Ask others who have gluten intolerance or celiac disease what to do when you inevitably, accidentally ingest gluten, and the answers you come up with will be varied. Some will tell you to induce vomiting, others will implore you not too, some will say to drink pineapple juice, take enzymes, even smoke some medical marijuana if you have it. But for an as yet incurable condition—gluten intolerance—is there anything reasonable, legal and helpful that you can do?
Unfortunately, most gluten-free authors are so concerned that their advice on the subject may lead people with gluten sensitivities to foolishly forego their gluten-free diets in favor of a “quick fix” of sorts, rendering an answer to the question of “how to handle an accidental gluten ingestion” utterly hard to find.
Of course, I wholeheartedly agree with reinforcement of the importance of maintaining a gluten free lifestyle. But mistakes do happen, people do “get glutened.” And when they do, which action is best?
- Do Not Induce Vomiting: Whether you ingest one milligram or one pound of gluten, experts agree that to induce vomiting would be incredibly dangerous and too disruptive of your body’s natural functions to even be taken into consideration.
- Consider Trying Enzymes: In my research, I found at least two renowned experts in field of gluten sensitivity who agree upon a way to help manage symptoms of an accidental gluten slip: enzymes.Dr. Kenneth Fine of EnteroLab, states, “The good news is that everyone will survive and recover the exposure. The enzymes you mention might help, but not completely, unless consumed at the same time for best results.” And he was also careful to warn, “Avoidance is still the best policy.”
Shari Lieberman, PhD, CNS, FACN and author of The Gluten Connection admits that “gluten slips happen,” and in her book quotes a study which measured the benefits of digestive enzymes to help manage those occasions: The study demonstrates that enzyme therapy can substantially minimize symptoms in people with CD who are exposed to gluten.
- Contact Your Doctor: While enzymes have helped me to manage and recover from the symptoms of accidental gluten slips (and casein slips), they are not meant to prevent damage, or cure gluten sensitivity. In the case of an accidental gluten overdose and intensified symptoms such as vomiting, pain, etc. contact your doctor.
Ultimately, I recommend keeping a bottle of enzymes like Enzymedica’s Gluten Ease on hand especially when travelling or dining out. But it is no substitute for doing your best to try to avoid hidden sources of gluten, as repeated offenses, even small ones, can cause irreversible damage. Enzymes help manage symptoms, but only the total avoidance of gluten can treat the cause, gluten sensitivity.