Athletes with celiac disease don’t need to let dietary restrictions impact their performance goals.

Q: I’ve been CrossFitting for more than a year and can efficiently do all the movements, but I feel stuck because I have celiac disease. Some of my buddies have explored different nutrition avenues to boost their performance, but these just aggravate my condition. Can you help?

A: Celiac disease is a condition in which eating gluten, a protein found in certain grains (most notably wheat), triggers an autoimmune response (i.e., one in which the body attacks itself) that damages the intestines and affects the absorption of nutrients (a process that mostly takes place in the small intestine). Athletes with celiac disease might be susceptible to conditions like anemia and osteoporosis as a result of inadequate iron and/or vitamin D and calcium absorption, respectively. Maintaining a gluten-free diet is the only way to avoid symptom flare-ups and preserve performance.