How To Recover From Food Poisoning or Cross Contamination

by lydia on February 27, 2014

Food poisoning can strike anyone at any time. It may not be common, but it can be devastating if your body is not strong enough to fight it. Since I teach a course on gut health, I find it important to help people to understand how to combat issues like food poisoning or cross-contamination (especially for those with celiac disease). I had a client awhile back contact me begging for help as she had gotten food poisoning and became violently ill. I sent her my strategies and she recovered quickly and thanked me profusely. Today, I’m sharing these strategies with you so you can better equip your body to fight pathogens and have a plan should you get food poisoning or get ‘glutened’.

Food Poisoning

Foodborne illnesses  (or ‘Food Poisoning’) are infections or irritations of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract caused by food or beverages that contain harmful bacteria, parasites, viruses, or chemicals. The GI tract is a series of hollow organs joined in a long, twisting tube from the mouth to the anus. Common symptoms of foodborne illnesses include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, and chills.

Most foodborne illnesses are acute, meaning they happen suddenly and last a short time, and most people recover on their own without treatment. Rarely, foodborne illnesses may lead to more serious complications. Each year, an estimated 48 million people in the United States experience a foodborne illness. Foodborne illnesses cause about 3,000 deaths in the United States annually. (1)


Common Symptoms of Food Poisoning:

Symptoms of foodborne illnesses depend on the cause. Common symptoms of many foodborne illnesses include:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea or bloody diarrhea
  • abdominal pain
  • fever
  • chills

Symptoms can range from mild to serious and can last from a few hours to several days.

C. botulinum and some chemicals affect the nervous system, causing symptoms such as (2):

  • headache
  • tingling or numbness of the skin
  • blurred vision
  • weakness
  • dizziness
  • paralysis

Foods & Remedies To Help You Recover:

•    Bone broth, bone broth, bone broth (vegetable broths and miso broth would be okay too, but focus on bone broth). Read more on the Benefits of Bone Broth, my recipe for chicken broth and my recipe for beef bone broth.
•    Bone Marrow: Roast to eat the marrow-this is very nourishing. Here is recipe for roasted bone marrow.
•    Stews: vegetables plus small amounts of protein, add some rice, potatoes, squash or yams. I almost always have a quart or two of stew stashed in my freezer.
•    Eggs: Poached, or soft boiled. Or in custards. You can add some raw egg yolks to your soups (only if you tolerate them).
•    Protein powder: Whey based would work (if tolerated)- I like Organic Whey or Capra Mineral Whey from Tropical Traditions -this can be used as a base for a fruit smoothie.
•    Organic Basmati or Jasmine Rice -cooked in broth with some kind of fat (ghee/butter/coconut oil) or half coconut milk and half broth. Or a Nice Rice Soup. You can also try other non-gluten containing grains like quinoa, millet, buckwheat if you tolerate them. Make sure to soak ahead of time. Unless of course you are intolerant to any of the above.
•    Cooked fruits or VERY RIPE bananas – Mashed up and made into GAPS style pancakes. Squash or Pumpkin would work as well. Sauteed cinnamon apples with crepes. Applesauce with cold soluble gelatin mixed in.
•    Healing fats: ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, coconut milk, animal fats like; duck, lard, tallow
•    Well-cooked vegetables, including all non-starchy vegetables and root vegetables.
•    Sea vegetables for easy to utilize minerals/proteins. Nori wraps, kelp powder sprinkled on your food, dulse flakes, kombu in your soups/rice.
•    Cultured vegetables -properly fermented. I always have some easy brine veggies on hand, as well as kombucha, water kefir or beet kvass.
•    Fresh vegetable juices prepared and used the same day. Try carrot, ginger, beet, kale, parsley, apple, watercress, cabbage.

•    Filtered Water -  water with lemon, water with raw apple cider vinegar, watered down coconut water (1/2 and 1/2)
•   Herbal  Teas: mint, slippery elm, fennel, fenugreek, ginger, rooibos, green tea. (Slippery Elm helps to reduce inflammation and irritation – use in tea form only for now)
•    Fresh vegetable juices -as mentioned above
•    Broth: warm broth with some ghee and sea salt and sip.

Other Important Food Poisoning Remedies:

•    Order some L-glutamine STAT. Biotics has a good one (all their products are guaranteed gluten-free too).  If you still have residual food poisoning/diarrhea you can take 500 mg every 2 hours until the problem is corrected. Pay attention to your bowels, if you find you end up constipated then you need to back off. When diarrhea is not acute -start by taking 500 mg twice per day and see how you feel with that dose. Increase by 500 mg as needed, just watch for constipation. L-glutamine is critical for gut repair. When you have an acute inflammatory reaction or infection anywhere in the body, your system will draw l-glutamine out of the muscles and put it into the blood so it can be used for repair. That’s what makes you feel as if your muscles are weak during a fever or acute illness. When you take l-glutamine by mouth, your body doesn’t have to pull this nutrient out of the muscle tissue. This is an imperative thing to add as SOON as possible.
•    Eat frequently in small amounts -eat something every 2 hours.
•    Eat like a ‘baby’ -pureed foods. Lots of pureed veggie soups would be good.
•    Homemade Gelatin made with fruit juice and Great Lakes Gelatin. Top with some coconut whipped cream.

*NOTE: A great preventative would be to always take HCl with you when you eat outside of the home. Remember, stomach acid is our first line of defense against pathogens. If you find it easy to get food poisoning, you need to spend some time ironing out low stomach acid (read more on that here).


How To Recover From Cross -Contamination

Allergen Free Stickers

This is in the instance where you are someone with celiac or severe food intolerances and you ingest a food that your body is showing an allergic tension to. This is not for a true IgE allergy, in that case you would experience an immediate severe reaction and likely already be carrying an Epi-Pen. You may react in various ways to an IgG allergy food, everyone will be different. IgG reactions are usually more gradual in nature. Those with celiac disease will also experience these types of symptoms, as even the tiniest amount of gluten-exposure can cause a reaction.

Common Cross-Contamination Symptoms:

  • terrible fatigue
  • gastrointestinal upset (from esophagus all the way down)
  • emotional upset
  • insomnia
  • joint pains
  • migraine
  • dermatitis herpetiformis
  • general immune weakness
  • allergies like hay fever, sneezing, itchy skin

Symptoms may vary from person to person, depending on your health, whether you have leaky gut or how much of the food you’ve encountered.

For Accidental Gluten Exposure:

  • Drink plenty of water – remember water helps to flush toxins and remove wastes. Drink more than you normally would on a normal day.
  • Alka Seltzer Gold or Gluten-Ease – if you are gluten sensitive or have celiacs you should carry one of these with you at all times. Also, to help prevent serious discomfort from possible gluten exposure, always take digestive enzymes with you when you eat outside of the home. Here is another possible option to use after gluten exposure. 
  • Enzymes – You can also use proteolytic enzymes to help deal with the inflammation you may experience from exposure. Take 30 minutes before food and no less than two hours after, until inflammation is resolved. Intenzyme Forte by Biotics recommends 9-12 per day.
  • Activated Charcoal – depending on how you may feel, if the exposure causes you diarrhea -activated charcoal will help to bind the toxins and carry them out quickly. Again, be sure to drink plenty of water.
  • Bone broth or L-glutamine – this helps to calm the irritated gut or inflamed colon.
  • Herbal teas – ginger, mint, slippery elm, licorice and even nettles. These each have different benefits to the gut and digestion, and offer easily assimilable nutrients when you have compromised gut function.
  • Probiotics and/or Fermented Foods – Any type of inflammation, lowered immune defenses or exposure to toxins or stress can negatively affect our gut flora. It will be critical to use fermented foods and probiotics to help recover from this kind of exposure.
  • Light Eating – after exposure use the foods mentioned above as your temporary diet to go easy on your digestive system while it is recovering. A temporary GAPS intro way of eating would be a good idea.
  • Rest – since you are dealing with an attack on your immune system, taking it easy will help recovery time. Often a symptom of exposure is severe exhaustion.
  • Other possible supplements to try: Histoplex by Biotics is a natural herbal anti-histamine and is designed to use long term to help reduce viral load and can be used for food allergies. I would not use it so one could eat a food they are allergic to, but to help in the case one is getting exposed to food allergens. Histoplex, paired with IPS by Biotics. IPS or Intestinal Permeability Support contains nutrients that heal the intestines and is an excellent general support for food allergies and sensitivities. It contains L-glutamine as well. Take (1-4 capsules) 1-2 x per day.

I highly recommend taking a little ’emergency kit’ of supplements with you whenever you eat outside of the home if you have celiac or serious food sensitivities. I find it helpful to always have certain supplements on hand (or in my purse) to essentially ‘protect’ my gut. Here are my top two recommendations: Hydrochloric Acid, as mentioned above, is great to have whenever you eat out or travel. I keep a little baggie in my purse at all times. In addition, I keep enzymes on hand, a couple types. This is another helpful item to keep your digestion running smoothly and in case of cross contamination issues or accidental ingestion of a food your body does not tolerate. I like to take enzymes, AND also make sure the food I order has enzymes in it too if possible,  if I trust the fresh vegetable source that is. I try to check my emergency supply before I go out to eat each time so I don’t run out. You can buy travel pill containers at any drug store, as well as pill baggies for just a few bucks. The baggies are nice because you can label them. If you use a pill container, make sure you know which pill is which type or have some way to label them in case you forget.

More Reading:


(1)Scallan E, Griffin PM, Angulo FJ, Tauxe RV, Hoekstra RM. Foodborne illness acquired in the United States—unspecified agents. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2011;17(1):16–22.


If you found this information helpful today, perhaps you may be interested in more information and tips on how to ensure good digestion and a healthy gut. If so, check out my online course; Heal Your Gut. Gut health is the key to our entire well being. Through real answers, powerful information, practical steps and “survival” tools, you will learn through this course that it is possible to relieve digestive health conditions and ailments. Learn more and register here —> HEAL YOUR GUT


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Lydia - Color - December 2013Lydia Joy Shatney is a certified Nutritional Therapist Practitioner through the Nutritional Therapy Association. Additionally, she is the chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation in Delaware County, Pa. (Find the group here on Facebook). Lydia is also a member of the Nourished Living Network. Lydia founded Divine Health From The Inside Out in March of 2010. You can find Lydia on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest. Sign up for the Divine Health From The Inside Out newsletter! Pick up a copy of Lydia’s eBook; ‘Divine Dinners: Gluten-Free, Nourishing, Family-Friendly Meals’.

Lydia offers specialized step by step counseling to transform your health. Personalized consultations to suit your specific needs are offered via phone or in person. Lydia offers a variety of packages offered to suit your individual needs. Lydia also offers 3 online courses: Heal Your Gut, Revitalize Your Health and A Calm Mind. Contact Lydia today to get started as well as to learn more about what she has to offer you!



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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Amanda February 28, 2014 at 11:36 am

Great tips, Lydia! Will definitely share this one, and keep it bookmarked for the next time somebody asks me what to do after they got accidentally glutened 😉


Kathryn Arnold March 1, 2014 at 9:07 am

This is a wonderful article. And thank you for sending the entire article via email so I’m not required to click and wait for it to load in my browser (I’m restricted to mobile, it matters).

One thing that reduces the likelihood my friends will click when I share this is I can’t say that there are recommendations in here for reducing the severity and duration of the food poisoning symptoms. And I want them to click, because in looking for those tips some will learn they’re celiac! At the very least, my predominently non-aware friends will learn more about food than they currently know. I’d like that, to be honest…weary of being the local health nut.


lydia March 1, 2014 at 9:39 am

Kathyrn, everyone’s recovery time will be different. It also depends on the current state of their gut and overall health. I think generally speaking using these tips will really cut back on recovery time, as well as make it more tolerable to deal with!

I’m glad you enjoyed the post!


Anonymous March 1, 2014 at 10:04 am

Hmm. So what I’ve read about sipping ACV and water to halt the vomiting isn’t true?


lydia March 1, 2014 at 10:56 am

I don’t know if it’s true or not -I’ve never heard of it or tried it.


Deborahw March 4, 2014 at 8:20 am

This is very intereting and good info but really I am sicker than a dog and feel like I’m dying and i’m going to run out and buy bone marrow and cook some up?? best have some on hand..


lydia March 4, 2014 at 9:07 am

I’m sorry Deborah -in the case that you are already sick and not prepared, I’d have someone go get you some activated charcoal and coconut water!


Nuvet March 5, 2014 at 11:11 pm

I am physically very weak and many of the times i have suffered from food poisoning.
i have used many medicines and many of the food prescriptions but all goes in vain. After reading your informative blog i am quietly impressed and surely follow this and i have saved your page.
thank you so much lydia Thanks for sharing it.


Shelli March 5, 2014 at 11:30 pm

I’m a true believer in charcoal. I have used it many a time. I think it’s one of the most important things you can put in your body first sign of illness. Regardless of food poisoning or viral/bacterial. I am fairly well read on this matter and do understand that the toxins can be absorbed by charcoal (activated) and will neutralized most all toxins. I do believe this should be your first reach to resolving this matter.


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