The Gluten-Free Athlete

Following a gluten-free diet does show some advantages:

1. With gluten removed, the body's immune system can rest and absorption can be restored. The body can then function at optimal levels and repair muscles more efficiently.

2. The hypoglycemic effect that results from intense exercise is minimized.

3. A gluten-free diet helps to maintain a stable blood sugar level during exercise, which is optimal for an increase in muscle strength and stamina.

Tips to Live Gluten-Free

1. Emphasize the foods which are naturally gluten-free, such as vegetables, fruits, starchy vegetables, legumes, and certain whole grains.

2. Choose fresh vegetables or frozen without sauce, fresh, dried or frozen fruits, all varieties of fresh corn, potatoes, and squash, dried beans and lentils, whole grains such as certified gluten-free, breads, cereals, pastas, granola, oats, millet, quinoa, amaranth, sorghum, teff, corn tortilla, tapioca, all varieties of rice, eggs, organic tofu, all natural nut butters, cold pressed oils, and vinegars.

3. Read food labels. The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act states that 'wheat' must be on the food label if wheat is used in the food. This is not true for barley and rye; food manufacturers do not have to label foods that contain barley or rye. If you are unsure about a products' ingredients avoid it. Labels must be read every time that you purchase food. Manufacturers can change ingredients at any time.

Follow these steps to ensure that every packaged food that you buy is gluten-free:

Look for 'GLUTEN FREE" clearly labeled on the packaging. If it is labeled certified gluten-free, then it is safe.

Read the allergen statement. If the product contains wheat, put the food down and look for another option. If the product does not contain wheat, then...

Look for a statement regarding the facility in which the food was processed. If the food was processed in a factory that also processes wheat, put the food down and look for another option.

Avoid Cross-Contamination

Tiny amounts of gluten hidden in foods will cause damage to the intestinal lining. Avoid cross contamination in your home and when eating outside of your home.

If you live alone, throw out or give away anything that contains gluten or could have been contaminated with gluten, such as peanut butter or mayonnaise. If you live with others, place vividly colored stickers on gluten-free foods.

Discard wooden cooking utensils, cutting boards and non-stick pans that may be contaminated with gluten.

Use soap and water liberally. Clean dishes and utensils very well to remove gluten. Keep your sponge clean.

At the market avoid bulk bins with shared scoops.

Flour sifters and mesh colanders should not be shared with gluten-containing flours.

Deep fried foods cooked in oil shared with breaded products should not be consumed.

Living with Allergy/Intolerance

It is natural to mourn old food habits for a period of time after being diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Stay focused on all of the foods that you can eat. Appreciate how your diet, health and sport may improve.

Canyon Ranch pioneered the evolution of wellness lifestyle and has been an industry leader for 30 years. Lead by a team of expert physicians and other health and wellness specialists, Canyon Ranch operates the world's most celebrated collection of life-enhancement properties with the goal to inspire people to make a commitment to healthy living. 

Chrissy Wellington is co-author of Navigating the Supermarket: A Nutritious Guide to Shopping Well. To pick up a copy of her book, please visit

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