Food editor Beth Hillson grapples with that (hopefully seldom) reality of gluten contamination.

“Oops, I ate a wheat cracker,” Andrew wrote to us in a recent e-mail. I sensed the urgency in his tone:

“Hello, The other night I was at a dinner. They served cheese and crackers. They know I am gluten intolerant. They had gluten-free crackers and wheat crisps. I thought I was safe and did not think to ask until I consumed about four crackers. Uh-oh—what do I do?”

I know exactly how he feels. Don’t you? He couldn’t have worn a face of higher anxiety if he’d had a belt of dynamite strapped to his waist with a remote timer set to trigger it. What would happen and when would it take place?

Getting “glutened” takes all the enjoyment out of socializing. Life’s complacency evaporates and in its place, an uneasy, gnawing sensation sets in. You know something physically unpleasant is about to happen and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Andrew offered two possibilities about what to do:

1. Regurgitate, or

2. Hold on and take the hit the next day.

“Is there another way to deal with the impending gluten reaction?” he asked.

Unfortunately, there is no antidote or morning-after pill to ease the symptoms from gluten exposure. Each person reacts differently and uses different techniques to ease the symptoms. Some people say they drink a lot of water. Some take digestive enzymes or lots of antacids. Crudely put, my 20-something metropolitan son says he takes a ‘s**t and a snooze’ and then feels better.

I asked Andrew what he usually does when he ingests gluten.

“So far, I just fret and wait for the happening,” he wrote. “But now you have given me ideas. I will drink lots of water and take digestive enzymes. See if they do anything.”

Then he added: “Lately, I have been craving glazed donuts.”

“NO!,” I screamed at the screen. “Don’t fall on your sword for gluten, my friend,” I typed. He wrote back to assure me that good sense will prevail. I am relieved.

I wish I could offer Andrew better advice. But despite all the improvements in the gluten-free marketplace, one thing hasn’t changed: We have to take the hit when we accidentally eat gluten.

What do you do if when you are accidentally “glutened”?


  1. When I have accidental gluten I take Ibuprofen, Rolaids, Digestive Enzymes (Gluten Assist) & an antihistamine. Yes, that is a ton but my symptoms are within 10 minutes & very reflux turns into SO MUCH MORE if I don’t treat it like an allergy! It takes me a night of sleeping off the antihistamines & I am back to baseline where as before I was sick for a solid 2 weeks.

  2. Thinking in terms of 30 parts per million is the limit a GF item can contain, I eat a bunch of food that is gluten free. Regurgitation is something I am particularly averse to, so I choose eating safe food instead. So far it has worked for me but I am not as sensitive as some celiacs are.

  3. I take laxitives and rub myself down with menthol cream. I get awfully constipated and break out in hives. I also get migraines and eczema flairs.

  4. If I’ve just eaten something with gluten then I will force myself to vomit. Its painful and draining, but saves me some suffering the next day. If I find out I’ve eaten gluten and it’s far too late to vomit, I will just drink lots of Ginger ale and cancel all plans for the next day. My celiac gives me a flu-like reaction that lasts all day, starting the morning after.

  5. A few days ago we got pizzas at Papa Murphy. My husband is not gluten intolerant but I am. I ordered the GF one and I wished I had been listening to my intuition. I saw them make it on a different surface but the crust looked different. The next morning (yesterday) I woke up with the worst gluten hangover. I called the store to see if they changed the recipe and was told they still used Udis. I looked at the leftovers and it was a regular crust. The store manager was rude and blamed me for not catching it as well as some really rude remarks. Day 2 and I still feel awful.

  6. I would bake some luscious brownies with exlax in them for the manager of Papa Murphys and then call him in a few days telling him that he should have caught the problem himself!

  7. I ordered a GF personal pizza at Fresh Bros. It tastes better than I ever remember their GF pizza tasting. Then I noticed there was no GF mark on the box like usual. I called the store the next day when my tummy ballooned up like I was pregnant ( I only ate half a 7 inch pizza mind you) . The guy was really apologetic and said there should have been a green sticker where you open the box , so you would have to tear the sticker to open the box. There was no such sticker and K was too tired to notice .
    What did I do??

    Went for a hilly run ( even though I felt uncomfortable in my running shorts n sports bra. I drank lots of water and after my 8 mile run/ walk , I went to the bathroom and felt better, but tummy remained a bit bloated rest of day.
    Fresh Bros said they would send a coupon for fREE PIZZA but I said thanks but it’s not the $$ – it’s the trust / I need to know I can trust your pizza place to give me a GF pizza when I order it . He said he understood and would educate the kitchen staff that worked last night.
    I appreciated his willingness to listen and make things right.

  8. The first thing that happens is my mouth gets sore where everything burnns within hours. Then next day is the ulcers and those last about 5-7 days..then the gut issue,,,, it’s like I just ate something that tore my mouth apart, then all the way thru,till the end so to speak.

  9. I have had a biopsy of my gut and pathology twice and have been told that I have no sensativy to gluten and am not Coeliac. Am doing the Keto eating plan and am discovering all my sesnativities. I cannot eat wheat. This has really angered me for all the money and pain I have been through

    • have a cousin that had to get repeat test til one came out positive for celiacs. I didnt want to go through the trouble of testing and just decided to go GF and within a week i felt so much better.

      im here reading this page because Im new to GF and been about a month so far felling good, last night I ate some beans at my sisters without thinking and when I got home last night I got so sick, i thought crap im getting the flu.. so went to bed.. EVERT DAMN 3 hours i had to go to bathroom.. im in so much pain this morning I even cried.. :,(

  10. I did it tonight at work 1 & 1/2 pieces of pizza by accident, should of known it tasted different, not sure how long this one will be, last time I accidentally got served BUN not GF it took 4 months to get out of my system

  11. I have celiac, but when i accidently get gluten in my system, i try to make myself throw up, and 20 min later I take Tylenol and tagment, drink as much water as possible, and sleep with a heating pad on my abdomen. I get sick no matter what I try, but I like knowing I tried to ease it!

  12. I have a histamine allergy response to gluten. So far I can take 2 benedryls per hour for 2 hours, then one benedryl per hour for the next 3-4 hours and then the reaction is tolerable.
    I also carry an epi-pen but luckily haven’t needed to use it yet. I’ve read if you have celiacs, benedryl and epi-pens won’t work. But digestive enzymes don’t help me with gluten at all.


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