Going Gluten-Free: Who Should Do It and How To Do It Safely

Eating gluten-free is a touchy subject right now. From being one of the hottest food trends in the past decade to being considered a way of extreme dieting, people who are gluten free without a diagnosis of Celiac disease are facing a new wave of eye rolls and criticism. A recent South Park episode mocked the gluten-free craze, forcing everyone in South Park to throw out and burn any foods that contained gluten and quarantining people who were unknowingly consuming products with gluten in them, such as beer, and a recent study found that a self-diagnosed gluten sensitivity may actually be in your head.

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Jimmy Kimmel clip also found that many people who are gluten-free actually have no idea what gluten is. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye and gives elasticity to bread. It is composed of glutenin and gliadin, and is formed from kneading the dough and adding water. People who have Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder, negatively react to the gliadin protein, which causes severe damage to the intestinal villi and results in malabsorption of nutrients.

Celiac disease can be diagnosed with a blood test that detects antibodies associated with the disease, as well as an endoscopy and colonoscopy to determine intestinal villi damage. A gluten intolerance or sensitivity however, has no medical test for diagnosis, which adds to the skepticism that it truly exists. In 2012, a survey from the Mayo Clinic found that approximately 18 million people believe they have a gluten sensitivity (termed non-Celiac gluten sensitivity, or NCGS), while 1.8 million people actually have Celiac disease (source).

Symptoms of Celiac disease include digestive problems such as diarrhea, bloating, and weight loss, as well as skin rashes, joint problems, and iron deficiency anemia, which all results from malabsorption caused by intestinal villi damage.


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Symptoms of a NCGS can also include digestive problems, as well as headache, a “foggy” mind, and joint pain (source). These symptoms appear hours to days after eating gluten and are not associated with antibodies or intestinal villi damage.

There are many components that have resulted in the recent gluten-free trend. Books such as Wheat Belly discusses that the grains we eat today are a far cry from what they were 100 years ago, and that our bodies simply cannot tolerate the “genetically altered Frankenwheat” that exists in many grain products. The Paleo diet discourages grains, claiming that they contain “anti-nutrients”, one of which is gluten.

Many commercial breads and grains do have extra gluten added in for texture and preservation of shape during long shipments (source). If you look at the ingredients of a typical bread, you’re likely to find “wheat gluten” along with flour, which also contains gluten. Celiac disease is also on the rise in Europe, with a prevalence that was 1.0%, and has now increased to 2.4% in Finland, 0.3% in Germany, and 0.7% in Italy, which the researchers state as “large, unexplained differences” in Celiac disease prevalence.


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While evidence is conflicting on whether NCGS is real or not, many people claim they have found relief and happiness in their lives by eliminating gluten, which is certainly nothing to mock. Considering the data we have now, it’s important to consider that changes in the development of wheat and the excess gluten added to many products may be intolerable in some people. However, before you jump to the conclusion that you have NCGS, a low FODMAP may be worth a try.

FODMAP stands for fermentable, oligosacchardies, monosaccharides, and polyols. These nutrient components are found in many foods such as onion, garlic, apples, lactose products, legumes, and wheat. People who have trouble digesting FODMAPs show symptoms similar to NCGS and may be associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). For a list of high and low FODMAP foods, click here. Recently, a doctor at Westchester Medical Center stated that patients who were gluten intolerant found relief with a low FODMAP diet.


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While it’s not as quick and simple to follow as a gluten-free diet, it may finally give you an answer as to what’s causing your digestive problems. A low FODMAP diet isn’t something to follow forever, rather you start with an elimination diet of high FODMAP foods and slowly add back in new high FODMAP foods one at a time to see what’s really bothering you. Who knows, you may find you are able to eat pizza again if you switch to lactose-free cheese rather than gluten-free dough!

If the low FODMAP diet doesn’t work for you and you do believe you suffer from NCGS, make sure you approach gluten elimination safely. First off, if gluten does bother you, it is important to see a doctor to get tested for Celiac disease. If you do not have Celiac disease, and suffer from NCGS, a dietitian can help you to follow low FODMAP and a gluten-free diet if necessary.

Because the biggest source of gluten is bread and grains, eliminating gluten can also mean eliminating a large source of B-vitamins, which are important for a healthy metabolism. B-vitamins are also important for many amino acid conversions, including the conversion of homocysteine to methionine. A buildup of homocysteine can lead to heart problems, and may be associated with Alzheimer’s disease. For women, getting enough B-vitamins is especially important because of folate, which is necessary to prevent neural tube defects in developing fetuses.

If you eliminate wheat, barley, and rye products, replace them with rice, quinoa, and corn, as well as extra servings of leafy green vegetables, fruits, beans, fortified soy products, dairy, and lean meat such as poultry. For a complete list of gluten-free foods, click here.

Disclaimer: this article is not meant to diagnose or treat any disease. If you believe you have Celiac disease, see your doctor.

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Short and Sweet

Good morning! I’m going to keep this short and sweet so I can head out to the library ASAP. I’m going home for the weekend tomorrow so I want to get as much work done today as I can. No dilly-dallying for me!

I’m super sore from my “total body torture” workout that I did yesterday, so I guess it must be working! Blogilates is not just traditional Pilates. There’s HIIT, lunges, squats, and crazy things like spiderman pushups.

I burned almost 400 calories with that workout!


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I had a successful day of apartment hunting yesterday; Cameron had to work so I went to three complexes by myself. I plan to call about a Craigslist duplex I saw listed, so between Tuesday, yesterday, and the duplex, we have 6 places to consider! We still have a little over a month until we need to move out, but I tend to get stressed when things aren’t done early.

I like places with big kitchen and lots of light (better for pictures 😉 ).




I woke up this morning craving peanut butter, so I toasted up an English muffin and spread on some organic peanut butter, banana slices, and a few sprinkles of Bob’s Red Mill coconut flakes.

IMG_5247I also microwaved it for 30 seconds. I love microwaving banana; it makes it almost taste like banana bread!

As always, coffee on the side.


Hopefully I can get enough work done today so I don’t have to worry about it over the weekend. I better get crackin’- have a nice day!

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The Gang’s All Here

Happy Wednesday! I didn’t post any of my meals yesterday because I was sharing them all for today! This week, I’ll be participating in another linkup from Peas and Crayons.


Yesterday, Cameron and I checked out two apartments; one at 11:00am and one at 4:00pm. Since I also had class/an exam at 1:00pm, my day was pretty much broken into multiple few hour chunks.


I spent a while yesterday morning studying for my exam at 1:00pm, so I didn’t get around to eating breakfast until nearly 9:30am! Surprisingly, I wasn’t even all that hungry but I made a big bowl of hot oats anyways.


The gang’s all here!


Who says you shouldn’t play with your food?

As usual, I enjoyed a mug of coffee with my breakfast.


Around 10:30am, Cameron and I left to check out our first potential apartment. I have a feeling it’s going to be a no-go on that one.

I did some last minute studying when we got back, then headed out for my exam around 12:30pm. The exam only took about 20 minutes so I was home in time to eat lunch before 2:00pm!

I threw together a big salad with:

  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Asiago cheese
  • Garbanzo beans
  • 1/4 avocado
  • Tablespoon of edamame hummus
  • Good Seasons Italian dressing


I also enjoyed the last of Vivian’s homemade chocolate chip banana bread (from last Friday’s Halloween party), with a spread of peanut butter on top. My favorite flavors!

IMG_5198I love, love, love chocolate and peanut butter! Obviously, I headed right to the Reese’s bag and grabbed two mini peanut butter cups for dessert.


Cameron and I were leaving again at 3:30pm for another apartment tour, so I spent the next hour and a half working on a study guide for a statistics quiz I have on Monday. I liked the second apartment much better than the first!

We were home by about 4:30pm, but it was so dark out it felt like it should’ve been dinner time! I distracted myself by doing more school work to avoid eating the early-bird special. I must have been totally in the zone because I didn’t stop until 7:00pm!

I have been craving nachos for a few days now so I finally decided to make them last night. We don’t have any shredded Mexican cheese, so I used Asiago. Note to self: Asiago cheese melts completely in about 15 seconds!

Along with the cheese, I also piled on some salsa and a dollop of plain, non-fat Chobani.


For my main entree, I had a can of Wegman’s minestrone soup. There were only two servings in the can, but I was so stuffed when I was finished. I’m actually still a little full now!


Filled to the brim!


After dinner, I enjoyed a small handful of white chocolate candy corn M&M’s. No matter how full I am, there’s always room for dessert!


I spent the rest of my evening watching Modern Family until Cameron got home from work around 10:00pm. Before bed, I snuck two more Reese’s cups and drank a mug of Sleepytime time in my favorite owl mug 🙂


I didn’t get my Blogilates workout in yesterday (which was total body torture), but I plan to do that today and today’s workout (ab mania) on Friday.

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Benefits of Strength Training

I received a lot of helpful responses on yesterday’s posts about my fears of strength training over cardio, so I just wanted to say thank you! I really appreciate all the feedback and encouragement as I try to step out of my comfort zone.

Jessie from Jessie Loves 2 Run suggested I look up the benefits of strength training to help put my fear aside, which I think is a great idea! I’m always interested in learning more about health.

Keep in mind my expertise lies in nutrition and not exercise science, and this is simply research I have done online myself.

Benefits of Strength Training

From Every Day Health

  • Protects bone and muscle mass
  • Plays a role in disease prevention –> improves glucose control to lower the risk of diabetes
  • Increases energy levels and improves your mood
  • Can boost your metabolism by 15%

From Mayo Clinic

  • Improves balance
  • Can reduce the signs and symptoms of back pain, arthritis, heart disease, and obesity
  • Improves attention and focus

From the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

  • Can reduce the signs and symptoms of depression –> provides improvements similar to anti-depressant medications
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Can slow aging

From Forbes

  • Resolves metabolic disorders
  • Increases brain usage –> keeps the brain active
  • Helps decrease visceral fat (the dangerous fat that surrounds your organs)
  • “Using one’s own body weight in exercise such as yoga and Pilates, has shown to prompt muscular remodeling almost as readily as has working with weight machines” –> Yay Blogilates!!

Did I leave anything out? What are some of your favorite benefits of strength training?

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No Pain, No Gain

Gotta make this quick, I want to get some school work done before my 12:30pm class!

I woke up this morning at 8:00am to do my Blogilates workout. Today was all about legs, and boy was I feeling it! I don’t think the workout would have been so bad if I hadn’t just done glutes yesterday, but no pain, no gain right?

The workout lasted about 40 minutes, and after I made time for stretching because my legs were super tight. I’m so bad about stretching and really need to remember to do it more! I have an app called Yoga Studio ($3.99 in the Apple App Store) and it has TONS of yoga and stretching videos, from 10 minutes to 60 minutes for beginners and on. Maybe I should start using the 10 minutes flexibility video and stretching every night before bed?

Anyways, today’s workout burned about 270 calories, which was only 20 calories less than yesterday. What I hope to get out of this MOVEmber challenge isn’t beast mode abs (although no complaints if that happens 😉 ), but rather, I want to push myself out of the cardio comfort zone and prove that strength training will not make me fat. It sounds ridiculous I know, but when you’ve been riding the cardio train for years burning 400+ calories in 45 minutes and you switch to strength training, burning 270 calories, you can see where my fear comes from (maybe). As Cassey from Blogilates says, “find comfort in your discomfort and grow from there”.


After my workout, I fueled up with a hot bowl of fluffy oats. I cooked my oatmeal in the last of the flax milk, and topped with the remainder of the frozen cherry berry blend, a few big spoonfuls of plain, non-fat Chobani, and a tablespoon of peanut butter.



Yay choats!

I’m off to get stuff done. Have a great Monday!

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I guess that extra hour of sleep from daylight savings time did nothing for me. Either that, or I’ve reached mid-semester slump and am just over it all! Yeah, I think it’s that one. I am falling asleep on my journal articles! #Gradstudentstruggles

On Sundays I usually make a workout schedule for the week, but since it’s the start of the new month I decided to let someone else do the work for me! This month, I’ll be doing my best to follow the Blogilates #MOVEmber workout calendar. I really wanted to do a booty workout today, which is exactly what was scheduled for today on the Blogilates calendar! It must’ve been fate.


If you’d like to follow along with the #MOVEmber calendar, sign up for Cassey’s newsletter!

Today’s “Sunday Bunday” workout took me about 45 mins and burned almost 300 calories. That’s a little bit less than what 45 mins of the elliptical would have done, but I know that strength training/Pilates will benefit me more in the long run.


Post workout, I made a peanut butter protein shake. I used one scoop of Aria Women’s Vanilla Protein Powder that I bought at Trader Joe’s, and blended it with one cup of vanilla flax milk and one tablespoon of peanut butter.


After I finished my shake, I went to the library to print off journal articles. I need to write a research paper about mindfulness based techniques for treating binge eating disorder, which should be really interesting and right up my alley, but today I was just not feeling it. I forced myself to read 4 articles before I called it quits. I only have another month left of school (for good!!) so I need to push for just a little bit longer, but I am so burnt out. Ugh.

Once I got home from the library, I poured a can of Campbell’s butternut squash soup into a pot for lunch. I ate my soup with lots of cheese in my favorite cat mug 🙂 . On the side, I had a piece of whole wheat toast with Light Smartbalance with flaxseed oil. For dessert, I enjoyed two mini Reese’s cups.


I am just too tired to do any more work today, so I’m going to call it a day and read the November issue of Prevention magazine that I bought a subscription to this morning. $20 for a year of the magazine that helped me want to become a dietitian? Count me in!

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I Love Daylight Savings Time

Happy Sunday! And daylight savings time! Hooray for an extra hour of sleep 🙂

I feel like winter is coming early this year. We had a few wet flakes of snow falling yesterday, and right now it’s only 33 degrees out. Brr!

Confession: I love when daylight savings time ends. There, I said it 😳 . To be honest, I don’t mind it when it gets dark at 5:00pm. I actually like it! It gives me an excuse to crawl under a fluffy blanket and veg out on the couch. During the summer at 5:00pm, I feel like I need to be outside, taking advantage of the warm weather and the 9:00pm sunsets.

The end of daylight savings time also brings up a lot of nostalgia and happy memories for me. When I think of winter, I think of the November/December time of year- the roaring fire in the wood stove at my house, family getting together, cooking big dinners, and the tradition my mom and I have of eating a diner breakfast followed by Christmas shopping. It’s just such a peaceful time of year!


I wanted something sweet for breakfast this morning, so I sliced up one of the last pieces of Vivian’s chocolate chip banana bread. I spread some organic peanut butter on top for more protein and sweetness. I love the combination of banana, chocolate chips, and peanut butter! 🙂


I also had a Chobani oats cranberry. In September and October I’m all about pumpkin, but once November hits I’m all about cranberry!

img_5140And since it’s Sunday, I broke out the regular coffee maker (instead of the Keurig) and brewed 5 cups 😳 . I made 4 yesterday and I just wanted to sip all day long. I used 3 scoops of caffeinated cinnamon hazelnut coffee and 2 scoops of regular decaf.


I love hot coffee when the weather gets chilly!

And for those who don’t enjoy daylight savings time, a helpful article for ways to deal with seasonal affective disorder.

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