Top critical review
192 people found this helpful
The wrong approach to gluten-free...but you should read the discussion of cross-contamination.
on August 1, 2009
I almost want to apologize for giving her such a negative review the first time around: it's really difficult to include all the information that should be in a book for celiacs. That said, there is a lot of inaccurate information in this book--that part of my review stands.
However, even if you've been gluten-free a long time, you may not be really aware of how prevalent cross-contamination of food can make something that should be gluten-free into something really gluten-containing. If you can get this from a library, read the discussion on cross-contamination. It is one of the best I have seen.
Second Edit and Third Edits: Pack food if you're not able to buy it where you're going. She's right about that--you shouldn't risk being glutened if you can't buy your own food for some reason. (Keep a Kind Bar in your purse, briefcase or backpack.)
I am beginning to agree that you should probably use personal care items like shampoo and hand lotion that are gluten-free; it's not worth it to get glutened by shampoo or hand lotion. The megacorporation, Lever, is very careful about gluten; they own Suave, so their products are clearly labeled if they contain gluten ingredients. Also, cosmetics companies change their formulas frequently if their products are not sold as gluten-free, so it's probably safer to start out with things that are sold as gluten-free. (Walk into Trader Joe's or Whole Foods and ask for the gluten-free cosmetics.) Unfortunately, the new regulations have scared off some of the cheaper makeup lines; they won't admit that their products are gluten-free because they don't test for gluten.
Finally, Cheetos are gluten-free again, and say so on the package!
Having said that, here is my original review:
If you're newly diagnosed with celiac, you need some kind of web accessible-anywhere-device (like an i-phone) that will allow you to access gluten-free food lists online from anywhere. That is the easiest way to deal with it. (I've been gluten-free for ten years, and I'm sitting on a finished gluten-free cookbook while I rewrite.)
As to the book at hand--more than anything, what comes out in this book is extraordinary anxiety about food: any kind of food. The martians aren't reading the signals on your pointy head and then putting gluten in your food, o.k?
A lot of the book is devoted to rules about food that aren't needed. Any new celiac will become incredibly anxious if they read this book. Hasselback acts like having celiac is an incredibly big deal, and that everyone around you is watching what you are eating.
For example, Hasselbeck suggests that you swap your plate for someone else's to pretend you are eating something. In most instances, if you can actually see what you are eating--salad without croutons, vegetables, meat, it's safe to eat. True, there is always the possibility of cross-contamination where something wheat-based was fried on the same grill. However, it's unlikely most of the time. (I am very, very sensitive to gluten. Most other places where folks have fed me, I just avoid the white sauces, bread, and meat if I'm not sure about it, and fill up on vegetables, rice and wine. I never get sick, and I look ten years younger than I am.)
Hasselbeck also insists that you have to, "pack your food." Um, no. Got a vending machine? Peanut M&M's, Lays Potato Chips, Snickers bars, packages of peanuts and almonds, diet Coke, and you're good to go.
Someone trying to get you to eat something you can't? Say, "I'd love to, but I'd hate to puke on your pretty parquet floors." They laugh.
Beyond Hasselbeck's anxiety about food, a lot of the information in this book is wrong:
She says it's safe to eat oats. 25% of celiacs can't eat them, and unless the oats were grown in a gluten-free field, you can't be sure they are safe.
She says it's safe to eat cornmeal: only two major manufacturers in the United States make safe corn flour--Maseca and Publix. The rest is too contaminated for celiacs. (Bob's Red Mill is not gf, so much so that Whole Foods doesn't sell their flours as gf anymore.)
She says it's safe to eat tapioca flour: unless you can buy Ener-G or Now flours from a health food store, you're either going to pay $4.50 a lb plus shipping (Authentic Flours and their re-brands), buy online (Shiloh Farms), or it's not gluten-free.
She says to read manufacturer websites:
Manufacturers lie. (Whole Foods, which has a clue, has signs on their gluten-free products which say, "Gluten-free: manufacturer claim.")
General Mills, Bob's Red Mill, Arrowhead Mills, and others sell ostensibly gluten-free products, that aren't. If you are feeding a child small enough that they can't tell if food is making them sick, you're going to keep your kid sick by following this advice.
Read celiac websites instead. They can tell you if something is gluten-free.
She says it's safe to keep your pots and pans.
Steel and glass are fine. Cast iron, some tupperware, and pottery are porous. Oiled woks also keep particles of gluten. All of these keep particles of wheat products and will keep a celiac sick.
She also makes other comments like, "You can sweat out the gluten."
That's where I started laughing. If you are looking for alternative therapies that help celiacs, acupuncture is good for severe cases where there is liver and kidney failure.
There is a section on gluten-free beauty products. Unless you are unfortunate enough to have the skin version of celiac, and even then, there may be no reason to avoid gluten in topical beauty products like hand lotion. I've never heard that there was any absorption in the intestine from anything put on the skin. (Lipstick, though, should be gluten-free. You eat it, after all. Burt's Bees, Wet & Wild, NYX...and they're cheap.)
Finally, there is no mention of other food intolerances. 50% of celiacs are also lactose intolerant, and that has to be addressed in order to truly get better.
Get an i-phone and a membership to celiac websites and/or the Clan Thompson lists.
If you have the funds, Whole Foods can make your life a whole lot easier. If not, rice congee (Chinese rice porridge), skillet cornbread from masa harina, and various kinds of beans and vegetables can feed a celiac for very small amounts of money. Celiac is not that hard to deal with, and there is no reason to worry about it as much as Hasselbeck does.
Edit: One more thing? Going gluten free never made anyone skinny. No.