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Gluten Free Tips for Healing after Injury

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Gluten Free Tips for Healing after Injury

If you are on the G-FF Facebook or GF-F Twitter, you may have heard me discuss injuries.  A few months back, I twisted my ankle and fell, giving myself a grade two ankle sprain.  I heard and felt the dreaded “pop” as I fell.  Luckily, I landed softly in the hedge.  Mind you, I wasn’t exercising or running, I just had too much going on in that minute and fell on my own sidewalk. I headed back inside, rinsed off my travel coffee mug, grabbed an ice pack, and off to work I went.

About a week or so later, I felt much better.  Swelling was minimal, range of motion is almost equal to the other side, and the feeling of instability is subsiding.  Not to mention my awkwardness still taking up space in my head.

I have learned through the years that it is preferable to let an injury heal properly and then return to activity.  Rushing it is not worth it.  Future injuries are much more likely if the original was not allowed to heal.  However, I am also an athlete, and so when injured get a bit cranky.

I have a friend that has been dealing with a stress fracture in her foot for several months now, and she is dealing phenomenally well with the change in her routine.  After the first round of anger, disappointment, and frustration, she is channeling her efforts in a new physical manner.  (I am very happy to report that she is able to do resistance training, on track to getting back to her endurance routine)

Talking about our recent injury experiences, I decided it was high time I wrote a few tips to help keep yourself sane, and speed along your healing when injured.

The 5 Physical Tips:

  • In an acute injury, RICE.

  • Rest-self explanatory
  • Ice-10-20 minutes at a time, make sure to have 1 layer of cloth between your skin and the ice/ice pack.
  • Compression-if needed and swelling is apparent, you can wrap the affected part with an elastic wrap. Don’t pull too tight, you don’t want to cut off your circulation.
  • Elevation-this is where you get your affected body part up above the level of your torso.  Think-prop your leg up on a bunch of pillow with the remote control or a book.  “Honey-can you get me some tea?  I have my leg elevated with ice on it.”
  • Gently move the affected part within a pain free range of motion as much and as often as possible.  Rule of thumb in general: is it hurts, don’t do it.
  • Be sure to maximize your nutrition.  Eat high quality, bang for caloric buck food. This is not the time to try to lose fat.  Do not restrict calories.  You need calories to help rebuild and repair.  Shoot to eat 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight on a daily basis.  Stay well hydrated
  • Sleep.  Lots.
  • Consider supplementation. Ideally you are getting a ton of great nutrition from your food, but these are a few that I have found helpful.  They are not necessary by any stretch, but they may help.  Many athletes will take advantage of any edge to potentially get back to sport quicker.  Of course, please always check with your medical professional.  So, in no particular order:
  • L-glutamine-a conditionally essential amino acid.

L-Glutamine is especially interesting to celiacs, as it appears to be heavily absorbed in the gut and aid in gut health.  It’s been anecdotally used in the strength community for recovery for a long time, but the research does not back that up.  Research does show it is absorbed primarily in the gut-which for us is a good thing, as healthy gut=more nutrients absorbed=optimal healing.  I wrote about L-glutamine as a supplement for gut health here.

  • Probiotic, especially if your injury required antibiotics.  Antibiotics negatively impact the “good” gut flora, so you want to restore that.
  • Multivitamin, perhaps some extra Vitamin D, and a Calcium/ Magnesium combo to cover nutritional bases.
  • Proteolytic enzymes .  Similar to digestive enzymes, but specifically for systemic use for protein.  These act in a similar manner as a non steroidal anti-inflammatory like Advil, with less worry of side effects.
  • Good food. I know I said it already, but it really is that important.

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The 5 Mental Tips

  • It’s OK to be mad and upset for a while. It’s completely normal to have an emotional response to injury.
  • Don’t stay mad.  Allow yourself to move through the stages of mourning.  Yes, it’s been determined that reaction to injury in an athlete is very similar to stages of grief as outlined in Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ book On Death and Dying.  Obviously there are differences as well.  However, the 5 stages are:
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

It’s OK to recognize, accept, and then move through each one of these phases.

  • Take charge of your return to wellness. Plan it out.  Give yourself control.  What CAN you do?  Focus on the activities you can do, and set goals for yourself based on those activities.  No negative connotations.  This is not bad, it’s just different.  Your injury may have been out of your control, but you can certainly control your path back to sport.  Make concrete plans and a blueprint for your recovery.
  • Be positive. This sounds silly, but visualize your return to doing what you love.  I also imagine a tiny little construction crew inside my body, repairing, spackling, repainting all the busted up bits.  Visualize sending healing light and the nutrients from your food to the injured area.  I know, it sounds trippy, but I’ve found it helpful.  Laugh if you wish, I completely understand.  Don’t get me wrong, you have to also take the appropriate action to make yourself well.  All the visualization in the world won’t make a bit of difference if you are passed out on the couch with an empty package of sugar laden gluten free donuts and a 5th of vodka.
  • Set yourself up for success. Be realistic when setting your time frames for progress and return to sport.  Guidelines given by your doctor, therapist or other health professional are given for a reason.  It truly does take time for healing to occur, and regardless of how much we maximize our healing, we can only speed it up so much.  To some extent, time must pass.

In a perfect world, we would never get injured.

Chances are good that at one point in your life, you will be forced to take a step back.  When that happens, arm yourself with these tips to keep your sanity, and the sanity of those around you.

If you’re new to G-FF, please make sure to check out Gluten Free and Fit 101.  Feedback has been awesome, and for that I thank you.

In the words of Helen Keller: “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

Share your injury tips in the comments!

Parting (with Gluten) is Such Sweet Sorrow…Or Is It?

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Parting (with Gluten) is Such Sweet Sorrow…Or Is It?

Imagine this…

You’re in the doctor’s office.  You’ve been through a battery of tests, you feel like doo-doo on a stick.  Your hair is falling out, your body aches, and you have no energy.  You’re scared to death, because so many of your friends and acquaintances have either been diagnosed with cancer lately, or know someone who has been diagnosed with cancer.  You sit, on the hard chair, and you wait for the doctor to enter the room.  It seems like an eternity that you are waiting (and depending on the doctor it might be.)  You really want to try to read your chart, but they’re slick and have it on the other side of the door.

So you wait…  And you wonder…

Am I sick?  Is this going to be bad?  I know I’m sick, but exactly how sick am I?

And you wait some more, and the worst case scenario in your head keeps getting worse.

Finally the doctor enters the room and shakes your hand.  “How’re you feeling?”  Just dandy, doc, that’s why I spent 2 hours of my life in your waiting room, and my hair is falling out. But what you really say is “OK.  What did the tests say?”

He flips open your chart and rummages through the papers at the front.

“Let’s see here…negative, negative, normal, good, oh wait.”

An eternity passes.  Maybe 5 seconds.

“You tested positive for celiac disease.”

What the $%*& is celiac disease?

If you have a good doctor, this is where they give you solid information, and maybe a referral to a dietitian.  If not so good, or just poorly educated, you might just be told to not eat gluten.  Here’s another option if you require a “2nd opinion” –

I have seen/heard people who are just furious that they are no longer supposed to eat gluten, and have to give up (gasp!) “regular” food.

Seriously?

No, really.  Seriously?!?!

Think back.  When you were scared straight in the doctor’s office, and you thought you may be dying – is (insert glutinous favorite food of your choice here-pasta, cereal, bagels, etc) really that big of a deal?

No, really.  Think about it.

  • Do you have to go through chemo?
  • Take lots of toxic medications?
  • Be on medicine for the rest of your life?
  • Be separated from family and friends?
  • Do you have to have surgery?
  • Do you have to go through physical rehabilitation?
  • Are you sentenced to a life of chronic pain?
  • Will you be able to ever eat anything again?

No?  Didn’t think so.

All we have to do is not eat gluten.  We have the choice, and the ability, to heal ourselves.  A diagnosis of celiac disease can be a blessing in disguise.

It’s all in how you choose to approach it.  And yes, it is a choice.

You choose.  In the immortal words of Bruce Springsteen, “you gotta learn to live with what you can’t rise above.”

Why just live with it when you can rise above, and let living gluten free enrich your health and your life.

It really is a beautiful “burden”. You choose.  Your perspective on celiac will color every bite of food you take.

You choose.

Choose to see the huge, wonderful, varied world of naturally gluten free foods.  The bounty of meats, poultry, fish, eggs, veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, oils, etc and so on and so on!  Look at what you CAN eat, not what you can’t.

For more reading about my philosophy on living gluten free:

The Easiest Gluten Free Diet

And if you want more, Gluten Free and Fit 101 has a lot more in store, including more ideas for dairy and gluten free protein powders.

And that should give you enough reading for a while.

If you STILL want more, or you just want a step by step, simple, checklist  approach to cleaning up your diet, check out 7 Quick Start Tips to Living a Healthy Gluten Free Fit Life

So what will you choose?

Intuitive Eating: You Eat Therefore you Think

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Intuitive Eating – Getting your Mind into your Food

What does our brain have to do with eating anyway?

Well, as it turns out, quite a bit.

If you have struggled at all with eating or weight issues, you’ve no doubt heard that people eat “mindlessly” or that eating is often used to deal with emotional issues that may have nothing to do with hunger.

Even if you have NOT struggled with eating, you’ve likely heard these terms. Food, eating, weight-they are all a huge part of our culture.  Especially now that approximately 33% of Americans are overweight, and another 34% are obese.  The implications of these numbers are staggering.

There’s always the search for the magic pill, the miracle exercise plan, the instant fix. There are thousands of diets, immense numbers of diet books, and a new weight loss guru every day showing up on the internet.

Celiacs have a special challenge with weight loss due to the absorption issues in the gut; and then there are also hormonal wackiness in some celiacs. The idea of intuitive eating is a huge subject, and one that I have wanted to discuss for quite a while.  It’s such a huge subject that I was hesitant to tackle it, as it is a very individual journey.

I listened to a podcast where Carla and Shauna discussed their views on intuitive eating.  They also expressed what a giant subject this is, and provided their own personal views on intuitive eating.  (Carla also mentioned she was gluten intolerant, which of course I found very interesting.)  The podcast gave me the kick in the butt I needed to write this.

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So what the heck is intuitive eating?

Photo credit krilm

In their podcast, Carla and Shauna renamed it “mindful eating” which I like quite a bit.

I have written in the past how awareness of what you eat can benefit you from a health and weight perspective.

Authors Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch have written a book titled Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works I read this book several years ago, and keep it handy for reference, which I still do from time to time. On their website, they give this definition:

“Intuitive eating is an approach that teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with your food, mind, and body–where you ultimately become the expert of your own body.   You learn how to distinguish between physical and emotional feelings, and gain a sense of body wisdom.   It’s also a process of making peace with food—so that you no longer have constant “food worry” thoughts.  It’s knowing that your health and your worth as a person does not change because you ate a so-called “bad” or “fattening” food. “

The truth is, that intuitive or mindful eating is going to have a slightly different definition for everyone.

We attach so much emotional value to food. In its most basic form, food is fuel.  But to many of us, food also represents celebration, tradition, and family fun time.  To some of us, food also represents loneliness, comfort or escape and that’s where we start to run into problems. Not only do we eat when we’re hungry, we eat when we’re bored, lonely, upset, happy, driving, watching TV, or any other time.

Imagine if we ate only when we were low on fuel

Imagine if we didn’t let food define us, allow it to control if we see ourselves as “good” or “bad” (ie: “I was good today, I only ate lettuce” or “I was bad today, I had a chocolate cake”.) Maybe then we could start to get this obesity crisis under control.  Maybe we could separate our feelings of self from our eating pattern.

Intuitive eating is not a diet, just as eating gluten free is not a diet.

And food has no inherent control on who you are.

It’s my personal opinion and experience that a combination of intuitive eating and structured eating is the way to go for weight (fat) loss.

For maintenance eating,(staying at your “happy size” when you get there)  I think a full on intuitive approach is definitely a great way to go.  I do think that as you are actively losing weight, that there may need to be an additional component of calorie control.  You absolutely can eat too much, even if it is “clean and healthy” food and never lose the fat.  In these instances, you would have to limit your caloric intake by measuring/weighing/using portion control.  Calories do matter, I don’t care what zealots of any given diet plan say.

To lose weight (fat) there must be a higher caloric expenditure than there is intake.  That means you may feel hungry.

Feeling hungry is not fun, but it won’t kill you either, especially if you have a lot of fat to lose.  This is why I think that a more structured eating plan is necessary in a fat loss phase, especially for celiacs whose gut hormones may be a bit wacky.  If you feel hungry and you are intuitively eating, you would eat.  But that won’t help you if you’ve already eaten the maximum calories for the day which will still allow you to lose weight.  You end up spinning your wheels and getting frustrated, “I’m doing everything right but I’m still not losing weight!”  In these cases, almost always, it’s a case of too many overall calories.  Even if they are healthy calories.

Carla had a great idea on the podcast.  She suggested keeping a food diary which indicates not just what you eat, but how you feel before, during and after eating an item.  I think this is a fantastic idea.  I suggest keeping a food diary… be sure to add in the awareness component to your writings.

The key in the beginning is to keep the diary without changing anything.  No judgments on yourself, just write it down as this helps set the baseline of where you are now.  What you eat, how much you eat, and how you feel – before and after you eat.  After a week or two, you will see a large increase in your awareness of what you are putting into your mouth, how often you are putting food into your mouth, and how it makes you feel.

Now go back and review your diary.  Notice anything? If you notice that you are eating when you are already full, then stop doing that. If you notice that you are eating after a meeting, then stop doing that. (It’s like the guy who goes to the doctor – Doc, my arm hurts when I do this – the Doctor responds with “stop doing that”).  I know I know – it isn’t that simple… right? Some things aren’t that easy to just stop.  I get that! The key is “awareness”.  As you become more aware, the “just stop” will take care of itself in time.

I know I am over simplifying, but the most important thing is to do something. Today. Now.  If you are unhappy with how you look or feel, it is up to you to make a change. You can do it.  You are stronger than you think.

Over on the Gluten Free Fitness Facebook page in the discussions tab we have a “goals and accountability” section where you can post your goal and get support and a kick in the butt if needed, so swing by and join us.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please pipe up on what you think of intuitive eating, your experiences and opinions.

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