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Celiac disease constipation is one of those celiac symptoms that seem to fly under the radar. So many of us complain of being married to the bathroom after gluten exposure but some us seem to experience shall I say a temporary “break” in their relationship with the bathroom. While it’s not as widely known as other digestive issues associated with celiac disease, constipation can be a symptom of celiac.
In this post I will answer the following questions:
- Can celiac disease cause constipation?
- What causes celiac disease constipation?
- How can you relieve celiac disease constipation?
Can celiac disease cause constipation?
You are considered to have constipation if you have less than 3 bowel movements a week. So can constipation be a symptom of celiac disease? The short answer is Yes, celiac disease can cause constipation. There are over 200 known symptoms associated with celiac disease, and constipation is one of them. Along with diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, sour stomach, and others.
What causes celiac disease constipation?
There are a few things that could cause celiac disease constipation. It could be your diet, lifestyle, or potential exposure to gluten.
Your gluten-free diet and celiac disease constipation
While a gluten-free diet can be rich in fiber, it also can lack it. A diet is full of processed gluten-free foods could be causing things to get a little backed-up. Often, gluten-free alternatives aren’t as rich in fiber as their gluten-filled versions. So if you’re look to point a finger at the cause of your toilet woes, you might want to evaluate your eating pattern.
Your lifestyle and celiac disease constipation
Lifestyle factors like like not drinking enough water or participating in routine enjoyable activity can impact your bowel movements. Your celiac disease constipation could be due to you not getting in enough sleep or physical activity.
Also remember, any sudden change in your typical eating pattern can upset things. Are you on vacation or did you just get back from a weekend on the beach? Have you been extra stressed lately? These things can impact your bowel movements too.
Gluten exposure could cause celiac constipation
Were you exposed to gluten recently? That certainly can disrupt normal bowel movements and cause constipation. Focus on eating normally and drinking enough water. (I’ll sometimes even drink coffee to help encourage things). Remember that it will pass.
You might also consider building a Gluten-Exposure Recovery Kit that features things you can easily access when you’re glutened. You can find a list of items that I have in mine here if you need inspiration.
How can you relieve celiac disease constipation?
There a few things you can try to find relief from celiac disease constipation and other forms of constipation. My top suggestion however, is to practice self-care. As always, if you are concerned, talk to your doctor about your symptoms!
Drink enough water
Believe it or not, water is very important when it comes to healthy poops. This is one of the many reasons why you should make sure you’re drinking enough. The general recommendation for healthy adults is 8 cups a day.
Eat fiber rich foods
If you’re looking to improve celiac constipation via your diet, consider slowly adding in more fiber-rich food. Things like fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and beans are all gluten-free fiber-rich options. Make sure you add these foods in slowly as your body will need time to adjust to the increase in fiber.
Also, remember, when you increase your fiber intake, you need increase your water intake to keep things moving. Like I said previously, dinking enough water is important for healthy poops. If you don’t get enough water while increasing your fiber intake, you’ll get nowhere fast.
Consider supplements and laxatives
If you’re really struggling with keeping things moving, consider supplements and laxatives. If you choose to go this route, make sure to consult your doctor to make sure your selections are safe for you.
Stress can wreak havoc on your health and bowel movements. Whether you endured a stressful food situation, or you’re just generally stressed, relaxing can help encourage things to move along.
Consider reading a book, practicing yoga, deep breathing, spending time in nature, or watching a movie. I personally find relief by sipping on mint tea and watching a good movie. The child yoga pose also does wonders for me.
A heating pad or compress held to your lower back might help relieve any discomfort you might have there from the back-up. A hot bath or standing in a hot shower could provide similar relief as well (not to mention it might give you some time to relax more).
Get enough sleep and movement
Take a step back and look at your current habits and stress-level? Consider what you might be able to do to improve your current situation to support better bowel movements and health. Are you getting 7-8 hours of sleep? Are you engaging in routine enjoyable activity? Might there be some things you can do to help cope with stressors? These things could help with constipation.
Hopefully, this post has provided you some insight on celiac disease constipation. Let me know your favorite form of relief when things get stuck in the comments below.
If you’re concerned about the symptoms you’re experiencing (including constipation), speak with your doctor (or dietitian) who specializes in GI disorders like celiac disease. This post, nor any post on my website (Tayler.Silfverduk.us) is meant to take the place of individualized medical care.
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What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that impacts the digestive track. Basically, when you have celiac disease your body attacks itself when you eat food that contain gluten. This causes damage to the small intestine that can lead to malabsorption, nutrient deficiencies, stomach cancer, and more.
There is also a condition called non-celiac gluten sensitivity. This means that someone does not have celiac disease but they are still sensitive to gluten. Often symptoms of celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity can look like each other which is why it’s important to rule out celiac disease with testing.
Either way, a gluten-free lifestyle is restrictive. Whether you are gluten-free because of celiac disease or because of non-celiac gluten sensitivity, self-care is important to maintaining a healthy gluten-free lifestyle.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is the process of taking care of yourself. It’s not rocket science, it’s just simply making time for you.
Self-care is a positive approach to coping with events and life. This can apply to both physical and mental health and can include activities that help you cope and relieve symptoms of different medical conditions.
Whether it be work, friends, family, your home, etc. it’s hard to take care of these things when we are lacking in the self-care department. You can’t pour from a glass that’s empty.
Why self-care is important when you have Celiac Disease:
While self-care is important always, no matter what, it’s especially vital when you’re following a restrictive lifestyle, like the gluten-free lifestyle. It can help you cope with feelings of isolation. It can help you cope with feeling misunderstood, unsupported, frustrated, lonely, hangry, and sick.
Let’s be real, it sucks having a disease that impacts an integral part of life. Eating is a very social activity and when you have a restrictive diet, it get’s upsetting fast. It can get lonely, frustrating, and just downright exhausting. Constantly having to think 10x harder about going to lunch with friends or attending a holiday party is taxing.
This is why you have to make sure that you are taking care of you, first and foremost, so that you can advocate for yourself fearlessly and effortlessly.
How to Practice Self-care when you have Celiac Disease
First of all, let me say, I get it. Self-care is hard. It’s hard to love yourself when it feels like your body has betrayed you. How dare it request that you remove what feels like an entire, tasty, delicious, food group.
So I won’t sit here and pretend like self-care will be an easy habit you’ll be able to just pick up at the drop of a hat. No, it will likely be hard to make the time and to find practices that help you. Despite this, much like switching to a gluten-free diet was hard but necessary, so is practicing self-care.
Self-care, when you have celiac disease, can involve developing habits that help prevent gluten exposure. Alternatively, it can involve creating a plan for how you will let yourself recover after gluten exposure.
Self-care Practice Ideas for People with Celiac Disease
- Journal your way to better gluten-free living with my Celiac Disease Wellness Journal
- Be forgiving – your cousin didn’t mean to gluten you
- Be self-compassionate – you are only human.
- Be grateful – your friends don’t have to support you
- Advocate for yourself relentlessly – no one else is going to do it for you
- Give yourself permission to say “no” to social invites – it’s for your own sanity
- Embrace “JOMO” – the joy of missing out can mean the joy of zero gluten exposure and zero stress
- Only accept support – surround yourself with people who understand and will help advocate for you
- Join a support group – it can feel amazing venting to people who just get it
- Develop a self-care plan – for the week, month year, and for when you’re sick, exposure to gluten, or feeling unmotivated
- Meal-prep – take the stress out of figuring out safe foods to eat by preparing ahead of time
- Hire a gluten-free lifestyle expert/coach – this is totally shameless self-promotion right here, but hi! My name is Tayler Silfverduk, let me coach and support you
- Eat more fruits and vegetables – nourish and health that gut
- Start a food journal – keep track of foods that might be additional triggers for you. Are you sensitive to cross-reactive foods? Specific brands? Can you tolerate food processed on the same equipment? What about the same facility?
- Set, Communicate, and Uphold Boundaries – keep yourself safe and create peace of mind by letting people know what you expect so that you can stay safe
- Eat mindfully – eating mindfully can help you hone into your intuitive eating skills and potentially help you eat even more safely
Want more guidance? I developed a self-care planner specifically for people with celiac disease! Click the link below to grab YOUR copy!
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When I was diagnosed with celiac disease, the holidays became a stressful time for me. I was surrounded by family who was a mix of either clueless, supportive, or skeptical of my dietary needs. It made eating safely difficult.
In the very beginning, I didn’t know how to adapt. I sometimes resorted to just not eating until I got home.
This left me feeling isolated. Part of socializing with your loved ones is so very much centered around sharing a meal with them.
So here are my top tips for being a gluten-free guest during the holiday season. Hopefully, they will help alleviate some of your worries and stress over the holiday season!
Communicate with the Host
First off, talk with the host about your dietary needs. See if they are willing to make any accommodations and if they’d like help planning the event. Depending on how close the host is to you, this can be a huge game changer.
If they are open to accommodating and accepting your help, suggest safe recipes for the even. You can also offer to assist them with preparation! Both of these things will help you prevent cross-contamination and ensure that there are safe dishes.
If they aren’t open to help, if anything, you can use this time to let them know you’ll bring your own dish/es so you know that you’ll have something safe to eat!
(Letting your hosts know you are bringing your own dishes can help prevent people from feeling offended when you arrive and only eat your own food).
Bring your own dish
The best way to know you’ll have something safe to eat is to bring your own dish!
I do this almost everytime I go to an event. It ensures I can be a part of the party!
On that note, I also am also sure to bring my own dessert and snacks to make sure I am not left out in any part of the experience.
I’ve been known to bring my own chips and salsa, dairy-free and gluten-free ice cream, etc.
Stay Strong & Say No
This is probably the hardest tip to abide by. Don’t worry, I’ve been there. I’ve been mean-mugged by someone’s grandma for not touching my mac and cheese.
Sorry not sorry, I’m not going to poison myself to satisfy someone’s ego.
As hard as it might be, just say no. Try to explain the situation and stick to your guns. There will be things you won’t be able to eat because of cross-contamination. It is almost an inevitable sucker that will ruin certain dishes for you so just come to peace with respectfully saying no. (No matter how hard your aunt pressures you to try her newest recipe!).
This goes for all the dishes you are unsure about. Stay on the safe side and just say no.
Say Thank You
Be sure you thank your host profusely for accommodating your needs.
Let them know you appreciate everything they did. If you’re able to identify specific things that they did, try to bring those up! It will help them know you saw them, and it will help them know what will be helpful in the future.
You might also help them with clean-up (if they allow) to show your thanks.
Other Tips For Being a Gluten-Free Guest During the Holiday Season
If any meal is served buffet style, make sure you are first to go through the line. Communicate with the host that your needs require you to go first in order to limit accidental cross-contamination!
If the host is making an effort to prepare GF dishes, ask if they can be set up at a different table for serving.