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Gluten Hangover Lingering...

I accidentally consumed gluten almost three weeks ago and I'm still suffering with the serious consequences. It usually takes me a solid month, depending upon the amount consumed, to fully recover from being "gluten-poisoned" it's been a long and challenging few weeks, to say the least.

I am a super-diligent gluten-free eater and am constantly researching new products, stores, and restaurants that are safe, etc. - so to have been caught so off guard this time around, is really disappointing. Here's what happened and I hope my warning can help some of you avoid repeating my harmful mistake.

I was at the opening of the new Whole Foods in Reno, NV and was so caught up in the excitement of the Gluten-Free frozen baked goods department and all the rows of new gluten-free products, that I believe I let my guard down a bit. In my excitement, I headed to the "prepared foods" section instead of my usual salad bar trip, hoping to find something warm and tasty at the Taco Bar. I managed to order some plain, cubed chicken, sautéed veggies and a small scoop of their delicious mashed potatoes. I was just about to be in the clear when I went back and asked for a scoop of the guacamole. Though I first asked if their was gluten (and the answer was no), I just had this sneaking suspicion that something wasn't right...or should I say, was so wrong. That snippet of doubt should have been all I needed to convince me to "just say no" but I dismissed
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my intuition and ate it anyway.

Within two hours, the usual time it takes my body to recognize gluten, I knew that I was in trouble and at that moment, was pretty darn sure that the guacamole was to blame.

I was right.

So, needless to say I've been reeling since July 3rd...suffering from serious brain fog that lingers, exhaustion, being unable to consume much food at all, and one really messed up stomach...not to mention the depression that starts to creep in when I've been feeling this way for so many days. I'm sure that this is not news to any of you out there...I'm just commiserating with "my people!"

Seriously though, what I've learned after several conversations with the Whole Foods store manager and marketing people is that all of their designated "prepared foods" sections are now strictly off limits to Celiacs - which can also include the salad I was told to eat there at my own risk.  As cautious as I am, and normally so aware, this was a mistake that I've definitely learned from and will hopefully prevent others from repeating, but mostly has served as a wake up call to myself and a strong reminder that trusting your "gut"...ha ha...or intuition, when it comes to knowing what is safe or not, is so important and usually our best ally.

So, as much as I love Whole Foods and realize that many of you out there most-likely shop there for your gluten-free products, as well, just be doubly safe the next time you approach the salad bar or any other prepared foods area.

Be safe.

Be well.

As always, welcomes your comments (see below).

Spread The Word

29 Responses:


said this on
23 Jul 2008 2:09:50 PM PST
I'm so sorry that this happened to you! Thanks for sharing your story. I would have never thought to ask if guacamole contained gluten. I think I've been getting a little lax about checking foods, and this was the wake-up call that I needed. I hope that you're feeling back to your Gluten-Free self very soon!


said this on
24 Jul 2008 6:58:41 AM PST
So what was in the guacamole that contained gluten?


said this on
24 Jul 2008 10:00:09 PM PST
First off, just wanted to say - that sucks! We went to a celebration dinner when my husband found a new job (about 2 years ago), and we went to a specific restaurant that always made my Gluten-Free pasta to order. Turns out they made my meal with regular pasta... Half a bowl and a month later, as I was packing up and moving I was still sick - all the usual symptoms were lingering.


said this on
25 Jul 2008 7:42:00 AM PST
Drinking only fruit juice for lunch or breakfast will help speed up your recovery time--I would say a week or two tops.

susan tighe

said this on
25 Jul 2008 11:02:38 AM PST
I suspect my husband may have Ceiliac. We have 5 daughters, one diagnosed last month, 3 others tested this month- 2 negative, 1 positive. 21 year old is refusing the blood test. Everything that my husband has been experiencing over the past 25 years is totally understandable IF he has Celiac...last month he moved out in his latest effort to find happiness. I tested negative, he sees his doctor today.

Lindy Loo Who

said this on
27 Jul 2008 2:06:06 PM PST
I, too, was doing fine in NZ and Australia on the WYD trip until I ate one wrong thing (by mistake). 5 days later I was still taking Lomatil to abate my symptoms and not ruin my trip. The best of intentions...

west end

said this on
29 Jul 2008 11:38:16 AM PST
I want to thank you for sharing your story. I just spent four days with my family who could not understand what it is like to be a celiac. I am the ONLY diagnosed one in the family. I would have to walk away because they were shoving gluten laden food in my face and on my plate. (needless to say, I used several plates.) I understand the recovery time for consuming gluten, and it sounds like I am not the only one who can suffer so much from such a small amount.

How can I get my family to understand that I cannot eat their comfort food, delicious as it may be?

Again thank you for sharing, I had been feeling quite alone in my gluten free world. It was nice to have the confirmation that I am not alone.

west end
Boise, ID


said this on
20 Nov 2009 9:16:04 AM PST
I feel alone too. Its nice to hear that other people often have difficulties. When a reaction occurs it does no good to hear people saying cheer up. Its not that simple. Wish you well.

Peter Jeno

said this on
30 Jul 2008 12:53:53 AM PST
To the person who suggested drinking fruit juice for awhile until their stomach recovers...I'd stay away from all citrus. I've had a few VERY BAD reactions from putting orange juice or lemon aid in my stomach after eating questionable items. Usually they don't upset me at all, but I have ballooned (to the point where the waist band of my otherwise loose fitting pants were hurting me so much.), and I think its just from your gut being mad already, that adding citrus really kicks it up a notch. Good luck.


said this on
01 Aug 2008 11:44:28 AM PST
I have had serious problems from eating at the Whole Foods salad bar, myself and no longer go there to eat, just to purchase groceries.
A great recovery product (that I just commented on in response to the article by Janet) is called Glutagenics by Metagenics. It may only be available through health care practitioners - I buy mine from my chiropractor. It contains glutamine, licorice root and aloe and seriously works! Other products that aid in restoring the intestinal lining include omega-3 oils and zinc supplements. I vary my sources of those. Additionally, a good probiotic helps wonderfully. The one that works best for me is called Lacidofil by Xymogen. Be careful of probiotics, many of them are not gluten and dairy free (I have to stay dairy free, too).
Finally, for the persistent nausea that I get, ginger root works wonderfully. My favorite brand actually comes from England, but there has to be a local brand that comes in a capsule form and has the following similar ingredients: 550mg ginger root, gelatin, magnesium stearate, and silicon dioxide.
Here's hoping to a speedier recovery!

timothy Ryan

said this on
03 Aug 2008 8:15:49 PM PST
I have had celiac for 6 years now since diagnosis, and really haven't been back for a check up since. But occasionally, I get what I know as gluten reactions, but lately when it happens, I've been thinking it could be something more as something in addition to celiac...I am 25 years old.


said this on
05 Aug 2008 4:10:29 PM PST
I wanted to follow up in response to one of your comments, asking what exactly was in the Guacamole that I consumed. As it turns out, there was a 'seasoning' packet mixed in that contained 'modified food starch' and in my case, that's all it took. I literally at 2 Tbsp. of the stuff, but clearly that was enough. I've seen these packets used in other guacamoles and at parties, etc... so I warn you all to be extra diligent when it comes to this type of 'fun food.' Thanks for all of your great comments.

Lisa Thompson

said this on
09 Aug 2008 2:58:25 PM PST
I'm very sorry...I hate it when that happens. You literally have to check every single thing that goes into your mouth...I find it better just to not eat out at all even though they say it is gluten free. It still messes with me. I also know how annoying it is when you just want to get the gluten out of your system because you feel like crap but it only takes longer that way. Hope your feeling back to your gluten free feeling! Good luck.


said this on
16 Aug 2008 6:07:10 PM PST
I'm new to the gluten-free world since being put on a gluten, dairy, wheat, and corn-free diet two months ago. I am struggling with getting my protein in and am scared sometimes to eat anything because I don't want to eat the wrong thing.
I'm curious, why can't you eat at a salad bar if you are eating things like shredded chicken or raw broccoli or artichoke hearts or anything that is on your diet but in a separate bin, why can't you have that at a salad bar?


said this on
20 Jun 2010 10:44:15 AM PST
I've found that it is because of the possibility of cross-contamination, just a touch of it and you are down for the count, good luck


said this on
18 Aug 2008 11:19:32 AM PST
How funny I should stumble on this. I had some of that guacamole today...two tablespoons to be exact and I am in absolute misery! I thought I read the ingredients. I'm new to being Gluten-Free so I guess I need to be more careful. I'll make it from scratch next time.


said this on
18 Aug 2008 1:05:12 PM PST
I feel your pain! The depression and brain fog that linger after accidentally ingesting gluten are the toughest things for me. It makes it so difficult to think and work -- and just plain live. Thanks for the info about the salad bar at Whole Foods. It's been an easy, fast salad dinner in the past for me, but it's just not worth the possible contamination.


said this on
20 Aug 2008 12:29:19 PM PST
Thanks for sharing. It was recently suggested to me that I may have a gluten sensitivity. I had somewhat dismissed it, but had taken several days off. Then, without thinking, I had some. Holy Cow!! I went into anxiety overdrive and bordered on panic. When I did a little research I discovered that was probably from the gluten. Reading your story and description of symptoms makes me believe that was the cause. I had been doing so well prior to the 'gluten incident'. Thanks again!


said this on
31 Aug 2008 6:47:24 PM PST
I value your comments. I too was poisoned on the 23rd of August, at a restaurant I had eaten at. I am extremely angry about it, as I was very explanatory to the waitress, and even asked the server twice to make sure and was assured that the food did not contain any gluten, and no wheat either. This was the 2nd time I had eaten at the restaurant, the first time there was not a problem. The 2nd visit, the waitress got angry that I was ordering so specifically. I want to do something about it, and have spoken to several lawyers, but none are familiar with Celiac. The depression part is hitting me hard right now, and it is causing major complications for my life, I have been so sick and still cannot eat, or wake up. Yesterday I could not walk. I have been so careful, and for this to happen to me because of a pissed off waitress...


said this on
30 Jul 2011 6:28:32 PM PST
I believe people working in the food industry should be held accountable for POISONING their customers. Food poisoning...gluten poisoning...what's the difference?!


said this on
10 Sep 2008 11:43:39 AM PST
I too am in the third week of a gluten reaction. Not only do I feel the aches and pains, but my hair falls out with each gluten exposure. I thought I was doing very well in watching what I ate. I did get some cross-contamination poisoning from eating out. Where I hadn't reviewed ingredients of products I use was in the bathroom. Two shampoos in my shower and the hair mousse I use contained wheat! I'm now going back and checking everything in my house. I'm very interested in finding something to help with these reactions.


said this on
30 Nov 2008 2:39:41 PM PST
Hello Fellow sufferers,

I really needed this friends and family are sympathetic, but because it is an 'internal' illness, they can't understand the level of misery we go through. I was feeling very sorry for myself today as I am very sick this weekend resulting from eating gluten. I was also wondering if I was the only one who averages 2-4 weeks of recovery time, and a pretty consistent delivery of Symptoms. I'm in the gut wrenching pain part now, which is about 1.5 weeks in, and is very painful.... Eeek.

Maybe you can help me... I travel with my job, and eating can be a very big challenge. They just don't realize the degree to which North America peppers everything with gluten protein. We have a culture of Cheap and efficient solutions, and gluten protein seems to be number one on our list of how to make things work for consumers. When I travel in North America, I have a difficult time helping the staff 'get' what gluten is, and often end up with gluten episodes when I count on them to help me eat properly. Does anybody travel with work, and if so, what solutions do you use? I can't bring food as I stay in hotels, and the airlines won't usually let me bring food on board. Airports do not have gluten free food generally speaking and hotels are largely ill equipped to accommodate me. Solutions would be very welcome....


said this on
06 Jun 2011 9:22:43 PM PST
I have traveled a few times since diagnosis in January. I am heading to Boston, Miami, St. Thomas, Washington DC and home for the next 2 weeks, ugh. I will take a lot of trail mix, trail bars and don't know what else I can take. I'm feeling paranoid because I don't trust what people tell me in restaurants, have been flat out lied to big time. I had Thai Food today and think there was wheat in the sauce on the spinach, 3 trips to the toilet at Walmart (as if Walmart isn't bad enough). I think I will talk to the cooks where I go, I don't care what anyone thinks, I'll be sick now for my trip from today (my fault, I checked on the curry, did not ask about another sauce, man you cannot get lax, good luck.


said this on
13 Nov 2011 6:49:57 PM PST
Linda, Re: traveling for work. Typically, I'm home 2 weeks each month and traveling the other two. I've found:

1. A handful of nuts & dried fruit can actually be a whole meal. There are loads of dried, portable, easy foods to bring with me. Sure, I get sick of them, but I focus on my work, not my meals. All I need is decent fuel to keep me going.

2. Eat less. I keep reminding myself that my stomach is only as big as my fist -- I really don't need a massive plate sized portion of anything. It's hard to ignore others around me and the large portions that most people eat, but once my body got accustomed to eating less, I didn't have to worry so much about finding food while traveling. But for trips that are more than 2 weeks long I carry a suitcase with just food (crackers, mixes, cans of soup even). As long as I check the bag and there's no fresh produce it's been fine. (I do international travel, several EU countries, NZ & AU, Israel, China, etc.) No problem yet! The only time I raised eyebrows with TSA is when I had several bags of fresh food (domestic flight). I don't eat much meat, but my daughter (celiac) is a carnivore. I had several large bags of deli meats. They thought it was odd and once I took a step back I realized it was pretty odd for an 8 yo to be carrying notebooks, toys, and several pounds of deli meat. Ha.

3. I often remind myself that since I get less pleasure than most from my meals, I need to treat myself in other areas of life. I'm not complaining.

El Stonio

said this on
09 Sep 2009 10:12:19 AM PST
Thank you so much for posting this. I'm in the same boat, recovering from a self inflicted gluten poisoning. I had to leave work today because I felt so bad/weird. I hope you feel better soon.

said this on
27 Apr 2010 7:50:54 AM PST
Hey I think you have a great blog going here, I found it on Bing and plan on returning regularly for the information that you all are providing.


said this on
30 Jul 2011 6:52:46 PM PST
thank you everyone, I cried while reading your comments after being poisoned last night. I feel like this is some kind of bad joke not being able to eat what I love. Does anyone get very cranky in the first stage?


said this on
22 Dec 2011 4:22:08 PM PST
What a relief. People that get and have experienced what happens to us!!! It was just as you all have mentioned, the nausea, terrible abdominal pain, trips to the bathroom, for two full days with today spent just to try to get recovered from it all. Missed my husbands' work party tonight and had to call out at work when I was to cover court today. Not sure that anyone at work or family-gets it. I was thinking that your term "poisoned" might have been a bit too strong but seems I have grown used to feeling like this after an incident and felt fated to just accept the fact that I cannot trust the people that tell me there is no wheat or gluten in what they cooked. (Company party-ate the corn tortilla chicken enchiladas that she 'forgot' had cream of chicken soup in them.) But during the that first night, I actually thought I could die. That qualifies as poisoning even if it was unintentional. I cannot go back to work and tell her that she is reason that I missed three very important days at work? Or should I?

Laura London

said this on
05 Nov 2012 10:14:42 AM PST
Hello fellow Coeliacs - I feel so tearful just reading these comments. Here I am, after being 'glutened' a week ago, almost fully recovered from my symptoms. I am so sorry some of you guys have to endure this for three/four WEEKS! I just wanted to say that I am so happy to have stumbled upon this support network. Best wishes to you all.

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