The gluten-free lifestyle not only requires meticulous vigilance to keep you safe, it requires a realistic set of expectations, and experiencing occasional mistakes is part of the package. Even if you’re following a book filled with tips, strategies, and guidelines for helping you avoid gluten 100 percent of the time, mistakes will still happen and you may feel sick as a result. Some mistakes will be more or less severe than others, but non-textbook, real-life experience will prove there is an inherent margin of error in living gluten-free.
Whether you’re new to following a gluten-free diet or have mastered the protocol long ago, you’re not immune to making a mistake or being a victim of a misunderstanding at some point on your gluten-free journey. Expecting that you will never encounter a cross-contact issue or accidentally consume some gluten is unrealistic unless you never eat outside of the parameters of gluten-free packaged products bought at the grocery store that are consumed in your gluten-free home.
Vigilance takes constant effort, and frankly, there may be a time when you let your guard down ever so slightly and make an assumption something is gluten-free when it is not. Or despite the best of intentions and high level of awareness from restaurant staff, something could be missed or explained inappropriately. Potential mistakes are numerous.
Accidentally ingesting a small amount of gluten will probably not result in a hospital visit, but it certainly can bring a flashback to how you felt prior to going gluten-free. If you have dermatitis herpetiformis, it might be advisable for your doctor to prescribe you the appropriate medication to have on hand in the event of an inadvertent brush with gluten and it can help relieve symptoms should an attack result.
Bottom line: Living gluten-free does not mean living risk-free. The only thing in your power is to limit your risk as best you can, learn from the mistakes you encounter, cope with the symptoms until they subside, and harden your shield with another layer of gluten-free vigilance.