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Book Review – 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 is.

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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42 Comments leave one →
  1. February 17, 2010 11:03 pm

    i DETEST elizabeth hasselbeck! she is such a…i won’t get into name calling but i’m really not a fan. but this book sounds very handy for people who have problems with gluten. i don’t think that i do, but i honestly don’t eat enough foods containing gluten to really find out! i have this suspicion that dairy gives me skin problems, but i am too in love with greek yogurt to try and find out!

    • February 18, 2010 9:35 am

      I figured out that dairy, peanut butter, and sugar make my face break out! There isn’t much left that doesn’t affect me negatively. Soon I will be subsisting on only vegetables and eggs.

      • February 18, 2010 10:10 am

        Oh crap… that makes me wonder if those things are the culprits for my break outs. Dang. But I love them too much…

      • February 18, 2010 12:05 pm

        I break out all the time.. I also eat a lot of dairy and peanut butter.

        hmmmm…..

        how did you figure out that’s what made you break out?

  2. February 18, 2010 12:30 am

    I am GF, and SF or soylight, dairy free. Vegan. Getting to the bottom of my food intol’s was one of the hardest things ever but being that i feel 95% better than i ever did eating those things, it’ all worth it. I have not read this book, but thx for the info and i have heard of it and want to peruse it, you know, in all my spare time 🙂

  3. erintakescontrol permalink
    February 18, 2010 2:52 am

    As much as I loathe her, it sounds like this book offered a number of real life suggestions!

  4. February 18, 2010 4:55 am

    UGH– like you, I cannot STAND her…but, this does sound like a good read with lots of good tips. Thanks for the review!

  5. Danielle permalink
    February 18, 2010 5:59 am

    Yeah, she’s not portrayed in the best light to me either. But it sounds like an interesting book!

    Have you ever tried gluten-free bread? Of all breads, millet is my favorite!

    • February 18, 2010 9:32 am

      I have yet to find a good gluten-free bread worth eating! Do you suggest a particular brand?

  6. fitandfortysomething permalink
    February 18, 2010 6:03 am

    Thank you for sharing your personal opinion and personal struggle…..I will share this info with some of my gluten troublesome friends!
    Glad you feel better now…..

  7. February 18, 2010 6:21 am

    A good friend of mine has celiac’s disease. She was really recently diagnosed (this summer) and does a great job with her diet, but still misses a lot of food. I’m sure she finds it irritating that people use it as a weight loss technique…

  8. February 18, 2010 6:49 am

    While I don’t have celiacs, I do have a deadly allergy to peanuts that’s really affected the things I’m able to eat and where I’m able to eat out. So many things “may contain traces of peanuts” its insane! Not to mention frustrating. I’m not able to eat out a lot because of a fear of cross-contamination; some places just don’t realize how serious an allergy to peanuts can be, and one rushed visit to the ER pretty much scared me out of eating out anymore. Dietary restrictions suck…

  9. February 18, 2010 6:51 am

    I work at a library for disability-related materials, so of course we have this book in our nutrition for folks with gluten intolerance. But I have to admit wasn’t very happy about it, because while it is informative about modern foods, she constantly throws out unfounded claims that people /without/ celiac would benefit from giving up grains, too (and for some reason, advocates manipulating people at parties so you don’t have to eat the brownies instead of being honest).

    But she’s at the very low end of the offense spectrum, because at least she doesn’t insist that a gluten-free lifestyle will cure your child’s autism. As a library, we’re supposed to be impartial and provide what the public wants, but I really want to smack the librarian every time she purchases something like “The Autism Mom’s Gluten-Free Casein-Free Cookbook.”

    • February 18, 2010 9:47 am

      While I am not an expert on autism by any means, I do believe that it can help alleviate some symptoms. Jenny McCarthy is an obvious example of someone who believes this and she talks about her son’s recovery through diet, etc. I also have a friend who swears that going gluten and casein-free has helped her son. If it were my kid I would definitely do whatever it took to help him/her. If that included going gluten-free my child would be gluten-free!

  10. February 18, 2010 6:59 am

    I gave up gluten in August of 09 and this book was the first one that I read so I knew from the beginning about the hidden glutens. I was really paranoid at first but feel a little more brazen now. I have had to give up a ton of foods since them so I guess sometimes I am feeling a little risky out of deprivation. Like, I will eat at the salad bar at Whole Foods now but know a number of celiacs who won’t.

    I also thought it was interesting that she says it is a way to lose weight. For me, the opposite has been true.

  11. February 18, 2010 7:01 am

    It must be hard to have to eat gluten free all the time 😦 I feel for you.
    *kisses* HH

  12. February 18, 2010 7:05 am

    Wow, I never thought that following a gluten-free diet would be so difficult!
    You´re a hero 😉
    Brazilian XOXO´s,
    Gabriela

  13. February 18, 2010 7:07 am

    Really interesting post! I always suspect I have gluten sensitivities but I’ve never done anything about it. Maybe I’ll check out this book.

  14. February 18, 2010 7:18 am

    Great info Ameena.

    I am sure it is not easy going Gluten free. Glad to hear the book gives you some suggestions.

    Would you believe me if I said I didn’t know who you were talking about? I googled her name and saw her pic and thought.. oh the annoying girl..

  15. February 18, 2010 7:31 am

    Glad you finally found out what ails you. My sister has a lot of stomach problems and can basically only eat white bread products. She’s still in the stages of testing out which foods she can tolerate with her many conditions, but I see how hard it is. Feeling sick every time you eat is rough. And not eating a lot is hard, especially since so much of our lives revolve around food—meeting up for drinks, food, hanging out for a dinner party, etc.

  16. February 18, 2010 8:32 am

    Oi, what a story! I’m so sorry you had to go through all that before figuring out the culprit… it amazes me how many people seem to develop gluten and lactose intolerances late in life.

    (And yes… I went to bed at 9:30 last night!)

  17. February 18, 2010 8:47 am

    I’m not a huge fan of her’s. I was a little dissapointed too that she wrote that book.

    On the flip side, If her book can help people, I think thats great!

  18. February 18, 2010 9:07 am

    Great point about the salad dressings. After studying A LOT of brand’s ingredients at the G store I stopped buying them all together. Now I only use home made salad dressings. Yes it takes a little longer but if I am going to eat something as healthy as a salad I do not want CRAP food in it thank you!

    LOVE the saved by the bell reference.

  19. February 18, 2010 10:11 am

    Really interesting! I was actually very curious about that book after seeing Elisabeth on the Rachael Ray show talk about it.

  20. February 18, 2010 10:32 am

    Gluten-free as a weight management technique? What? That’s silly. I guess weight loss can come from any restriction, but I’m sure those who have gluten-intolerance would laugh at someone choosing to abstain from gluten to lose weight. Like you said, the lifestyle isn’t easy. At work (healthcare ad agency), one of my clients is Prometheus. They have a product that tests people for celiac disease. I’ve done more than my fair share of research and I know not eating gluten is really hard…and gluten is in so many things! I’m glad you found out what was bugging you. It seems patients have to be pretty proactive these days…

  21. Sofia permalink
    February 18, 2010 12:45 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. Being gluten-free would be challenging. However, on a positive note, it is becoming more and more common. So I think finding food options at restaurants and grocery stores, not to mention non-Hasselbeck gluten-free cookbooks, will get easier. Especially in a location like Los Angeles!

  22. lowandbhold permalink
    February 18, 2010 12:50 pm

    I can’t imagine not being able to eat gluten, but it is nice that so many companies and restaurants are starting to acknowledge that some people are unable to have it and offering tasty options for people with Celiac disease.

  23. February 18, 2010 1:16 pm

    Great review! My sister has this book and she loved it. I’m glad you agree that “sweating out gluten” is ridiculous! Um, yeah whatever Elizabeth!! 😉

  24. February 18, 2010 3:51 pm

    That is so strange that your stomach changed after you had Maya. I am happy you figured out it was gluten, even though it is making things so difficult now.

  25. February 18, 2010 4:50 pm

    Wow that book sounds interesting, and I love Elizabeth, I will definitely have to check that book out.

  26. actorsdiet permalink
    February 18, 2010 5:07 pm

    i know so many gluten-free folks these days – you’re not alone!!! and have discovered MANY delicious g-free products lately too….

  27. February 18, 2010 7:13 pm

    I dont have celiacs.
    Great review as usual though. I feel for you …at least there are oats you can eat 🙂
    And you can buy lots of great wraps that are gluten free…try them!
    And you can still eat starches….try quinoa (you would like that!), potatoes, lots of gluten free crackers…give it a try, you might like 🙂
    And yes,,,,i hate elizabeth alos…your characterization of her is spot-on…she is immature and opinionated…shut up please whiny little girl 😉

  28. February 18, 2010 7:45 pm

    well, I am sorry you have to live without bread and butter (or at least bread) gluten and carby things.

    NO FUN.
    it makes me realize how much we are stuck on foods like that and for what? they are not the best nutritionally speaking anyways. I am constantly trying to lower my GI…sugar, carbs. and eat as whole foods as much as possible but I have a long way to go. it’s hard but I know how great I feel when I don’t cheat. I know you don’t have a choice but we could learn a lot from the what you’ve learned from all this too!

    I am trying to make changes before any kind of illness sets in and I HAVE to change. know what I mean?
    preventive.

    much love to you Ameena!
    great review too!

  29. whydeprive permalink
    February 18, 2010 8:53 pm

    I remember when I couldnt eat gluten. Granted that was in the 90s and many things have changed since then, but it SUCKED.
    Especially since I was 9. What gluten free food would a 9 year old want to eat?
    I can eat it now, but maybe I should consider cutting it out. I mean, if I was allergic to it then, shouldnt I still be now?
    I think I’ll check out this book. Celiac seems to run in my boyfriend family anyhow, so I think it would have some good information for me. Especially because you said its a fast easy read. BIG SELLER for me!!

    Also, now Im scared to have kids. What if my stomach changes too and I cant eat ice cream anymore?

    • February 19, 2010 7:07 am

      I am so confused how you could have been allergic to gluten when you were younger but not anymore? So happy for you though. Maybe a miracle like that will happen to me!

      As far as ice cream goes, I can still eat that so don’t worry too much. But I don’t really like ice cream! I’d much rather have some delicious carbs instead.

  30. February 19, 2010 5:51 am

    I have not read this book and was wondering if this would be a good resource for me. Thanks for the review!

  31. February 23, 2010 7:32 am

    I am very interested in a sugar-free living. I currently have a sweet-tooth, and am finding it difficult to find meal plans, what to eat for snacks, etc. While diabetes is not something that runs in my family, I am still concerned and would like to be smart and take a proactive approach to my health. Any tips or advice?

  32. February 25, 2010 3:20 am

    I love having a great read in the morning. Another tremendous article. thanks, Ill link it on my site.

  33. December 10, 2010 12:06 am

    First, love your blog!
    Second, Have you tried Udi’s bread, granola, muffins?!?
    I’ve tried the bread and granola and they are super yummy.

    I did a 3 week detox through my Chinese wellness doctor (I had to mention I did it through a doctor so you didn’t think I did a random at home lemon/cayenne detox) Really, I’m not weird.
    Anyway after the detox I realized I had some gluten intolerance. So I have been doing some research. Have you read “Gluten Free Girl” (http://www.amazon.com/Gluten-Free-Girl-Found-Loves-Back/dp/0470137304) It’s really good.

    I realize you wrote this at the beginning of the year and it is now the end of the year, so you might have already have heard of the two above mentioned items. In case you haven’t, now you know and knowing is half the battle. Yes, did just quote GI Joe 😉

  34. February 28, 2011 5:07 pm

    It is so difficult to eat gluten-free. I had no idea that gluten is in everything. One day they’ll tell us that gluten is in water. lol.

  35. July 13, 2013 5:03 am

    I like it when folks get together and share opinions. Great site, continue the good work!

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    October 5, 2014 8:39 pm

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