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The G-Free Diet

February 17, 2010

The G Free Diet – A Gluten Free Survival Guide

by Elizabeth Hasselbeck

I believe I have already mentioned (far too many times) how great my life was before I had a child. But have I specifically addressed how, prior to Maya’s arrival, I could eat absolutely anything and not feel even the slightest twinge of a stomach ache? In my pre-Maya days digestive problems belonged to my grandparents and my only familiarity with Tums was their irritating TV commercials.

Oh, the good old days, how I miss them.

I am not proud of my old eating habits. Really, I should have known better than to eat six brownie bites at a time. Or almost half an Entemann’s chocolate cake in one night. Yes, I actually did eat half a cake. I am disgusted when I look back on the gross things I used to eat in mass quantities. But back then my eating habits were never a problem because I had a stomach of steel and a fabulous metabolism.

Enter Maya being born and hitting 30. All within 1 year of each other. Talk about a double whammy.

My stomach started bothering me 2 months after Maya was born and it hasn’t stopped since. I’ll spare you the details but over the last (almost) five years I have gone from eating everything to just a few things that I am sure don’t bother my stomach. I have visited dozens of doctors and I’ve spent a small fortune on co-pays and blood tests, and even an endoscopy. But when test after test came back inconclusive, I finally took measures into my own hands by doing the Fat Flush Plan.

After two weeks of eating nothing but protein, flax, fruit, and vegetables, I felt like a million bucks. Then came the hard part…re-introducing foods to identify my allergies. The day I ate my first piece of bread I not only had a stomach ache but I also felt itchy and achy and had trouble focusing. So I stopped eating bread and after a few days felt great again. Then I ate another piece of bread, felt sick again, stopped eating bread again, and felt great. It was confirmed – I could not tolerate gluten.

I was elated to find the culprit but nervous too. How was I going to live without bread? Was I going to be able to eat out anymore? Was every single meal going to be an exercise in anxiety and planning? Yes, yes, and unfortunately, yes.

I haven’t ingested gluten since November of 2009 and while 90% of my symptoms have cleared up, I still experience stomach aches from time-to-time. The more I read about gluten the more I realize it is hidden in so many unexpected places! So while I’ve been avoiding the obvious things, I realized I needed a comprehensive list of what to avoid and that is exactly what The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide.

I’ve seen this book in the bookstore but frankly I never considered purchasing it because, well, Elizabeth Hasselbeck irritates me. Sorry, but it’s the truth. I don’t watch The View, but the things I hear and read about her? They don’t exactly portray her in the best light. She just seems immature and too opinionated and if I’m being honest (and petty) her voice annoys me too. I don’t know why. But I put my feelings aside to read this book and I have to admit that I loved it and finished it in two days.

The G Free Diet is a fast, easy read. It starts off with the author explaining how she diagnosed herself with the help of her stint on Survivor. She goes on to give a thorough description of celiac disease, advises how to avoid gluten at home and in restaurants, and even discusses going gluten-free for weight management and to help the symptoms of autism.

Did you know that some salad dressings and soy sauces have gluten in them? Blue cheese and brown rice syrup? Rice Crispies and french fries? Toothpaste and sunscreen? Makeup and lotion? Me neither. This book is an enlightening source of detailed information on hidden sources of gluten. I especially loved the section on eating out as that is always such a challenge for me. The appendix with a list of gluten-free brands is also very helpful.

Now the negatives of this book: I’m not crazy about the fact that Elizabeth claims you can “sweat out” accidentally ingested gluten. Sorry but to quote Principal Belding, “That is wrong and ridiculous.” I was also kind of surprised to see her marketing a gluten-free lifestyle as a weight management technique. But those are small details in an otherwise excellent book and overall I would recommend this book to anyone struggling with celiac or those who think they might have a gluten-intolerance.

A big thank you to my friend Shahbano for buying me this book for my birthday. She and all of my friends and family are so understanding of my eating habits (maybe not my brother, but I forgive him cause he’s my brother) despite the fact that I probably drive them nuts with my incessant ramblings of what I can and cannot eat. I feel sorry for them having to listen to me, but I especially feel sorry for me. I know going gluten-free is not such a hardship in the grand scheme of things but sometimes I just really want some hot bread and butter!!

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