From time to time I unknowingly eat something with hidden wheat and gluten in it and I suffer for it. Other times I turn up at a friend’s house and see a beautiful spread laid out for me and there’s nothing I can eat and instead of making the host feel awful (even though I’d told them a hundred times what I could and couldn’t eat) and to save face sometimes I just think OK i’ll just eat a little and i’ll be alright or won’t suffer too much. WRONG!
Within 30 mins my stomach and intestines (generally the whole abdomen area) balloon to a hard round ball or 3 month pregnancy in size and the cramps start and I feel really tired like all my energy has been zapped out of me. I will tend to have constipation as a result and painful spasms that can last up to 3 days. I now organise my own food or at least bring a dish or something I know is gluten free. It’s up to me to ensure there is something I can eat on the table! Other times if I am stressed, under pressure or just having an ‘off-day’ my intestines bloat out and cramp as well. In those situations I haven’t even eaten gluten so I fit more into the IBS category there. Coeliac patients, gluten sensitive people and those that suffer from IBS, you may all experience similar pains to mine when you eat gluten, wheat or a ‘trigger’ food or you may have completely different symptoms. Whatever the symptom, if you’ve eaten something that starts to cause you discomfort then that food isn’t right for you and you need to listen to your body. Here my tips help ease the bloating, relieve cramps / spasms and general disruption to the bowel after eating gluten or that ‘trigger’ food. Hope it helps!
- Ginger tea is brilliant at settling the stomach and intestines and warms and soothes them. Add sliced ginger to boiled water, let steep for a few minutes and when cool enough to drink, drink on an empty stomach or 30 mins after eating. Alternatively you can buy ginger tea in ready made teabags in health food shops. Use ginger in your cooking too!
- Peppermint tea is also a soothing agent and helps calm the stomach and aids digestion. You can try chewing on mint leaves or just add fresh peppermint leaves to hot water and steep for a few minutes.
- Chamomile tea is another good option for painful spastic tummies. Chamomile soothes, calm and relaxes the guts and also the nerves. It is particularly good for those who have trouble switching off and can’t sleep.
- Drink Fennel or dill tea. They are calming teas which helps to reduce the symptoms associated with gas and bloating.
- Aloe Vera juice is a cooling and soothing remedy for painful burning intestines. If you’ve reacted to gluten or your colitis is really painful Aloe Vera juice is perfect. It heals, soothes, cools and calms and is a little gem! You can buy it from most health food shops, drink 5ml a day on its own or mixed in lukewarm herbal teas or vegetable juices.
- Avoid strong spices and keep food fairly bland until the intestines settle.
- Use rhubarb herb as a remedy against abdominal pain or IBS.
- If you’re having spastic cramps in the bowel then take calcium and magnesium supplements to calm it down and stop it going into spasms. If this doesn’t work try Buscopan, which you can buy at most pharmacies. It relaxes and calms the spasms but use only in severe cases and only take one tablet.
- Avoid all fruit juices and strong flavoured drinks.
- Take probiotics as these will help the gut flora digest the bad gluten / trigger food and will boost your overall immune and digestive system.
- Some people with IBS will swing from constipation to diarrhoea in the same day so check out my tips for them both here and remember to rest, drink plenty and conserve energy: Natural Home Remedies for Diarrhoea and Natural Home Remedies for Constipation
- If the bloating is too painful or too large and the above remedies are not working as quickly as you’d like you can try some of the remedies here: Natural Home Remedies for Stomach Pain After Eating: Bloating and Swelling
- Stay away from broccoli, onions, and cabbage. They can cause gas and can make symptoms (particularly in diarrhoea cases) worse.
- Don’t consume foods with extreme temperatures, such as ice-cold water and steaming hot soup, in the same meal.
- Eat smaller portions at meal times and don’t drink fluids with meals. Always leave 30 mins either side of a meal before drinking.
- Drink warm boiled water (boiled and cooled a little) on its own and generally eat lightly. In severe cases fast for 12 hours just drinking lots of warm water and herbal teas or electrolyte drinks and rest. When fasting it is important not to do anything too strenuous. If you feel a drop in blood sugar add a little honey to the tea and try eating a light soup. The fasting will give the stomach and bowels a chance to sort themselves out. (Always seek medical advice before undergoing any type of fasting as it may not be suitable for you if you have other medical issues.)
Some ‘trigger’ foods / situations for IBS sufferers may be:
Fatty / fried foods
Fibre / Whole Grains
Some vegetables like cabbages or raw fruits that are acidic like oranges and lemons
Artificial sweeteners, soda drinks and alcohol
Nuts and seeds
Beans and lentils
Garlic and Onions
Chocolate, Sweets and Crisps
Condiments and sauces
Eating too quickly or eating whilst working
Period is due
Antibiotics (when taken over a long period of time)
Some common ‘Trigger’ foods or no-nos for coeliacs and gluten sensitivity are:
Oats (if contaminated with gluten)
unripe spelt grains
Sauces and foods with hidden gluten in
Beers and Lagers
Pasta and Muesli
For a more detailed list of gluten containing foods download my FREE gluten free food chart here!
I’d be happy to answer or discuss any questions you might have in the comments section below. 🙂 These herbal remedies are to help ease temporary pain only. If your problem is chronic and lasts longer than a couple of days then you must see your doctor for other underlying problems and medical treatment.