Gluten Free Diet

by Meg on April 24, 2013

Well, good Wednesday morning! :)

I hope you’ve been enjoying the guest posts I’ve had lined up for you so far this week!

Today’s guest post is written by a very good friend of mine who I admire deeply. Her blog is not one to pass by as each post she writes inspires me to be a better person.

This blogger’s outlook on life, relationship with God, and enthusiasm to grow as a person and be the best she can be are just a few characteristics of hers that I cannot help but look up to.

So who is this beautiful woman?

Lindsay Cotter! :)

So, without further a do, welcome Lindsay to A Dash of Meg! 

G’day! I’m Lindsay (aka James’ wife) from Cotter Crunch. I am a gluten free blogger, pro triathlete’s wife, nutrition manager, and yada yada yada. So many titles, should make for some interesting posts, right? Well, for the most part. Haha!

Actually, the majority of my posts are about our gluten free lifestyle and recipes. You see, a few years ago I was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance. This little issue changed our diet dramatically in the Cotter household. Little did we know how much it would actually change it for the hubs’ training and racing as well (and for the better).

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So here I am today, wanting to share with all you athletes out there, the benefits of a gluten free diet. Should you go gluten free? Is it hard? I think everyone should give it a try and see for themselves.

Let’s get started, shall we?

To start off, what exactly is gluten? Gluten is a form of two proteins: gliadin and glutenin. These proteins are found in the endosperm of wheat, rye, and barley. The glutenin is what gives these type of flours the elasticity in their dough and makes them all warm and gooey.  The bad thing is that this protein is usually pretty hard to digest and for a lot of people it can cause a harsh reaction in the digestive system. Ya, bummer!

Celiacs are those actually diagnosed with a genetic disorder and are highly allergic to gluten.  This can cause several digestive problems and lead to malnutrition and malabsorption in the intestines. Others might develop a gluten “allergy” or “sensitivity” which can have several of the same symptoms of a celiac (fatigue, inflammation, abdominal bloating, diarrhea/constipation, etc.) yet the effects are not necessarily as damaging or pervasive. Allergy suffers can probably handle a gluten every now and then, Celiacs cannot! For more on this topic feel free to read HERE.

So what if you’re an athlete and you think you have a gluten sensitivity? How would that affect performance?

Think about, athletes need EXTRA nutrients in order to fuel and recovery properly right? But what if your digestive system was not absorbing these nutrients? You’d probably feel pretty crappy despite the number of calories/ratio of macronutrients you were taking in.

According to Dr. Wellingtons article on Active.com, gluten-free diets do have some advantages for athletes:

1. With gluten removed, the body’s immune system can rest and absorption can be restored. The body can then function at optimal levels and repair muscles more efficiently.

2. The hypoglycemic effect that results from intense exercise is minimized.

3. A gluten-free diet helps to maintain a stable blood sugar level during exercise, which is optimal for an increase in muscle strength and stamina.

Sounds pretty good to me! But the question still remains…..what the heck do I eat??

My suggestion………..

KEEP IT SIMPLE, KEEP IT NATURAL!

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  • Focus on fresh vegetables, fruit, starchy vegetables (like squash, sweet potato, etc).
  • Look for certified gluten free breads, cereals, pastas, oatmeal, granolas.

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  • Focus on the other Grains (gluten free grains)- brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, teff, sorghum, corn (corn tortillas), millet, amaranth. (you can find a lot of these grains and flours in the bulk sections as well).
  • Dig the fat- nuts and nut butters, avocado, oils, flaxseeds.
  • Pump up the protein- Quality protein such as organic meats (watch for deli meats with added starches and nitrates), fish, eggs, naturally fermented tempeh, etc.
  • Be sure to read labels. Especially on condiments. They can sneak in words like wheat starch, rye, barley, and malt syrup.

Okay okay, so now we’ve covered the basics. But what about when it comes down to training/racing and those post race refreshments?

This is where it can be tricky. I like to bring my own food just in case. Like a Gluten Free Bagel and chocolate milk or honeymilk. But here are some other choices that might be available at the finish line or post ride.

  • Gluten Free energy/protein bars (Lara bars, Perfect Foods bar, the protein Honey stinger bars, KIND bars)

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  • Dried fruit, fresh fruit, trail mix, fruit roll ups, fruit leathers

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  • Natural Sports drink, most REAL cola’s (read ingredients), fresh juice, lemonade, milk, coconut water, chocolate milk
  • Tacos with corn tortillas (black bean, veggie, or beef/chicken/ egg cooked in natural oil or butter)
  • Natural potato chips or tortilla chips
  • Pickles (love that sodium fix)
  • Smoothies with fresh fruit and/or natural yogurt
  • PB and banana Sandwich with a GF bagel or bread.

Phew, I think that’s about it for now. If you need any more recipe ideas, just visit my recipe page on the blog. Lots of good choices, and even some homemade GF energy bars or better yet you can order HEALTHY BITES or ebook!

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So what do you think? Is Gluten free living for you?

Cheers!

LC

p.s.

Being that I am gluten intolerant, I choose to live Gluten Free for my health. These are just my suggestions from what I have gathered along my GF journey.  If you think you have a gluten allergy or intolerance, my best advice would to seek a professional or ask your doctor.

In the meantime, feel free to email me with any questions.

Cottercrunch (at) Hotmail (dot) com

Thanks again Lindsay for guest blogging for me today! :) I hope you all enjoyed learning about how she made a gluten free lifestyle work for her! I found this post incredibly informative even though I do not have gluten sensitivities. As I am an about-to-be Nutritionist, I love reading and learning about all things nutrition related! :)

Well, I better say good bye for now! I fell asleep on my back on the beach yesterday and need to do the same, but on my stomach today ;) You know, even out this incredibly sore burn golden tan of mine ;) 

See you tomorrow!

Love always, 

The Queen of Aloe Vera Meg xo

Do you have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity? How have you dealt with this problem? Did you find this post informative?

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

IHeartVegetables April 24, 2013 at 6:44 AM

Love this post, Lindsay! (And I love your blog!) My roommate was testing out a gluten free diet for awhile because she was having some skin reactions. I don’t know if it was the gluten but we both felt less bloated when we were eating GF!

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cottercrunch April 26, 2013 at 2:37 PM

thats awesome! keep me posted on how she is feeling too! love YOU!

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cottercrunch April 24, 2013 at 7:14 AM

yay, i adore you my sweet meg! thanks for sharing and enjoy that beach. You deserve it!!
xxoo

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Tara | Treble in the Kitchen April 24, 2013 at 7:22 AM

Great post girls!! :) Love you both!! Lindsay, these tips are great! I love the alternatives that you provide and that you focus on REAL food!! Perfection!!

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cottercrunch April 26, 2013 at 2:38 PM

exactly!! real is GOOD

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Picky Nicky April 24, 2013 at 7:33 AM

I used to think I was sensitive to gluten since I’d feel those symptoms nearly every day but it turned out I’m allergic to soy. Now I avoid soy at all costs and I feel amazing :) It’s crazy what listening to your body can do for you :)

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cottercrunch April 26, 2013 at 2:48 PM

oh yes, soy is another big one! I don’t eat soy that often and if i do, it’s cultured. It has a similar side effect like gluten. SO tricky!

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Linz @ Itz Linz April 24, 2013 at 7:55 AM

i don’t have a gluten intolerance or anything, but i think your advice can be applied to the general public!! eat REAL, WHOLE, NATURAL foods!! :) :) spot on!

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Beth @ Mangoes and Miles April 24, 2013 at 7:56 AM

This post was super informative! I’m not gluten sensitive or intolerant as far as I know, but nevertheless, it still was very enlightening. It’s very hard to go gluten-free in our serveries (although it is possible–I know two Celiacs here), but their diets aren’t necessarily the healthiest (lots of rice cereal…) just because we don’t have alternative grains available to us unless we buy it ourselves.

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cottercrunch April 26, 2013 at 2:41 PM

oh that is tough, especially when you have limited choices. I think go grain free would be better. Sweet potatoes and eggs and for breakfast still works!

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Kierston @candyfit April 24, 2013 at 9:23 AM

Love LC!

I”m totally with you on: Keep it simple, Keep in Natural!

xo

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Michelle @ Eat Move Balance April 24, 2013 at 10:13 AM

Great guest post, Lindsay! You explained gluten and it’s effect on our bodies really well, and I loved all the tips for finding gluten-free items. One of my closest friends has celiac disease, and I have learned how to make sure she’s comfortable eating in my home . . . I love knowing that she doesn’t have to worry. So I can always use new ideas, tips and recipes. :)

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cottercrunch April 26, 2013 at 2:41 PM

you are a great friend! That’s always scary for a celiac, eating out!

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Melissa @ Treats With a Twist April 24, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Eek! Love you BOTH!! Love all the helpful tips!

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Elle April 24, 2013 at 10:23 AM

I gave up gluten several months ago and have felt considerably better since. No more inflammation in my head/ears and so far so good. I do concentrate on lean meats, freggies, nuts and seeds. I have stayed away from the gluten-free processed foods… although when I was eating bread, which I don’t anymore, I found a line in Canada called Silver Hills… lovely sprouted breads and they make 2 that are gluten free.

Nice to find you here today and really enjoyed this post. So many great ideas.

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Katie @ KatieEnPursuit April 24, 2013 at 11:02 AM

Such a fun guest-post, thanks Lindsay! I’ve gone somewhat gluten-free over the past few months & have never felt better! It’s truly something for folks to consider :) Excellent info!

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cottercrunch April 26, 2013 at 2:44 PM

so good to hear Katie!

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Amanda @runtothefinish April 24, 2013 at 11:03 AM

GREAT post on the why’s and understanding it from all points of view, plus facts and then how to’s…boom covered it all! :)

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peaceloveandoats April 24, 2013 at 12:00 PM

YAY GLUTEN FREE!!!!!

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Sarah April 24, 2013 at 6:00 PM

I love Lindsay!!!! :) This was such an informative post — especially since it is something my doctors and I have been linking to my low iron (I just don’t absorb it!) Thanks for all the helpful information and showing me how to fuel my inner athlete!! xxoo

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cottercrunch April 26, 2013 at 2:44 PM

yes, exactly! That was my problem too. It’s all linked to the gut

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BroccoliHut April 24, 2013 at 9:03 PM

Excellent post, Lindsay! I like how you explained exactly what gluten is–as a nutrition professional, I encounter a lot of people who don’t know what it is, just that they’re trying to eliminate it. Such great tips!
I once tried a gluten free diet in hopes that it might help with my thyroid troubles. It didn’t seem to make a difference, so I started eating gluten again. There are plenty of people for whom a GF diet makes a huge difference though!

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cottercrunch April 26, 2013 at 2:46 PM

yes, i agree. We all work differently so it’s best to find out what works and what doesn’t! Hope your thyroid clears up! did you ever try FODMAPS?

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beka @ rebecca roams April 24, 2013 at 9:47 PM

Love Lindsay! I started eating much less gluten in my diet and found that I was less bloated on a daily basis and had less GI trouble. Overall, I just felt better! I don’t follow it 100%, but when I have the option I’ll go gluten free. HealthyBites are so tasty!… mm keylime…

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cottercrunch April 26, 2013 at 2:43 PM

oh heck ya, no bloat is soooooo much better. and so is key lime. hehe

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Shana Clancy April 25, 2013 at 12:46 AM

Silly question, (I am trying to eat less gluten, I figure it cant be good for you if that many people develop an intolerence) Are Oats OK? Like oatmeal

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cottercrunch April 26, 2013 at 2:42 PM

oats are gluten free but they have similar protein to gluten, so some celiacs cannot eat them. There is also a lot of cross contamination. I’d buy GF oats first. Bob Redmill has GF oats that are tasty!

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Sarah @ The Smart Kitchen May 1, 2013 at 12:13 PM

Well, I love everything Lindsay writes, but this truly was a great post, as I know quite a bit–I think–about GF diets, but have never honestly thought how it affects athletes! [Even though I read Cotter Crunch...] Love the snack suggestions…especially as they are just great choices whether or not you need to avoid gluten!

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