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What To Do If You Get Glutened

what to do if you get glutened

I love to travel (read: I may be addicted), but I understand that travel can be unsettling for some, especially for those who are gluten-free or gluten-sensitive. As a celiac gal I can attest to the fact that getting glutened is never fun (especially when you’re away from home), but being prepared can make all the difference. When you’re prepared, you’ll recover quickly and get back to your old healthy, happy self in no time!

If you’re on my email list, you know that I’m currently finishing up my ebook, Roaming Free, which I’m ridiculously excited to share with you. Roaming Free is the essential guide to healthy and happy gluten-free travel, with a whole foods approach. I’m hoping to release it in December (so make sure you’re on my email list to be the first to know AND receive a discount!) – but given that Thanksgiving is next week, I wanted to share this excerpt from the book with you today. Happy holiday travels! (UPDATE: Roaming Free is now available!)

For many of you, this may be your single biggest travel fear – getting glutened. Especially if you’re celiac, gluten-sensitive or have an autoimmune condition, like me. That fear may even stop you in your tracks and have you NOT booking your next soul-trip – although I sincerely hope it doesn’t.

I wish I could sit here and tell you that nope, you’re not going to get glutened while you gallivant around the world in your joyful and carefree state of bliss – but I would be doing you a disservice. You can take every precaution in the book, but nothing is 100% guaranteed. I’ve traveled to several countries and haven’t been glutened. Hooray! But then I did have one hell-of-a-doozy getting glutened in Bali.

As I always try to look on the bright-side, that episode of getting glutened in Bali taught me some very important travel lessons. First, I let my guard down. I had already been traveling for 4 months and figured I was a pro. But I got sloppy and didn’t ask all the probing questions and reconfirm ingredients, as I’ve detailed for you in Chapter 5. 

Second, I didn’t trust my gut. One bite into that “premium beef patty” (I had ordered a burger, sans bun, yet found out later that there were bread crumbs in the burger) and I knew something was off. But I was so ravenously hungry, that I ignored my internal alarms bells and continued eating. Ten minutes later all suspicions were confirmed as I felt woozy, light-headed, nauseous and all-over horrible.

Thankfully, my villa in Bali was literally one mile away. So I hoped on my motorbike, raced home and quickly implemented recovery measures. And should it happen to you, I recommend you do the same! Recovery times will vary depending on your body and severity of gluten exposure, but for me, I felt well enough to go explore again 48 hours later. Without a shadow of a doubt it was a horribly unpleasant experience, but I was not about to let it ruin the remaining time I had in paradise!

How to recover after you’ve been glutened

Take digestive enzymes

Digestive enzymes work to immediately break down the food you’ve consumed and support your digestion, which is now working overtime. Purchase a digestive enzyme with DPP-IV, an enzyme that specifically targets gluten and casein proteins. In fact, even if you haven’t been glutened, I recommend taking this enzyme when eating out as an added safety measure.

Drink lots of water

Drinking water will help to flush your system and assist the passage of food through your intestines. Water will also support your kidneys in cleansing and ridding your body of the unexpected toxin you just ingested. So guzzle up! 

Take activated charcoal

The first time I ever took activated charcoal was when I got glutened – but it helped so much that I now consider it a packing essential. Activated charcoal, if taken immediately after exposure, can bind to the toxin to prevent it from being absorbed by the body. Just make sure you drink plenty of water with activated charcoal to prevent constipation.

Rest and sleep

After you’ve done those first three things – REST! Your body is physiologically stressed and working overtime, trying to detoxify and repair the damage. Give it all the quiet, recuperation time it needs by laying in bed and sleeping. Remove all distractions such as laptops and phones and allow your body as much time as it needs to recover.

Take a probiotic

A probiotic will boost the beneficial bacteria in your gut and support digestion. Consider doubling up for the first few days after exposure while your body is healing. Fermented vegetables can also be beneficial, but steer clear of yogurts and kefirs, as dairy can exacerbate symptoms.

Take ginger and turmeric

Both ginger and turmeric are natural anti-inflammatories and can ease stomach cramping, bloating and nausea. Drink ginger tea and take turmeric capsules to provide soothing gastrointestinal support and rehydrate your body.

Lay off food

You may be tempted to eat, but any new foods you consume will only add to the digestive burden your body is currently facing. If you can find good quality bone broth (from a local health food store), feel free to drink that. But avoid food for the first 24 hours. Once you start to regain energy and feel better, slowly introduce whole, easier to digest foods such as green smoothies, sauerkraut, bananas, avocados, sweet potatoes and scrambled eggs.

Don’t blame yourself

It’s easy to get down in the dumps after being glutened. You feel like crap and your body is achy. But remember that anxiety and depression are symptoms of gluten exposure and can be triggered after an episode. So if you don’t feel like “you” – don’t fret. You’ll be back to your old self in no time. 

Accidental glutening happens to even the most seasoned travelers, because quite simply – accidents happen. So be gentle with yourself, reach out to supportive friends and focus on all the amazing, positive travel experiences you’ve had. Because there’s gonna be lots more of those in your future!

Have you ever been glutened while traveling? What did you do to recover quickly? Share in the comments below!

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!


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8 comments on “What To Do If You Get Glutened”

  1. Be careful with or avoid Tumeric altogether if you have a hormone sensitive health condition or it you are on blood thinners, or need to be careful about the thinness of your blood. Tumeric acts as a blood thinner and also effects your hormone levels.

  2. Do these same things work if you dont have Celiac but gluten sensitivity related to Rheummatoid Arthritis?

    • Absolutely! Even if you don’t have celiac, you still want to reduce inflammation and strengthening the immune system after gluten exposure (if you react to gluten). My dad has RA and he reacts to gluten very similarly to me. Hope this helps! :)

  3. Hi Lisa! Thanks for the great ideas and recipes you share. I wanted to share with you that after dietary exposures which are always somewhat disabling, I feel better when I load up on certain anti-inflammatory foods. One dish that’s very medicinal for me in general and helpful with any symptoms is a lettuce salad with a purée of raw garlic, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and sea salt. Other greens and low carb veggies are fine, too, and variations of this sauce on everything are great for me, but this by itself is what I try to do if I don’t feel 100%. Another one is homemade chicken soup with the bones, plus kale, onions, and garlic, adding olive oil and lemon juice at serving time. Please feel free to share any aspect of these meals if they work for you. Best wishes and Happy 2016!

  4. Hi Lisa,

    I have recently found your blog and I’m really enjoying it! I have Hashimoto’a and have been GF for about 6 months, but I’m still trying to work on feeling better. I have taken quite a few different probiotics, but have never heard of the one you suggest. Have you had good results with it? This is the first time I have heard of soil-based organisms. It’s quite a different approach than the lactic acid-forming types of probiotics. I’d love to know your thoughts!


    • Thanks for the kind words Maureen! As for the probiotics, soil-based probiotics are fairly new as a mainstream product. They’re not lactic acid-based and for those with gut issues (I also had SIBO) the soil-based probiotics seem to work well. I do still alternate with standard probiotics, just to switch it up, but as the soil-based don’t have to be refrigerated they’re much preferred for travel. And yes, they work great for me! But it’s all about finding what works for you. :) x