Previously off-limit treats are now available–and actually edible!
Written by: Sabrina Grotewold
Today is National Celiac Disease Awareness Day, in honor of the birthday of Dr. Samuel Gee, the physician and pediatrician who discovered the link between this autoimmune disorder and a gluten-free diet. His most famous quote: “If the patient can be cured at all, it must be by means of diet.” A digestive condition triggered by the consumption of gluten, those with the disease who eat foods that contain gluten—like cookies, bread, pasta, and others that contain rye, wheat and barley—experience an immune reaction in their small intestines that causes damage to the intestine’s inner surface and leaves them unable to absorb certain nutrients. Celiacs experience abdominal cramping and diarrhea when they eat gluten; longer-term effects include vitamin deficiencies that lead to fatigue, weight loss and severe declines in performance ability for athletes. While there’s no cure for the disease, the damaging effects and symptoms of the condition can be controlled with a diet that restricts gluten.
Olympian Amy Yoder Begley provides a case book example of how to successfully manage the disease. At the University of Arkansas, Yoder Begley won the NCAA 5,000 meters indoors and the 10,000m outdoors in 2000; her collegiate career also included 16 Southeastern Conference titles, but she reported feeling dehydrated during key races. When she turned pro after graduation, she suffered from injuries and physical ailments—she was finally diagnosed with Celiacs disease in 2006 and started a gluten-free diet. After a few more setbacks, including two accidental falls, and a coaching change, Yoder Begley memorably earned her spot on Team USA in the 10,000m for the Beijing Olympics, and was the 2009 and 2010 U.S. outdoor 10,000-meter champion. Yoder Begley plans ahead and always eats smart while on the road; she frequents P.F. Chang’s or Outback Steakhouse for their gluten-free menu offerings when she’s traveling in the U.S., and reportedly uses Generation UCAN sports drinks.
Luckily for Yoder Begley and other runners and endurance athletes who suffer from gluten intolerance, the gluten-free market is ever expanding. Previously off-limit treats like cupcakes and bread are being made with gluten-free ingredients, and mass-produced and distributed products have made it far more convenient than ever to prepare food suitable for Celiacs. Check out these gluten-free products geared toward the endurance crowd.
Picky Bars: Gluten and dairy-free nutrition bars devised by elite runners Lauren Fleshman and Stephanie Rothstein
HEED sports drink: Lemon-lime flavored electrolyte-enhanced mix
GU energy gels and chomps: Gulp or chew your high-carb electrolyte-enhanced race fuel
Stonehouse 27 sauces: Add some ethnic spice to your protein of choice and vegetables
Udi’s gluten-free hamburger and hotdog buns: Whole-grain and classic varieties
Gluten-free Mama products: Pie crust, scone, pizza, waffle, pancake and cookie mixes plus almond and coconut blend flours
Annie’s Homegrown gluten-free products: Salad dressings, condiments, snacks, pastas, mac and cheese