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Book review

Embarking on a gluten-free diet can be an intimidating experience. Many questions may be swirling around in your head. What’s safe to eat and what’s going to make me sick? Is this like other diets where I can cheat now and then? Can I still eat my favorite foods?

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Living Gluten-free for Dummies. It’s an everything-you-need-to-know resource, written in the style of all the For Dummies books. You can skip here and there in the book and still find out what you need to know.

The book was written by Danna Korn, one of the leading authorities on the gluten–free diet and the medical conditions that benefit from it. She began researching celiac disease in 1991 when her son Tyler, was diagnosed with the condition. She also is the author of Gluten-Free Cooking for Dummies.

I just wish this book had been around seven years ago when I began living a gluten-free lifestyle because of gluten-sensitivity. The awesome thing is the book even contains information for seasoned gluten-free eaters like me.

Here are some of the book’s highlights I found helpful, interesting and/or useful:

•You are not alone if you are going gluten-free. Millions of people have chosen a gluten-free lifestyle for one of these reasons: it’s a medical necessity; you believe you will feel better if you do; you or your child has behavioral issues that might be helped by the diet; or it’s the cool thing to do.

•Gluten sensitivity has various degrees of severity with the most severe version being celiac disease, an autoimmune disease (a disease in which the immune system attacks the body) that gets activated when someone eats gluten. Other individuals may have an allergy to gluten which triggers immediate allergic symptoms. But more people have gluten sensitivity and intolerance where your body doesn’t react well to eating gluten. For each celiac patient, five to seven patients are affected by gluten sensitivity.

•Certain conditions are associated with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, meaning that someone who has one is more likely to have the others. Some of these include Crohn’s disease, Type 1 diabetes, thyroid disease, autism, ADHD, epilepsy and others.

•There are healthy and unhealthy gluten-free diets. The way most people approach the gluten-free diet isn’t all that nutritious. Instead of eating whole foods, they opt for basically empty calories in the form of gluten-free “replacement” foods, like breads, pizza, pasta, cookies, brownies and cakes.

•A healthier approach to the gluten-free lifestyle is eating what your body was designed to eat: meat, fish, seafood, fruits, nonstarchy vegetables, nuts and berries. Go easy on high-glycemic foods such as white rice, corn and potatoes. Try to stick to low-glycemic foods, which raise your blood sugar levels gradually.

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