My college swim coach was always encouraging our team to go see a sports nutritionist. He knew that nutrition was a critical element in our training. Brief pause right here: HE WAS SO RIGHT. I don’t generally like to play the what if game because I find it gets me into trouble, but the more I learn, the more I can’t help but wonder what if. What if I had realized the importance of nutrition and had made sure that I was properly fueled when I was swimming? How much faster could I have been? Would I have been able to recover in between workouts and after meets faster? Would I have felt better? Been stronger? If you’re reading this and training for anything I STRONGLY urge you to consider the role nutrition could play in your performance.
But to continue my glutard story: In the Fall of 2011 I went to see a dietitian who specialized in sports nutrition. The appointment was similar to going to the doctor–I filled out a form with my medical history and checked boxes next to symptoms I was currently experiencing. But, instead of taking my weight and height (actually she never even measured me, just asked me how tall I was), the registered dietitian determined my body composition with a Bod Pod and measured my metabolic rate with a Medgem indirect calorimeter. She also had me tell her what I typically ate in a day. The big take-away she gave me from my appointment was that I likely had celiac disease or a wheat intolerance and should stop eating gluten for 6 weeks to see if I felt any better. She said that if I was going to see a difference, I would see it in 4 -6 weeks. Not really sure how to avoid gluten because, as she told me, it’s in practically everything I was eating, I pony-uped the extra hundred and something dollars (okay, my parents did) for her personalized meal plan….which, I was very disappointed to find, ended up not being very personalized. After following it for two days, I couldn’t deal. I went online. My mom went online. And we figured out what I needed to avoid and what foods I could have, and how I was realistically going to do this.
The first week was really hard. I was kind of scared to eat and was extremely cautious about what went into my mouth. Even so, I sometimes slipped up and would realize after I had eaten something, that it actually had wheat in it. Did I need to avoid food that didn’t contain gluten itself but was manufactured in a place that also made food that did contain gluten? How big a deal was this cross-contamination thing? Did I need to stop sharing peanut butter with my roommates because the knife they used to scoop out the peanut butter might have also touched a piece of bread? It was SO confusing. I ended up just avoiding most processed and shared food. I began baking gluten-free bread. Which is not the same thing. At all. But can be tasty, as long as you don’t think of it as bread.
My roommates were incredibly supportive and nice as I went through this process. I don’t think I ever thanked them. But, if you’re reading now, thanks guys! You really were so great. One of the most difficult parts about not eating gluten is dealing with social situations and you guys helped alleviate a lot of that stress for me by being so accommodating and supportive. My now brother-and-law, on the other hand, called me a glutard. My sister scolded him. I wanted to be offended, but I was laughing, so that just wouldn’t have come across very genuinely… Continue reading “Pass the bread; I’m not a glutard.”