Celiac Brain Fog + 10 Ways to Cope
Celiac brain fog is something many with celiac disease complain of. Here’s why this mental fog happens and 10 ways to cope with it.
What is Celiac Brain Fog?
As opposed to regular mental fog, celiac brain fog is a reaction to eating gluten in people with celiac. Essentially, it’s brain fog but celiac-related.
It’s not a widely accepted symptom and is generally poorly understood with celiac. Despite this, it remains one of the 300+ reported symptoms of celiac. Other symptoms include constipation, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, bloating, headaches, and more.
While not widely accepted, it impacts many celiacs. In fact, a survey by Beyond Celiac reported that 89% of celiacs surveyed reported brain fog after eating gluten.
What Does it Feel Like?
In that same survey by Beyond Celiac on the prevalence of brain fog in celiacs, they also polled respondents on how they’d describe it. Many described their brain fog as difficulty concentrating, mental confusion, forgetfulness, detachment, and grogginess.
As a celiac who gets brains fog after eating gluten, I would describe it as everything taking more mental energy to do. Even simple tasks feel 10x harder to manage with it.
How Long Does Brain Fog Last After Eating Gluten?
It’s reported that celiac brain fog starts as soon as 30 minutes after eating gluten. It’s then reported to last anywhere from a few days to almost a week. Again, researchers don’t understand why the mental fog happens but that doesn’t discredit the fact that so many of us experience it.
It’s important to note that if your brain fog persists as you heal celiac, than it’s likely related to something else. You should feel better after healing celiac. Symptoms should only appear as you’re exposed to gluten. If you need help with self-soothing, check out this post on what to do when you’ve been glutened.
How to Cope With Brain Fog
Perhaps the most important part of this discussion is how do you cope with mental fog? How do you cope with everything feeling so much harder?
Here’s a list of things that I do care for myself when I have brain fog:
- Keep a running to-do list of tasks that don’t require a lot of mental energy to do when you’re experiencing brain fog.
- Prioritize – now is not the time to try to do it all. If you ever needed an excuse to take things off your to-do list, here it is. Focus on what absolutely has to get done only.
- Try to make time for rest whenever possible. If I can schedule more frequent breaks in my workday or squeeze in a few hours of sleep a day, I do it.
- Move your body to wake it up. While it doesn’t completely eliminate my brain fog, doing physical activity does help me think clearer.
- Keep your space tidy. As someone who gets easily distracted, this is essential for brain fog as my ability to get distracted increases 10 fold with it.
- Maintain basic self-care practices. It’s easy to let self-care habits go with brain fog but they are the most important to carry you through. Do things that fill your cup as you deal with the constant emptying of it with brain fog.
- Do a brain dump to let go of all the unnecessary information floating around in your mind.
- Make sure you’re eating enough. Not only does your body need energy to heal but it needs energy to function. Make sure you’re giving your brain every chance you can to work by nourishing yourself.
- Keep convenience meal or freezer meals availalbe for times like this. Times where you just don’t have the energy or the mental space to figure out what to eat.
- Be gentle with yourself. Things are harder and your brain power is low. Remember to show yourself some grace as you go about your day.
Celiac brain fog is common with celiacs. However, it should resolve within 2-3 weeks of gluten exposure. And if it’s a symptom of your intestinal damage, it should improve as you heal. If it’s not getting better, it might be time to talk to a celiac specialist about what else could be going on.