I met Ellen in grad school, where we both did some pretty awesome regenerative medicine research. With a lot more time on my hands (many moons ago), Ellen and I enjoyed sharing home-baked goods with the lab. She is also the friend who took my to me very first group fitness class, which I talk about in "How I Became a Group Fitness Instructor", so in some ways, I have her to thank for my love of group fitness!! Ellen has struggled with some dietary restrictions recently, but is happy and healthy and now a mom to a beautiful baby girl! Read below to hear her story.
The Celiac Disease Foundation is a great resource about gluten-free diets. I now do a lot of label reading when we go grocery shopping, because gluten shows up in many unexpected places, such as soy sauce and Twizzlers! I’m also on the look-out for animal-derived ingredients like chicken fat that sneak into soups and seasoned rice, and gelatin in marshmallows and Skittles. Milk ingredients even creep into otherwise “safe” foods like flavored rice cakes. Luckily, since gluten and dairy are such common problem foods, they are usually listed in bold on food labels. I’ve also loosened up on the veganism, since sometimes it’s really nice to be able to eat convenience foods that might contain some egg (like gluten-free bread, bagels, and yes, cookies). Enough about the cookies though, the main things I focus on to stay healthy are probably similar to anyone else’s, with or without dietary restrictions: eating a variety of protein sources, veggies, fruits, and making sure I get enough calcium, iron, omega 3s, and vitamin B12. Since vitamin B12 is only found in animal sources, I take a supplement for that one, and a daily multivitamin.
I recently had a delightful baby girl, and while I was pregnant I needed to add an iron supplement to my routine as well. Other than that, my usual eating habits (with an effort to get a little more protein and calcium, often via chocolate soymilk and fortified orange juice) were fine for pregnancy and breastfeeding! One interesting thing I learned from a nutritionist during my pregnancy, while trying to maximize my iron and calcium intake, is that these two minerals compete for absorbance in your body! So it was important for me to allow at least an hour between eating iron-rich foods and calcium-rich foods.
I’m a believer that different diets work for different people – we all have different sensitivities. But I’ve made the most of what works for my body, and have felt great the last few years. Despite taking immune suppressants to help manage my Crohn’s, I haven’t had a cold in at least five years, so I must be doing something right!
Do you have any dietary restrictions? Are there any foods that have strong effects (positive or negative) on your health?