Eating Clean: A Triathlete’s Guide to a Dairy & Gluten Free Diet

Diet is a huge part of ensuring peak performance come race day. Whether we like it or not, the foods we eat each day helps shape our body, our mind, our mood — you get the idea.

In high school, I was having really bad stomach problems. My family and I have never really eaten processed or junky foods (like Doritos, processed snacks, etc.) — we have always bought organic and have eaten relatively healthy — so I didn’t think what I was eating could be what was making my stomach hurt. But one day, I was proven otherwise — after eating Annie’s mac and cheese after a workout, my stomach pain became so intense that I was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. I was also feeling sick during a lot of my workouts, and I wanted to get to the root of what was wrong.

After a few days in the hospital and a few weeks of various tests, a “mild lactose intolerance” was the only thing that came up. The doctor explained that sometimes my stomach was fine with dairy, but that other times I reacted extremely to it. Happy that (so we thought) the culprit for my stomach pain was gone, I now had to get used to the idea that I had to cut dairy out of my diet.

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Incorporating greens into your diet is important – whether it’s through juice, homemade kale chips (yum!), salad, or otherwise.

After a few months of trying to continue to eat dairy with Lactaids (bad idea), I decided to cut it out of my diet completely. It was definitely a big change — a lot more foods have dairy in them than I thought — but I was feeling a lot better.

A few years later, I forget that I used to miss eating dairy. Since then, I’ve been diagnosed with IBS, a stomach condition that also forces you to restrict what types of foods you eat. I cut gluten completely out of my diet (I have a gluten sensitivity, not celiac disease) about two and a half months ago, and I’ve felt a huge difference.

Some of my favorite snacks - gluten free cereal, almond milk, fat-free hummus, strawberries, and pure organic blueberry bars

Some of my favorite snacks – gluten free cereal, almond milk, fat-free hummus, strawberries, and pure organic blueberry bars

If you’re thinking about dairy and gluten free, here are a few tips:

  • Coordinate with your family or school to make sure options will be available for you. Let others know (politely, of course!) of your dietary needs before eating out or eating with company if need be.
  • Find “Safe” Foods One of the biggest adjustments of going GF and/or Dairy free is learning to find “safe” foods while eating out or with company. It IS possible, though! As a backup, clean foods like salads are usually always available.
  • Educate yourself! Some foods that may seem “safe” can prove to be otherwise (for example – many soy sauces have gluten!) There are myriad websites and food stores that carry information and products suited to GF/dairy free lifestyle. Try Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s (or your local supermarket’s GF section — many are starting to pop up) and blogs like http://glutenfreeegirl.tumblr.com/
  • STICK TO IT! Cheating can make you feel sick or derail your new dietary lifestyle.
  • Plan ahead – If you know you’ll be going out with friends for the day or on a trip where some GF/dairy free snacks may not be available, plan ahead! Pack some bars, juices, or other snacks! (one of my favorites are pistachios)
  • Find Favorites – It’s important to find some “go-to”s in your diet that work well with your stomach (especially while training). Some of my favorites are below!

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    Filling a reusable water bottle (like a nalgene) and keeping it handy can remind you to drink water more often! Lots of water is an important part of a healthy diet!

Stick to it! Eating clean makes you feel a lot better — with added energy, boosted mood, and overall better health. It helps a lot with training, too — no more stomach aches and diet-related fatigue during workouts.

More on this soon (and on GF/dairy free race nutrition).

Have you ever considered a GF/dairy free diet? Do you already eat this way?

Tri Hard,

Caity

My Experience with the BluePrint Cleanse: Update (and advice for the post-cleanse!)

For part one, check out this article: https://youngtri.com/2013/06/17/3-day-blueprint-juice-cleanse-worth-it-a-triathletes-perspective/

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Kaitlin and I love our juices! haha

I did the BluePrint cleanse (3 day) again this past week — and it went a lot better than the first time! This was becase I followed the post cleanse advice than the first time.

My advice for tackling the BluePrint cleanse: for awesome results that stick, make sure you eat lightly for 1-2 days before and after the cleanse. Especially afterwards, pay attention to your body and learn what the cleanse taught you — that you don’t need to be eating 24/7 to survive! My recommendation is to stick to mostly fruit & salads & juice for the post-cleanse to really work.

Have you tried a juice cleanse? What’s your experience with the days immediately after a cleanse?

Tri Hard,

Caity

3 Day BluePrint Juice Cleanse: Worth it? A Triathlete’s Perspective

I first heard about juice cleanses a few months ago — both online and on shows like Dr. Oz. At first, I thought it sounded completely absurd — how could drinking just juice for three days do any good?! But after a little bit more research (and trying some of the juices outside of the cleanse), I decided to try the 3-day BluePrint cleanse.

The Basics

The juices can either be purchased at your local Whole Foods or ordered online. If you decide to do the cleanse, I would recommend buying them at Whole Foods — because a case discount is offered, and even without the case discount is usually a bit cheaper than shipping the juices. There are three levels to the cleanse: Renovation, Foundation, and Excavation. The levels differ in that the first contains only two green juices and four fruit juices, while the second and third levels contain three and four, respectively. The juices are to be eaten in a specific order (check out the BluePrint website for this information).

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I ordered one of the three days of the cleanse online – and the juices came with numbers on them.

Although the green juice seemed the most daunting to me out of all of the juices (made of kale, apple, ginger, romaine, spinach, cucumber, etc.), I decided to go for the level two cleanse (Foundation).

The Juices

The juices in the Foundation cleanse were as follows:

Green Juice – A mild and sweet taste. Did not taste over vegetable-y. I actually quite like the green juice, and I drink it regularly outside the cleanse. However, some of my friends and relatives have tried it and hated it. It depends on your regular diet and food preferences as to whether this juice will appeal to you.

Gold Juice – MY FAVORITE JUICE. Sooooo good. Made of pineapple, apple, and mint, it has a perfect sweet taste. I like drinking it with salads and other meals occasionally outside of the cleanse.

Yellow Juice – Made of lemon, cayenne, and agave, this juice is a “spicy lemonade”. It took some getting used to with the hint of spice — but the sweet flavors are quite appealing. I actually prefer the green juice, but many who try the Blueprint cleanse like the lemonade better.

White Juice – From the reviews of the cleanse that I had read online before starting the cleanse, the white juice (“cashew milk” – made with cashews, vanilla, cinnamon, and agave) was supposed to be the “treat” at the end of the day and great-tasting. I, however, did not LOVE the cashew milk. It was okay, with sweet flavor and thick consistency, but I found it to be a bit too sweet and “heavy” after a few sips.

Although outside of the Foundation cleanse, BluePrint’s beet juice is probably tied for my favorite with the pineapple. Soooooo good. The beet juice is called “Red“, and is made of beets, apples, carrots, lemon, and ginger. As gross as it may sound to drink beet juice, from a blind taste test it would definitely taste more like a sweet fruit-type drink.

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The packet in the shipment read “like you, our juice is best chilled” — haha. Make sure to keep the BluePrint juices refrigerated!

The Cleanse

There are myriad ways in which you can approach a BluePrint cleanse — there are instructions on the website for what you’re ‘supposed’ to do before and after a cleanse, and so on and so forth. Before I started the three-day program, I ate a bit lighter for two days. This meant less frequent snacks and more salads. Nothing too crazy. Come start time for the cleanse, it made me a lot less hungry than if I had feasted prior to juicing.

I didn’t find the cleanse overall too difficult. I drank all six of the juices in order each day (except only about half of the cashew milk), and drank a lot of water to help keep my mind off of the fact that I wouldn’t be eating solid food for a few days. The most difficult parts for me were the constant headaches, dizziness and lightheadedness after exercising on the cleanse, and spacing out drinking the juices properly.

You’re not technically encouraged to work out while cleansing (since you’re basically consuming under 1,000 calories and no solid food), but I didn’t listen to this rule and biked 22 miles the first day, and ran 3.5 one of the others (one of the days I took off). I felt reaaaaaally out of it during/after these workouts since I stupidly did them at full pressure with nothing in my system. If you do decide to cleanse and work out, be careful and make sure you have a juice before and after the workout!

My other complaint with the cleanse would have to be that I got quite a few headaches. This probably comes with the territory of not eating solid food for three days, but it was still irritating… haha. But this problem was almost completely rid of with a few Advil and/or naps here and there.

Be sure to plan out (roughly) when you will drink each juice during the day so that you don’t finish too early or forget to drink some of the juices.

Overall, the cleanse was a bit challenging, but my hunger decreased a great deal by the end of the second and third days and I definitely felt a bit “refreshed” by the end of it.

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Blueprint juices are also great outside of the cleanse! Here with a strawberry vinaigrette salad.

Results

After the cleanse, I lost 6 pounds (this was in three days). But I also felt really great — a bit more energized and not sluggish at all. However, I went a little bit crazy after the cleanse and ate a lot over the next few days. In retrospect, I would have done a bit more of a structured “post-cleanse” program and eased back into food a little more instead of diving right back into meals and snacks.

If you’re looking for a challenge and a bit of a “system restart”, I’d recommend the BluePrint cleanse. Check out the BluePrint website beforehand to choose the level that’s right for you, or go to a local juicing store (we have one in Glen Rock!) and buy similar juices there. You can also always try making your own if you have a juicer and are looking to save some money (the BluePrint juices are quite pricey — $7-10 depending on your location)!

Have you tried a cleanse? Do you plan to? What are your thoughts on the juicing craze?

Tri Hard,

Caity

Post-Workout Snack: Hummus

Hummus is the best. Seriously. I resisted my mom’s suggestion to try the spread for a loooooooong time, but finally gave in earlier this year. (Probably due in part to the fact that I found a really yummy restaurant called Hummus when I visited my cousin at Penn).

Hummus is relatively low-fat (depending on what brand you buy — I like Cedar and Whole Foods brand, and have also tried Tribe and other zero-fat brands). The yummy spread is made mainly from chickpeas and sunflower oil, so it’s a great alternative to other fatty spreads (like peanut butter and nutella). The flavor is a satisfying mixture of sweet and tangy. It comes in various flavor variations, like classic original, red pepper, and garlic. Depending on my mood, I usually stick to classic or pepper. Neither is spicy.

There’s nothing better than coming back from a workout and having a really good snack — so next time you’re cravings kick into gear post swim, bike, or run, try hummus on a few of my favorite things:

Pretzels (I like gluten free Glutino brand)

Think Healthy natural whole grain thin cakes (only 54 calories in 3 cakes)

Veggies – like carrots

Fruits – like apples

Give hummus a try! You won’t regret it. Yuuuuuum.

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Tri Hard,

Caity

To check out the Hummus restaurants in PA, click here.