Friday, October 2, 2009

The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide

This is not apart of the Banned Books Week book blogs.

Having Celiac's Disease (although unofficially tested) I have been craving something that is informative to read yet comforting. A book where I can feel as if someone is relating to my health problems and sympathizing all the while guiding me in what to do.

Celiac's Disease effects 1 of 133 people and isn't very well known. The disease is an allergy to gluten which is a composite of proteins that are found in such things as wheat, barley, and rye. Basically your cereal, bread, cookies, and pasta are filled with gluten. My problem is that my body attacks itself when I ingest gluten leaving me very sick.

Celiac's disease can effect a number of things in your body. It can cause depression, weight gain or loss, cancer, inflammation of the heart muscles, incredibly horrible stomach pains (I speak from experience), bathroom problems, trouble becoming pregnant, miscarriages, and an assortment of other problems.

The problem is that the majority of people who have the disease don't even realize it. For a full list of symptoms please follow the link and check it out for yourself.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck has suffered from Celiac's disease for years and could not find what was causing all of her symptoms. Doctor visit after doctor visit she was told she had IBS or some deficiency and yet no one tested her for celiac's. It took her 10 years before she was properly diagnosed.

You might know Elisabeth Hasselbeck from Survivor and The View. I'm not a big fan of her views and if I happen to catch The View she tends to annoy me (sorry Ms. Hasselbeck!) however I have to support her for writing this book.

I have suffered from the symptoms of celiac's disease for two years now and it is something that runs in my family. I've gone to doctors in continuous attempts to be diagnosed with celiac's but due to lack of knowledge of celiac's a lot of doctors simply refuse to do the test. The average amount of time it takes for a person to be properly diagnosed with celiac's is 10 years while in Europe it's only 1 year.

Taking control of my health and deciding to take gluten out of my life is a hard decision. I am 25% Italian and live off of bread and pasta. I love to bake and make many different cookies, cakes, and breads for fun and I love to taste them. Without gluten I would not be able to necessarily eat these, only substituted versions made from rice flour (for example). But feeling sick for two years is a long time. Being afraid to go places in case I'd have an attack is a lot to deal with. It's life hindering and evasive.

However, I've decided to start a new year off with a new diet come January. I will be taking gluten out of my life and seeing how it goes. I've gone gluten free twice in the past two years, both for as little as 2-3 weeks at a time before I succumbed to temptation and had gluten again. Both times I lost incredible amounts of weight and felt better then I had felt in years. This is simply something I need to do.

But I figured I wanted guidance and assurance that this is something I need to do before I actually do it. I've read a couple of gluten free 'handbooks' before and they've never convinced me much to stay gluten free. I usually brush them off and got bored quickly due to the ongoing slew of medical and food terms. But The G-Free diet was somehow different.

Elisabeth has a real voice and that comforting feeling comes through that here is someone who has gone through the same pain as myself. She includes lists of restaurants, beauty merchandise, and food companies that are gluten free or make it easy to see what products they contain. This in itself was amazing and incredibly helpful for me. Now I have a list of restaurants that have gluten free menus and many are near my home!

The book is incredibly helpful and informative for me and I hope for others who are diagnosed with celiac's disease or simply interested in removing gluten from their diets. I'm even urging my parents to both read the book so that they too can come to a better understanding as to why I need to remove gluten from my life and how we can do just that. I know that come January I will be using this book again and again as a reference guide.


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