was I glutened or is it something else?
“Was I glutened or is it something else?”, this is the age old question I think many people with celiac face at some point or another.
A lot of people who have been diagnosed with celiac, have felt unheard and unseen for years by their doctor. So I’m not going to sit here and tell you that if you think you’ve been glutened you’re wrong. If you think you’ve been exposed to gluten, you probably have.
However, if you can’t figure out what in the world could have possibly triggered you or if you’re unsure, then this post is for you. There are some things to consider when trying to figure out if you were glutened or not.
Symptoms of Gluten exposure
When you have celiac disease a cascade of inflammatory and harmful reactions happen when you eat gluten. A lot of these reactions overlap with non-celiac gluten-sensitivity, food sensitivities, other GI conditions, and things like foodborne illness, stress and more.
Symptoms of gluten exposure can include but are not limited to:
- change in mood stability
- brain fog
- joint pain
- body aches
and more. These symptoms of gluten exposure like mentioned above, overlap with so many other conditions, so how do you know if it’s gluten exposure or if it’s another food sensitivity, if it’s stress, or something else?
How long do gluten exposure symptoms last?
People report gluten exposure symptoms lasting anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Depending on the symptom, I’d be sure to check-in with your doctor if you’re concerned.
Things to consider when determining gluten exposure
If you’re newly diagnosed, it might feel espeically hard to be able to tell the difference between gluten exposure and something else. If this is you, I first want to say that I know it might feel overwhelming or scary to be in this situation, know that as you start to learn and pay attention to your body, it will get easier to discern the difference for yourself.
With that being said, ultimately, you are the expert on your body and so unless you’re using a test to verify gluten exposure, you’re your own best decider here.
When trying to decide if you were glutened or if it is something else, consider:
- Past reactions (is this similar to your reactions to gluten in the past?)
- At-home gluten detection test (this is an affiliate link).
- Evaluate stress levels in the past few days
- Reflect on emotions around food
- Have you eaten a for at high-risk for food-borne illness?
- Are there other food sensitivities at play?
- Did you eat something that just didn’t sit well?
At-home gluten detection test
At-home gluten detection tests (this is an affiliate link) can help take out any question on if you were exposed to gluten or not. This at-home test can offer results in as soon as 10-15 minutes!
That being said, this might not be financially feasible for everyone or for every time you might find yourself facing this question. It’s up to you to decide if this option is right for you but it is something to consider.
Evaluate stress levels in the past few days
Depending on your stress or anxiety levels over the past few days, this could trigger similar symptoms to gluten exposure. When we are extremely or chronically stressed, energy that would usually be directed towards digestion can be instead redirected to our defensive state. If you’ve experienced a lot of stress lately, reflect on if it’s maybe impacted your GI system.
Stress can cause your GI tract to move slower potentially causing gas and bloating, it can impact efficiency of digestion and absorption, and so much more.
Additionally, if you find yourself stressed and anxious around food (that reflect on your emotions around food piece) then that can trigger the above too. If this sounds like you, you might consider the following:
Consider food-borne illness
A lot of the symptoms of gluten exposure overlap with food-borne illness. Think back on what you’ve consumed in the past few days, was there anything that wasn’t cooked to the right temperature or was at the edge of expiration?
Some foods at high-risk for carrying pathogens that can cause food-borne illness include meat, seafood, eggs, dairy, soy, prepared fruits and vegetables, sprouts, cooked rice and pasta.
If you are concerned about food-borne illness, contact your health care provider ASAP.
Is there a food sensitivity at play?
Food sensitivities and food intolerances can show up along side celiac disease. Sometimes when we are experiencing symptoms of gluten exposure it might be another food triggering these symptoms.
I want to say, it’s really important that if you are considering food sensitivities or food intolerances, please make sure you work with a dietitian to help you get to the root of the cause. It’s important that you aren’t unnecessarily restricting foods and a dietitian can help make sure you aren’t.
That being said, sometimes you might of just eaten something that just didn’t sit well with you and it’s nothing more than that. Something to consider too.
With all of this being said, ultimately if you’re concerned about the symptoms you’re experiencing, talk to your doctor to make sure it’s not anything serious.
When you’re first diagnosed differentiating gluten exposure from other GI woes can be difficult. Be gentle with yourself as you learn the ropes of this new diagnosis.