The G-Free Diet: A gluten-free survival guide
Author: Elisabeth Hasselbeck
Publisher: Center Street a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Copyright: 2009 Elisabeth Hasselbeck Enterprises, LLC
Forward: Peter Green, MD
For years, Elisabeth Hasselbeck couldn’t figure out what was making her sick. She asked doctors and consulted nutritionists, but no one seemed to have any answers. It wasn’t until spending time in the Australian Outback, living off the land on the grueling Survivor TV show, that, ironically, her symptoms vanished. Returning home, she pinpointed the food that made her sick — gluten, the binding element in wheat. By simply eliminating it from her diet, she was able to enjoy a completely normal, healthy life. But that wasn’t all. Hasselbeck discovered the myriad benefits that anyone can enjoy from a gluten-free diet: from weight loss and increased energy to even the alleviation of the conditions of autism.
In this all-inclusive book, Hasselbeck shares her hard-earned wisdom on living life without gluten and loving it. She gives you everything you need to know to start living a gluten-free life, from defining gluten – where to find it, how to read food labels – to targeting gluten-free products, creating G-Free shopping lists, sharing recipes, and managing G-Free living with family and friends.
Her story: definitely worth reading… I had no idea it was so difficult to diagnose. Well, of course we KNOW it is difficult to diagnose and most celiacs go undiagnosed for years, but in Elisabeth’s story, she had doctors – several of them – flat out refuse to TEST her! I was quite appalled. She doesn’t pretend to know all the answers but suggests that the American health care system largely relies on funding by pharmaceuticals, and there are no drugs to treat Celiac Disease, thus, very little pharmaceutical financial involvement in the research of the causes and treatment of the illness. I am glad to be Canadian after reading this.
The Modified Kitchen: I have been running a combined kitchen (both gluten and gluten free items) for a little over 3 years, and I still had a few ideas while reading her “What’s Mine is Yours (Sort of!)” chapter.
“We are all human… After my husband and I put the kids to bed, I want a good snack as much as any other parent… You will be faced with the choice [in the absence of GFree snacks] at this vulnerable moment: either go unsatisfied, or to binge on an unsafe food that will land your stomach in turmoil for the next three days…”
Throughout the book her perspective is very optimistic and helpful. The way she describes the diet it is a very thorough treatment for Celiac Sprue, and also a very doable solution when taken seriously. I really, truly appreciated her take on how to approach your new diet, tips on attitude and how to help the family address your new lifestyle.
“…I have a strict policy against double-dipping – I will have your head if I see any breadcrumbs in my peanut butter or jelly!”
She writes a chapter to the family of the Celiac too, beginning with this:
“…I am not going to lie: You will have to make some sacrifices to protect the health of your G-free guy or gal (GFG)…”
And from here on out, in this chapter, she refers to your gluten-eating family members as GFG’s. She’s got personable and quirky down to an art! I really enjoyed reading it.
I could really relate to this tip in the G-Free Home Cooking Chapter:
“TIP 4: Try not to fall into the trap of the Made-to-Order Mommy”
And there’s a few chapters that I’m not sure how to address: How Not to be a Party Pooper ~ Out on the Town ~ Traveling G-Free. From reading it, I would suggest these are the strongest, best, and most comfortable chapters that she wrote. If you regularly eat out at restaurants with names you can’t pronounce, sleep in 5 star hotels, or travel cross-continentally, these are for you. If you buy the book for nothing else, these chapters are what you NEED. And I would bet they are fairly unique in the world of G-Free information out there.
They did also address how to handle the occasional wedding, or annual Christmas parties. And funny! Oh my goodness.
She should win a pullitzer for her tips on
- hiding food
- protecting others’ feelings
- protecting her health
- handling extended family
- and working a party!
I can visualize her doing these things around The View set or celebrity-laden parties. You have to read what she suggests for awkward social situations in the categories of:
- the swap
- the pawn
- the drop
- the pop
Pretty funny stuff. And also useful!
The Fuss about “Allergy” versus “Disease. It is true, in a couple sections, she refers to using the words, “severe allergy” to define her diet restrictions. But – pay attention!!! She doesn’t use it to describe her illness – just how she explains her diet restrictions. There is absolutely no way that you could miss it is a disease from the first half of the book!! She knows, and I would agree with her, that “severe allergy” triggers the right response in a kitchen. My thoughts are that people are now educated to the anaphylactic nature of a peanut allergy and therefore know that it isn’t safe for even an invisible crumb to come into contact with that allergy-sufferer’s food. The same is true of a celiac’s gluten restriction. It also requires the cook to clear off the counters, use fresh ingredients from the cooler – not the prepped ingredients on the counter for everyone else. This description of a “Severe Allergy” gets across the message!! And “I have celiac disease” does NOT in most cases.
What this book is NOT. In no way is this book a definitive source for gluten free diets or celieac disease. This should NOT be your only source of information. And actually, throughout the book she suggests tools and resources for forming your own shopping lists, where to buy items, and how to contact manufacturers. I was disappointed that there are not more sources cited for the Celiac disease chapters, symptoms, and treatments. I would like to know where she got some of this information. Other than those few chapters, the rest are well cited, and more of a personal narrative. And a very good narrative at that.
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