Tips for Recovering from Gluten Contamination

Consumed some gluten and feeling pretty bad? These steps can help ease recovery.

These tips for recovering from gluten contamination from our friend Jennifer Harris can help you navigate the murky waters of consuming gluten. If you’ve been “dosed” with gluten due to cross contamination, grabbing the wrong package of cookies or some other situation, these steps can help.

For tips on setting up your kitchen to avoid cross contamination, check out guide to getting started gluten-free.

No matter how careful we are with reading labels and asking questions at restaurants, there is a possibility we will come into contact with gluten through cross contamination.  For me, getting exposed to gluten is painful both physically and emotionally and my symptoms have changed over time, but they always start with an extreme headache and hot flash.  When these two things happen it is imperative that we get home immediately.

The physical symptoms seem to pass quickly now, but the emotional ones seem to linger.  For me, that means feeling depressed and anxious for more than a week after exposure.  The fatigue and achiness also seems to linger, but lessens for me with mild exercise and by going back to my normal routine.

There is no magic remedy to immediately stop the symptoms, but listed below are the methods I use to alleviate my reaction to gluten and speed up the healing process.

Steps After Consuming Gluten:

Push Fluids:

    • WATER – helps to flush out the system
    • Ginger – settles the stomach and can help stop the cramping. Try ginger tea or ginger ale.
    • Replenish your electrolytes to keep dehydration away. (Which can result from multiple trips to the bathroom.)  We don’t drink Gatorade at our house due to the artificial colors/flavors, so we use coconut water.  Coconut water is a very natural way to replace your electrolytes and it can be bought plain or with added fruit juice.  It tastes good too!

Get a LOT of sleep:

    • Sleep as much as you can in the first hours and over the next couple of days.  It gives your body time to rest and heal.

Eat in moderation:

  • We like to keep comfort foods in the house at all times, just in case there is an issue.  For me, these foods are: gluten-free crackers, chicken broth, ginger ale and instant mashed potatoes.  We make the mashed potatoes using chicken broth to add extra protein.  When these foods are properly digesting, then we move on to  gluten-free toast or a plain piece of bread.
  • Stay away from dairy during your recovery as your villi are in no position to digest it until you begin to recover.  We use either almond milk or coconut milk to make the mashed potatoes.


    • Taking an increased amount of Probiotics after the majority of your symptoms have passed will help promote the growth of the good bacteria in your gut that has been washed away from the gluten
    • I take  Digestive Enzymes.  Digestive Enzymes are a natural way to speed up digestion, so they help to push the gluten through your system quicker.
    • GlutenEase – is a product that was designed to be taken when you are exposed to gluten.  I haven’t taken it before, but some people do report success in alleviating their symptoms and speeding up the healing process.  It is designed to assist in normalizing inflammatory response to the gluten peptide, thus better digesting and utilizing gluten containing foods.  This product can be found locally at most health food stores.
    • Tylenol or Advil can help take away my headaches and reduce the swelling in my joints. Tylenol is generally easier on the stomach.
    • Charcoal pills are taken by some to bind up and usher out the ‘gluten’ to keep your body from reacting to it. Charcoal pills are traditionally used to reduce excess gas/wind in the gut. They are also sometimes used to calm indigestion or reduce diarrhea, because the charcoal neutralizes and absorbs methane or sulfide intestinal gases.
    • L-glutamine helps to promote a healthy digestive track and it is helpful for gastro-intestinal disorders and depression which can result from gluten contamination.


      • After the first three days, I like to add light exercise to the recovery process.  This can help to alleviate the swelling in your joints and produces endorphins that can lessen anxiety.

On Avoiding Gluten:

If ever you are in doubt on the gluten-free status of a product, drug, over-the-counter medicine, lipstick, or food at a restaurant the safest bet is not to eat it. That will ensure you will not suffer cross contamination.  It’s your body, so make your decisions wisely.  Hopefully the advice listed above will help you manage and recover from cross contamination swiftly.


Article Courtesy: Jennifer Harris

14 thoughts on “Tips for Recovering from Gluten Contamination

  1. I also have found that in extremely painful flair ups with lots of cramping and nausea that phenegren (prescribed by my doctor) helps and allows you to get the needed sleep and keep down the comfort foods.

  2. My symptoms from cross contamination vary, but does anyone else suffers from severe constipation after eating gluten accidently? And also if GlutenEase or something would help with that.

  3. Hey Betsy:

    I definatly get extreme constipation from gluten food ! Its probably my main symptom. When I eat something with gluten (or anything with artificial ingredients + consistency) I will get stomach burning senation, feels like the food will just sit in my tummy and produce a toxic gas, and then it just backs up my digestion. From there, my body reacts with migraines, brain fog, weakness, fatigue…the usual !

    I find that the only thing that works for me is to CONSTANTLY avoid gluten by eating very little amounts of food, using a laxative if necessary, drinking water, and exercise. Its the worst to exercise when my system is clogged, but its one of those good pains. haha, this food intol thing is pretty daunting as a 24 year old male… i was normal, now I can't eat anything normal ! Family history + lung infection and antibiotics i believe led to the shift. C'est la vie, je pense.

  4. I am so glad to find that there are others with such horrible symptoms. I get tachycardia (fast hear rate) nausea, burning in my gut, chest pain, body aches, fatigue, weakness, light headedness etc. I thought I was having a heart attack but my doc checked me out, heart fine and so is everthing else. He asked me about cross contamination with my diet. I told him I had a gluten free pizza at a restaurant the other day and he said I probably got cross contamination. This is not the first time this has happened. I have the genetic markers for celiac and it seems to be getting worse as I get older. I have read that celiac is an auto immune disease and the body will attack itself if gluten is eaten. I really am beginning to understand the part about it attacking itself. It's kind of scary when you don't understand what it can do to the body. So thanks for sharing your experiences, they have been so helpful.

  5. Question about probiotics. Is it okay if the source of probiotics are just homemade yogurt, or should I take supplements? I've been seeing some supplements that contain billions of the good bacteria and some of the best probiotic strains. I saw a video that says that homemade yogurt is better than store-bought ones, but is it a good alternative to supplements? btw, here's the link to the video I mentioned :

    1. The issue with probiotics is how much you need, just like with anything – we can't make general statements – there are SO MANY supplements out there! With the yogurt, we agree that homemade is better than the sugar – dye – artificially flavored options out there for a number of reasons, not just probiotics! There are some really good plain or honey sweetened Greek yogurts available if you don't want to make yours at home – we like Fage, Organic Valley & Oikos.

  6. I was told by my GI that in order to get adequate probiotics you should take a supplement, he said the amount in yogurt just isn't enough. I have been GF 6months and I still suffer from symptoms of stabbing pain in my abdomen mostly left side, racing heart, joint and muscle pain it has been so hard emotionally on my family as a 35year old mother of 3 its not very convenient in my crazy world. I find that peppermint tea, and a heating pad are my best friend!

    Take care all~

  7. I also suffer from being so bloated that my clothes, even my roomy clothes do not fit. I end up looking like I am 3 months pregnant and it takes weeks for it to go away. Looking back, I have been allergic to Gluten all my life. The racing heart, anxiety, foggy head. I literally could not staple a group of papers together without confusion and feeling like I was about to have a panic attack. I recently have been drinking the boboa teas at Luna Berry, not thinking they had Gluten in them, and now I am paying the price for it. I feel awful and don't want anyone to see me.
    I drink coconut water, drink lots of water, try to eat little and natural foods with Udi bread. I also take Midol for teens, diurex pills, smooth move tea, and prozac for the emotional up and downs, it is a very low dose that I take daily, but it helps.
    I also have found that the older I get, the worse I feel when contaminated. Is that normal?

  8. The charcoal pills are something new in my research. When would you take those….straight away? What if you're somewhere and you're pretty sure you're going to encounter cross-contamination, can you take those as a "better safe than sorrry" like you can with the enzymes? I'm really dreading the holidays this year, it's my first ones gluten-free.

  9. Hey all, I have so many of the same symptoms when I encounter cross contamination. For those with continuous reactions, cut out MSG aka mono sodium glutamate because it is driven from beats, grains or wheat but it will never be specified. This means no Doritos or flavored chips in many cases, kettle is pretty good about not using it, also MSG is horrible to the body, I'll have reactions from restrants more than anything but I've been g free for many years and I'm only 23. And college kids-great for research projects which I've utilized, be safe out there everyone!

  10. Hi, just wanted to warn everyone to be really careful with L-Glutamine. We started my daughter on it during a course of antibiotics and she became very ill. Turns out L-Glutamine can be manufactured from wheat berries. The bottle was not labeled that way at all.

  11. I just recently got glutened. 🙁 pizza place who was good last time gave me gluten full pizza and not knowing ate a whole slice and thought…this doesn't seem right….they totally got it wrong.
    My digestive system stopped. I thought I'd have diarrhea like I did when I went off gluten 2 years ago. But nope…just a lump in my tummy slowly poisoning me. It made my joints all achy and I'm slowly developing a rash all over my face and neck and itching all over. That is new since I'm not allergic, just intolerant/celiac?
    Anyway after talking to my chiro she said to drink TONS of water. And get the laxative foods. I looked up the master cleanse and it said to jump start drink 25-35 oz purified water with 1 tsp of sea salt. It's gross… But I'd rather do that then have this rash spread! I also picked up a chamomile mask to help calm my skin down.
    This is horrible. Someone's irresponsibility and lack of attention to detail is now my sufferings.
    Calgon…take me away!!!

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