U.S. Swimmer Dana Vollmer: Eating Right Despite Food Allergies
To power through the pool, Olympic swimmer Dana Vollmer has to eat healthy. But Vollmer recently learned she has an egg allergy and is sensitive to gluten. Could she avoid these common foods and still train for the gold?
It took time and patience, but the answer was yes. After overhauling her diet, she felt stronger than ever. At the 2012 Olympics, Vollmer won a gold medal and set a world record.
Food Q&A with Olympic swimmer Dana Vollmer
How did you change your diet after being diagnosed with gluten sensitivity and an egg allergy?
I was raised in the days where athletes did carbohydrate loading before a swim competition, so the hardest things for me to give up were pasta and eating eggs for breakfast. I now realize that the large bowl of pasta I ate the night before a meet and the eggs I used to eat for breakfast were the source of my stomach pains! After my diagnosis, I started looking for other sources of carbs and have grown to love quinoa and brown rice.
What are your favorite healthy foods?
I try to eat a lot of lean meats, veggies, and rice. I often combine them all and make stir-fry meals.
What do you like to eat for breakfast before a swim meet?
I've found some gluten-free cereal that I love. I thought I would have to give up cereal, but I've found a lot of gluten-free options in stores. I'll have cereal with chocolate milk and a banana.
What is your favorite post-swim snack?
I bring a protein drink to meets and typically have one after I've competed. I also like protein bars that are natural and gluten-free, and I typically carry bags of nuts and carrots with me when I'm traveling.
What's your favorite junk food and how do you limit how much you eat?
I love dark chocolate! Fortunately, there are a lot of studies coming out showing how dark chocolate is good for you. I love to bake and if I make my favorite dark chocolate raspberry cake, I'll bring it to the swim meat and divide the pieces up among my team.
What is your food advice for kids who are practicing and playing hard?
Try to avoid processed and junk foods. If you crave something sweet, eat a piece of fruit instead of candy, or drink water instead of a sugary soda.
Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: July 2012
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