5 Tips From Rachel Begun About Being Gluten Free

For a while I've been giving a lot of advice as a teen about living gluten-free. By no means am I an expert or someone who's certified in anything, but I've always tried my best to give the best advice from my experiences. One person that has a lot of experience in this area would be Rachel Begun. She has over 14 years of nutritional experience in the gluten-free world and you may have seen her name around before too. I'm very excited to share this post with you so check out these great tips from Rachel Began for living gluten-free!

1.   What are some reasons why someone would choose a gluten-free lifestyle?

These days there is a lot of talk about going gluten free – but it isn’t necessarily a lifestyle for everyone.  In the past 10-15 years, we have learned that many more people are affected by gluten than was once thought. Someone might choose a gluten-free lifestyle for a variety of reasons, including the following:

  •       Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which the body triggers an immune attack on the intestines every time gluten is eaten, affects one percent of the population or approximately 1 in 133 Americans. 

  •       Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is a condition different from celiac disease in which people are negatively affected by gluten. 

2.  How do I determine if a product is gluten-free?

Navigating the grocery store can be a challenge when you are trying to live a gluten-free lifestyle. Here are a few tips to determine if a product is actually gluten-free:

  •       The FDA Gluten-Free Labeling Ruling.  As of August 5, 2014, any food product carrying a “gluten-free,” “no gluten,” “free of gluten” or “without gluten” claim must contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten per serving, the threshold considered safe for the majority of people with celiac disease. 

  •       Look on the Label. Because manufacturers carrying the gluten-free claim are not required by FDA to test their products, many people feel safer purchasing high-risk products that have gone through either third-party certification or an internal testing protocol. 

  •       Read the Ingredient List. Because gluten-free labeling is voluntary and products are not required to list gluten on their packaging, it is still just as important as ever to read ingredients statements on packages to determine if there is gluten or the possibility of cross contact.

3.   What are some challenges you face living a gluten-free lifestyle and what are your recommendations to overcome these challenges?

Eating away from home—such as at restaurants or while traveling—is the most challenging aspect of sticking to a strict gluten-free diet.  When traveling, I always carry a portable cooler with me so I can be sure I’m eating both gluten-free and healthfully.  Eating out at restaurants is all about preparation and communication.  I recommend not “winging it” when it comes to dining out.  It’s best to select a restaurant that you know has a good reputation for serving gluten-free.  If that’s not possible, then I recommend going online and reviewing the menu in advance so you can identify which dishes can be prepared gluten-free with little risk.  Next, call the restaurant to book a reservation and let them know you’ll need to eat strictly gluten-free.  This is the perfect opportunity to talk to management and get a feel for whether they can accommodate you.  When ordering, it’s important to be diligent about asking questions.  You’ll need to know what goes into all ingredients being used, as well as what will be coming into contact with your dishes, including all cooking equipment, utensils and surfaces.  This is the piece that requires some education and practice to get right.  It does get easier over time, but you can never let your guard down. 

4.   What are some go-to snacks or meals you have for being gluten-free?

Whether you have celiac disease, are gluten sensitive or simply are trying to remove gluten from your diet, everyone needs delicious on-the-go snacks to fuel their active lifestyle. A combination of carbohydrates and protein is the best fuel to keep you satiated between meals and that is true whether you are gluten-free or not.

One of my favorite certified gluten-free snacks is SOYJOY, an all-natural snack bar made with pieces of real fruit and non-genetically modified ground whole soybeans – offering a perfect combination of carbohydrates, protein and fiber. Available in seven flavors, between 130-140 calories each, SOYJOY is a wholesome snack for any time of day! Plus, it doesnt crumble or melt, making it perfect for a hike, bike ride or to throw in your gym bag.

      Other snacks I recommend that have a great combination of carbohydrates, fiber and protein include:
  •         Greek yogurt with chopped fruit, nuts and/or seeds
  •         Almond or peanut butter with apple or banana slices
  •         Hummus with 100% corn tortilla chips and veggie sticks

5.  How does being gluten-free impact your activity levels, or does it?

It really has little impact on my ability to be active.  The only difference between me and someone who doesn’t have to eat gluten-free is that I have to plan in advance to have a healthy snack readily available to fuel up before or after being physically active.  When you live gluten-free, being prepared with safe and healthy snacks becomes second nature.  

Make sure to check out Rachelbegun.com for more great info! Thanks to Rachel for this great post as well and I hope it helped you!
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