Celiac Disease Weight Gain – Why you might gain weight after your diagnosis
Let’s talk about weight-gain and celiac disease. Weight change, in general, is normal following a celiac disease diagnosis. Everyone’s body responds to the healing process differently after their diagnosis. Some people might gain weight on a gluten-free diet, and some people might lose weight. Again, it all depends on your unique body.
So let’s talk about celiac disease weight gain, why it might happen, and how you might deal with it.
Why do some people gain weight with celiac disease?
It’s never as simple as someone is just “stuffing” their face full of gluten-free processed foods. This accusation makes me angry to see and I see it everywhere. I see it on celiac and gluten-free forums and in the comments of my own page. I hate this assumption because It plays into diet culture.
Weight is not a behavior. Meaning someone’s weight does not define someone’s habits or well-being. You can’t look at someone and define their eating habits or health based on how much space they take up.
Well-being and health are so much more than just a number on a scale. While health is subjective and often has a different definition depending on who you talk to, it’s again, not related to your scale. It’s related to your sleep habits, stress factors, self-care habits, enjoyable activity, and so much more.
With all of that being said, let’s really dive into the why behind celiac disease weight gain…
Reason number 1: Your small intestine is healing, meaning you can finally use nutrients!
You experience weight gain following a celiac disease diagnosis because your body is moving out of a malnourished state. Depending on how damaged your small intestine was before your diagnosis, you likely weren’t absorbing all of the nutrients you could be in your small intestine. You might have been deficient or lacking in nutrients and now that your gut is healing, your body is responding by absorbing and storing nutrients (weight-gain).
This is entirely normal. Your weight gain is a sign that your body is becoming better nourished. In short, ITS A GREAT SIGN! Yay!
Reason number 2: You’re finding GF alternatives that you enjoy / You’re finally able to enjoy food again!
When I was first diagnosed, it seemed like everything upset my stomach. After figuring out what was causing it, I suddenly wasn’t as afraid of all foods. Meaning I was able to enjoy it again – and there is nothing wrong with that.
Enjoying food again is a natural process of switching to a gluten-free lifestyle (you might also mourn other foods but that’s for a different post). If you find yourself eating more and enjoying more, thats a beautiful thing that should not be shamed.
Let your body learn that it can trust food again and don’t fear the few extra pounds that might come along with that. (Working with a dietitian might be able to help with this process).
Reason number 3: you’re trying to learn how to tune into your hunger/fullness cues after they were masked by GI distress for so long.
The nasty symptoms associated with consuming gluten when you have celiac disease can make it difficult to tune into the cues of your body. Bloating and constipation can mask hunger and other symptoms can mask fullness.
As your gut heals and your symptoms become rare, tuning into your hunger and fullness cues will become easier. With that, you might also notice weight change as you begin to nourish your body as it desires.
Weight change with this is also normal. Honoring your body’s needs is important and should not be shamed.
How to deal with the celiac disease weight gain:
A lot of people after they gain weight following their diagnosis, want to lose it again. My response to those people would be, why? Is it truly because you want to be healthier? If it is, I’d argue that health and well-being can be measured in ways OTHER than your clothing size.
I’d also argue that having healed your small intestine from potentially years of damage would suggest that you are healthy. The weight gain in response to finally being able to nourish yourself would suggest health. Something I’ve been doing more recently to cope with my weight gain is reminding myself that “I’ve gained weight and I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been”.
For me, losing weight would be fighting against my body’s needs and desires. Instead, I focus on other things that can help support my body and health goals. Like engaging in enjoyable physical activity, getting enough sleep, limiting stress, and honoring my hunger and fullness cues.
Do you need support or help dealing with your weight change? Feel free to contact me or reach out to a trusted doctor with your struggles!
DISCLAIMER: If you’re concerned about your weight-change, always consult your doctor. This is not an all-inclusive list behind weight-gain, but a starting place.