I took a lot of time last year to work on my nutrition, for a number of reasons. I ran a beautiful marathon route, totally ruined not by my legs giving up, but by my stomach giving me trouble. Stitch and cramps are common in many sports, occurring often without warning, interrupting training and racing. There are various theories about the causes – diaphragm spasm, poor diet, weak abdominals/core muscle strength. I took every approach to try and control these painful cramps and though I considered my diet to be ‘clean’ and healthy, I addressed this as a priority, with some amazing results.
Having read a number of articles and books and working with a Nutritional Therapist, I chose an elimination approach – cutting out anything that could cause inflammation and upset in my digestive system, eating as simply as possible, then gradually reintroducing food groups after 4 weeks. I had no wheat, dairy, gluten, caffeine or alcohol for 4 weeks. It was easier than I thought! Gluten free diets are now more commonplace, so there are gluten free oats, bread, cakes, condiments etc all widely available in supermarkets. When you cut out gluten you virtually eliminate all wheat too, so that just left dairy and the rest… easy! I tried out coconut milk, hazlenut milk, rice milk, almond milk – lots of choice! Once I had worked out a few breakfast and snack options, the main meals were easy to sort. Think ‘meat/fish and 3 veg’ sort of things… Turkey mince bolognaise sauce on a bed of spinach was a winner!
I’ve since returned to a more normal diet, but still little or no gluten, avoiding dairy where possible, low carbohydrate intake, just good protein, natural fats and a lot of vegetables. This seems to have controlled the cramps! It has worked for me – that’s not to say it’s the approach for everyone, but it might help?
Through reading and experimenting, I’ve made a few good recipes and will be compiling them into a book over the next few months. If you would like more information, please feel free to email me sarah@PACETherapies.co.uk.
To give you an idea of the sort of things I made.. here’s a wintry granola recipe for you to try:
5 x eating apples, washed, cored and sliced very thinly
Any mix of the following:
Half a cup of broken brazil nuts
Half a cup of walnut pieces
Half a cup of pecans
Half a cup of almonds
Half a cup of hazelnuts
Half a cup of cranberries
Half a cup of semi dried figs
Half a cup of dessicated or flaked coconut
Half a cup of Omega seed mix (pumpkin seeds, linseed, flax, sunflower seeds)
You will also need 1 x tablespoon of coconut oil and 1 x dessertspoon of molasses, honey or agave
Heat oven to 160 degrees.
Spread the apple slices out on greaseproof paper. Bake slowly for 20-30 mins, check and continue until they are dry (or just about – not burnt!)
Put these to one side and do the same with the nut mix, bake for 20-30 mins spread on tray. Stir and move once.
Melt the coconut oil and mix with the molasses/honey/agave. Pour over the warmed nuts and seeds and mix well. Return to the oven for another 15-20 mins. Check and stir through once.
Allow to cool, then in a big bowl add the crispy apple slices and mix. Store in an airtight container and use within a week!