I know that being gluten free is quite trendy these days, but I like to think I have always been ahead of trends! I have been gluten free for six years now, and every year gets easier and better.
Eating gluten free means excluding from your diet grains and grain byproducts that contain gluten. The list is as follows: barley, rye, oats, wheat and spelt. “BROWS” is a good way to remember them.
At first you may be like, “what the hell can I eat?” but you will find soon enough that it is quite easy! And it is worth it.
Cutting gluten can cut soreness
Many people are allergic to gluten without realizing it. One of the biggest symptoms of gluten intolerance is increased inflammation in the gut and the rest of the body.
Inflammation in the muscles leads to chronic soreness and poor recovery, and that is the last thing you need as a racer. Let’s face it, high level training and racing is not altogether very healthy. The more you can decrease the damage to your cells and tissues the better.
When I raced, cutting gluten out of my diet led to better and better results as time passed. I think it was sort of like a slow and steady detox of my system.
Be creative with your carbs when you’re on the road
While I was on the road I would eat yams, sweet potatoes and rice for carbs. I would also bring along a couple frozen loaves of rice or millet bread for breakfasts and a couple bags of rice pasta for pre-race dinners.
You can still bake without gluten
At home, I would diversify more and add quinoa and homemade baked goods.
I have recently discovered an amazing website that has exclusively gluten free recipes. This nutty bread from Elena’s Pantry is my favorite bread of all time.
Eat like a caveman
In fact, Elana takes it a step further; all her recipes are completely grain free. That is what is known as the Paelo diet. Eating like a caveman is the new trend. I must say, her recipes are delicious. She uses coconut flour and almond flour to make amazing breads, muffins, cookies, pizza crusts, and pretty much whatever else you might crave.
It seems like it would be stressful to be completely Paleo while on the road, but baking some of your own healthy carbohydrate sources when you are at home can be a great way to start.
Invest in feeling good
Even though I am not racing, eating this way helps me feel amazing, and how I feel matters above all to me. This morning, I even fit into all my pre-pregnancy, mid-World Cup racing jeans, so that is a nice bonus, and I didn’t have to starve or get all grumpy to do it. I mean, who acts nice on a diet?
Don’t think of eating gluten free as a diet, think of it as an investment in yourself as an athlete. Oh, and in case you were at risk of panicking, most chocolate is gluten free.
Read how Willow stays gluten free on race day:
Read more of Willow’s Wisdom on the Rocks:
Willow Rockwell is a woman in transition. As a professional mountain bike racer, she won two Bronze Medals at the Mountain bike World Championships (2009, 2010) and led the World Cup in 2010 for a brief time before finally finishing second in the series. Poised to conquer the world and win an Olympic medal, she discovered she was pregnant in the Spring of 2011. She chose to devote herself to her unborn daughter and left the sport behind. During her pregnancy she wrote a memoir titled “My Wheels Gave Me Wings.” It chronicles her difficult childhood, her near self destruction, and her path to healing and self acceptance. She is now re-discovering and re-inventing herself as a mother, a wife and a goddess woman. She hopes to inspire others to heal their deepest wounds, and to re-emerge as a powerful being full of self expression. Her aim is to embrace the whole athlete — body, mind and spirit — by incorporating intuitive wisdom of the body and the bliss of following one’s Highest Destiny Path into her approach. She can be reached at willowrockwell.com for information. Willow is enrolled in a Sacred Sexuality course, loves all things feminine and beautiful and still loves to ride her bike. Join her for her weekly column, Willow’s Wisdom on the Rocks