After 16 years of being a sensitive celiac, I have some experience when it comes to dealing with a gluten reaction. Here are 5 things that help me listed in order of importance, or at least the order in which I generally use them.
1. Digestive Enzymes
Whenever I eat at a restaurant or any situation where I think there might be gluten contamination, I take digestive enzymes with my meal. Enzymes help to break down gluten, lessening the impact on your body. A general digestive enzyme can be helpful, but there are also enzymes that target gluten. Gluten Defense is one supplement I have used which aids digestion of gluten and dairy.
2. Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal is a supplement I have used in more recent years after my friend Shirley of Gluten Free Easily recommended it. I automatically take it when I feel an eating situation is particularly risky (though I avoid those situations as much as possible). Any time I feel like I am having a reaction to gluten I also take it.
I have used Bulletproof Upgraded Coconut Charcoal Capsules. To help you understand how it is helpful and why I use this product, I want to quote part of what is on their bottle.
“…charcoal has millions of tiny pores that can capture, bind, and remove toxins…with a negatively charged surface that attracts unwanted toxins and gas so you can eliminate them. Bulletproof Upgraded Coconut Charcoal uses a finer grade of charcoal than is normally available and is completely washed to remove heavy metal contamination common in charcoal.”
3. Sleep or Rest
I don’t usually have a choice about this one because a gluten reaction often makes me suddenly very sleepy. It doesn’t happen right when I consume gluten but later on when the reaction hits. I don’t fight it. I go to bed and sleep as long as I need to. If I forced myself to stay awake, I would be worthless anyway.
But even if you don’t get sleepy like I do, your body needs rest. Get a good amount of sleep and give yourself a break like you would if you were sick with the flu.
I drink lots of fluids, mostly water, especially when I have a gluten reaction. It helps flush out toxins. If you normally have trouble drinking as much water as you should, then pay special attention to this one and be intentional about drinking water.
5. Light, Healthy Food
When your body is recovering, it helps to give it a break and make the digestive process a little easier. Some foods can also help with detox. Vegetable and fruit smoothies are my go-to, and I lighten up on meat and fatty foods. Usually I listen to my body. When I’m not feeling well, I often crave a spinach smoothie.
A Note About Drugs
Ingesting gluten can lead to diarrhea and/or vomiting. I believe these natural responses are helpful in eliminating gluten from our bodies. However, if it doesn’t stop once everything is out, it can lead to dehydration besides being very unpleasant. In that case, I believe that over-the-counter drugs can be helpful, such as Immodium or Nauzene.
Personally, I’m more likely to have diarrhea, but it doesn’t go on and on. When I do have vomiting, usually it will not stop. One Nauzene chewable takes care of it for me, so I have gotten in the habit of carrying some in my purse.
Putting It All Together
So here’s what it looks like in practical terms. If I go to a restaurant, I take enzymes before my meal. I might also take activated charcoal before the meal. If I start feeling bad as some point after the meal, I definitely take activated charcoal (maybe a second dose).
If I’m sure I’m having a gluten reaction, I go to bed and sleep. Following that I drink plenty of water and eat light healthy food, including lots of smoothies, for a couple of days or until I’m feeling better. I also continue to get plenty of rest and drink lots of water.
What helps you when you have a gluten reaction?