Gluten is a protein found in staple grains, such as wheat, barley, rye and most oats, that can trigger digestive problems as well as fatigue, joint pain and autoimmune conditions. Going off gluten is the only way to manage your symptoms and stay healthy if you have celiac disease or are gluten intolerant. You may actually feel worse in the first few days or weeks after eliminating gluten; however, if you persevere, your health and energy will soon be better than ever.
Gluten in Foods
Going off gluten is not necessarily easy, since it is so widely available in many commonly-consumed foods. Many people make the mistake of cutting off most of the gluten and keeping a few occasional bites of gluten-containing bread, cakes or cookies. To improve your health by going off gluten, you need to be vigilant, carefully reading labels to avoid all hidden sources of gluten and be remaining strict with your gluten-free diet. If you are exposed to gluten even just once a month, it can be enough to perpetuate your symptoms of celiac disease and gluten intolerance, which include fatigue and lack of energy.
Even if you are very careful at reading labels and avoiding all foods containing gluten, your diet may still be contaminated with traces of gluten, which can make you feel tired on your gluten-free diet. Cross-contamination is a common problem for people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Use different skillets, utensils and cutting boards, if the rest of the family is still cooking with gluten-containing foods. Avoid using the same peanut butter jar as the rest of the family because a few gluten-containing breadcrumbs could contaminate the jar and expose you to traces of gluten. When eating out, ask that your foods be prepared separately with clean equipment to prevent cross-contamination.
If you feel more tired after going completely off gluten, it is probable that you are experiencing gluten withdrawal. Although this phenomenon is not well understood, Charles Parker, a psychiatrist treating patients with food intolerances, explains that removing gluten from your diet can cause nausea, diarrhea, depression, insomnia and fatigue. Parker mentions that people with food intolerances can unknowingly be addicted to the very foods that make them feel bad. If you feel tired, you may be suffering from gluten withdrawal. Continue your gluten-free diets for a few more weeks and you should note improvements in your energy level.
Lower Carb Intake
Feeling tired when going off gluten can simply be the result of decreasing your carb intake. Most gluten-containing foods, such as bread, pasta, couscous, breakfast cereals and baked goods, have a high carbohydrate content. You can keep your carb intake up, choosing high-carb, gluten-free foods such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, winter squash, legumes, rice, quinoa, fruits, milk, yogurt and vegetables. Otherwise, decreasing your carb intake requires your body to switch from primarily burning the sugars derived from these carbohydrates to using fat. If you prefer to keep your carb intake lower, include generous amounts of fat at each meal, from olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, butter, nuts and natural nut butter, to provide your body with all the energy it needs.