This week from Olympus: What’s the big deal with going “Gluten Free?”

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This week from Olympus: What’s the big deal with going “Gluten Free?”

This week Olympus Movement and Performance is dropping knowledge all about nutrition. Specifically, the "gluten free" revolution. Many people are med

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This week Olympus Movement and Performance is dropping knowledge all about nutrition. Specifically, the “gluten free” revolution. Many people are medically allergic to gluten (Celiac Disease). Many more, however, can benefit from limiting or eliminating gluten from their diet, even if they don’t have Celiac Disease.

Take it away, Olympus!

Author: Brittany Peterson, Head Athletic Trainer, Nutrition Coach

Five years ago I helped lead a nutrition challenge and decided to do a Whole30. It had been introduced to me by the owner of a gym I was working at and I was beginning to start dabbling a bit in a better nutrition plan for myself. My college years of taco bell and Costco chicken bakes had caught up and I was ready to get back to a healthier version of myself especially since I was working out consistently.


If you aren’t familiar with Whole30, it is 30 days of no preservatives, no dairy, no gluten, no alcohol, no sugars (unless naturally occurring in the foods), and no beans or legumes. I was one of the few who made it the entire 30 days, and on day 31 I was going to re-introduce some of the foods that I had a feeling would not set well with my system. I quickly realized that I did not feel good at all when I ate dairy and gluten. Soy didn’t set well either, but not nearly as bad as dairy and gluten. My diet now had moved into a lifestyle because I didn’t feel it was worth it to feel terrible over foods I could substitute out.

To be completely transparent, carbs are my favorite thing ever. I used to eat home made bread or rolls at restaurants like it was going out of style. But, cheese has never really been my thing. I didn’t really crave it, and unless it was on a taco, pizza or a recipe, I wasn’t reaching for it. So, giving up dairy products, especially because I didn’t really like milk either, was no problem for me. But the bread…. Oh the bread was going to be tough to let go forever. Which led me to start researching and experimenting.

Now, I want to be clear about one part here. I have never been diagnosed by a physician as being lactose intolerant, celiac, or gluten intolerant. You could say I self-diagnosed myself to being sensitive to dairy and gluten, but I do not have a “doctor’s note”.

Is the gluten the problem? Or the amount of processing?

What I can tell you is this: I have a strong belief that most dairy and gluten are highly processed, so when we take those things out, we tend to feel a lot better. It might not be because we are sensitive to dairy or gluten, but more that we are feeding our bodies all these preservatives that we aren’t meant to consume, therefore making us feel tired, bloated, giving us headaches, altering our hormones, etc. 

What about lactose intolerance?

About 70% of American’s are lactose intolerant, and some may not even be aware they are. Symptoms of lactose intolerance are stomach pain and bloating, diarrhea, increased gas, constipation, headaches, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and eczema. Besides lactose intolerance, a potential problem with cow’s dairy is a protein called A1 casein which can form the inflammatory opiate casomorphin or BCM7. If you consistently consume cow dairy products this can potentially cause an inflammatory response to the system leading to chronic inflammation. Speak to your healthcare professional to get tested for lactose intolerance.

Intolerance vs Sensitivity

Those who could potentially benefit from a gluten free diet are those who suffer from gluten sensitive IBS, nonceliac gluten sensitivity, mental health conditions, atopy, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, obesity, and athletic performance. There have been correlations with migraines and gluten, and those who have removed gluten from their diet have then had migraines resolved or significantly reduced. If you think you may have a gluten intolerance, speak with your healthcare professional. If you feel you are sensitive to gluten, but might think that it has more to do with the additives in what you are eating, try reading the ingredients in the foods you are buying and make sure it has a few as possible, and there are none of the following: benzoates, sorbates, propionates, nitrites, sulfites, BHA, BHT, EDTA, polyphosphates, artificial colorings, artificial flavorings. A go to rule for me is if I don’t know what it is or can’t pronounce it, I won’t buy it. 

Yummy + Gluten-and-Dairy Free DOES exist!

Now let’s get to the fun part. What foods are super yummy and gluten free or dairy free? I have heard a lot of people describe gluten free products as tasting like cardboard or super dry. It is also an accurate statement that sometimes these products can be higher in calories, so I advise you to be aware of how much and how often you are eating these things. Everything in moderation is okay. 

Let’s start with gluten free products first. It would be impossible for me to name ALL the gluten free products that are out there, so I am going to name a few of my personal favorites that are found at some popular markets. 

Gluten free: 

  • Trader Joe’s Egg Fettuccine Pasta. This is hands down my favorite pasta. It tastes like homemade noodles and is so fast to cook. 
  • Trader Joe’s brown rice and quinoa fusilli pasta. 
  • Canyon Bakehouse gluten free breads. A good amount of gluten free breads contain some kind of milk in them, and this brand does not. It also tastes wonderful in my opinion (especially toasted) so it is a go to when I’m craving toast or a sandwich. You can find this brand at Sprout’s or WholeFoods
  • Lundberg Rice Cakes. The lightly salted ones don’t have any ingredients other than brown rice and sea salt. When you start dabbling into the flavored ones is where you need to check on ingredients. You can find these at most stores.
  • Simple Mills almond flour crackers are super yummy and easy to find at Target, Sprout’s or Costco. 
  • Plantain Chips are a great snack that are gluten free and dairy free and very few ingredients. 
  • If you’re big into baking sweet treats there are tons of recipes out there that use almond flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour and others to create a gluten free yummy treat.  

Dairy Free products: 

  • Almond milk -Silk and Califia are great brands. Just be sure to watch for other ingredients in other dairy free beverages as there can be other additives. 
  • Coconut milk, oat milk, cashew milk are other non-dairy beverages that you can use for your gluten free cereals, add to your coffee or to just sip on. 
  • Daiyo cheese is a dairy and soy free cheese that can be good to substitute in for recipes such as enchiladas or casseroles. 
  • KiteHill makes a cream cheese that is nut based and it is my go to for some of those creamy and yummy Super Bowl dips that we all love. 
  • Mykonos is another brand that makes cream cheese as well as yogurts. I use this brand and Kitehill interchangeably when making sauces or dips. 

Dressings & marinades: 

  • Chosen Foods has a wonderful selection of dressings and marinades that I love! 
  • Primal Kitchen is another one who makes super clean and yummy sauces as well. 
  • Trader Joe’s Vegan Pesto is one of my favorite staples to keep in the house. A lot of pesto’s have dairy in them, but this one doesn’t and is delicious. 
  • Trader Joe’s has a good selection of salad dressings from a Green Goddess to a Carrot Ginger Miso.  

Eat Clean!

In general, simply eating whole, clean ingredient foods is a great option. Some of us may need to take extra steps to feel good and rid of health issues. And sometimes trying something out while still getting enough nutrients for our bodies to function can be very beneficial. Luckily our food has come a long way to make this easier and easier without us feeling like we’re missing out too much. Happy eating my friends. 


Lara Briden, author of The Period Repair Manual