Interview with Gluten-Free Olympian, Amy Begley, Part Two

By Laura (The Gluten-Free Traveller)

In case you didn’t know, Triumph Dining got a chance to interview gluten-free olympian, Amy Begley, about what it’s like to be a gluten-free athlete. If you missed part one of the interview, don’t worry! You can check it out here.

Here’s the conclusion of the interview!

I understand that you ran in the 2008 games in Beijing. How wonderful!

Did the Olympic village offer gluten free food?

They sort of did. I had the USA team chef ask the Olympic village kitchen about their gluten free options. They had gluten free food but it was not prepared the way that gluten free food needs to be when you’re celiac. They used the same utensils, water, etc to make all of the food.

I asked all of these questions before I left for Beijing so I knew the situation I was headed to. I packed as much as I could and then worked with the TEAM USA chef to eat safely at the TEAM USA dining hall, which was a 20 minute bus ride from the Olympic Village.


Did you get any chance to explore Beijing whilst you were there for the 2008 Olympics?  

Traveling is one of my favorite things about racing.  I did a lot of sight seeing after my race.  I went to the Great Wall and then flew to Chengdu, China to visit the Panda Research Center.  I was able to hold a baby panda.  It was my gift to myself for making the team.  It was an awesome experience.


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Olympian Dana Vollmer Strikes Gold with a Gluten-Free Diet

By Bridget

Photo from CBS News

When you’re living a gluten-free lifestyle, “carbo loading” doesn’t exactly have the same ring to it as it does for the average athlete. Those pasta dinners the night before a big race won’t exactly get you on your game. Just ask Olympic Gold Medalist Dana Vollmer.

As you may have already heard, the newly minted world record-setting swimmer has revealed that she suffers from a gluten sensitivity, which has created stomach problems for her in the past. For the Olympics in Beijing in 2008, Vollmer just missed qualifying, attributing that loss to back and shoulder problems, as well as some stomach issues. Once she eliminated gluten and eggs from her diet she found that her energy levels and swimming ability vastly improved – to a world record setting extent.

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Interview with Gluten-Free Olympian, Amy Begley

By Laura (The Gluten-Free Traveller)

With the 2012 Olympics kicking off in London tomorrow, Triumph Dining decided to find out what it’s like living and training as an athlete when you also live with celiac disease.

I had the pleasure of interviewing US Olympian Amy Begley last week.  Amy runs medium and long distance, mainly the 10,000 meters, and currently lives and trains in Beaverton, Oregon on the Nike campus.

Amy was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2006 so it was interesting to find out her take on running and training whilst on a strict gluten free diet!


Hi Amy! Tell me a little about who you are and what you do.

My name is Amy Begley. I am 34 years old and run professionally for Nike. I mainly run the 10,000 meters but I have been injured for over a year. Finally the Doctors told me to take three months completely off to heal my leg but thankfully I will start running again on Friday July 20th. I am really excited about this 3rd comeback of mine.

To keep myself busy I have a few websites and businesses that are currently in the beginning stages. My main website is  The information on all of my websites, including a new site I have kicking off this fall, can be accessed there.


When and how were you diagnosed as celiac?

I was diagnosed in 2006.  I had been sick for about 10 years and I had a lot of things diagnosed along the way:  lactose intolerance, IBS, hypo-thyroid, osteopenia, amenorrhea, stress fractures, depression, anxiety, and the thing that affected me the most was chronic diarrhea.  I could not run more than 30 minutes without using the bathroom.  I was in Atlanta when I was finally diagnosed as celiac.


How has being celiac affected your running/training?

Before I was diagnosed with Celiac, I couldn’t run more than 30 minutes without a bathroom.  My day and training was planned around where I could find a bathroom. I also couldn’t eat within 6 hours of running. I was dehydrating in short races like 5,000m.

Now that I’m on a gluten free diet my bone density is slowing increasing and the diarrhea, bloating and stomachaches are gone. I can now eat before I run without much worry. I feel much healthier and stronger.


What do you like to eat before a race?

The night before a race I pick a place that has a dedicated gluten free menu. I find that these places are more likely to have special areas for preparing gluten free meals. My go to places include PF Changs and Outback.

The morning of a nighttime race, I usually eat something I brought with me. That could be gluten free bread like Udi’s with almond butter and a banana.  Alternatively I will have Chex cereal with almond or soymilk. About two hours before a race I will then have 1.5 packets of Generation UCAN.  If I am running a morning race, I would just have the Generation UCAN and maybe a banana.

What do you find is the most challenging thing about being celiac?

Worrying about cross-contamination before a meet.  We rarely race at home so on the road we have to trust the restaurants.  If I am unsure of a place or food, I will just eat what I have packed or buy something at a store to prepare and eat.


Check back next week for part two of my interview with Amy and find out how she found eating gluten free at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing!


Interview With Gluten-Free Olympian Nathan Brannen

By Zach

Hope you all are embracing Celiac Disease Awareness Month to the fullest. In our Tuesday post, we shared a bunch of ideas and activities you can do to promote gluten-free efforts. For today’s post, we’d like to mix things up a bit and have Olympian Nathan Brannen shed some light about his experience with a gluten-free lifestyle as an Olympic Games middle distance runner.

1.    Can you briefly share your personal story of being gluten-free?

The reason I decided to become gluten-free was a result of my coach. Besides being a world-renowned coach, he is also a world-renowned physiotherapist and suggested that I try a gluten-free diet. This gluten-free practice was something he had been doing for years as an injury prevention strategy.

Gluten is a binder and he found that people that had high-level gluten diets tended to be more injury prone than those who were gluten-free. Physiologically, he found gluten also acted as a binder in the body as well, causing muscle and tissue to get stuck and not move or reacted properly. I figured it couldn’t hurt to try since I had been very injury prone over the last few years. I have found my body to feel much healthier and my injuries have been at a minimum since I switched to a gluten-free lifestyle. I have been gluten-free for just over a year, I feel fit and my running is now stronger than ever.


2.    Please tell us a little about yourself and your career.

At the University of Michigan, my freshman roommate, Alan Webb, and I were the first two sub-4 high school milers to run for the same program in history. By the time I ended my Michigan career, I had won four NCAA titles and ran the second-fastest collegiate indoor mile in history.

After earning a silver medal and winning the Canadian 1500m title in 2006, my 2007 season came to an early halt when I sustained a herniated disc near the base of my spine. After missing five months of training, I opted to have surgery in November. Then began the long comeback to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

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