Living with celiac disease is quite a challenge for anyone but it’s especially tough for athletes who need to maintain their weight – through grueling workouts and a high metabolism. Examples such as Cincinnati Bengals’ Running Back Cedric Benson, UFC’s Dennis Hallmann, LPG star Sarah Jane Smith and quite a few others show us every day that it is absolutely possible to be a top performer with celiac disease in various sports.
All these guys are full-time professional athletes though. I was therefore very impressed when I read how Utah’s women’s basketball player Diana Rolniak learned to cope with celiac disease as a college athlete. Diagnosed just before her senior year in high school in July 2008, Diana was trying to play basketball while dropping below 100 pounds – which is clearly not a healthy weight for the 6-foot-4 forward!
What I find most encouraging is the support she gets from the team. Interim head coach Anthony Levrets said that “On the road, we’ve figured out the restaurants that cater to gluten-free … that she’s comfortable with. And all of the hotels we stay in, we make sure they’re able to prepare gluten-free meals to go along with our pregame meals.” That’s pretty awesome! But Diana has also developed a few tricks that I think are worth sharing:
- set up specific living arrangements in order to prevent cross-contamination and living by herself
- preparing all of her meals and learning to cook
- having two bowls of cereal, two yogurts, eggs and a homemade sandwich for breakfast
I have a great suggestion how Diana can add unrivaled variety to her daily gluten-free cereal bowl But besides this, I was wondering if you know someone in college who has celiac disease or lives gluten-free? How do they manage? And do you have any advice to share from their experience?