Posts tagged ‘fitness’

5 NFCA Webinars to Watch Right Now (Plus 1 on the Way)

You’ve learned the basics of gluten-free, and now you’re ready to learn more information. Well, you can read until you’re blue in the face, but there’s another, more engaging way to get those facts and tidbits you’re looking for: Webinars.

In case you didn’t know, NFCA hosts a monthly webinar series, with topics ranging from everyday food choices to gluten-free holiday prep. The webinars are free, and we always post the recording and slides in our archive, so you can go back and listen again and again. Here are 5 webinars you can find in our archive right now.

NFCA Webinars

1. Food as Medicine for Celiac Disease: Nutrition Beyond the Gluten-Free Diet

In this webinar, NFCA Scientific/Medical Advisory Board Member Rachel Begun, MS, RD, offers practical advice on how to incorporate foods into our diet that heal the body and can even prevent disease. Pay close attention to her tips on combining different foods, like leafy greens and citrus, to improve absorption of nutrients.

Watch this Webinar

2. Maintaining a Healthy Weight While Eating Gluten-Free: The Importance of Mindful Eating and Physical Activity

How often do you eat because you’re stressed? Or tired? Or bored? Dietitian and local celiac support group founder Amy Jones, MS, RD, LD, reveals some of the habits that contribute to weight gain, especially when following a gluten-free lifestyle. (Did you really eat that many cookies before you went gluten-free?) We bet you’ll have an “A-ha!” moment listening to this.

Watch this Webinar

3. Top 10 Ways to Get Gluten-Free Kids to Eat Healthy

This webinar is designed for dietitians who counsel families affected by gluten-related disorders, but there are plenty of tips anyone can use. EA Stewart, BS, MBA, RD, walks you through the best ways to set up a gluten-free kitchen, plan meals with your kids and foster good eating habits by putting healthy options within reach.

Watch this Webinar

4. Nutrition and Training for the Gluten-Free Athlete

NFCA Athlete for Awareness Peter Bronski leads this webinar about the best ways to fuel your body with a well-balanced gluten-free diet. Pete explains what to eat before, during and after an athletic activity, then answers actual training questions from the audience.

Watch this Webinar

5. The Importance of School Nurse Education and How-To Strategies for Parents of Gluten-Free Kids

Summer vacation is just starting, but now is a great time to brush up on what you’ll need to review with school nurses, administrators and teachers in the fall. Nina Spitzer, President of CDF’s Greater Phoenix Chapter, outlines the 504 plan and who you’ll need on your child’s School Team. Bonus! Get a list of recipes for yummy gluten-free lunches.

Watch this Webinar

Coming Up…

Our next live webinar will take place on June 20, 2012 at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT. The topic will be “Yes, You Can Eat! When Gluten Isn’t the Only Ingredient You Avoid.” The webinar will feature NFCA’s Answers from a Dietitian blogger Melinda Dennis, MS, RD, LDN. Sponsored by Lucy’s.

Register for this Webinar


May 11, 2012 at 10:02 am Leave a comment

5 Tips to Avoid the Pitfalls of Processed Gluten-Free Food and Weight Gain

[If you’ve gained unwanted weight on the gluten-free diet, you’re not alone. Sometimes, it’s because your body is finally absorbing nutrients. Sometimes, it’s because you’re eating too much gluten-free junk. We asked Erin Elberson Lyon of Gluten-Free Fitness to share her tips on keeping your weight in check while maintaining a gluten-free lifestyle.]

Ah, the siren song of the gluten-free label.

After being newly diagnosed with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, there’s nothing quite so comforting as walking down the aisle of your favorite grocery or health food store and seeing “gluten-free” on a package of crackers.

Or a package of cookies.

Or a cake.

Or a loaf of bread.

Learning you have to follow a gluten-free diet for the rest of your life can be an overwhelming moment.  You start thinking of what you can’t eat, of all the things you’ll miss, and then you walk into the store and see all this wonderful food labeled gluten-free!  Maybe it will be OK.

Erin Elberson Lyon

Erin Elberson Lyon

So, you walk through the aisles and fill your cart up with boxes and bags of all shapes, sizes and varieties. You never really ate crackers before, but these say gluten-free, so better buy them!  And look – cupcakes! Better buy those, too. You know, just in case Armageddon comes to fruition and access to gluten-free food is eliminated. And, well, you deserve it. Because you are “suffering” with celiac disease.


Nope. Sorry.

Many of us with a medical diagnosis that limits our food choices have been in that thought pattern. I know I have. The joy of seeing things that are safe to eat overcomes all rational thought of if this item would be something you would have eaten before. Or, if the item is a nutritionally sound choice at all.  I have bought mixes of things I would never have dreamed of eating prior to being diagnosed with celiac.

But I bought them. Because I could. And they were safe.

As time went on, I learned to look beyond the gluten-free label and look at actual nutritional value.  To examine if the food I was putting into my mouth was taking me toward or further away from my health and athletic goals.  Many times packaged and processed gluten-free food is rich in simple carbohydrate and starches.  It also may have a higher fat content than its “gluten-y” counterpart.  These are not necessarily bad things all the time, but certainly something to take into consideration.  If you would not ordinarily have cookies after every meal, having them now because they are gluten-free is not something I can recommend. Having this abundance of packaged and minimally nutritious food can contribute to the weight gain that some people experience, gluten-free or not.

Happily, there has been an increased movement toward higher nutrition in pre-packaged foods over the past few years, and now there are some quite good choices out there.

There’s the key.  Make an educated, informed choice.  Don’t just grab because it says gluten-free.

Here are 5 quick tips to help you avoid the pitfalls of processed gluten-free food and potentially associated weight gain:

1. Learn how to read nutritional facts and ingredient labels.

Ideally, we’d all eat whole foods and fruits for snacks all the time, but let’s be real.  Sometimes you’re going to have gluten-free pasta, and you want to make an informed choice.

2. Make the majority of your diet whole, unprocessed (without a label) foods.

Many foods are naturally gluten-free (YAY!) and so need no gluten-free label.  Think fresh meats, eggs, dairy, poultry, fish, veggies, fruits, potatoes, nuts, seeds, and oils. There is a bounty of delicious, nutritious naturally gluten-free food out there, and these foods give you a lot of nutritional bang for your caloric buck. There are naturally gluten-free grains such as quinoa and rice as well, just be aware of potential cross-contamination in processing.  If in doubt, don’t eat it until you do some research.

3. Learn how to cook.

I’m not saying you need to be Betty Crocker over here.  But learning how to make a few simple dishes and feed yourself (and your family, if appropriate) can go a long way to increasing your ability to use those whole, naturally gluten-free foods in tasty ways.  Preparing food at home lets you control the quality of your ingredients, as well as how those ingredients are prepared.  And as a bonus, you can reduce your chances of getting cross-contaminated when you prepare your own food and eat at home.  Plus, it’s cheaper. Here’s my suggestion of dishes to learn:

  • Roast or crock pot cook a whole chicken. The possibilities are endless for what you can use that meat and bones for.
  • Meatloaf/meatballs. Seriously. It’s still good.  Just use almond meal instead of breadcrumbs.
  • Grill steaks, chicken, tofu, etc.
  • A good marinara sauce. You can add protein of your choice like meat or chicken sausage and serve over spaghetti squash. Delish.
  • Chili (check your seasonings for hidden gluten)
  • Tacos with corn tortillas, lettuce cups, or as a salad.

Those dishes can easily take you through quite a few meals, and are easy to learn.  Cooking can actually be fun once you give it a shot.

4. Move your body. 

Most people do not get enough activity, and it has nothing to do with having celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Exercise/physical activity is important.  Period. You don’t have to run a marathon, but you do have to move.

5. When you pick up a package of gluten-free food, ask yourself if it is something you truly, genuinely want to eat.

That you want to eat it for the food that it is, and not just because it is “safe” or you are “entitled.”  If so, then eat it and enjoy.  If not…reconsider that choice.  Perhaps an apple?

While this is far from an all inclusive list, I hope this helps get you started on the path to making choices that go beyond just a gluten-free label.

Eat well and be well!

– Erin Elberson Lyon

May 8, 2012 at 1:37 pm 13 comments

A Blogger A Day: Gluten Free Fitness

A Blogger A Day, the Gluten-Free Way logoName: Erin Elberson Lyon

Blogs at:
Tweets at:
Like her at:
On the bookshelf: 7 Quick Start Tips to Living a Healthy Gluten Free Fit Life – Without Making Yourself Nuts in the Process. Available at

Why we’re fans: We met Erin when she completed NFCA’s GREAT Healthcare program for physical therapists, and she’s helped the cause ever since. She led one of NFCA’s webinars and has contributed tips to NFCA articles – including one about her own gluten-free wedding. On her blog, Erin posts products reviews, recipes and motivational tips to help you get your gluten-free butt in gear.

Erin Elberson Lyon

Erin Elberson Lyon

Erin’s Story: I was diagnosed with celiac disease after many years of GI problems.  Once diagnosed, I am now able to attribute many other medical issues to undiagnosed celiac.

According to Erin: The most unexpected part of going gluten-free was learning that people think white bread is safe because “Well, that’s not wheat!”

A taste of Gluten Free Fitness:

For more of NFCA’s Celiac Awareness Month celebration, visit

May 18, 2011 at 1:20 pm 5 comments

A Berry Good Reason to Go Gluten-Free

Whenever I come across a new gluten-free product, I wonder what prompted its birth. Was someone at the company diagnosed with celiac disease; is the product part of an overall “allergen-free” line; or was it an attempt to jump on the bandwagon of brands going gluten-free?

Lately, it seems that our cheers for new gluten-free items may come with some skepticism.  Companies large and small are churning out packages emblazoned with “gluten-free,” so naturally, we’ve begun to wonder about their motives.

Like it or not, “gluten-free” is a hot commodity, and people go where the money is. But when you’re dealing with a trend that has a real medical basis, missteps can be (quite literally) sickening. Just this week, customers testified against the former shop owner who allegedly sold gluten-containing bread as “gluten-free,” and the community is still brewing over the server who proudly gave traditional pasta to gluten-free diners.

Fortunately, there plenty of chefs and manufacturers who have good intentions when they dive into gluten-free. In fact, many of NFCA’s GREAT Business Association members, including Kettle Cuisine, Glow Gluten-Free and Simply Shari’s, have a direct connection to celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

My latest find: Missy and John Villapudua, the couple behind WildeBerryaki sauce. When I emailed Missy and John to ask about a Gluten-Free Hot Products review, I had already done some research about the company. WildeBerryaki is just one of the couple’s ventures; they also own the WildeBerry Inn on Whidbey Island, just north of Seattle, and WildeBerrySports, where John offers personal training for endurance athletes. (Sensing a theme?)

Missy and John - Wildeberryaki

Missy and John with their berries.

Fresh food, fitness, and a great place to sleep…it’s a lifestyle I envy. But how did the sauce come into play? Partly out of necessity: Missy had been laid off, and with too many bills to survive on one salary, the couple put all their berries in a basket and launched WildeBerryaki. The “gluten-free” part, Missy explained, was for friends:

“To be honest, we didn’t even know what ‘gluten-free’ meant 4 years ago,” she confessed. “A girlfriend of mine was stricken with breast cancer and we wanted to help her and the family out by cooking meals while she was healing.  She was gluten-free and had several food allergies.  I was scared to death to cook for her in fear that I may inadvertently include an ingredient with hidden gluten. The experience forced us to gain a better understanding and appreciation for individuals afflicted with celiac and gluten intolerance.”

It’s a heartfelt story, and it reminded me that gluten-free goods really can be…good.

WildeBerryaki sauce

Can you tell I took this photo AFTER I used it?

As a friendly follow-up to our exchange, the couple sent one of the latest hits in their WildeBerry repertoire: a recipe for WildeBerry Chicken & Endives. When barbecuing season finally arrives, I’ll be bringing this in tow:

WildeBerry Chicken & Endives


  • ¼ cup gluten-free mayonnaise
  • 3 Tbsp. WildeBerryaki sauce
  • 2 cooked chicken breasts (or equal amount of pork loin), finely diced
  • 2 green onions, chopped (save half for garnish)
  • Endive leaves
  • Grated purple cabbage
  • Black sesame seeds


1. Combine gluten-free mayonnaise, WildeBerryaki sauce, chicken and half of the onions. Mix well.
2. Spoon mixture onto endive leaves. Top with remaining onion, cabbage and sesame seeds.
3. Enjoy!

There are many other gluten-free companies that were inspired by celiac and gluten-free connections. If you’d like to share the story behind your gluten-free company or organization’s, visit and Submit an Empowerment Story.


April 8, 2011 at 1:44 pm Leave a comment

Making “Small Changes” in Health and Wellness

Just 2 weeks after signing up for the Philadelphia Blue Cross Broad Street Run, one of the largest ten-mile road races in the U.S., I began the month of February ready to start logging miles on the treadmill.

My schedule, however, had a different game plan. The short month became filled with lunch meetings, late nights at the office and weekend trips back home. The next thing I knew my after work and weekend trips to the gym were sidelined. And that’s not even mentioning my birthday celebrations (gluten-free carrot cake, anyone?). So with a sweet tooth that kicks in every now and then and my gym trips dropping off, my usual healthy habits seemed to fly right out of the window.

Alice and Kristin in DC

Busy, busy! Alice and I during our trip to Capitol Hill.

Fortunately I knew where to look for help. One of the things I enjoy most about my job here at NFCA are the opportunities to meet with a wide variety of healthcare professionals, including dietitians, physicians, naturopaths and even physical therapists.

About 2 months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Keri Gans, MS, RD, CON, via phone one Friday afternoon. (If you don’t already follow Keri on Twitter, I suggest you start. She tweets around the clock and always has a fun fact or tidbit to share. Check her out: @kerigans). We chatted about nutrition, both gluten-free and mainstream, and a week later I had a preview copy of her upcoming book, The Small Change Diet: 10 Steps to a Thinner, Healthier You, waiting for me on my desk.

Small Change Diet

Keri's book is all about making "small changes."

After flipping through Keri’s new book, two chapters in particular caught my eye.

  • Small Change 8: Tame Your Sweet Tooth and Your Salt Shaker
  • Small Change 10: Get Moving

Keri shares research-based tips and advice in each chapter, complete with situational Q&A to challenge the daily, common concerns we all have regarding diet and exercise (kind of like NFCA’s Ask the Dietitian blog). Here are three bits of advice from Chapters 8 and 10 that hit home for me.  See my full review of Keri’s book on NFCA’s product review site,

Small Change 8: Tame Your Sweet Tooth and Your Salt Shaker

Common Concern: “I can’t kick my cravings no matter how hard I try. I think I’m addicted to sugar.”

I’ve always had a soft spot for ice cream, rice pudding, and any coconut-type dessert. Fortunately, I’ve also always been active so too much of something has never been a problem. But when your hand begins to reach for the candy bowl that sits on a coworker’s desk (thanks, Whitney) a few times a week, and sometimes more than once a day, you know you’re in trouble. With a little extra push from Keri, I’ve re-introduced apples, baby-carrots and grapefruit as my mid-day snacks.

Common Concern: “I’ve been under so much stress lately. I deserve a little reward.”

I’ve already admitted that my sweet tooth has been known to get the best of me, but I haven’t mentioned that at times I have followed the “you deserve it” method. It’s easy to use this excuse when things get busy and you’re coming to the office early but still leaving late. But it’s time we all take Keri’s advice: “Food is not a reward. I repeat: Food is not a reward.”

Small Change 10: Get Moving

Keri opens Chapter 10 with: “It’s been said that exercise is like a savings account: The more you put in, the more you get back – with interest.”

Within the last 2 weeks, this line alone has pushed me to pack my gym bag in the morning, walk through the gym doors after work, and schedule time to run on the weekends. It can be easy to let the ball drop after a few weeks veering off course, but when you already know what results you can expect, taking the initiative becomes a lot easier.

What “small changes” will you make this weekend?


March 11, 2011 at 11:51 am 1 comment

Healthy New Year…With a Dash of Danger

In NFCA’s January 2011 newsletter, which we just released yesterday, I asked a few of our favorite gluten-free athletes to share their “Tips for a Healthy New Year.” One of my favorite tips was Pete Bronski’s suggestion to work out they way you like. If you’re not a fan of the gym, try tennis or yoga. If you prefer treadmills, then by all means, hit the machines.

For my part, I’ve made it a goal to run more. I’m an avid power-walker, but I needed some extra oomph to break my stride. My new motivation? The Warrior Dash. It’s a 3.5-mile run in the woods, over cars, through a swamp and up a hill. There are even some nets and tunnels involved. I signed up on a whim and now it’s my number one reason to run, run, run whenever I lace up some sneakers.

Of course, being healthy isn’t just about exercise. A balanced diet is also key to achieving your self-improvement goals in this “Year of You.”

To help you along, here are additional “Tips for a Healthy New Year” from Pete and Erin, with an emphasis on balanced eating. Read up, then tell us what your plans are to make 2011 the “Year of You.” (For more inspiration, follow NFCA’s “Athletes for Awareness” blog.)


Power Foods:


Peter Bronski

Pete, one of our Athletes for Awareness!

  • If you’re staring into your pantry and refrigerator, wondering what to eat to fuel your body during workouts, stick to the basics. Eat a well-balanced diet that includes carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats. Your body needs protein to build muscle, and carbs to fuel those muscles with energy. Prior to a workout, try eating some easily digestible carbohydrates for an extra boost. Rice, potatoes, corn and quinoa are all excellent gluten-free sources of carbohydrates.


Not sure where to start in tackling a healthy gluten-free way of eating?  Think of it as putting premium fuel in your tank.  Focus on whole, naturally gluten-free foods to make up the majority of your meals.  You don’t have to replace gluten-filled products with gluten-free ones; instead, try eating a bit differently:

  • Fruits and vegetables.  In their natural state, fruits and vegetables are gluten-free. Expand your horizons and try something new. Get at least one serving with every meal, hopefully more.  Need a snack?  Grab an apple and some nuts instead of reaching for a processed cracker. Try drinking a glass of water and eating a small to medium sized apple before each meal, or when you are feeling “snackish.”  You’ll be surprised how much this will cut your hunger and allow you to make smart choices for your meal.
  • Meats, poultry and fish.  These are your primary protein sources.  In their natural state, all meats and fish are naturally gluten-free.  Don’t be afraid to cook in bulk a couple days a week and have leftovers to last you for a day or two.
  • Healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil and nut butters.  These are great flavorful additions to any item (and good right out of the jar!), but are very calorie-dense.  If you are trying to gain weight, this is a good thing, so use them liberally.  If you are trying to slim down, use these in moderation and watch those serving sizes!
  • Naturally gluten-free starchy carbohydrates. Consider the many varieties of potatoes, rice, quinoa, amaranth and millet.  Eat these in moderation if you are not active, especially if you are attempting to slim down.

Weight Loss vs. Weight Gain:


  • If you’re dealing with unexpected weight loss or gain while recovering from celiac disease, don’t fret. A well-balanced diet and regular exercise will help your body find its new, natural equilibrium weight. Help your body find that “new you” by staying away from overly-processed, pre-packaged gluten-free foods, and opt instead for whole gluten-free grains, fresh fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, and whole meats and fish.

    Erin Elberson, Gluten-Free Fitness

    Erin, our fit and fabulous supporter


  • The main key with weight gain or weight loss lies in what and how much you eat.  Calorie amount is the first consideration when you are manipulating your body weight and body fat level. Calorie quality is a very close #2.  You need to have an appropriate level of calories from quality food, which supply you with nutrients you need.  If you are trying to lose weight, it won’t matter how much you exercise if you continue to eat more calories than you are expending.  The opposite is true with gaining weight.
  • Get acquainted with serving sizes.  Purchase a food scale if you wish.   You don’t have to weigh and measure your food, but you do have to have an idea of what and how much you are eating.  Speak with a dietitian or nutritional consultant if you need help.

January 7, 2011 at 1:15 pm Leave a comment

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