Gluten Free Fitness

Fitness

Where to begin on the healthy eating journey…

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It can be overwhelming, can’t it? Eat this, don’t eat that, not too much of this, yes-eat that, but only on alternating days every other week when the moon is ascending…yikes! It’s enough to make you want to dive headfirst into a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. (Which is fine, as an occasional -yes, occasional-like 1 serving once a week-and a serving is NOT the entire pint-but I digress.)

It does not have to be that complicated.

_market_4 Michael Pollon said:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

And truly, although it’s not quite that simple, it’s not too far off. We are deluged with marketing campaigns of food companies, especially in the celiac community.

It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that there are TONS of wonderfully healthy, tasty, NATURALLY GLUTEN FREE foods!! YES!! A chicken breast is gluten free, as are green beans and sweet potato! Viola! Dinner!

The Totally NOT all inclusive list of good stuff to eat

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Low-Fat Protein

  • Shrimp
  • Chunk Light Tuna
  • Skinless Chicken Breast
  • Skinless Turkey Breast
  • Lean Buffalo
  • Egg Beaters/Egg Whites
  • White or light fleshed fish-tilapia, halibut, flounder, mahi
  • Pork tenderloin

Medium Fat Protein

  • Salmon
  • Albacore Tuna
  • Skinless Chicken Thigh (dark meat has more fat and more protein per ounce)
  • Beef (flank steak, top round, well trimmed sirloin)
  • Eggs
  • Pork products (i.e. bacon, chops, etc.)
  • Extra Lean ground beef

Gluten free complex (starchy) carb sources

  • Potatoes –white, red, sweet, etc
  • Grits
  • Rice (brown, white, wild, red, go nuts!)
  • Rice pasta (gluten free)
  • Oatmeal
  • Cereal-low fat high fiber is a good choice-I love Puffins personally
  • Beans –the musical fruit is actually a high fiber complex carb source
  • Quinoa –pronounced “keen-wa” tastes better than it spells, can be made and eaten savory or sweet

Veggies: fibrous carbs

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Zucchini
  • Green Beans
  • Spinach
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Tomatoes (yes, I know, technically a fruit but gimme a break here)
  • Eggplant
  • Asparagus
  • Artichokes (the canned hearts are truly yummy in salads)
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Fennel (also truly yummy sliced thinly in a salad)
  • The list is getting too long….you know there’s lots of veggies out there. Try something new, especially if it’s local and in season=inexpensive and probably very tasty.

Fat Sources (watch out for carbs/sugars in nutrition label)

  • Nuts-walnuts (high in omega 3 fatty acids), almonds, brazil nuts (high in selenium), pumpkin seeds, macadamia
  • Natural Peanut or almond butter-the kind that is just ground up nuts and maybe a little salt
  • Salad dressing –check ingredients for gluten as well as sugars and other nasties
  • Olive Oil
  • Avocado
  • Flaxseed Oil
  • Macadamia Nut oil
  • Fish Oil
  • Full fat cheese (watch amounts-lowfat is OK if no added carbs/sugars
  • Residual fat from protein sources

Condiments

  • no added sugar ketchup
  • Mustard-every kind known to man-dijon, spicy brown, yellow, carnival, horseradish, etc and so on
  • no sugar added BBQ sauce
  • Sugar free jam
  • Sugar free relish or pickles
  • Hot sauce
  • Vinegar-red wine, balsamic esp. good on veggies, apple cider, champagne or white wine
  • Fresh lime or lemon juice (for flavor)
  • Any spices as long as no sugar in ingredients, generally single spices are gluten free, but always check labels especially in spice blends

Quick Layperson Overview of Celiac Disease

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Also consider gluten intolerance to be included here. Gluten intolerance may not be full blown celiac disease, but the symptoms and dietary adjustments would be the same for all intents and purposes.

What the heck is gluten?

Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, rye and barley. It can also be found in products that do not contain these items, but have been processed in a factory that does, and on shared equipment. (Also known as “cross-contamination”). Oats are great, just get them from a dedicated facility. They will state “gluten free.” I love oats.

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is a chronic, autoimmune intestinal disorder caused by these evil glutens. (I’m not sure if gluten can be pluralized, but I just did-so there.) In essence, when your body recognizes the gluten proteins it goes into attack mode. Unfortunately the attack is on your intestinal lining. This can damage the “villi” or absorptive surfaces in the small intestine. Which can then lead to bloating, gas, and the pooping. Lots of pooping. Symptoms can vary greatly from person to person in severity and type.

Symptoms can include:

  1. Iron or vitamin deficiency
  2. Chronic fatigue or weakness (not the “too lazy to overcome couch gravity” kind, by the way)
  3. Abdominal pain, bloating, gas (this is my personal fave and the one I see the most whenever I get glutened)
  4. Reflux/heartburn
  5. Diarrhea/constipation
  6. Lactose intolerance
  7. Weight loss (due to lack of absorption of nutrients-NOT a good way to lose weight, my friends)
  8. Joint pain
  9. Bruising
  10. Headaches
  11. Depression
  12. And the list could go on…

Continued exposure to gluten can lead to absorptive issues with vitamins/minerals/good stuff. This can in the long term result in osteoporosis, anemia, neurological conditions, other autoimmune disorders, and some cancers.

How common is celiac disease?

Way more common than the collective “they” used to think. At this point it is estimated that approximately 1% of the US population (1 in 100 to 133 or so-give or take a few people) have celiac disease. Many are undiagnosed, and many have been misdiagnosed with the garbage can of intestinal disorders, IBS. Also known as “we don’t know what’s wrong with you.” (This is my opinion, people. It is what it is.)

How do you “get” it?

There is a large genetic component. Once one person in a family is diagnosed, others usually are as well. My Dad always thought he just had a “bad stomach” until I was diagnosed.

You may also have the gene for celiac disease but never develop the condition. It appears that you must have the gene, and then an environmental “trigger” may cause the onset of symptoms. The trigger may be stress, diet, any number of things.

How do I get tested?

Visit your doctor. DO NOT make any changes to your diet prior to seeing your doctor and getting tested. If you go gluten free prior to testing, it will skew you results and create a pain in the butt for getting a solid diagnosis.

Your doctor may order blood tests, saliva tests, and/or an upper GI (endoscopy.) It’s not too bad, I promise. They can do gene testing as well as testing for antibodies. An endoscopy would take a look at the small intestine and assess if there is any damage, as well as provide biopsy samples.

So what do you do about it?

The “cure” is a gluten free diet for life. It’s really not so bad, I promise. People will say things like “oh my goodness, that’s horrible!” and make you feel really good about it. (Does sarcasm come across in the written medium? Hmm..) But really and truly, it’s not.

There are MANY naturally gluten free foods that will help you maintain great health, both with celiac and in a general sense. The occasional gluten free treat like a brownie or something is great too.

But don’t think you have to subsist on packaged gluten free macaroni and cheese, or pasta. Seriously. Those things are silly expensive, and there are much better choices that don’t have a million ingredients and are processed and packaged. Naturally gluten free foods, baby.