Gluten free reading

IBS and Living Gluten Free: Sophie’s Story

Are you an IBS suffererer? Do you think you might be?

Sophie Lee is—has been for 20 years—and she sent her new book to me to review for you. It’s called, appropriately enough, ‘Sophie’s Story’.

It might seem an odd statement, given that her book details her pain and embarrassment over the years, but I loved it.

The book is full of personality and humour, as well as conveying some very important messages about the importance of communication.

Tell others you have a problem

Sophie spent years not telling: not telling her parents, her friends or her employer. So—like many other IBS sufferers, I’m sure—she spent a long time feeling alone.

You can’t expect people to understand unless you tell them.

Find others to talk to

Communicating your difficulties to non-IBS sufferers is one thing—and perpetually educating others can get wearying—but communicating with others with IBS, even if their symptoms are different, can be very helpful.

Go to Sophie’s site, IBS Tales, to start with, and join the conversation. Maybe you can find others in the future, and help them get over their embarrassment and talk.

Tell the world

I don’t mean that everyone should talk about their bowels all the time! But by bringing these problems out into the open, and talking frankly about the day-to-day difficulties they cause, will help all IBS sufferers. Sophie does this via her website, but has also done interviews with print and broadcast journalists.

Another example of speaking despite embarrassment: Ally (who has Crohn’s), on the UCB corporate website. If you haven’t read her story yet, do.

Get the message out: it helps everyone.

IBS, CD and the gluten free diet

We don’t do IBS in this house (thank goodness!) […]

Book Review: Coeliac Disease by Alex Gazzola

I recently received a review copy of Coeliac Disease*, written by Alex Gazzola. Alex is a health journalist with a special interest in digestive health and coeliac disease.

And his expertise shows… This is a slim volume, but packed with information, covering everything from symptoms and diagnosis, through shopping and nutrition, to the history and future of treatment, via a range of practical issues.

Note: no recipes. You’ll need another book (or two) for those…

It would be an ideal book about the condition for the newly diagnosed, and also for those seeking diagnosis, but even for those of us who have been dealing with the issues for well over a decade, the book includes interesting information.

My copy of the book is now covered in Post-Its: I was particularly interested in the section discussing coeliac disease across the world. There are also explanations of technologies developed since we went through the diagnosis phase, such as video capsule endoscopy, and discussion of the downsides of the ‘free-from’ market. Lots to think about!

Discussion of the testing process is particularly useful for those seeking a diagnosis, covering reasons for testing, the types of testing available, the importance of remaining on a gluten-filled diet before the test and the benefits of diagnosis. I was pleased to see the emphasis on being tested by your medical professional; something which the gastroenterologists were also keen to impress upon us at the recent conference. This is because some of the privately available tests, and alternative testing techniques have very little evidence behind them.

This is a UK-based book: the information about labelling and about prescriptions is UK-specific, and likely to become outdated […]

Book Review: Gluten-Free Good Health Cookbook

gluten-free-good-healthI recently received a copy of The Gluten-Free Good Health Cookbook: The Delicious Way to Strengthen Your Immune System and Neutralize Inflammation, by Annalise G Roberts and Claudia Pillow, to review here.*

It’s always interesting to review books intended to help make life easier for coeliacs, and although I don’t agree with the authors about the need to neutralise acids in the body (the science of which I’m not going to discuss here), there is a lot of good sense and helpful advice in this book.

The thesis of the book (and parts of it do read like a thesis) is that many people have lost touch with what constitutes a healthy diet, and are eating too much refined processed food, particularly foods based on wheat and sugar – and that this has an adverse effect on the immune system. The authors recommend a mixed diet using a variety of fresh foods, particularly whole foods, including seeds, vegetables, fruit and fish.

No-one would suggest that the ‘breakdown of today’s daily diet’ suggested by the book is a healthy one; 10 pieces of bread, two sodas, a chocolate bar, a hamburger and a chicken breast, butter, fries, orange juice and an apple is a long way from Five-A-Day or the standard food pyramid. And the recommended mixed diet of a variety of fruit and vegetables and a range of different proteins (including beans, nuts and fish) and grains and grasses (rice, oats, millet and quinoa, for example) is one recognised by almost everyone as the ideal. […]

Review: Let’s Eat Out

Let’s Eat Out!A few weeks ago, I received a copy of Let’s Eat Out! Your Passport to Living Gluten and Allergy Free, together with some pocket-sized books from the same series intended to go out and about with you. The idea was that I should review these for you – and I was thrilled to receive the pack. It’s glossy, well-produced and has deservedly been nominated for many awards (and won lots!).

I have been intending to review these. I have, honestly! But I have found it extremely difficult to know what to say.

Not because I don’t think this is an extraordinary piece of research, or a very valuable asset to eating out, because I do. This is clearly a very detailed inventory of cuisines, with some very helpful advice on what to think about before eating out – and what questions to ask.

And I know that many people find it difficult to eat out, because they lack confidence in the restaurateurs, and don’t want to be ill – understandably! So I think this may prove to be a huge help to a great many people.

So why am I struggling to review it?

  • Partly, possibly, simply because there is just so much material, so densely packed. This book deals with 10 different allergens, most of which aren’t relevant to my family (though will clearly be relevant to somebody else), and so identifying which paragraphs are appropriate is a bit of a chore.
  • Partly, perhaps, because the countries I’m interested in haven’t yet been included. Not surprisingly, Let’s Eat Out have focused on the most familiar cuisines. I would have […]

Gluten Free Quick and Easy: recipe test

Gluten Free Quick and Easy I wrote yesterday about my first impressions of Carol Fenster’s new book, Gluten Free Quick and Easy – and you can read my interview with Carol here. Today, I’m going to tell you about the recipes I’ve tried …

First batch: Chocolate Chip Cookies

I set out to make Double Chocolate Chip Cookies first – wouldn’t everyone – and I have to confess that they were a complete disaster. Husband rudely described them as moonrock … but it wasn’t Carol’s fault.

I do have a dim memory of my mother possessing two different sets of cup measures – one for UK measures, and one she’d acquired while living in the US. I only possess one set, and these were, of course, the wrong ones. As I set to, mixing and measuring for my choc chip cookies, this faint trace of memory did surface briefly, but didn’t make enough impact to change my process.

As no doubt you all know, a US cup is 8 fluid ounces; in the UK, it is 10 fluid ounces. As I tried to make the mix bind together to form a dough, I did think it was rather dry – no wonder, since I was using significantly more dry ingredients than Carol’s recipe called for, and my poor, lone egg didn’t have a chance. As a rule, here in the UK, we don’t use cup measures for baking, but pounds and ounces, so I was setting off at a disadvantage anyway.

Still, I think if I mix the moonrock with icecream, it will […]