Can’t wait for your little one’s arrival so very soon!! xo