Before a cross-country skiing and snowshoeing event in Minneapolis 2014

Before a cross-country skiing and snowshoeing event in Minneapolis 2014

My family likes to run, bike, cross country ski and snowshoe  (the latter for me in particular), but more so, my kids like to play soccer.  As you get ready for a race or to be active in another way, carb loading is common– the Mayo Clinic even has a recommended carb loading diet (not gluten free) here.

Now that my oldest daughter is playing high school soccer, the booster club does a carb load event once a week for her team.  Initially, I rolled my eyes thinking this is yet another annoyance in our gluten-free lifestyle, where Emma goes but can’t eat, eats before, or brings her food with her.  (Sorry, as you can see I have my moments of misplaced cynicism).

Again, initially, I didn’t consider that these gatherings are good for team bonding.  So now that I have reconsidered that, we are doing better at making these events a priority and just making the best out of the situation.  In the cases where we have attended, the experience has been easier than predicted.  One family did chicken tacos!  The hosts asked me about it and the only thing they needed to buy was corn shells and let Emma go through the line first; because other than flour tortillas everything else was gluten free!  That was awesome. 

Emma on the soccer field

Emma on the soccer field

The family hosting the carb load she went to Sunday was preparing a pasta dish, but the host made a separate pan of noodles for her with butter (that’s what she likes– no sauce).  I gave a quick tutorial on cross contamination and we were all set. Short of them being a little crunchy, Emma said, it all went well.  

We are hosting the next one.  I am making a gluten free lasagna, another mom is bringing a traditional lasagna and another mom is making a vegetarian pan.  It won’t be a full gluten-free meal but Emma is okay with that.

What’s good for a gluten free carb load?

I talked with Peter Bronski, author of The Gluten-Free Edge, when his book came out about two years ago.  I asked about good foods to incorporate into a gluten-free athlete’s diet.  Here is what he said:

  • Sweet Potatoes: “Sweet potatoes are naturally gluten free. They have a lower glycemic index than white potatoes and they are an excellent source of carbohydrates for athletes that want the carb-load…You can do that in a number of ways whether they are baked, and roasted sweet potato fries, whatever you chose, I think those are really excellent choice.”
  • Protein:  “Any high protein sources wherever you chose to get your protein whether its red meat, bison, non-meat sources of protein, the iron is really an important component for athletic performance.”

Foods to skip:

  • “Anything that would be made of highly refined, gluten-free starches and have a lot of empty calories in it… it’s tempting when you know an athlete use that as a carrying card to eat whatever you want, but you might want to think about that more carefully about eating sparingly some of those what we would consider the junk food and really you are fueling your body for performance.”

Bronski says, yes having a treat on occasion is okay, but the core of an athlete’s diet should be the whole meats and fish, fresh fruits and vegetables.

 I wonder if the soccer team would eat sweet potatoes with their lasagna??  Sound weird?

Best of luck with your next carb load! 



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