Gluten-Free Health and Wellness

Many people are looking to change their diet and exercise routine as the new year starts; whether the goal is to improve health, lose weight, have more energy or just feel better, diet and exercise make up a lot of New Year’s resolutions. Some people are interested in eating paleo, some vegan, some gluten free. One diet does not fit all so it’s important to find what works for you and that can be done simply by experimentation.

Today I want to talk a little more about a gluten free lifestyle- the health aspect of it all, how to manage your diet along with your physical activity.

Let’s review a little bit about gluten. Shall we? What are some of the reasons for trying a gluten free lifestyle?

  • Gluten intolerance or wheat allergy- can vary from person to person but may cause gastrointestinal distress, bloating, headaches, skin issues, joint pain, numbness.
  • Celiac disease- an autoimmune disease that causes the small intestine to destroy itself when gluten is consumed.
  • Diabetes and/or low carbohydrate diet- many gluten free diets are lower in carbohydrates due to the higher consumption of meats, fruits and vegetables, all naturally gluten free foods.

What is gluten exactly? Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barely, rye and triticale. It’s the element that gives dough it’s elasticity and other grains a chewy texture when cooked. It’s important to read all food and drink labels thoroughly when trying to avoid gluten. For example a malt vinegar is made from barely so you’d want to avoid that on a gluten free diet. If you have a severe intolerance to gluten you will also want to avoid any cross contamination which means that in addition to being careful at meal prep that you are using clean surfaces and equipment, you will also want to look for things labeled “gluten free” even if it’s a food that’s not supposed to contain gluten, such as oats.

In cases like Celiac disease, failure to avoid gluten can result in the inability to absorb nutrients and that can lead to other diseases. Of course the ability to absorb nutrients is pretty important for a healthy lifestyle!

For those with non-Celiac gluten sensitivity, eating gluten can cause an array of symptoms that I mentioned above. For example, my 8 year old niece was experiencing headaches, joint pain, stomach aches, skin issues and decided to eliminate gluten from her diet. After eating gluten free for a few weeks she felt so much better and has now been gluten free for ~2 months. Can you imagine how wonderful it would feel for those symptoms to go away by changing what you ate? I am so glad it has worked for her.

Now imagine feeling that crummy and trying to be active and exercise regularly! Not easy. A gluten free diet isn’t necessary for everyone but it is worth a try if you have been experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above.

Speaking of regular exercise, now that I am  close to 4 weeks postpartum I have gotten back into my routine. If I weren’t eating healthy, there is no way I’d have to energy to get up to exercise after caring for 4 children all day. I hit the trails this week for the first time post baby and it felt amazing!

Of course if you’ve increased your exercise, like I have, you need to make sure you are staying properly fueled through your diet. Here are some of my favorite pre or post workout snacks that all happen to be gluten free:

  • Fruit and nut bars
  • Popcorn
  • Trail mix with dried fruit (such as apricots, dried cranberries, raisins), coconut and nuts
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Udi’s gluten free raisin toast with peanut butter & cinnamon
  • Apple slices with low fat yogurt
  • Grapes with 1 ounce cheese
  • Carrots, cucumber and bell pepper sticks with hummus
  • Salsa or guacamole with whole grain tortilla chips
  • Rice crackers with a soft cheese wedge
  • Gluten free granola with almond milk

Of course there are many more gluten free snack options. These are just some of my favorites that provide me with energy without a bloated stomach.

Like I’ve mentioned in other posts , I don’t have any medical conditions that require me to eat a gluten free diet all the time, I just personally like experimenting. I feel great, have the energy I need to exercise and care for my kiddos so I think I am doing something right!

Hopefully some of this information was helpful to those who are new to starting a gluten free journey. Visit Udi’s for more information and join their great gluten free community.





Learn more about living gluten free! Visit

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Udi’s Gluten Free. The opinions and text are all mine.

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  1. says

    I haven’t eaten gluten in 12 years! I started eating gluten-free before it was the “in” thing… Because I do it for my health, not to be “cool”! HA HA! I love how it’s now a trendy thing to do! In LA, it truly is – it’s pretty funny, however, it does make my life a little easier because restaurants have caught on to the trend and they’re actually pretty strict! Next up – SUGAR – I cannot eat sugar, that needs to NOT be added to food anymore 😉 That’ll never happen!
    GiGi Eats Celebrities recently posted..Rachel Ray Better Watch Her BackMy Profile

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says

      Wow, 12 years! What are all your diet restrictions? I want to create a “GIGI-safe” recipe category. 😉 Ok, maybe not but I am curious. I know there are a lot of things you don’t eat.

        • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says

          Ok it’s a challenge, a BIG challenge, lol. Why no sugar? Personal choice? doesn’t agree with you? Do you do any sweeteners- honey, agave? No fruit because of allergies? You are a Dietitian’s nightmare! HA- kidding. You’re special!! :)

  2. says

    I have been GF for the last 19 days, and I wish I could have found your list at the beginning! I was really struggling for snacks that did not make my stomach bloat, or have too much fiber to eat before my runs. I run about 65-75 miles most week for my training, and I was struggling a little with what to eat without my plain animal crackers and bagels. I have learned to adapt so far, but wish I knew more before I started it. Your post would have been perfect! Still good to know now. I survived that time without my training suffering too much :)

    Thanks for sharing the knowledge! It is important to learn about it!
    Tina Muir recently posted..Strengthening Leg Exercises for RunnersMy Profile

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says

      Hi Tina, Wow, 65-75 miles? That is a lot! Let me know if you have any more questions along the way. I’d be happy to try and help!

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says

      Hi Whitney! It really depends on your symptoms and level of sensitivity. People report feeling better after days of eating gluten free, some months. It could also have to do with whether there is hidden gluten in their diet so it’s hard to say. Some issues, like skin issues, take longer to clear up.

      Hey will you let me know if you get this response? I’ve always been curious if my responses actually make their way to my readers. Thanks!

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