Most athletes don’t need to worry about gluten free snacks. However, for those rare few who have Celiac disease, finding the right snacks are a matter of good health. Celiac disease is a condition that causes projections found in the small intestines to become fattened and inflamed in the presence of gluten. These projections are responsible for absorbing and digesting nutrients, so when they become inflamed, it causes a victim of celiac disease to get sick, causing weight loss, diarrhea, abdominal pain and anemia.
The only known treatment for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet. So what is gluten? Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. These foods are rich in carbohydrates and fibers that are important to an athlete’s diet. So, how does an athlete with celiac disease find gluten free snacks that provide all the same vital nutrients? Here are a few foods that make excellent gluten free snacks.
Snack #1: Nuts
They are high in calories as well, so snacking on these treats before a workout can provide well needed calories to burn. In addition, these gluten free snacks contain plenty of “good” unsaturated fats. However, since they are high in fat content, nuts should be eaten only in moderation.
Snack #2: Fruits
Fruits contain both fiber and carbohydrates, and can be an important staple of an athlete on a gluten-free diet. They can be consumed in many different forms, such as dried fruits, canned fruits, juices containing 100% fruit juice, fresh fruit, stewed fruit and even preserved fruit, as long as you avoid those with added thickeners.
Snack #3: Rice
All rice is gluten free, so it makes available a variety of different gluten free snacks for an athlete. White rice, brown rice, rice bran and rice flakes can all be eaten by themselves or with other gluten free snacks. In addition, meals with rice noodles or rice cakes can make good gluten free snacks. You can even add peanut butter or some gluten-free jam to your rice cake for additional flavor!
Snack #4: Tomatoes
Enough cannot be said about this gluten free snack. Tomatoes can be prepared in so many different ways. Not only can they be eaten fresh—and you can purchase bite size tomato snacks in the form of cherry or grape tomatoes—but other gluten free tomato snacks include tomato juice, tomato sauce (to be used with other gluten free snacks), diced tomatoes or stewed tomatoes.
Snack #5: Vegetables
Some vegetables, such as carrots, make perfect snacks. These gluten free snacks are an additional source of fiber for athletes and can be prepared in a number of different ways. You can eat fresh vegetables, canned vegetables (again making sure to avoid those with thickeners added) and frozen vegetables. Mix and match your vegetables in any way you like. Eat them together raw in a salad or cook them up in a stir fry.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to find gluten free snacks that still contain the carbs and fibers that an athlete needs to keep healthy and in shape.