Fort Wayne – Courtney Rinehold enjoys teaching others about healthy eating.
The 30-year-old is a registered and certified dietitian and nutritionist at Competitive Edge Nutrition Coaching, Holistic Family and Midwifery Center.
One area in which Rinehold, an Allen County resident, has gained more insight in is the gluten-free diet. After doing extensive research on food-related problems her clients dealt with daily, she found she had similar symptoms.
"After reading about gluten intolerance and celiac disease," she explains, "I realized I had a lot of those same symptoms I read about – like stomach pains, migraines, sinus pain and pressure. I was anemic. Ever since I've cut out gluten, I haven't had a migraine. I rarely get headaches anymore."
Since the fall of 2009, she's steered clear of anything containing gluten and felt better. While her husband, Dameon, may eat meals containing gluten outside the home, Rinehold only prepares gluten-free meals for the family, which includes their 1-year-old son, Corbin.
"A lot of the things I buy are 'from the Earth' – fresh fruits and vegetables. For my carbohydrates, I use the sweet potatoes, winter squash, quinoa and rice. I usually plan meals with one of those starches and have chicken or fish," she says.
Meals also include a non-starchy item such as a salad, broccoli or green beans. Salads usually contain fruit, too.
Gluten-free products are easier to find at local grocery stores than in years past according to Rinehold, who says there are more showing up every day.
"It's not as hard as it used to be. Eating out and going to parties is challenging. Family get-togethers, me and my mom will bring something gluten-free. My mom's mom will bring gluten-free stuffing for Thanksgiving," she says.
One concern Rinehold has about eating out is cross contamination.
"Yeah," she says, "there's a time I've had something (while eating out) and had a stomach ache for two days. If I go out of town for a meeting and they're serving food, I'll try to contact the person in charge of food and ask. I bring snacks with me or I'll pack a lunch. I'll plan ahead and look for restaurants and see who has a gluten-free menu."
There are other challenges, too.
"Getting educated is the biggest," Rinehold says. "I'm still getting educated. My clients are amazed at the time spent in reading ingredient labels and what terms mean 'gluten.' "
She says that a misconception people have is when they hear the term "gluten-free" and compare it to a fat-free diet.
"A lot of people think it's another weight loss diet. You know if a label says, 'fat-free.' People think it's another fad weight loss diet."
She adds, "Learning how to eat gluten-free, even if a label says gluten-free, it's not all healthy. Like chips and cookies. That's a challenge as a dietitian working with people to eat balanced meals and a wide variety to get the nutrients our body needs. For me I don't feel like I'm limited."
Pregnancy and breastfeeding can be challenging for women, especially with a gluten intolerance.
"Taking care of a child and breastfeeding is tiring and you have to plan ahead," she says. "After Corbin, I prep for the following day. It saves money. I'll make lunches and breakfasts."
Rinehold advices parents to educate themselves well on food substitution for their children.
"Like if their friends are having a pizza party, they can contact the adult and bring a gluten-free pizza. I could probably go on with that question," she says continuing, "Finding other people with the same food allergies, following the same diet as their own, sharing recipes and experiences, that can help. I would suggest that someone meet at least one time with a registered dietitian. They can start you on the right track and ease the stress of planning meals and eating out."
KAAB (Kale, Apple, Avocado, Bacon) Salad
2 Granny Smith apples, thinly sliced
1/2 fresh lemon, juice only
6 cups thinly sliced kale (or spinach)
3 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
1/2 avocado, sliced
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons mustard
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Toss apples and fresh lemon juice in a large bowl to coat. Add kale, bacon, avocado and almonds; toss to mix. To make dressing, whisk olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, pepper and salt together in a bowl until smooth; drizzle over salad and toss to coat. Makes 2 servings.
Pumpkin Polenta (Corn) Bread
2 cups canned pumpkin purée
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup plain yogurt
2 cups polenta or yellow cornmeal
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking dish. Blend pumpkin, butter and eggs in a blender. Mix in the brown sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Blend until smooth and transfer to a medium bowl. Mix yogurt and polenta into the pumpkin mixture. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cool slightly before slicing. Makes 9 pieces.