Recovering from an Accidental Glutening

lentil soup

I received a text from my sister: I just got glutened! Ugh. I feel so horrible.

And I felt horrible for her.

She, like me, is incredibly careful about what she eats. The memories of life with gluten are still vivid — even more so now — and she really doesn’t want to return to those days. It turns out that life is better when your digestive system is healthy.

What she wanted from me, I know, was some sort of miracle cure, some sort of way to get her gut back to normal. I wish I had one, I really do. I certainly would have used it on myself when I’ve been accidentally glutened. Those times are few and far in between, I am happy to say, but the memory remains clear. A miracle cure would be nice.

So, there’s no cure for an accidental glutening except time. This is a problem when you have a young child, or a job, or a life. You might have the greatest bathroom on the planet, but it’s not where you want to spend your time. Absent a magic cure, I can offer up anecdotal cures. They might help, they won’t hurt, and, remember, time is your truest friend here.

  • Reduce Bloating. This means cutting way back on carbs while you’re recovering.
  • Exercise. Yeah, I know, but exercise helps manage your mood. The days I want to exercise the least are the days I need to exercise the most. Even a good brisk walk will do wonders for you.
  • Increase Fiber. It feels counterintuitive, but fiber is always your friend. Lots of veggies will do wonders for your body. Some people try grains, and this is where your mileage will vary. If certain grains make you feel bloated, like rice or corn for some people, avoid them during your recovery.
  • Increase Probiotics. Yogurt is wonderful for this. Kimchi is fantastic. Kefir is great. Fermented foods help reintroduce good bacteria into your gut, and that’s always welcome.
  • Reduce Other Dairy Foods. This works really well for me. While I am not over-sensitive to dairy, it seems too much of it doesn’t agree with me. I’m not sure what the limit is, but the last time I had a really bad glutening, it was made worse by circumstances that had me eating more dairy than usual. Lesson definitely learned.
  • Practice Clean Eating. You knew this was coming from me, but focusing on minimally processed foods helps get you through the worst days of recovering from being glutened. Again, it’s time that is your friend, but helping your body along the way is essential. Be good to yourself!
  • Teas. In my research, everyone has a go-to tea. Mine is mint. Others prefer ginger. Stomach-soothing teas are what you want and need.
  • Drink Lots of Water. It helps keep your system moving, your body hydrated, and brain functioning.

How do you handle an accidental glutening?

Tip of the Week

While there are many over-the-counter products that claim to cure the effects of ingesting gluten, they don’t really deliver. They may contain ingredients that reduce symptoms, like bloating, but there really, truly, honestly isn’t a cure for a glutening.

Gluten-Free Meal of the Week

If you’ve been glutened, you want something comforting that meets all of the above criteria. Now is definitely not the time to try something new and adventurous. For me, this starts with lentil soup. My body instinctively turns to this soup whenever I need something hot and satisfying.

Lentil soup is also very customizable. You can take it in a Mediterranean direction, Indian direction, Latin American direction — all by mixing up the seasonings you choose. My only rule when it comes to this soup is a bit of acid at the end: lemon juice, lime juice, or vinegar. A bit of this brightens the flavor.

Normally, I would recommend this soup with a bit of crusty gluten-free bread. After a glutening, I suggest avoiding the bloat that accompanies the bread — a really good fruit salad hits the spot instead!

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