Gluten intolerance, or sensitivity, is an easily misdiagnosed condition affecting millions of people. Celiac disease is perhaps, even at it’s high rate of misdiagnosis, the most clear answer someone can get to their health problems. There are many more shades of gray, where a patient is not diagnosed with celiac disease, but does improve when embarking on a gluten free diet. The same ‘treatment’ given to celiac patients. These people are assumed to have gluten intolerance, but do not have full-blown celiac disease.
G-Free Diet: The Book
Elizabeth Hasselbeck, co-host of the view, has celiac disease. After a decade of trying to figure out what was wrong with her, she finally got the correct diagnosis, and has now written a book called “the G-free Diet, a Gluten-Free Survival Guide”.
Although the book shows Elizabeth has done a good deal of research before sitting down to write it, the meat of the book focuses on the social aspects of avoiding glutenous foods. Going gluten-free is challenging, without a doubt, but the predominant focus of the book is navigating social settings while it would have been nice to have more of a focus on the foods celiacs can safely eat.
The G-free diet starts off with a clear overview of what celiac disease is, the benefits of going gluten-free (even for non-celiacs), and a comprehensive list of ‘forbidden (i.e. gluten-containing) foods’. This is the part of the book that is actually most useful and worthy of a highlighter. Make a point of copying the list of foods to avoid (and the ones that are gluten-free!) to take with you on your next shopping trip. Gluten goes far beyond bread, and the items you might never imagine contain gluten actually do. It might be a shocker to see so many of your staple-items are not gluten-free.
G-Free Diet Benefits
One of the things Elizabeth Hasselbeck focuses on in this book is bringing the gluten-free diet to the mainstream public. If people would massively get into the G-free movement, it would mean a major restructuring of the food industry, seeing that so many (processed) foods contain gluten. This would actually not be such a bad thing, considering our modern western diets are overloaded with gluten. Hasselbeck did not just target celiac patients with this book, but also the millions of people with undiagnosed gastrointestinal problems who are looking for a possible solution. She clearly markets the book’s message as beneficial to pretty much anyone, and the benefits of going gluten-free include:
- Increased energy
- Lower cholesterol
- Weight loss
- Relief from IBS (which might be undiagnosed celiac or gluten sensitivity, according to Hasselbeck)
- Benefits to behavioral problems in children with ADHD
Hasselbeck does a good job of convincing you that limiting gluten intake is worth a shot if you have any sort of gastrointestinal problems that can’t seem to be diagnosed properly. It might mean you have a gluten intolerance, which seems to be an issue on the rise in the developed world. Nonetheless, the book could have used a tone-down of her personal journey with celiac disease. The tips on navigating the social scene with a gluten-free diet are not extremely creative and do not move much further from the standard “bring your own food” and “eat before going to social events”. Although there may not be any other creative ways of dealing with it, there is no need to use most of the book to state the obvious. She would have been better off suggesting more foods that are gluten-free. But who knows, perhaps this means Hasselbeck’s next move will be a gluten-free cookbook.