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August 4, 2023

Ariarne Titmus’s Gluten Free Journey to World Record and Gold

“It’s been challenging when dining out or socialising; I once had to stick to plain white rice, baby tomatoes, and fried eggs for 10 days to avoid gluten. But it worked — I became world champion for the first time!”

Today, we’re celebrating the incredible Ariarne Titmus, who recently reclaimed her world record and snatched that gold in the 400m freestyle at the World Aquatics Championships.

In honour of her achievement, let’s dive back into Ariarne’s chat with Luke Darcy from House of Wellness*, a few months ago. They discuss her gluten free journey and how she conquered accidental gluten woes while achieving world champion status. 🥇

Luke Darcy: You’ve achieved so much at such a young age growing up in Tasmania, the most unlikely place in the world to develop a world champion swimmer. How did that happen?

Ariarne Titmus: Always had pools in the backyard — don’t know why with the weather! But I was always swimming and decided to signup for a local swimming club when I was seven.

It was the same time the Beijing Olympics were on, and I saw Stephanie Rice win three golds. Being new into swimming, I was like, “That’s gonna be me”. That’s where it started, and I loved it more than anything.

LD: You’ve come in an era of swimming where you’ve got extraordinary rivals. You can’t mention Arnie without Katie Ledecky. You’ve greatly respected your opponents and never seen them as anything apart from good for you. Is that still the case?

AT: Yeah, certainly. Katie kind of paved the way for women’s swimming. I learnt from how she raced and tried to transition that into my swimming.

With competitors, when I’m behind the blocks, certainly, they are my competitor.

But as soon as the race is over, I look to them as the person they are because I value that more than who they are as athletes. I hope people will see the same with me too!

LD: Clearly, diet is a huge part of your life. You need to be strict being an athlete and a professional. Then you add a food intolerance and find out you are gluten free. Can you tell us about that journey for you?

AT: It has been challenging, especially as an athlete, to eat specifically for training and fuel as best as I can.

The tiniest bit of gluten can cause me to become quite bloated and fatigued. That’s challenging as a swimmer in the pool in togs, and you don’t want to look like that as well! But for me, I think it’s better to avoid it altogether and feel a lot better within myself.

LD: Most people think don’t have pasta or bread but there’s gluten in hidden things you don’t realise. How challenging has that been for you to stay healthy and train well?

AT: I think it’s one thing to try and avoid for training. But you and I also do other things like go out and socialise. That’s probably the most challenging part, especially eating out in restaurants. A meal may say it’s gluten free, but there still might be a bit of cross-contamination in the kitchen.

There’s one incident when we had the World Championships in Korea in 2019. We were staying in a village, and there was a lot of food that had sauces and was deep fried, and I was just too scared to touch anything. So I was living off plain white rice, baby tomatoes and fried eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 10 days straight. It worked – I became a world champion for the first time!

But it’s times like that when it can be quite challenging, and you don’t want to risk accidentally consuming it. So you avoid anything that could contain gluten.

LD: Congratulations on partnering with GluteGuard to raise awareness for a lot of people living with a gluten free diet and the stress of going to restaurants or being away from home. Tell us about why you’re so passionate about it.

AT: Yeah, there’s a lot of us. One in four Australians live with a gluten free diet¹, which is much more common than I realised. GluteGuard is the only clinically proven product you can get that is shown to protect against the symptoms of accidental gluten ingestion².

I think for a lot of people out there that are gluten free, it means they can live without the stress of the symptoms of gluten. Go out with their friends, go on holidays, go travelling.

In my case, I train the best I can without worrying about gluten interfering with my life.

Ariarne Titmus BTS - Sqaure

LD: World Championships are coming up. Is there a moment when you think this is getting hard or do you still love it?

AT: There are always days when you wish you could roll back over and go back to sleep. But no, I still love it and have the passion for it! People have asked me, ‘You’ve achieved everything on paper that you would have wanted to achieve in your sport. Like, why are you still swimming?’

I feel within myself that I have more to give. I come from a town of 90,000 people in Tasmania. Now I’m here living this incredible life and swimming on the world stage. I think it’s cool to see kids grow up with a dream and know they can do that too, if they work for it.

Dive into gluten free goodness with the full House of Wellness interview here, and for more tips, insights, and recipes to enhance your gluten free journey, explore our Community page.

*Paid partnership. GluteGuard helps protect those with medically diagnosed gluten sensitivity from symptoms of accidental gluten ingestion. Always read the label and follow the directions for use.

1. Potter M et al; Med J Aust. 2020 Feb;212(3):126-131.

2. Cornell JH et al. 2016 IJCD Vol. 4, No 2 p:40-47. Zebrowska A et al. 2014 IJCD Vol. 2, No 2 p:58-63. These clinical studies were funded by Glutagen Pty Ltd. 

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