5 Questions with Rebecca Black of Pretty Little Celiac

rebecca black

I had the pleasure of interviewing Rebecca Black of Pretty Little Celiac this month and she has some great insights on health and wellbeing. Rebecca’s experience with Celiac Disease will encourage and enlighten you.


Celiac Disease has become more and more prevalent here in the U.S. Is it a trend that can be reversed naturally?

Celiac can’t be reversed but the symptoms are manageable with a strict gluten-free diet. Diagnosing celiac is such a huge problem for our country and after attending the International Celiac Disease Symposium in Chicago this year, I learned how much other countries are ahead of us in researching and treating the disease. Celiac disease has been around for a long time but no one can really pin point why it is becoming more prevalent. There are many theories and possibilities but there really isn’t a firm answer to the question. I am interested to see what medical and research advances come our way in the next 5 years. But, I can say the only way to truly manage celiac disease is to maintain a gluten free diet. If you are absolutely 100% positive you are maintaining a gluten free diet but still continue to struggle with other symptoms, it might be time to look into other issues that may be occurring. Unfortunately, other auto-immune diseases hang out together and it is likely that another could be causing you distress.

How are you helping people get control of their physical wellbeing?

One of the things I preach the most is being educated about your own condition and going into doctor’s appointments armed with information. Being able to clearly describe your symptoms and history, only helps the doctor accurately diagnose you. Being educated also helps when you have people trying to challenge your diagnosis or choice to live gluten-free. The people who say “Oh, a bite won’t kill you” are less likely to continue to badger you if you explain how the disease affects your body.

I keep a running document on my computer of my medical history. It includes dates of diagnoses, test results, inaccurate diagnoses, prescription and non prescription medication, dates of last appointments and tests along with all of the previous doctor’s information. We just moved out of state and I’m now in the process of finding all new doctors. This document is a time saver and a life saver in the doctor’s office because I can clearly and quickly give my medical history. This leaves more time to talk about my current issues, tests to be ordered and any other concerns that might be going on. Every single doctor appreciated the document and said it was extremely helpful to review prior to the appointment. I’m an advocate for self-advocacy!

I had a friend who told me she believed the obesity problem in the developed world is more mental than physical. Do you think our view (mental and emotional) of food is distorted? 

Oh man! What a hot topic! Obesity, weight loss, major diet changes/restrictions are all very mentally taxing. These are things people struggle with over a lifetime and it’s only a matter of time for it to take a toll on our mental health. But, when we forget about that component and focus only on the physical aspect, we are bound to fail. It takes a strong and determined person to say enough is enough and really try to make conscious changes to improve their life. I just wish more people understood how psychologically challenging it really can be.

I have so many experiences on this coming from a child welfare, fitness and gluten-free back ground. I could spend all day talking to you on my thoughts of obesity. I absolutely believe our relationship with food in this country is distorted, just like our relationship with our bodies. We’ve been brainwashed by marketing companies and the FDA to believe everything in the grocery store is safe and perfectly okay to eat. We see models on magazines and on social media posting about how awesome their lives because they use ‘xyz’ products. The cycle of processed and cheap junk food starts as a child and continues on into adulthood.

While there certainly are medical conditions that can cause weight gain and obesity, we have to sit down and really think about the fundamentals of our diet. We are so focused on quick and easy that we forget many of those ingredients aren’t meant for our body. Some of our bodies don’t process the artificial ingredients and “food like” substances as well as others. But, the companies make compelling arguments to make us believe their food is safe and not the cause of health problems. It really isn’t until people stop consuming those foods and start to feel better that it finally clicks. Not only does their body feel better, but their minds start to understand the changes.

Have any tasty recipes you’d like to share?

Speaking of fast food and food issues, I loved Chick Fil-A’s chicken nuggets prior to going gluten free so I decided top play around with a recipe and create my own. They didn’t taste exactly the same, but they were close!

Gluten-Free Chick-fil-a Style Chicken Nuggets


3 Free Range Chicken Breasts

3/4 cup of dill pickle juice

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of pepper

1 teaspoon of garlic salt

2 Eggs

1 cup of lactose free milk

1 cup of Gluten Free Flour

1/2 cup of Peanut oil

How to cook:

1.Clean chicken and cut chicken into small cubes.

2.Marinate:  combine pickle juice, milk and eggs.  Shake in some salt and pepper or substitute.

Place cubed chicken into marinate and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.

3. Add flour, salt and pepper, garlic salt into plastic bag.  Put cube chicken into bag.  Shake until chicken is covered.  If small bag, you can do this multiple times.

4. Heat peanut oil in frying pan, on medium to medium high.  Wait until oil is hot, and place layer a chicken in the pan.  Heat 3 to 4 minutes on each side.  The longer on each side the crisper the nuggets.

5. Place finished nuggets on paper towel to soak up excess oil.

6. Salt and pepper to taste.

 Change is a disruptor, what’s your advice on managing the process associated?

Change is inevitable in our lives but over time certain skills can help manage the process more effectively and successfully. When I was first diagnosed with celiac disease, the last few years finally started to make sense but I wasn’t willing to accept all of the changes I needed to make. It was overwhelming. Looking back on that experience, I believe everyone can benefit from 2 major things when it comes to change.

1. Take time to grieve the loss, especially if it is a major change. Even a positive change needs time to process. We can’t expect for everything to be okay over night. We recently moved out of state for a wonderful reason, but I still struggled with the major change. I needed to stop and spend some time being okay with the sadness. It’s a normal process!

2. Write out your journey. I started Pretty Little Celiac out of a mental health necessity after my diagnosis. I needed way to process my thoughts and this was the perfect outlet. I chose to throw myself into education and helping others along with journaling my experiences. I’m so happy I did! But, you don’t have to share your adventures with the world, a journal would be just as efficient but much more private. It’s also neat to go back and look at the space you were in and how far you’ve come (or not).

Of course everyone has their own individual way of coping with change and I think both of these suggestions can fit into any method you already use. The problem is usually taking your mind outside of the current experience and seeing it from a neutral perspective. That’s always the most challenge part of processing change and that’s why I think writing or journaling is the perfect way  to start that process.


Rebecca Black is one of the leading health and fitness experts in central Ohio and built a brand appealing to all demographics aspiring to lead a healthy lifestyle by using fun and customized approaches to health and fitness.  Every week she motivates the thousands of followers she gathered on her personal blog, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, as well as at her fitness studio, Bexa Body Fitness.  Bexa Body Fitness is a premier fitness studio located in Westerville, Ohio

How I Manage My Health

With a title like How I Manage My Health, you might wonder how broad I'm going here. Not very. I will keep this post confined to the physical, nutritional and how to engage with the medical community.

I want to give you a sense of how I'm managing my physical health by the following:


  1. I exercise 6 days per week for about 30-45 minutes in each session
  2. I work with weights, I run, I do core strengthening work, and I do yoga. These routines are alternated on opposite days. For example, Monday is running and core work, Tuesday is Yoga, Wednesday is wieght training, etc.
  3. All of my training, with the exception of yoga, is based on high intensity intervals
  4. I rest on Sunday because the Lord rested on Sunday. What's good for him is good for me.
  5. I train alone (no people, no videos, no classes). My friend Rob Banhagel says I'm into the Zen of training. He's right!


  1. I eat organic. I do this for a couple of reasons; it's good for me and I don't trust large corporations like Monsanto who are responsible for much of what's killing our population.
  2. My diet is higher in protein and fat (the good variety). The carbs are not eliminated, but are lower and usually come from fruits and vegatables.
  3. I drink 1-2 glasses of red wine daily with food.
  4. I eat 1-2 ounces of dark chocolate (minimum of 72% Cacao and organic).
  5. I use high quality whey protein shakes as a meal replacement. Usually, the shakes are for post-workout meals.

Now for interacting with the doctor community. As someone with Type 1 diabetes, I have been on a drug (insulin) for 25 years. I've kind-of made a promise to not use any other types of drugs if at all possible. I guess I believe that an all natural approach along with diet and exercise can reduce the chances, significantly, of the need for the pharma candy. So far I have been blessed in this area.

Three years ago, my endocrinologist at the Ohio State University recommended I go on a statin to lower my LDL cholesterol. In the diabetic world physicians like that number to be 100 or lower. My LDL was at 126, my total cholesterol was 187. I'm fortunate to be working with a medical team that acts more like a consultant than a parent, so we went through the dance of them recommending and me telling them I wasn't ready to start taking a statin. I just didn't give up on finding an alternative. In the late Autumn of 2011 I started do high intensity interval training and it made the difference because in April of 2012 my LDL dropped to 101 from 126.

The main point of my story is to, please, be the manager of your health. No doctor, no goverment, no organization was designed to do it for you. This is a "you" opportunity or problem. Another thing to remember is to have a clear understanding of timing and urgency when interacting with the medical community. Not all conditions are equal.

I wrote this post to let you know how I'm living out what I write and to let you know that Epic Living isn't just a title or phrase.

What I Do For Health And Fitness

The following is a typical day in my life relating to my health and fitness:

  • Running, strength training and Yoga (this group rotates depending on the day and goes for an hour)
  • Green tea (cold), oatmeal and coffee
  • Soy/Protein shake with fruit
  • Omelet w/tablespoon of cheese and salsa, soy and flax tortilla chips, flavored water
  • Yogurt wi/walnuts, granola, fruit (berries)
  • Deep breathes (easy to forget)
  • Green tea (cold), almonds
  • Lean meat, spinach and/or salad, some type of complex carb, 1-2 glasses of red wine
  • Dark chocolate
  • Apple

OK, now that I've given you what a day in my health and fitness life looks like, I thought I would give you a list of my weaknesses.  I am human after all.

  • Chocolate (all varieties and applications)
  • Sugar Cookies
  • Apple Crisp
  • Regular tortilla chips
  • Egg Nog
  • Pizza

I do indulge from time-to-time, but the first list is my "everyday habit." 

So why do I bother?  I've been given this gift of life and I want to take care of it.  I also have enough years of totally disregarding my health to know it's important to not take anything for granted.