Interview with Natalie Jill

Recently I have gotten to know Natalie Jill, a powerhouse fitness model who is as gorgeous on the inside as she is on the outside. Twelve years ago, Natalie Jill was diagnosed with Celiac disease and her remarkable health and vibrancy combined with her great story drew me to her and I knew she would give fabulous insight to Fix Your Digestion readers looking for answers regarding Celiac disease, food, fitness and health.
These days, Natalie Jill is helping people across the globe reach their health, fitness, life and business goals. Natalie is a well known Licensed Sports Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer who specializes in weight loss consulting and counseling people with food allergies and intolerances. On top of all that, she is also an accomplished host and spokesperson :)
In addition to all of this, she is amazingly sweet and we were able to sit down and share some stories and experiences.
I have a special place in my heart for those with Celiac disease, and am always interested to hear how people got diagnosed. It took Natalie Jill two years to get diagnosed after suffering a wide variety of symptoms, being bounced around from doctor to doctor, and being assured she had heartburn, an ulcer, polycystic ovaries, depression, etc (sound familiar?). You can read her entire story here.
1. FYD: The nature of Celiac disease and its consequent malabsorption can set the stage for a number of additional, functional GI issues like additional food sensitivities, bacterial dysbiosis, reduced stomach acid/digestive enzyme output, leaky gut and immune balance. Sometimes these things don?t get better even on a gluten free diet. Did you experience any of these (or additional) symptoms after you cut gluten out of your diet, and if so, how did you manage them?
NJ: I personally did not. My symptoms were SO awful before my diagnosis. I was constantly in pain and feeling sick. As SOON as I cut gluten out of my diet all symptoms went away. I DO eat a very natural, unprocessed food diet so that does help to avoid all other issues. If I do have even a small trace of anything that contains gluten (by accident) I have instant flair ups. I believe I have become more and more sensitive to even the smallest traces of gluten.

2. FYD: Many people when they are initially diagnosed with Celiac disease fret that ?there is nothing left to eat!? Can you comment on what there IS to eat?

NJ: I don?t feel like that at ALL! All unprocessed foods are naturally gluten free. If you are used to eating a processed food diet (I call it a fake food diet) then YES! I imagine it WOULD be hard. However, if you stick to the 10,000 year ago rule it is very easy. If it was on this planet 10,000 years ago you can eat it :) All vegetables, fruits, meats, nuts and oils even yams and sweet potatoes are naturally gluten free and the most ideal foods to eat for longevity, disease avoidance and to stay lean and energetic.

3. FYD: To piggyback on the above question, many people who are newly diagnosed gain weight as a consequence of consumption of gluten-free baked goods and products, many of which have higher carb, lower fiber and lower protein than their gluten-containing counterparts. Can you give us a few simple strategies on how to manage this?

NJ: This is the WORST thing you can do. Here is why: When wheat flour (which is lower on the gylcemic index and higher in fiber) is replaced with lower fiber higher glycemic flours such as corn, potato and rice flours, the sugar and calorie content goes up! This not only adds calories but this makes the absorption rate into your blood stream very rapid. When this happens, your body reacts by creating an insulin spike which in turn will make you more hungry and ultimately heavier- YIKES! When eating Gluten Free, it is BEST to stick with whole foods such as rice, whole sweet potatoes or yams, Gluten Free oatmeal or quinioa vs. the baked goods. If you must indulge with pancakes, waffles, muffins etc? don?t assume that the Gluten Free varieties are healthier for you. Instead of buying the pre-packaged ready made frozen Gluten Free items and baked goods, make them yourself from scratch adding higher fiber foods such as oatmeal into the flour. If you do not have time to make these from scratch use ? of a gluten free mix and substitute the other ? with oatmeal. Using oatmeal in the mix will lower the glycemic index, slow down the absorption into your blood stream and control that insulin spike.

4. FYD: Will you comment briefly on the mental-emotional impacts that a Celiac diagnosis can confer? How do you keep your ?mind right? and maintain your wonderfully positive outlook?

NJ: I would take Celiac over ANY disease? I can?t believe people get upset by this? It is 100% manageable. You eliminate gluten and your symptoms go away! It is also a VALID excuse to keep you healthy and eating the RIGHT foods.

FYD: For those who have Celiac disease, have gone gluten free, but are still experiencing symptoms, check out some strategies you can implement here.

5. FYD: What inspires you?

NJ: Being the exception. Anything that challenges me to be the exception to the rule inspires me. I like to be proof that age, hardships, excuses can ALL be overcome with the right mind set. I am inspired by people that continually demonstrate this.

6. FYD: If you had one piece of advice for our readers, one take-home message, what would it be?

NJ: It is NEVER anyone else?s fault. Be accountable and find solutions always. No matter what cards you are dealt it is YOUR choice how you handle the situation, how you feel about it and what you do with it.

7. FYD: Is there anything that you would like to promote? Please tell us about your website, blog and any products and services you offer.

NJ: Any of my weight loss programs that are available on my blog! ALL of my programs are gluten free (Except my vegetarian Jump Start)

FYD: For those of you who are interested in Natalie Jill’s weight loss programs you can view all the details right now

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