GLUTENED! How long before you feel better?


Gluten sucks

No matter how hard we try, we all find ourselves accidentally glutened every now and again. The symptoms are different for each of us, as are what we do to make ourselves feel better as fast as possible.

My question here is, when you are accidentally contaminated by gluten how long does it normally take you to get over it? To feel better? To feel like yourself again? How long does it take to feel better after eating gluten?

Personally I think it depends on a few factors – I think that how much gluten I accidentally consumed plays a big part as does how I was feeling at the time I was glutened. Another factor is whether or not I have the time to relax and allow myself to heal afterwards.

If for example I ate half a tub of ice cream before realising that it contained natural flavours sourced from wheat I would probably feel a lot worse and for a lot longer than if I had a couple of crackers which were made on shared equipment with gluten containing products.

Similarly whether I’m in good health or whether I’m feeling extra tired or worn out already when the gluten gets me is another factor. I tend to bounce back much slower if I’m already not feeling too great.

If I accidentally eat gluten at home where I have time to relax, sleep and eat and drink the things which help me to feel better I will definitely feel myself again quicker than I would if I were caught out when travelling or working and couldn’t find the time to relax.

It of course isn’t an exact science but on average I would say that it probably takes me around from 3 to 5 days to feel better. In saying this, I’ve never accidentally eaten a lot of gluten. The only times I’ve been glutened in the past three years have been from accidentally eating something with ‘natural flavours’ sourced from wheat. ‘gluten free’ products made on shared equipment with wheat or through cross contamination when eating out. I have never accidentally eaten wheat pasta or bitten into a gluten filled brownie. I’ve heard from some celiac friends who in the past have accidentally taken a bite of a whole wheat muffin or chocolate cake before finding out that they were incorrectly labelled as gluten free. I can only imagine the extreme symptoms that would come from eating that much gluten! I’m sure if this were to happen it would be much longer before I healed and started to feel like myself again.

UPDATE (March 2015) I’m currently experiencing the worst exhaustion of my life (more intense than exhaustion from pregnancy!) and I’ve had it for 10 days so far. Since it feels worse than gluten to me, I’m getting all the blood tests under the sun. However, if nothing turns up and it turns out that I really did just get accidentally glutened, the way my body deals with accidental gluten has changed greatly from when I first wrote this post! And it’s an even less pleasant experience than before. I’ll let you know what happens..

What are your experiences of this? How long does it normally take you to feel like yourself again after being glutened?

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  • Oh dear, now I’m even more scared! I’ve been gluten free for six months, and my doctor has advised me to go back on it for a month, so I can get diagnosed. I’m almost OCD about avoiding gluten, so being glutenated every day ON PURPOSE is going to suck! I wish there was a better way…

    Follow my gluteny month here:

  • I got glutened Saturday and felt horrible Sunday. Today I feel better but the bathroom business is on and off more off now. My stomach hurts but it’s going away. Who knows how long this will last!

  • Thanks for sharing, Hannah and I hope my posts haven’t scared you too much! Doing the gluten challenge for your biopsy is definitely not going to be a lot of fun but hopefully you will be happy once you have definitive results 🙂 I also like that you plan to eat all the awesome things you are going to miss. That’s what I would do too 🙂 Wishing you the best of luck!

    J, I hope you feel better soon! I’m glad to hear the pains are going away.

  • Usually takes me 4 to 6 weeks to get over glutening. As of now, I’m still recovering from a glutening in mid-July.

  • Wow, Else, that’s a long time. Does it take that long after just being contaminated by something made or shared equipment etc? Or as a result of accidentally eating something made from wheat/gluten? Could it be related to an additional intolerance? I hope you feel better soon!!

  • For me it is usually 2 to 3 days before I feel like I am over it. Mind you, I have not been at all glutened (at least that I know) since November of last year (9 1/2 months ago). The best thing is that my lactose intolerance has greatly diminished and may even be gone. I am about to try a Dairy Queen cone (minus the cone of course-I do have Gluten Free Cones but I don’t think they will let me use them) to see if that will trigger a lactose reaction.

  • Rachel

    Sep 6th, 2012

    I have been gluten-free for almost 10 years and I never make the mistake I made today. I read the ingredients of food I buy thoroughly, and have no idea how I missed “breadcrumbs”. I hate to blame it on baby brain, but I am pregnant and things are not functioning properly. I freaked out bu thought that maybe my pregnant be able to process it just this once. WRONG. I feel awful. I can’t imagine more than a day of this 🙁

  • I definitely know how you all feel! I went to dinner at my
    Moms last night and she surprised me with a gluten free yellow cake for desser.. Well turns our that cake surprised me instead 🙁 not knowing it called for vanilla extract I ate a hearty slice and now am paying the repercussions. Having been Celiac for 7 years I am extremely careful with hidden ingredients and chemicals/dyes.. Typically after being glutened I feel a horrible throbbing pain like “punching”, my fingers swell and it’s hard to breathe for up to 5/6 hours. Miralax, lots of water, light foods that are soft and easy to digest, a probiotic and so forth ( however, acidic, caffeine or dairy) are a must to stay away from too the next day, for me that is) the pain can take about 2-5 days to heal
    And the extreme distended bloating goes away in about 2-3 days.. Try light exercise, sauna, massage and heat packs on the intestinal area of the stomach.. A couple of ibuprofen and tea (must all be labeled gluten free) are good in the very beginning. I’m
    on only 18 hours of this trek of pain as of now.. I hope everyone starts to feel better soon. Good luck all and feel better!

  • OMG i recently have bee diagnosed – last week was my first gluent free week and i felt amazing. then last night i was at a friends for dinner and the true test came with lasagna and i ate a lot… and worst decision ever… i hope this goes away within 24 hours.. having that much gluten after being gluten free for one week already proved i NEVER want to make that mistake again…

  • Rachael

    Mar 28th, 2013

    Thank goodness for this website. I feel so awful this week, fatigued, sickly. If I didn’t know better I’d say I was pregnant again! But no, ate out on Sunday and have been glutened. Unfortunately the restaurant didn’t intentionally gluten me, I fear I’ve been a victim of cross-contamination when they’ve made the dish. I was only diagnosed with Coeliac 2 months ago and wondered what it would feel like to be glutened, as I’ve eaten gluten all my life and thought I was fine. Now I know, and the end will be in site soon and no, I’m not adding to my brood!!! Thank you 🙂

  • 6 hours of feeling violently sick – 6 days of feeling that someone has been trampolining on my stomach – 6 weeks before I really feel back to my gluten free self – so its 666 – the number of the beast!!

  • How awful, Sky! I hope that gluten stays far away from you and that you never again have to feel the wrath of the beast! 🙂

  • Hannah

    Aug 4th, 2013

    This blog is really helpful and great! Thank you! I was diagnosed with celiac’s 8 years ago and have been on a gluten free diet ever since. I accidentally ate gluten one week ago, I felt absolutely awful for about 6 hours, for the next 24 hours I had some continuing stomach pains. I felt sort of normal for the next couple days but now the fatigue has really set in, I have not been able to get through yesterday or today without a nap. Fatigue usually lasts up to six weeks for me.

  • On Christmas day my brother accidentally put my gluten free brownies on the tray with the regular brownies. Here it is January 11th and i’m still sick. Vomiting off and on. In and out of the bathroom . Stomach aches. Fatigue. .muscle aches. When will this go away ??

  • I just read this with your update from March 2015. What was the outcome after your 10 days of exhaustion? Love your blog by the way.