How to Find Out If You Are Gluten Intolerant

Gluten intolerance, also known as non-celiac gluten sensitivity, can cause a variety of symptoms in individuals who cannot tolerate gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Determining whether you are gluten intolerant can be challenging due to the wide range of symptoms that overlap with other conditions. Here are some steps to help you find out if you are gluten intolerant.

1. Understand the Symptoms

Gluten intolerance can present a variety of symptoms that may appear shortly after consuming gluten or take hours to days to manifest. Common symptoms include:

  • Digestive Issues: Bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, and stomach pain.
  • Headaches: Frequent headaches or migraines.
  • Fatigue: Feeling tired and fatigued, even after a good night’s sleep.
  • Joint and Muscle Pain: Unexplained aches and pains in joints and muscles.
  • Skin Problems: Rashes, eczema, or dermatitis herpetiformis.
  • Mood Changes: Anxiety, depression, and mood swings.
  • Brain Fog: Difficulty concentrating and feeling mentally sluggish.

2. Keep a Food and Symptom Diary

To identify patterns between gluten consumption and symptoms, keep a detailed food and symptom diary:

  • Record Everything: Write down everything you eat and drink, including snacks and condiments.
  • Note Symptoms: Document any symptoms you experience, along with their severity and timing.
  • Look for Patterns: After a few weeks, review your diary to see if there are correlations between gluten-containing foods and the onset of symptoms.

3. Try an Elimination Diet

An elimination diet can help determine if gluten is the cause of your symptoms:

  • Remove Gluten: Completely eliminate gluten-containing foods from your diet for at least 2-4 weeks. This includes avoiding wheat, barley, rye, and foods that contain these grains.
  • Monitor Symptoms: Pay close attention to any changes in your symptoms during this period. Improvement in symptoms may indicate gluten intolerance.
  • Reintroduce Gluten: After the elimination period, reintroduce gluten-containing foods back into your diet one at a time and observe for any recurrence of symptoms.

4. Seek Medical Advice

If you suspect you have gluten intolerance, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional:

  • Medical History: Discuss your symptoms and medical history with your doctor.
  • Tests for Celiac Disease: Your doctor may recommend blood tests to rule out celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes similar symptoms. Common tests include the tTG-IgA test and total serum IgA test.
  • Genetic Testing: Genetic testing can identify certain genes associated with celiac disease (HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8), but the presence of these genes alone does not confirm the condition.

5. Consider Professional Testing for Gluten Sensitivity

While there is no definitive test for gluten intolerance, some healthcare providers offer specialized tests:

  • Gluten Sensitivity Panels: These tests may measure immune reactions to gluten peptides. However, their reliability and validity are still debated in the medical community.
  • Intestinal Permeability Test: Sometimes referred to as a “leaky gut” test, this can measure the absorption of certain molecules to assess the permeability of your intestines, which can be affected by gluten.

6. Work with a Dietitian

A registered dietitian can help you navigate the complexities of a gluten-free diet:

  • Nutritional Guidance: Ensure you get adequate nutrition while avoiding gluten.
  • Identify Hidden Gluten: Learn to identify hidden sources of gluten in processed foods and cross-contamination risks.
  • Meal Planning: Get help with planning balanced and enjoyable gluten-free meals.

7. Long-Term Management

If you determine that you are gluten intolerant, you’ll need to manage your diet long-term:

  • Read Labels: Always read food labels to check for gluten-containing ingredients.
  • Gluten-Free Alternatives: Look for gluten-free versions of your favorite foods.
  • Dining Out: Communicate your dietary needs clearly when eating out to avoid accidental gluten consumption.
  • Monitor Symptoms: Continue to monitor your symptoms and adjust your diet as needed.


Determining if you are gluten intolerant involves a combination of tracking symptoms, eliminating and reintroducing gluten, and consulting healthcare professionals. By following these steps, you can identify if gluten is causing your symptoms and learn how to manage your diet effectively to maintain your health and well-being.