By Chrissa Hardy for HelloGiggles.com
Dana Vollmer spent her summer training for London Olympic Games, competing in London and celebrating her gold-medal-winning, record-breaking time in London. Would any of these things have happened, had she not discovered her gluten allergy in the spring of 2011? She’s not so sure. After years of daily stomach aches brought on by her food choices, Dana feels better than ever before and could not imagine returning to a life with gluten.
Gluten-free has become a trend, a buzz word that has taken up prime real estate on food labels everywhere. What does it mean exactly? Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Those who are intolerant of it, allergic or sensitive to it, need to adopt a lifestyle of paying close attention to food labels. I sat down with Dana at the Gluten-Free Pizza Event, put on by The Venice Bakery in Los Angeles, CA, to discuss her new life and how going gluten-free changed everything.
Chrissa Hardy: First of all, congrats on your gold medal win! Has your life returned to normal or is it still pretty hectic?
Dana Vollmer: It’s still pretty hectic. I’m enjoying it a lot. Initially, I was planning to go back to my hometown in Texas to visit with my family and sort of relax, but I’ve just been traveling non stop and I love it. It’s been really great. It’s one thing to have the excitement of the Olympics but, now it’s so great to see the kids and how their faces light up when they get to wear the gold medal. I remember when I was 12 and I saw my first gold medal, that’s when I decided that I wanted to become an Olympian.
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By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., TheBestLife.com lead nutritionist
I’m throwing a small dinner party for a friend this weekend. On the menu: pasta. That’s a big deal, because pasta has been food non grata for more than a year. It’s not an Atkins anti-carb thing—this time, it’s the anti-gluten movement.
It seems like everyone I know is foregoing wheat and other grains containing this protein. So why are so many people going gluten-free? None of them have celiac, a serious condition in which the immune system attacks the intestines after gluten is consumed (about one percent of Americans suffer from this condition). A few might have “gluten sensitivity,” a less harmful, but still uncomfortable condition that affects about five percent of the population. (For details on these conditions, check out What Everyone Needs to Know About Gluten.)
In fact, most people who tell me they’ve cut out gluten have no obvious problem with it. Some are going along for the ride because their spouse or child is off gluten, others think it might help them lose weight—simply cutting out bread can be quite effective for some people—and still others are convinced it’s simply healthier.
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Welcome to the third installment of my “How to Eat Gluten Free” series. Today we’re looking at perhaps the most complicated and time-consuming meal of all: Dinner.
Most of us are so exhausted by the time we get home from work that we want nothing more than to plop down on the couch and have dinner magically appear before us – myself included. But that’s a reality most of us don’t know. Couple that with trying to find ideas for healthy, gluten free dishes and you have a recipe for dinner disaster.
If this describes your current scenario, fret not, as we’ve compiled a list of five simple and healthy recipes that will have you looking forward to your nightly meal instead of dreading it by the noon hour.
Curried Rice with Shrimp - This gorgeous and healthy dish from Real Simple takes your weeknight dinner from ‘blah’ to ‘ta-da’ in a flash. Let the exotic flavors of curry and basil win you over, and the shrimp and rice keep you satisfied for hours.
Lentil Soup - The weather may still be a little warm for soup just yet, but fall and winter are right around the corner. We say warm up and fill up with this healthy dish that features tomato, kale, carrots, and, of course, fresh green lentils.
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If you missed my introduction to gluten-free eating in which I shared how to eat gluten free for breakfast, consider this my second installment covering all-things gluten-free lunch.
I wanted to create a gluten-free breakfast, lunch and dinner menu because I have plenty of friends who are gluten free and I never know what to prepare them when I’m hosting. I figured the best solution was to do some research and then share what I found here so I can come back as a reference and pick a dish depending on what type of meal I’m serving.
Today we’re looking at how to eat gluten free for lunch, because if you’re like me, all I ever want for lunch is a big sandwich – something gluten-free dieters typically can’t have. But the good news is, there are so many delicious gluten-free options that are easy to throw together for lunch that there’s no reason to come up short on ideas. Here are just a few of my favorite newly-discovered gluten-free dishes.
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I cheated on my gluten-free diet (again). Now I can share with my clients in my adoption nutrition class the symptoms of gluten sensitivity from experience, not just research. I chose to be gluten and wheat free based on research upon hearing that all wheat in the United States was genetically modified. I prefer to avoid genetically modified foods. When I read Wheat Belly, it was clear that gluten certainly had other impacts on the brain and body, and some people’s behavioral and mental health diagnoses could be a result a gluten sensitivity of which they were unaware.
After giving up wheat and gluten for several months but not being very cautious, I had been much more strict in the last several weeks. If I do not naturally have a tendency toward gluten sensitivity, I had now created a situation in which my body would be sensitive to this new item in the diet. It is said to determine if you have a sensitivity or allergy to any food you should eliminate it from your diet for at least three weeks and then cautiously introduce it back into your diet to notice any symptoms.
Sunday night, I cheated on the gluten-free diet. My dreams were a bit chaotic, but Monday morning I noticed plenty of energy. After my run, I noticed a bit of a rash on my neck but I assumed it was just heat. I also noticed some very minor asthmatic symptoms which I thought were odd since I had finished the run and usually breath better after running. When I realized the rash had not gone away even after I had cooled down several hours later, I consulted my friend and allergy advisor Heather who was gracious enough not to say “I told you so,” even after my rash had spread on Tuesday.
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