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{"id":993802158127,"title":"Neval Gördük, Gluten-free Athlete in Istanbul, Turkey","handle":"neval-gorduk-gluten-free-athlete-in-istanbul-turkey","description":"\u003ch2\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003ePlease tell us your name and where you live?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eMy name is \u003cstrong\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.instagram.com\/nevallina\/\" target=\"_blank\" rel=\"noopener noreferrer\"\u003eNeval Gördük\u003c\/a\u003e\u003c\/strong\u003e, and I am based in Istanbul, Turkey.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003eDo you eat gluten-free? Why do you eat this way? Do you have Celiac Disease or a Gluten-Intolerance? If yes, when were you diagnosed?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eAs of today, I have not eaten any gluten products since November 2017. In September 2017, after competing in the great Ultra-Running, my body and my head needed much rest. I think that the accumulation of intense training periods, bouts of intense stress, both professionally and personally, have triggered in my body a reaction to foods containing gluten. At first, I did not understand what was happening to me. I had a sudden increase in blood pressure even though I maintain a healthy lifestyle.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eBeing a high-level athlete for more than 20 years, I have always done, since the beginning of my sports career, paid much attention to my diet and I have listened to my body. That's why I did not understand at all what was happening to me. The symptoms were similar to hypoglycemia.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe first doctor I consulted with, diagnosed me with hypoglycemia. I did much research on diets. This was the beginning of a two-month period filled with doubts, research, and endless tests until the doctor stated I could be negatively reacting to gluten. After a panel of tests, my doctor confirmed that I am not entirely celiac, but that I have a severe intolerance to gluten. Since that day on \u003cspan\u003eNovember 17, 2017\u003c\/span\u003e, I have removed all foods containing gluten.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e \u003cimg src=\"\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0027\/9796\/1263\/files\/20160929_1649_large.jpg?v=1540178416\" alt=\"\"\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003eWhen did you make the transition to eat gluten-free?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\nAs of November 2017, I totally changed my diet. I started by removing from my kitchen cupboards all products containing gluten (and they were many). I bought lots of new cookbooks on the subject, and since then I have been cooking gluten-free.\u003cbr\u003e\n\u003ch2\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003eDo you have any other food allergies?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eI thought no, but after doing the whole set of tests to understand what was happening to me, the doctor also told me that I was also sensitive to products containing lactose. In fact, since I was young, I was not a fan of milk products. I thought it was a matter of taste, but now with hindsight, I realize that my body had already rejected most products containing lactose because of this intolerance. I think our body instinctively sorts out what is good or bad for us; we just have to listen to it.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003eDoes your family eat gluten-free, too? Does your life partner eat gluten-free, too? Do your family and friends understand of your gluten-free lifestyle?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eMy family and my relatives understood and try to help me. Among my friends or more generally by the people around me, the reactions were sometimes surprising. There were those who were looking for information on the internet and who understood that it was a difficult situation, and very often, they were sharing with me their discoveries (interesting sites, recipes, etc ...), and then there were others who thought I was going gluten-free on a whim, just to create a buzz, as a marketing tool. I admit that some reactions baffled me, but somewhere it also allowed me to sort out the people that I thought were my friends.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cimg src=\"\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0027\/9796\/1263\/files\/neval_large.jpg?v=1540178607\" alt=\"\"\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e \u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003eYou are an athlete, yes? What kind of athlete? Do you teach classes? Do you participate in competitions?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eI am a professional athlete (triathlon, ultrarunning), and I also work for ASICS Turkey as a running and strength coach and also doing Personal Training.\u003cbr\u003e\u003cbr\u003eFrom the beginning of my sports career, I was passionate about triathlon. I was working at the same time as a sports teacher in schools\/fitness centers, and I was using my free time for my workouts. After several years of competitions, I finally became a two-time triathlon Champion in Turkey in 2013 and 2014.\u003cbr\u003e\u003cbr\u003eThen I needed a new challenge, and since running came naturally because of my triathlon training, I started preparing for Ultra Running. I started with small distances (5\/10\/15kms) where I was able to compete with the best, and it motivated me to try harder races and longer distances. This is how I entered the world of Ultra Running. I also won major races in Turkey (Cappadocia Ultra, Likya Ultra,…) and attended to the world’s most famous ultrarunning race, the UTMB.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003eHow has living a gluten-free life helped your athletic performance?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eMy gluten intolerance gave me the opportunity to review my entire diet before, during, and after a competition. I remembered my weak blood levels before my diagnosis, including my hematocrit level, iron, and other levels needed for optimization of athletic performance. Because my competition results were successful, I didn't bother with any more testing.\u003cbr\u003e\u003cbr\u003eHowever, I was often having stomach discomfort during races, because like most athletes before a competition, I ate a lot of slow sugars, usually pasta. I was mistakingly contributing any stomach discomfort to stress related to the competition.\u003cbr\u003e\u003cbr\u003eSince then, I realized I was completely wrong, and I researched a lot about sport and nutrition, and I adapted it to my gluten intolerance, and my blood results from then showed many improvements in my weak levels and consequently, my performance increased. Since changing my diet, I've had incredible success!\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e \u003cimg src=\"\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0027\/9796\/1263\/files\/P1030195_large.JPG?v=1540178674\" alt=\"\"\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003eHave you heard of other professional athletes living a gluten-free lifestyle?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\nAmong those I know, I am the only athlete with gluten intolerance in my discipline and the only one to live a GF lifestyle.\u003cbr\u003e\n\u003ch2\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003eWhat is the gluten-free scene like in Turkey? Is GF food commonly available for you?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eIt is quite difficult to find gluten-free products in Turkey, unfortunately, and when we find some, they are quite expensive. For now, the best way to find some GF food is to do it yourself.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cimg src=\"\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0027\/9796\/1263\/files\/ONUR4648_large.jpg?v=1540178269\" alt=\"\"\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003eDo you cook gluten-free meals for yourself, or do you have access to GF foods via restaurant or delivery?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eI am cooking most of the time my own GF meals. I'm even sharing on my own social media my recipes (bread, GF athlete food, ...).\u003cbr\u003e\u003cbr\u003eActually, this is how my other Instagram account, \u003cstrong\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.instagram.com\/nevallinakitchen\/\" target=\"_blank\" rel=\"noopener noreferrer\"\u003e@nevallinakitchen\u003c\/a\u003e\u003c\/strong\u003e, was born. After these shares, many people got in touch with me. We exchange ideas, recipes, and specialized websites, and many of my followers began to adopt this style of nutrition.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003eIn your opinion, which restaurant (or bakery) in Turkey has the best GF menu? What is your favorite GF dish or pastry at this location?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThere aren't any 100% gluten-free restaurants, but in Kadikoy, there is ÇİYA MUTFAĞI where you can find typical Turkish cuisine with spices from every region with a lot of GF meals options. GRANDMA NİŞANTAŞI or GRANDPA BEBEK are two small restaurants with a rich kitchen where you can light meals and GF products. These are the place I use to go whenever I can not cook myself, cause I know I can find something GF and good!\u003cbr\u003e\u003cbr\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cimg src=\"\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0027\/9796\/1263\/files\/20160928_361_large.jpg?v=1540179921\" alt=\"\"\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003eDo you travel often? Have you experienced GF food in other countries? Which country? Which GF foods did you enjoy the most?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eI'm often traveling within Turkey to attend the races mostly, so I haven't traveled abroad since I was diagnosed with a Gluten Intolerance. Unfortunately, I haven't yet been able to try gluten-free foods in other countries.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e \u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003eWhat other information do you want to share with our readers? For example: Do you have any future sporting events? Any future travel plans?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eSince learning about my Gluten Intolerance, I re-discovered the art of cooking. As I love to eat, I am transforming many traditional recipes into traditional GF meals.  This intolerance forced me to improve my diet and my athletic performance. Sometimes what may seem like a weakness can turn into a strength.\u003cbr\u003e\u003cbr\u003eI am now 38 years old, and when I think back to those bad times that I lived a few months back, I remember that I thought it was the end of my sports career, whereas today I want to do triathlons competition again and even do a full ironman before I reach 40 years old. I already started my training to achieve my new goal!\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eFor more information on Neval and her recipes, be sure to check out \u003cstrong\u003e\u003ca href=\"http:\/\/www.nevallina.com\/\" target=\"_blank\" rel=\"noopener noreferrer\"\u003eher website\u003c\/a\u003e\u003c\/strong\u003e!\u003c\/p\u003e","published_at":"2018-10-21T19:48:50-07:00","created_at":"2018-10-21T19:51:28-07:00","vendor":"GlutenfreeGlobalicious Magazine","type":"Spotlight Interview","tags":["GF Nutrition","Gluten-free","Gluten-free Europe","Gluten-free Food","Gluten-free Health","Gluten-free Istanbul","Gluten-free Travel","Gluten-free Turkey","GlutenfreeGlobalicious","GlutenfreeGlobalicious Interviews","GlutenfreeGlobalicious Magazine"],"price":0,"price_min":0,"price_max":0,"available":true,"price_varies":false,"compare_at_price":0,"compare_at_price_min":0,"compare_at_price_max":0,"compare_at_price_varies":false,"variants":[{"id":9562061439023,"title":"Default Title","option1":"Default Title","option2":null,"option3":null,"sku":"","requires_shipping":true,"taxable":true,"featured_image":null,"available":true,"name":"Neval Gördük, Gluten-free Athlete in Istanbul, Turkey","public_title":null,"options":["Default Title"],"price":0,"weight":0,"compare_at_price":0,"inventory_management":"shopify","barcode":""}],"images":["\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0027\/9796\/1263\/products\/neval2.jpg?v=1543964049"],"featured_image":"\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0027\/9796\/1263\/products\/neval2.jpg?v=1543964049","options":["Title"],"content":"\u003ch2\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003ePlease tell us your name and where you live?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eMy name is \u003cstrong\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.instagram.com\/nevallina\/\" target=\"_blank\" rel=\"noopener noreferrer\"\u003eNeval Gördük\u003c\/a\u003e\u003c\/strong\u003e, and I am based in Istanbul, Turkey.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003eDo you eat gluten-free? Why do you eat this way? Do you have Celiac Disease or a Gluten-Intolerance? If yes, when were you diagnosed?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eAs of today, I have not eaten any gluten products since November 2017. In September 2017, after competing in the great Ultra-Running, my body and my head needed much rest. I think that the accumulation of intense training periods, bouts of intense stress, both professionally and personally, have triggered in my body a reaction to foods containing gluten. At first, I did not understand what was happening to me. I had a sudden increase in blood pressure even though I maintain a healthy lifestyle.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eBeing a high-level athlete for more than 20 years, I have always done, since the beginning of my sports career, paid much attention to my diet and I have listened to my body. That's why I did not understand at all what was happening to me. The symptoms were similar to hypoglycemia.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe first doctor I consulted with, diagnosed me with hypoglycemia. I did much research on diets. This was the beginning of a two-month period filled with doubts, research, and endless tests until the doctor stated I could be negatively reacting to gluten. After a panel of tests, my doctor confirmed that I am not entirely celiac, but that I have a severe intolerance to gluten. Since that day on \u003cspan\u003eNovember 17, 2017\u003c\/span\u003e, I have removed all foods containing gluten.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e \u003cimg src=\"\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0027\/9796\/1263\/files\/20160929_1649_large.jpg?v=1540178416\" alt=\"\"\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003eWhen did you make the transition to eat gluten-free?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\nAs of November 2017, I totally changed my diet. I started by removing from my kitchen cupboards all products containing gluten (and they were many). I bought lots of new cookbooks on the subject, and since then I have been cooking gluten-free.\u003cbr\u003e\n\u003ch2\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003eDo you have any other food allergies?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eI thought no, but after doing the whole set of tests to understand what was happening to me, the doctor also told me that I was also sensitive to products containing lactose. In fact, since I was young, I was not a fan of milk products. I thought it was a matter of taste, but now with hindsight, I realize that my body had already rejected most products containing lactose because of this intolerance. I think our body instinctively sorts out what is good or bad for us; we just have to listen to it.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003eDoes your family eat gluten-free, too? Does your life partner eat gluten-free, too? Do your family and friends understand of your gluten-free lifestyle?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eMy family and my relatives understood and try to help me. Among my friends or more generally by the people around me, the reactions were sometimes surprising. There were those who were looking for information on the internet and who understood that it was a difficult situation, and very often, they were sharing with me their discoveries (interesting sites, recipes, etc ...), and then there were others who thought I was going gluten-free on a whim, just to create a buzz, as a marketing tool. I admit that some reactions baffled me, but somewhere it also allowed me to sort out the people that I thought were my friends.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cimg src=\"\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0027\/9796\/1263\/files\/neval_large.jpg?v=1540178607\" alt=\"\"\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e \u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003eYou are an athlete, yes? What kind of athlete? Do you teach classes? Do you participate in competitions?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eI am a professional athlete (triathlon, ultrarunning), and I also work for ASICS Turkey as a running and strength coach and also doing Personal Training.\u003cbr\u003e\u003cbr\u003eFrom the beginning of my sports career, I was passionate about triathlon. I was working at the same time as a sports teacher in schools\/fitness centers, and I was using my free time for my workouts. After several years of competitions, I finally became a two-time triathlon Champion in Turkey in 2013 and 2014.\u003cbr\u003e\u003cbr\u003eThen I needed a new challenge, and since running came naturally because of my triathlon training, I started preparing for Ultra Running. I started with small distances (5\/10\/15kms) where I was able to compete with the best, and it motivated me to try harder races and longer distances. This is how I entered the world of Ultra Running. I also won major races in Turkey (Cappadocia Ultra, Likya Ultra,…) and attended to the world’s most famous ultrarunning race, the UTMB.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003eHow has living a gluten-free life helped your athletic performance?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eMy gluten intolerance gave me the opportunity to review my entire diet before, during, and after a competition. I remembered my weak blood levels before my diagnosis, including my hematocrit level, iron, and other levels needed for optimization of athletic performance. Because my competition results were successful, I didn't bother with any more testing.\u003cbr\u003e\u003cbr\u003eHowever, I was often having stomach discomfort during races, because like most athletes before a competition, I ate a lot of slow sugars, usually pasta. I was mistakingly contributing any stomach discomfort to stress related to the competition.\u003cbr\u003e\u003cbr\u003eSince then, I realized I was completely wrong, and I researched a lot about sport and nutrition, and I adapted it to my gluten intolerance, and my blood results from then showed many improvements in my weak levels and consequently, my performance increased. Since changing my diet, I've had incredible success!\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e \u003cimg src=\"\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0027\/9796\/1263\/files\/P1030195_large.JPG?v=1540178674\" alt=\"\"\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003eHave you heard of other professional athletes living a gluten-free lifestyle?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\nAmong those I know, I am the only athlete with gluten intolerance in my discipline and the only one to live a GF lifestyle.\u003cbr\u003e\n\u003ch2\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003eWhat is the gluten-free scene like in Turkey? Is GF food commonly available for you?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eIt is quite difficult to find gluten-free products in Turkey, unfortunately, and when we find some, they are quite expensive. For now, the best way to find some GF food is to do it yourself.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cimg src=\"\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0027\/9796\/1263\/files\/ONUR4648_large.jpg?v=1540178269\" alt=\"\"\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003eDo you cook gluten-free meals for yourself, or do you have access to GF foods via restaurant or delivery?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eI am cooking most of the time my own GF meals. I'm even sharing on my own social media my recipes (bread, GF athlete food, ...).\u003cbr\u003e\u003cbr\u003eActually, this is how my other Instagram account, \u003cstrong\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.instagram.com\/nevallinakitchen\/\" target=\"_blank\" rel=\"noopener noreferrer\"\u003e@nevallinakitchen\u003c\/a\u003e\u003c\/strong\u003e, was born. After these shares, many people got in touch with me. We exchange ideas, recipes, and specialized websites, and many of my followers began to adopt this style of nutrition.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003eIn your opinion, which restaurant (or bakery) in Turkey has the best GF menu? What is your favorite GF dish or pastry at this location?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThere aren't any 100% gluten-free restaurants, but in Kadikoy, there is ÇİYA MUTFAĞI where you can find typical Turkish cuisine with spices from every region with a lot of GF meals options. GRANDMA NİŞANTAŞI or GRANDPA BEBEK are two small restaurants with a rich kitchen where you can light meals and GF products. These are the place I use to go whenever I can not cook myself, cause I know I can find something GF and good!\u003cbr\u003e\u003cbr\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cimg src=\"\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0027\/9796\/1263\/files\/20160928_361_large.jpg?v=1540179921\" alt=\"\"\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003eDo you travel often? Have you experienced GF food in other countries? Which country? Which GF foods did you enjoy the most?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eI'm often traveling within Turkey to attend the races mostly, so I haven't traveled abroad since I was diagnosed with a Gluten Intolerance. Unfortunately, I haven't yet been able to try gluten-free foods in other countries.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e \u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003eWhat other information do you want to share with our readers? For example: Do you have any future sporting events? Any future travel plans?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eSince learning about my Gluten Intolerance, I re-discovered the art of cooking. As I love to eat, I am transforming many traditional recipes into traditional GF meals.  This intolerance forced me to improve my diet and my athletic performance. Sometimes what may seem like a weakness can turn into a strength.\u003cbr\u003e\u003cbr\u003eI am now 38 years old, and when I think back to those bad times that I lived a few months back, I remember that I thought it was the end of my sports career, whereas today I want to do triathlons competition again and even do a full ironman before I reach 40 years old. I already started my training to achieve my new goal!\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eFor more information on Neval and her recipes, be sure to check out \u003cstrong\u003e\u003ca href=\"http:\/\/www.nevallina.com\/\" target=\"_blank\" rel=\"noopener noreferrer\"\u003eher website\u003c\/a\u003e\u003c\/strong\u003e!\u003c\/p\u003e"}

Neval Gördük, Gluten-free Athlete in Istanbul, Turkey

Please tell us your name and where you live?

My name is Neval Gördük, and I am based in Istanbul, Turkey.

Do you eat gluten-free? Why do you eat this way? Do you have Celiac Disease or a Gluten-Intolerance? If yes, when were you diagnosed?

As of today, I have not eaten any gluten products since November 2017. In September 2017, after competing in the great Ultra-Running, my body and my head needed much rest. I think that the accumulation of intense training periods, bouts of intense stress, both professionally and personally, have triggered in my body a reaction to foods containing gluten. At first, I did not understand what was happening to me. I had a sudden increase in blood pressure even though I maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Being a high-level athlete for more than 20 years, I have always done, since the beginning of my sports career, paid much attention to my diet and I have listened to my body. That's why I did not understand at all what was happening to me. The symptoms were similar to hypoglycemia.

The first doctor I consulted with, diagnosed me with hypoglycemia. I did much research on diets. This was the beginning of a two-month period filled with doubts, research, and endless tests until the doctor stated I could be negatively reacting to gluten. After a panel of tests, my doctor confirmed that I am not entirely celiac, but that I have a severe intolerance to gluten. Since that day on November 17, 2017, I have removed all foods containing gluten.

 

When did you make the transition to eat gluten-free?

As of November 2017, I totally changed my diet. I started by removing from my kitchen cupboards all products containing gluten (and they were many). I bought lots of new cookbooks on the subject, and since then I have been cooking gluten-free.

Do you have any other food allergies?

I thought no, but after doing the whole set of tests to understand what was happening to me, the doctor also told me that I was also sensitive to products containing lactose. In fact, since I was young, I was not a fan of milk products. I thought it was a matter of taste, but now with hindsight, I realize that my body had already rejected most products containing lactose because of this intolerance. I think our body instinctively sorts out what is good or bad for us; we just have to listen to it.

Does your family eat gluten-free, too? Does your life partner eat gluten-free, too? Do your family and friends understand of your gluten-free lifestyle?

My family and my relatives understood and try to help me. Among my friends or more generally by the people around me, the reactions were sometimes surprising. There were those who were looking for information on the internet and who understood that it was a difficult situation, and very often, they were sharing with me their discoveries (interesting sites, recipes, etc ...), and then there were others who thought I was going gluten-free on a whim, just to create a buzz, as a marketing tool. I admit that some reactions baffled me, but somewhere it also allowed me to sort out the people that I thought were my friends.

 

You are an athlete, yes? What kind of athlete? Do you teach classes? Do you participate in competitions?

I am a professional athlete (triathlon, ultrarunning), and I also work for ASICS Turkey as a running and strength coach and also doing Personal Training.

From the beginning of my sports career, I was passionate about triathlon. I was working at the same time as a sports teacher in schools/fitness centers, and I was using my free time for my workouts. After several years of competitions, I finally became a two-time triathlon Champion in Turkey in 2013 and 2014.

Then I needed a new challenge, and since running came naturally because of my triathlon training, I started preparing for Ultra Running. I started with small distances (5/10/15kms) where I was able to compete with the best, and it motivated me to try harder races and longer distances. This is how I entered the world of Ultra Running. I also won major races in Turkey (Cappadocia Ultra, Likya Ultra,…) and attended to the world’s most famous ultrarunning race, the UTMB.

How has living a gluten-free life helped your athletic performance?

My gluten intolerance gave me the opportunity to review my entire diet before, during, and after a competition. I remembered my weak blood levels before my diagnosis, including my hematocrit level, iron, and other levels needed for optimization of athletic performance. Because my competition results were successful, I didn't bother with any more testing.

However, I was often having stomach discomfort during races, because like most athletes before a competition, I ate a lot of slow sugars, usually pasta. I was mistakingly contributing any stomach discomfort to stress related to the competition.

Since then, I realized I was completely wrong, and I researched a lot about sport and nutrition, and I adapted it to my gluten intolerance, and my blood results from then showed many improvements in my weak levels and consequently, my performance increased. Since changing my diet, I've had incredible success!

 

Have you heard of other professional athletes living a gluten-free lifestyle?

Among those I know, I am the only athlete with gluten intolerance in my discipline and the only one to live a GF lifestyle.

What is the gluten-free scene like in Turkey? Is GF food commonly available for you?

It is quite difficult to find gluten-free products in Turkey, unfortunately, and when we find some, they are quite expensive. For now, the best way to find some GF food is to do it yourself.

Do you cook gluten-free meals for yourself, or do you have access to GF foods via restaurant or delivery?

I am cooking most of the time my own GF meals. I'm even sharing on my own social media my recipes (bread, GF athlete food, ...).

Actually, this is how my other Instagram account, @nevallinakitchen, was born. After these shares, many people got in touch with me. We exchange ideas, recipes, and specialized websites, and many of my followers began to adopt this style of nutrition.

In your opinion, which restaurant (or bakery) in Turkey has the best GF menu? What is your favorite GF dish or pastry at this location?

There aren't any 100% gluten-free restaurants, but in Kadikoy, there is ÇİYA MUTFAĞI where you can find typical Turkish cuisine with spices from every region with a lot of GF meals options. GRANDMA NİŞANTAŞI or GRANDPA BEBEK are two small restaurants with a rich kitchen where you can light meals and GF products. These are the place I use to go whenever I can not cook myself, cause I know I can find something GF and good!

Do you travel often? Have you experienced GF food in other countries? Which country? Which GF foods did you enjoy the most?

I'm often traveling within Turkey to attend the races mostly, so I haven't traveled abroad since I was diagnosed with a Gluten Intolerance. Unfortunately, I haven't yet been able to try gluten-free foods in other countries.

 

What other information do you want to share with our readers? For example: Do you have any future sporting events? Any future travel plans?

Since learning about my Gluten Intolerance, I re-discovered the art of cooking. As I love to eat, I am transforming many traditional recipes into traditional GF meals.  This intolerance forced me to improve my diet and my athletic performance. Sometimes what may seem like a weakness can turn into a strength.

I am now 38 years old, and when I think back to those bad times that I lived a few months back, I remember that I thought it was the end of my sports career, whereas today I want to do triathlons competition again and even do a full ironman before I reach 40 years old. I already started my training to achieve my new goal!

For more information on Neval and her recipes, be sure to check out her website!

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