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Posts Tagged ‘gluten free’


One of the things runners in particular seem to struggle with is what to eat that’s going to keep you full for any length of time. Truly, this can be an issue, particularly if you run and then go to work and don’t have the flexibility of eating whatever whenever.

Every runner is different in the eating department. Some hit the trail without eating anything; some eat just a banana; some do something light about an hour before a long run.

Me? I’m in the one hour department. Since I have energy issues to begin with, I am not interested in compounding it by not fueling as well as I could. I’m also kinda picky.

Generally speaking, I am a creature of habit. For years (and I do mean years, literally), my breakfast consisted of cottage cheese and pineapple. Good protein; not a lot of carbs. In some worlds, this is non-ideal pre-run fare. But regardless, it seemed to work well for me until I started increasing my mileage again.

What was fine for 5 miles no longer seems to do me much good at 8+. The hunt was on.

And so too, the struggle with gluten compounded, because it’s not like you can just eat a bagel and call it good.

Yes, I could go the cream of rice route- I’ve heard a rumor that I can find it at a local grocery store.  I’ve never seen it there before, but will have to look the next time I’m there. No one else in town seems to know what this is, and so I’ve been resigned to thinking I had to ask my parents to bring me some when they come from Michigan next week. (I may still do that if I can’t find any by then…..)

I could do grits. I actually do like grits, but usually like a little bit of sugar in it. So that’s out for every day eating. I’m also not one who wants to cook anything in the morning and have to take time making something hot. I’m usually too hot as it is anyhow, so warming up from the inside just to go running and get even hotter is not appealing to me.

See what I mean about being picky?  😆

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a thread on the Runner’s World forums about the issue of being starving after running- what would be good and solid, not interfere with running, and yet, tide you over? The “solution” was overnight oats.

Now, if you’ve been researching gluten and all the stuff it’s in, you’ve probably learned this tidbit of information: while oats don’t have gluten in them, they are usually processed in facilities that have other grains, and therefore, may have trace amounts of gluten ON them.

If I had Celiac disease, this would be a big deal. I would make sure that the oats I got came certified “gluten-free.” (and really, I’m not doing very well in the gluten-free department anyhow, since I allow myself to cheat a little so long as my pain level is not real high and I’m functioning reasonably well; but I do try to eliminate it as much as I can)

Cheerios, for example, made with whole grain oats- are not gluten-free. AND! One of the ingredients is wheat starch. Definitely NOT gluten-free, although there are people who have been told they are ok to eat.

Did I mention that I love Cheerios?  *sigh*  😦

But- just plain oats don’t have anything else in it. While there is a chance to have some gluten cross-contamination, because I only have a sensitivity, I feel like it’s safe enough until I can find a source for reasonably priced certified gluten-free oats. I may be playing with fire, but so far, it’s been ok.

The original recipe I got was this:

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup almond milk

about 1/2 oz chopped walnuts

1/2 cup lowfat greek yogurt – (I used vanilla ) 

few dashes of cinnamon

about an ounce of dried cranberries

~~~~~~~~~~

Ok, so I tried this with a few alterations. I used regular whole milk instead of the almond milk; I used regular yogurt instead of Greek yogurt, and I didn’t put any cinnamon in it.While I don’t mind eating just nuts, I don’t like nuts in pretty much anything, so I left them out. I do like mixing it up the night before so all I have to do in the morning is open the fridge, grab my spoon and get to it.

A few days in, I came to realize that I didn’t particularly like to chew my oatmeal. I generally do not like food in my food, although I can change my mindset if I have to tackle some Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. But then, I can pick out the chunks and eat just those, so it’s all good.  😆 So now, in addition to no nuts in there, the cranberries are also out.

After another few days, I got bored with the vanilla. Don’t ask me why, because I’m still not sure. 😆

I thought I would take a risk and try strawberry yogurt, even though it has some strawberry bits in it. So far, the bits aren’t bugging me because they are soft enough not to have to chew.

I have not, however, determined whether or not this combo gives me a good boost of energy like traditional carbs. I am leaning towards a “no,” but think I need to try it longer to really know one way or another. I am still looking for pre-race eats that will give me a boost of energy; I’m thinking maybe I should try some peanut butter in there with plain yogurt. Not sure on this combo, but I’ll let you know if I try it.

Any gluten-free runners out there who have favorite pre-race or other pre-run breakfast food favorites?  Tell me what you’re eating!

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Yep.  I did, I’m ashamed to say.  I knew better, and I did it anyhow.

At first, I conned myself into thinking a little wouldn’t matter.  And you know how that goes- once you have a little, well, heck, you might as well go for broke and do what you want and have a lot, right?

And then, the really twisted part of my brain joined in and said, “It’ll be an experiment, and then I’ll know for sure one way or the other.”

Epic fail. Big time bomb.

And truly, the only one suffering is me. Go me for allowing my stupid stubbornness to get the best of me and letting myself con myself into not just falling off the wagon, but staying off the wagon. 🙄

I think this started on Thanksgiving. I “allowed” myself to have some dinner rolls, and thus, I started the fall off the gluten-free wagon.

I didn’t have any really bad effects initially. Indeed, I was flying high when my rheumatologists gave me the green light to run, and actually forbade me to stop. I started increasing my mileage and joined the Runner’s World Holiday Challenge. My mileage was good and I felt great.

I really thought, in my heart of hearts, that the worst with the diseases was behind me. How could it not be? I’d conquered the bulk of the pain; the plantar fasciitis (a kind of connective tissue) was all but resolved thanks to my Vibram Five Finger shoes, and my chronic tendinitis issues seemed to be on vacation. Systemic inflammation was down considerably, which I considered to be a major victory.

And then came Christmas week. I am pretty sure it was the combination of not napping/getting my feet up in the afternoons and the normal stress of the season that did me in. Christmas morning, I managed to crawl out of bed around 8 am and was back in by 10:30 am where I spent the rest of and entire next day.

That week, I had run 52.25 miles, and things were feeling a bit achy. In a matter of two days and a few hours, I had gained 12 lbs of fluid. Even with my continued running, I was swollen, pitting, and generally feeling like crap. This was by far the worst flare I had hit in several months. It took about a week, but the pounds dropped off.

The pain, however, remained. The first week of this month, everything was still hurting. As the pain increased, my mileage varied, as I decided to do some shorter runs to see if that would help. Stomach unease was a near constant, which meant I was doing overall a really good job staying away from the sugar cookies, knowing they would exacerbate things.

When we got the crud going around, though, the only thing I was interested in was raisin bread. And this is when the twisted part of my brain really took hold and let me fall completely off the gluten-free wagon. I mean, I was already in a lot of pain, so why bother not eating what I wanted to, right?

Shame on me. I know better.

I had nearly tricked myself into thinking I was “normal;” that I could eat “normally” and make “normal” goals and things.

Shame on me. I know better.

Part of the reason I started running eons ago was so that I *could* eat and not feel guilty. That was my reward (well, one of them) for running: the ability to eat ice cream or chocolate and not feel guilty. 🙄

As part of my research on my conditions, one theme I had run into repeatedly was the gut connection to inflammation. I’ve been tested for Celiac, and apparently there was no “intolerance.” The thing is, you don’t have to be completely intolerant, nor do you have to have an allergy to something to have it affect you and give you adverse reactions.

Yep. Sensitivities can cause all kinds of things. There is a difference between food allergies, food sensitivities, and food intolerance. I’ve undergone extensive allergy testing. By this I mean a series of over 300 injections where the “bump” is measured for allergic response (you’re going to have a bump; how high the bump is determines the level of your allergy). From what I remember, wheat was not one of my allergies.

We know that the gut/intestines – the enteric or intrinsic system- has its own nervous system, which has as many neurons as the spinal cord.

Did you get that?

Let me say it again- your digestive system has its own nervous system that has about the same number of neurons as your spinal cord. How does this work? One example would be to think of someone who is clinically brain dead (has no electrical activity in the brain) and yet survives artificially, with a feeding tube etc. Did you ever think about how that works?

How the Gut’s ‘Second Brain’ Influences Mood and Well-Being is a really good article to get you started.

I’m not going to go into a lengthy lecture about anatomy and physiology, but I WILL say that what we eat is FAR more connected to how we feel and act than most people think. Conditions like ADD/ADHD and autism often respond to dietary intervention and are often exacerbated by food with certain food colorings and additives like MSG.

There is stuff in food (like wood pulp, aka cellulose) that we don’t have the ability to digest. And then we wonder why we can’t?

There is much evidence and continuing studies that show a link between gluten and autoimmune conditions and pain. Celiac and arthritis, for example, have a link. (Celiac Disease is NOT an allergy to gluten, it is an autoimmune disease; some children with wheat allergies can outgrow the allergy.) Studies show that Sjogren’s and Raynaud’s both have links to gluten.

And gluten is in all kinds of stuff- it’s not just bread; it’s not just connected to wheat, and it’s often hidden (like whey in hot dogs, casein in tuna, or MSG being called “natural flavorings”). Gluten can be found in vitamin supplements and some medications. Most grains can have gluten, so it’s not safe to say “I’ll just eat oatmeal” because there could be (and often is) cross-contamination. Wheat free does not = gluten free.  😦

I often wonder why people are more agreeable to treating illness with artificial chemicals than they are to think about what they are eating. Is it just because processed foods are easier? (ok, I admit, this feeds into my theory of a “right now” society whereby people want things right now; easily, without having to think or work, and I believe that treating it with a pill is the route most people chose just because it’s “easy”.)

I DO think people want to take the easy route, and in some ways, I am no exception. You probably already know we don’t do a lot of processed foods and we LOVE the eggs we get from our chickens.

Gluten-free options are not abundant (nor cost-effective) where I live. And, since it’s really only me in the family that is affected, it’s hard to justify spending the $$ and having the rest of the family go gluten free. So that leaves me more or less where I started (bear with me, please, while I whine :D)– cutting out what I can on my own and hoping I see results.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. At this point, I’m nearly 100% sure that I’ll see results and my pain level will once again decrease. I’m going to miss my raisin bran.

If, in a few months, I start to complain about wanting to load up on breads and grains again, would y’all just poke me, please?

Thank GOODNESS I can still eat popcorn……………

**Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. Don’t shoot me or try to sue me if some of this information isn’t spot on or is debunked in 50 years. I’m just a regular ‘ole person scouring the internet and researching what I can. If you have experience with any of this, PLEASE leave me a comment!

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