TODAY – Olympic Hopeful Runs with Celiac disease

About 2 million people in the United States have Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that prevents the body from absorbing nutrients such as iron, calcium, fat and Vitamin D, all of which are critical to a distance runner’s ability to recover from training, or heal.  Distance running isn’t just a hobby for Stephanie Rothstein. It’s her life. She’s an Olympic hopeful AND the founder of a new biz (gluten-free food).

Saturday, Jan. 14 –   TODAY, Stephanie Rothstein, competes in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston. It is also her Birthday.  The best present she could receive is a trip to London this Summer. Her battle with Celiac disease has her not only running the distance, but running a new business, which her illness inspired.

Her diagnosis.

Rothstein’s discovery that she had Celiac disease forced her to make a radical change to her diet, which now excludes any food with “gluten, dairy or soy,” but it also provided a sense of relief that there was a physiological reason preventing her from reaching her athletic goals.

The 2007 graduate of UC Santa Barbara, who now competes for McMillan Elite in Flagstaff, Ariz., is back in Houston, where she set her personal best a year ago with a third-place finish at the 2011 Houston Marathon, her second marathon.  But it is her first since a Portland naturopathic doctor diagnosed her with Celiac disease in the spring of 2010.

Nagging injuries.

Rothstein placed 12th in the 10,000 meters at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials at Hayward Field, and as she trained for her first marathon, she was plagued by a series of nagging injuries that refused to heal.  She missed nearly all of the 2009 season before finally getting the answer she sought from the Portland naturopath.

Finally running pain-free.

She placed second at the U.S. 20K championships in the fall, which secured a spot on the U.S. team for the 2010 World Half Marathon Championships in China, where she was the top American finisher in 19th place.

The top three finishers in both the men’s and women’s marathons, which will be run on the same day on the same course for the first time, will represent the U.S. at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.  NBC will broadcast two hours of same-day coverage starting at noon.

That didn’t stop Rothstein.

In fact, she not  only kept running, but she also founded a gluten-and-diary-free homemade energy bar business.  Rothstein moved to Flagstaff in April 2010 to work with Greg McMillan, coach of Team USA Arizona, but not before the business collaboration that created Picky Bars was launched.  The former Eugene resident — who is engaged to ex-Oregon Track Club Elite steeplechaser Ben Bruce and is a co-founder of Picky Bars, a gluten- and dairy-free homemade energy bar business, with OTC Elite’s Lauren Fleshman.

RUNNING A BUSINESSMeet the group of pro athletes who are the founding team at Picky Bars.  Here’s how they are described on the Picky Bars website:

Stephanie Rothstein

Steph:  Gluten-Free Guru, Social Media Master!

AKA “Tiny,” is a pro-marathoner.  She is just like a regular person, except smaller. When her fiance Ben does her laundry, he can’t even fold her clothes with his big hands.  Her marathon PR is 2:29.35 from Houston 2011.”  She is an emerging star with her recent top 20 World Half Marathon finish, and has her eye on the Marathon Olympic Trials January 14, 2012( that may of may not be her birthday).  Her laugh is pee-your-pants ridiculous, and she will literally fold in half in utter despair at a good joke.  Since discovering she has Celiac disease, she laid the smack down on her diet and set the standard for quality in our bars.



Lauren:  Mad Scientist/Kitchen Genius, Ambassador Extraordinaire!

AKA “L-Train” is essentially a quirky dork but we love her.  When she went cliff diving at the age of six with the teenagers, her Dad proudly proclaimed, “My girl’s got balls the size of Texas!”  And for some strange reason, Lauren thinks that’s the coolest compliment ever and continues to try to earn it.  She writes advice, blogs, and takes issue with not being able to lead four lives simultaneously.  She graduated Stanford as one of the most decorated American distance runners of all time, has gone on to win two USA titles, and expects the next few years to be her best yet.

Web:, Twitter:


Jesse:  Biz Freak/Marketing Machine, The Man Behind the Curtain!

Jesse is the most talented person we know.  Listed among his accomplishments are All-American runner, mechanical engineering master, broken neck survivor, high tech company founder and MBA receiver.  Even his gluten derived “aroma” became the inspiration for an amazing energy bar!   Now he splits time between professional triathlon, building the Picky Empire, and last but certainly not least, husband duties. You could call also call him our lead tester – between work and training for three sports, he literally takes down six Picky Bars a day.  In exchange, he provides some quirky marketing ideas and is responsible for making sure the business doesn’t go broke.

Why They Created Picky Bars:


  • Be what we consider “ideal size:” 200 calories or less.  Great size for <30min post-workout recovery, one hour before exercise (or cut in half for 20-30 min before), or the perfect snack size between meals.)
  • Have a 4:1 carbohydrate/protein ratio that is ideal for recovery and maximizes absorption of nutrients.
  • Be gluten and dairy free (for the sake of those with intolerances, or for people who just want variety in their diet)
  • Have balanced macro-nutrients (25% fat, 60% carbohydrate, 15% protein) for hunger control and happy digestion.
  • Select carbohydrate sources that promote level blood sugar, sustained energy, and nutrient absorption.
  • Use whole foods that are geographically nearby whenever we can.
  • Minimize soy content (less than 1%) since most people get too much of it daily without realizing it.
  • Provide a mixture of nuts and seeds for nutrient diversity (e.g. cashews are good for vitamin K while almonds are high in vitamin E).



Until recently, celiac disease was thought to be rare in the United States. However, studies have shown that celiac disease is very common. Recent findings estimate about 2 million people in the United States have celiac disease, or about 1 in 133 people. Among people who have a first-degree relative diagnosed with celiac disease, as many as 1 in 22 people may have the disease.
About 3 to 8 percent of people with type 1 diabetes will have biopsy-confirmed celiac disease, and 5 to 10 percent of people with Down syndrome will be diagnosed with celiac disease.
Celiac disease could be underdiagnosed in the United States for a number of reasons, including:
  • Many doctors are not knowledgeable about the disease
  • Only a small number of US laboratories are experienced and skilled in testing for the disease.
    More research is needed to learn the true prevalence of celiac disease among Americans.

People with celiac disease often have general gastric complaints, such as bloating, abdominal pain and  intermittent diarrhea.  Celiac symptoms can mimic symptoms of other conditions, such  gastric ulcers, irritable bowel, Crohns disease, Anemia, parasitic infection, even various skin disorders or nervous conditions. Some people with celiac disease, however, suffer no gastrointestinal discomfort.

Some symptoms are vague like stomach discomfort, skin rash, joint pain muscle cramps, tingling in the legs or feet, depression, irritability, joint pain, mouth sores, dental and bone disorders.

Lastly, Dermatitis herpetiformis is an itchy, blistering skin disease that also associated with gluten intolerance. Rashes usually occurs on the elbows, knees and buttocks.

Signs and symptoms and can vary greatly from person to person.


Treatment with a gluten-free diet, in addition to medication to control the rash, usually brings about significant improvement.

Allowed foods

  • Beans, seeds, nuts in their natural, unprocessed form
  • Fresh eggs
  • Fresh meats, fish and poultry (not breaded, batter-coated or marinated)
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Most dairy products

It’s important to make sure that they are not processed or mixed with gluten-containing grains, additives or preservatives. Many grains and starches can be part of a gluten-free diet:

  • Amaranth
  • Arrowroot
  • Buckwheat
  • Corn and cornmeal
  • Flax
  • Gluten-free flours (rice, soy, corn, potato, bean)
  • Hominy (corn)
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Sorghum
  • Soy
  • Tapioca
  • Teff

Always avoid

  • Barley (malt, malt flavoring and malt vinegar are usually made from barley)
  • Rye
  • Triticale (a cross between wheat and rye)
  • Wheat

Be aware of many types of wheat flour on supermarket shelves — bromated, enriched, phosphated, plain and self-rising. Here are other wheat products to avoid:

  • Bulgur
  • Durum flour
  • Farina
  • Graham flour
  • Kamut
  • Semolina
  • Spelt

Avoid unless labeled ‘gluten-free’

  • Beer
  • Breads
  • Cakes and pies
  • Candies
  • Cereals
  • Cookies and crackers
  • Croutons
  • French fries
  • Gravies
  • Imitation meat or seafood
  • Matzo
  • Pastas
  • Processed luncheon meats
  • Salad dressings
  • Sauces, including soy sauce
  • Seasoned rice mixes
  • Seasoned snack foods, such as potato and tortilla chips
  • Self-basting poultry
  • Soups and soup bases
  • Vegetables in sauce

Certain grains, such as oats, can be contaminated with wheat during growing and processing stages of production.

You should also be alert for other products that may contain gluten:

  • Food additives, such as malt flavoring, modified food starch and others
  • Medications and vitamins that use gluten as a binding agent
  • Play dough

Watch for cross-contamination

Cross-contamination occurs when gluten-free foods come into contact with foods that contain gluten. It can happen during the manufacturing process.  You need to check the actual ingredient list. If you’re not sure whether a food contains gluten, don’t buy it or check with the manufacturer first to ask what it contains.

Cross-contamination can also occur if foods are prepared at home on common surfaces or with utensils that weren’t thoroughly cleaned after being used to prepare gluten-containing foods.

People with celiac disease must eat a strictly gluten-free diet and must remain on the diet for the remainder of their lives.

In some severe cases, a gluten-free diet alone can’t stop the symptoms and complications of celiac disease. In these cases, doctors might prescribe medications to suppress the immune system.


Not getting enough vitamins People who follow a gluten-free diet may have low levels of certain vitamins and nutrients in their diets. Many grains are enriched with vitamins. Avoiding grains with a gluten-free diet may mean eating fewer of these enriched products. Ask your dietitian to review your diet to see that you’re getting enough of these key nutrients:

  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Fiber
  • Thiamin
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin
  • Folate


Kroger Fred Meyer Ralphs King Soopers Fry’s Food Dillons Smith’s Food and Drug Quality Food Centers Food 4 Less City Market Owen’s Market Jay C Foods Highlander Gerbes

Publix The Publix list of gluten-free itemsis available online.

Shoprite Shoprite’s list of gluten-free itemsis available online.

Stop and Shop Stop and Shop Supermarkets’ list of gluten-free productsis available on their website.

Trader Joe’s Trader Joe’s offers a downloadable product listof their gluten-free items.

Wegmans The Wegmans list of gluten-free items is updated weekly and can be reached from the company’s “Gluten Sensitivity” page. Wegmans also offers a list of products that are free of both gluten andlactose.

Whole Foods The Whole Foods website provides store-specific lists of gluten-free items.

Supermarkets for Gluten-Free Shopping: Outside North America

Sainsbury’s (U.K.) In addition to its list of gluten-free products, Sainsbury’s also publishes gluten-free recipes on its website. On the recipe page, enter “gluten” as a search term. (My brother and sister-in-law lived in London for many years, and I can tell you that Sainsbury’s was stocking an amazing selection of delicious gluten-free foods years before any similar products started to show up in American stores. When I visited London, my sister-in-law would buy me the Sainsbury’s gluten-free fish sticks and pizzas, and I would fight my little (non-celiac) nephews for them. When they visited me in the U.S., I would make them bring me half a dozen boxes of the Sainsbury’s gluten-free bread mixes.)

Delhaize (Belgium) The Delhaize company has developed an assortment of specialty food products for people with special dietary requirements, including those on gluten-free diets. These foods are displayed in a separate section in its stores. A list of these items(in French) is available on their website. (Israel) This is the largest store in Israel for Kosher gluten-free products. They ship worldwide.

Not sticking to the gluten-free diet If you accidentally eat a product that contains gluten, you may experience abdominal pain and diarrhea. Even trace amounts of gluten in your diet may be damaging, whether or not they cause signs or symptoms.

  • See Also




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