Weight Gain on Gluten-Free Diet
February 22, 2011
My daughter, now 14, was diagnosed with celiac disease 3 years ago. Her problem has always been, and worse now, is constipation and extremely low energy. Her gastroenterologist keeps saying it’s her diet, but she has been gluten-free for 3 years now and has gained more than 100 lbs. since diagnosis. I am at a loss what to do. I was just diagnosed 6 months ago, and I lost 20 lbs. I can’t figure why she keeps gaining.
Hi Debra. Weight gain and weight loss are both common symptoms of gluten intake for those with undiagnosed and/or untreated celiac. In addition, many people do gain weight after being diagnosed and going gluten-free. That’s because when they were eating gluten, it was destroying their villi, so they weren’t absorbing nutrients. When the villi reform and heal, nutrients start to be absorbed again; as a result, many experience weight gain.
I, personally, have never seen a weight gain of 100 pounds due to going gluten-free. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen, though. Without knowing your daughter’s medical history, it’s hard for me to know what’s going on. If she is eating gluten unknowingly, this could be the cause for the unexplained weight gain. Perhaps it makes sense to review with her why it is important to diligently avoid gluten. I will ask one question, though: When she was diagnosed, did her doctor perform a biopsy to determine a confirmed case of celiac disease? If not, you may want to suggest getting a confirmed diagnosis in case there is something else going on.
I would recommend being persistent with your doctor to find the cause, as both coming into contact with gluten and being overweight have health risks.
Rachel Begun, MS, RD