Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Gluten-Free, Hassle Free by Marlisa Brown

Gluten-Free, Hassle Free: A Simple, Sane, Dietitian-Approved Program for Eating Your Way Back To Health by Marlisa Brown is pretty much exactly what is says, a straightforward guide for the gluten-free novice, as well as a great read for affected family and friends. As a recently diagnosed celiac, I am still adapting and adjusting to the life long change the diet presents, and learning hope to cope with it is something that can feel insurmountable at times. Brown provides relief.

One of the neat things about Gluten-Free, Hassle Free is that there is an entire 30 day menu plan included. I doubt anyone would follow it exactly, but it is loaded with ideas for gluten-free cooking and lets the reader know that even though it doesn't always feel that way, there is still plenty for the gluten-free person to eat. The menu includes GF before things that you need to be sure to check, like salad dressings and yoghurt, and that's also a good reminder be vigilant about anything that is store bought instead of home made.

There is also a list about "Dos and "Don'ts" for making the change to gluten-free eating, and although many of the points are obvious, they remind you that it's not the end of the world and there are ways to make your life easier, like by bringing gluten-free snacks with you when you travel. One point that really summarizes how I'm personally taking this lifestyle change was where Brown writes, do "be excited about all the new interesting food choices you are making," don't "start feeling depressed because you can’t do things exactly as you are used to." Yes, this is a big change and it will take a lot of work, but along the way I am learning to eat less processed things. I now cook things from scratch I never would have before, for example I now add my own seasonings to GF bread crumbs rather than buying premixed Shake 'n' Bake,  and so the result is not just that I am healthier and happier, but that many of things I am learning to cook are just as, if not more, delicious to eat.

Gluten-Free, Hassle Free contains quite a bit of information on how to break the news to your family and friends and help them understand that no, not even a crumb of gluten is okay, not even occasionally. It reminds you that cross-contamination hurts and it takes three years for your intestines to recover, and if you're still feeling sick, chance is that's because you are still getting gluten somewhere in your diet. There's also a section you can copy explaining it simply for people you know, and dozens of dining cards in various languages, as well as ones adapted for specific types of cuisine, that you can copy and use when traveling to make sure your waiter understands your diet restrictions.

The main fault Gluten-Free, Hassle Free was that it was a bit too heavy on the lists for me, sometimes there are pages and pages of safe or unsafe foods, and a lot of this stuff is not only specific to your location- I'm a Canadian and the guide is American so I'd have to recheck everything packaged anyway- but either logical (ie: fresh fruits and vegetables) or something you could good online if you were looking for it (ie: brands of gluten-free bread). It also means a lot of the book will be out of date quite quickly. That said, there is plenty of helpful and long lasting advice as well. Going gluten-free is a big and scary change, and while it may not be immediately "hassle-free" with Gluten-Free, Hassle Free Brown gives you the advice to help make your life and the transition just a little bit easier.  Can't complain about that!

Release Date: December 1st, 2009
Pages: 378
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