The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide

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For years, Elisabeth Hasselbeck couldn't figure out what was making her sick. She asked doctors and consulted nutritionists, but no one seemed to have any answers. It wasn't until spending time in the Australian Outback, living off the land on the grueling Survivor TV show, that, ironically, her symptoms vanished. Returning home, she pinpointed the food that made her sick -- gluten, the binding element in wheat. By simply eliminating it from her diet, she was able to enjoy a completely normal, healthy life. But that wasn't all. Hasselbeck discovered the myriad benefits that anyone can enjoy from a gluten-free diet: from weight loss and increased energy to even the alleviation of the conditions of autism.

In this all-inclusive book, Hasselbeck shares her hard-earned wisdom on living life without gluten and loving it. She gives you everything you need to know to start living a gluten-free life, from defining gluten - where to find it, how to read food labels - to targeting gluten-free products, creating G-Free shopping lists, sharing recipes, and managing G-Free living with family and friends.

Customer Reviews:

  • Just say no - The G Free Diet
    Though not a big fan of Elisabeth Hasselbeck I do value her personal experience with celiac disease, so I thought The G Free Diet would be a good read and I wasn't disappointed. I was surprised at the number of people who suffer from celiac, also that you can be sensitive to gluten without actually having the disease. The effort that is needed to be successful with the lifestyle changes is remarkable but with information from books like Elisabeth's and the support of the numerous organizations that are available, along with a good nutrionist, these changes will become routine and certainly worth the effect to avoid the damage that is otherwise done to the small intestine. With a detailed appendix and index, I found the G Free Diet to be a fairly complete introduction to celiac. I would definitely give Elisabeth's book 5 stars....more info
  • No two celiacs are the same!
    I agree with some of the other writers, that those who wrote unfavorable comments have a political agenda and are trying to sabotage this writer and book. Even the woman who wrote for the Celiac foundation, retracted her statement and wrote a more favorable comment. I suggest you Google her name and read the retraction she wrote. I am a nurse who is a self diagnosed with celiac disease, after numerous years of misdiagnosis and failed treatments. I can whole heartedly relate to this authors experience. While I will agree that some of her information may not be 100% accurate. Those of you who have criticized her need to remember that new products are hitting the market and may not have been available at the time the book was written. I have not found an author other than Dr Greene whose book is completely accurate, I can find fault with most of the books and if I really wanted to get picky there probably is outdated information in even Dr Greene's book. As for those who say that wheat in cosmetics doesn't affect celiac disease or isn't absorbed through the skin, I think that is dependent upon the person. I have psoriasis that goes away completely when I am 100% gluten free. If I put lotion or cosmetics on that contain wheat or gluten, I flare up. Coincidence, maybe, but it has happened enough that I watch what I put on my skin! Celiac disease is a very interesting disease, no two people respond the same way. As for The G Free Diet, I think this book is very informative and well written. I would recommend it to someone who is just diagnosed. My suggestion, get Dr Greens book as well though. Never rely on just one source for your information, get a few books and compare. This book IS a good book. ...more info
  • practical advice
    I love this book! I've had Celiac for 2 years and this is the first book I've read that talks about it in everyday language. Elisabeth has done her research and lives what she writes. Very helpful and practical for all Celiacs....more info
  • Not Impressed
    In the 1st chapter she got information about what is and isn't gluten free WRONG! Oats themselves DO NOT contain GLUTEN! Processing the oats with GLUTEN causes cross contamination. The book went downhill from there. It was disappointing becuase excerpts from other chapters made it seem like a good to read book for Celiac- Sprue people but those experts were the only good parts of the book. Stick with Dr. Green's book. Also it is NOT an ALLERGY! Celiac-Sprue is an INTOLERANCE!...more info
  • Very good book for the gluten-free beginner or recently diagnosed celiac
    I must admit that I had a preconceived notion about what the book was going to be like. My skepticism had nothing to do with her, or her personality, or what she says on the View, or what people think of her, because frankly, I don't have time to watch TV at 10am or read about her comments on the internet. My preconceived notion was based simply on the title "The G-Free Diet."

    The cutesy title reminded me of an article I wrote on my blog Sure Foods Living in which I pointed out that maybe the reason people couldn't embrace the gluten-free diet is that the word "gluten" just isn't cool enough for people and that we need to start calling the gluten-free diet something else. (I jokingly offered "the no g-carb diet" as a solution.) Turns out I might have been right and a celebrity has given it a new name! Elisabeth uses the term "the G-Free Diet" so many times in the book that by the end I actually find myself getting used to it. Another phrase she uses: "G-Full" -- referring to foods that are full of gluten. Not bad.

    So back to the preconceived notion... the cutesy title and cutesy cover made me think that the book was going to be cutesy too. It wasn't!

    What I thought...

    I found this book to be practical and personal. It is practical, with understandable medical and diet information, and personal, with stories meant to illustrate points and make us feel like she is just like us with the same worries and anxiety about the diet that we have (except that she hangs out with Whoopi Goldberg and Prince Charles!). She also maintains a positive but realistic attitude throughout, which is the tone that I also try to convey on my website.

    Perhaps I liked this book too because I related to her story. My celiac story is very similar to hers in terms of symptoms and the journey to diagnosis. In fact we were both diagnosed in 2002, after returning from a time away from the United States -- she 39 days in Australia for Survivor: Outback, me 25 days in India for my honeymoon. We both were on a gluten-free diet without even realizing it, our bodies repaired themselves, and when we returned to our wheat-laden American culture, our bodies struck back with a vengeance. Another similarity -- we both figured it out before doctors did. Our recoveries were similar too. She mentions jokingly that she can't believe her now-husband continued dating her despite all her health problems -- I have also joked that I can't believe my husband married me! (I was diagnosed 3 months after our wedding!)

    I really liked...

    The chapter called "What's Mine is Yours (Well, Sort Of!)" Elisabeth is the only one in her family that eats gluten-free, and she provides helpful information for what she calls the "modified G-free kitchen" where both gluten-free and gluten-containing foods are prepared. If you are new to the diet and haven't converted your entire family to your way of thinking yet, the information provided in the book will make the shared kitchen seem do-able. Luckily I don't have to take all of these extra precautions, as my kitchen is completely gluten-free. (My husband eventually adopted my diet because he was feeling so much better when he was gluten-free and I have decided to raise my children gluten-free.) I feel that if you can get your kitchen to be as gluten-free as possible, it makes things so much easier and makes you feel more relaxed -- at least you can feel at ease in your own home!

    The chapter "Out on the Town" about dining out. There are some very good restaurant tips and the section called "Deciphering the Menu: The G-Free Detective" defines menu terms that are helpful for everyone to read. Don't expect to find recipes or many menu ideas in this book. There are a couple Italian recipes from her mother, but this is not a recipe book.

    The chapter called "Throw Me a Bagel!" about living with someone who is gluten-free. Rarely have I seen tips for the person who lives with a gluten-free person ("GFG" she calls it, for Gluten-Free Gal or Guy). There is some great advice addressing such things as compassion, adaptability, preparedness, cleanliness and selflessness.

    The section "Translating Ingredients" for understanding how to read cosmetics and personal care product labels. This is something that often gets overlooked by people on a gluten-free diet.

    I really didn't like...

    The fact that there is a chapter named "G-Free and Slim As Can Be!" which sounds like the whole chapter is promoting the use of the gluten-free diet for weight loss. The chapter is actually not about that at all and points out that once people are on a gluten-free diet and are forced to read labels, they become aware of what they are putting into their bodies and generally become healthier eaters overall. The chapter is more about nutrition and awareness of food. There are only a few sentences that refer to the fact that people might try the diet to lose weight -- it's unfortunate that the title doesn't reflect the real content of the chapter.

    I'm glad she included...

    The foreword by Dr. Peter Green. Also, I'm glad that in the foreword, Dr. Green talks about non-celiac gluten sensitivity and states, "Those with gluten sensitivity in the absence of celiac disease have a great difficulty getting satisfaction from the medical community. Without an abnormal biopsy, there is difficulty among many physicians accepting such a diagnosis. I, however, regard the diagnosis as valid, providing that celiac disease is excluded." This is a different take than he had in the past when he referred to the gluten-free diet as unnecessary torture without a diagnosis of celiac disease. If you are a regular reader of my blog Sure Foods Living, you know by now that I think outside the celiac box, so I was glad to see that gluten intolerance has been acknowledged in the book by both Dr. Green and Elisabeth.

    And in her last chapter, Elisabeth tackles the connection between Autism and the Gluten-Free Casein-Free (GFCF) Diet. I believe that she did it well, citing studies and quoting doctors to support the idea that a diet change could be beneficial for some autistic kids. She made the connection understandable and at the end of the chapter, points out (and I wholeheartedly agree) "If eliminating gluten and casein from your child's diet can even slightly reduce the severity of his ASD, why not talk to a physician who could help you make this change?"

    Some picky notes (I couldn't just let these go!)...

    Blue Cheese
    Elisabeth recommends staying away from blue cheese, but there are many brands that are gluten-free. See the article "Is blue cheese gluten-free?" on Sure Foods Living for a list.

    Glucose Syrup
    Although it can be made from wheat, studies have shown that it is gluten-free. See the article "Is glucose syrup gluten-free?" on Sure Foods Living for more information.

    Sticky Rice
    The book says that the sticky rice in sushi might contain added gluten. I know a lot of you enjoy sushi, so don't freak out! The sticky rice (also called glutinous rice) does not contain gluten itself, despite its misleading name, and I have never heard of gluten being added to it. Things that are added to sticky rice are sugar, salt, rice wine and rice vinegar, all of which are gluten-free. There are other foods to watch out for when eating sushi (soy sauce, imitation crab, sauces, roe, miso, tempura, tea), but the sticky rice is not one of them!

    Online Stores
    I wasn't impressed with the online stores resource list in this book. I understand that websites and stores change a lot, but there were some basic "oopsies" that I found. In the middle of the book (p.74) she recommended a particular online store -- well, it's just someone's Amazon store! Also, in the resources list at the end of the book, she recommends another market whose domain name is for sale. Given that few resources were even listed, it seems like they should have been checked before going to print.


    I think this is a really good guide for someone who has just been diagnosed with celiac disease or is just starting a gluten-free diet, or even for those that have been on a gluten-free diet for a while but haven't completely mastered it yet. I am surprised I liked it so much. I may even start saying I am "G-Free!" Or maybe not....more info
  • Nothing new
    My mother has suffered with Celiac for years. I read everything I can on the subject, including G- Free Diet. There was absolutely nothing new, at all in this book. Seriously, there are many more substantial Celiac diet books. I was disappointed. I'm not sure why this was written or published....more info
  • Inaccurate!!!!
    This book is full of inaccuracies - newly-diagnosed beware! There are a lot of reputable guides for making the GF transition, which is a medical necessity and NOT a diet choice, but this is unfortunately not one of them. ...more info
  • Very helpful! Great book.
    This book was incredibly helpful and presented the information in a manageable way. I finished reading the book thinking "I can do this and it will result in a better me." At the beginning it seemed daunting but Elisabeth had been in the same situation as many of her readers. It is most helpful to read a book by someone who has gone through it themselves.
    ...more info
  • Good for recently diagnosed...
    I found the book to be very positive. I was diagnosed nearly 4 years ago and have done a lot of research - this book didn't really tell me anything new. But, her outlook on life was very positive and can really make a difference in someone who is newly diagnosed (or struggling). She shows that mistakes (getting glutened) can happen and you're not a failure (no matter how bad you feel). It truly is about finding what you CAN eat, and not feeling sorry for yourself about what you can't eat. There are substitutes out there for nearly everything - they may not be identical or as good, but again, it's about what you can have. Her list of what you can eat is helpful.

    It is a little annoying to hear her call it an allergy - but when out in restaurant, I have done that as it is more of a red flag than an intolerance (which they see as similar to lactose intolerant)... an allergy they see as you may go into anaphylaxic shock if you eat it.

    There are many different viewpoints than what she poses (e.g., using shampoo with wheat as you don't ingest it)... but I think she covers off on them really well.

    I give it 4 stars instead of 5 because I think she had a great opportunity to provide a little insight into pregnancy as a celiac who is complying with the diet - that was disappointing not to see. I know what can happen if you don't follow the diet... are there any additional risks that happen if you do follow the diet. With 2 pregnancies, she could have spoken to that a little bit.

    Also, I didn't find the chapter on weight loss helpful at all. With the exception of myself (a former personal trainer), most celiacs I know have actually gained weight after diagnosis - due to the ability to finally retain nutrients and the fact that nearly all of the gluten free cookies and cakes (etc.) have a much higher calorie and fat count. They look to these items as comfort foods (they do taste good) and with one cookie having over 500 calories, you see how quickly it adds up. Portion control is key (which she covers off on - information on calories of the goodies would have been helpful though).

    I would recommend this book, just thinking about these things.
    ...more info
  • Celiac Disease
    Written in an easy-to-read style, this book no doubt will be a great help to many who have frequent stomach pains and other strange symptoms. It could be an inherited predisposition to certain foods, and trigger a condition known as Celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease. In addition, there's a link of gluten to autism.

    I've heard about the evils of gluten, but I've never investigated it. I was surprised to discover how pervasive it is in everyday food--even some vinegars!

    Included are recipes, along with tips on organizing a kitchen, shopping, parties, and restaurants. This will prove to be a handy reference tool....more info
  • WARNING: Celiac Foundation Says Hasselbeck's Book "Inaccurate" and "Dangerous"
    What a load of rubbish! And that is not just my personal view, the national Celiac Foundation has issued a warning that this book is inaccurate and dangerous (see warning issued by Celiac Foundation below)

    After reading the book and watching Ms. Hasselbeck promote the book this week, I find myself asking: does Ms. Hasselbeck even have Celiac or is Celiac a disguise for some eating disorder? If Celiac is largely hereditary, how come no one else in Ms. Hasselbeck's family (father, mother, grandparents, sibling) have the disease?

    Ms. Hasselbeck's claims that the "g-free diet" she has published is good for weightloss as well as persons suffering from Celiac (and kids with autism) is irresponsible and only a means for her to expand the market and sell more books. The fact is, most persons truly suffering from Celiac gain weight when they go on to a gluten-free diet because their body is finally able to absorb and retain nutrients.

    This book by Elisabeth Hasselbeck is so poorly written and so full of inaccurate information that the national CELIAC FOUNDATION took the highly unusual step of issuing a warning to people that the book is full of inaccuracies, dangerous and trivializes celiac disease.

    Anyone thinking about buying this book needs to consider the serious warning issued by the Celiac Foundation.

    The Celiac Foundation, a national non-profit organization dedicated to researching celiac and helping victims of celiac is warning that Elisabeth Hasselbeck's book is INACCURATE, DANGEROUS AND TRIVIALIZES THE DISEASE.

    Follows is an exact quote of the warning issued by Elaine Monarch, the Executive Director of the Celiac Foundation:

    "I am writing to call your attention to the current publicity surrounding the new book, The G-free Diet, A Gluten-Free Survival Guide, by Elisabeth Hassselbeck, co-host of The View. While it is important to call attention to celiac disease, the information must be accurate - the inaccuracies in this book are potentially dangerous and detrimental to celiacs and to those yet to be diagnosed if people self diagnose and start eating GF. Our mission is to assist in getting people accurately diagnosed and the message in this book could defeat this mission. It appears that this book is being marketed as a fitness diet - eat g-free and feel so much better. Celiac is incorrectly referred to as an allergy not an autoimmune disease.

    The GF diet is the medically mediated prescription that controls the condition for a diagnosed celiac. Several items in the book are misleading and inaccurate and place further limitations on the GF diet. The gluten-free lifestyle is a lifelong commitment for the diagnosed celiac, not an option, not a fad diet - adhering to the GF lifestyle requires patience and persistence. This lifestyle can not be trivialized."

    * * *

    As you can see on Amazon, there are many, many books on Celiac disease, living with Celiac, and gluten-free eating and recipes. Look for a book by a credible medical expert not attached to a celebrity whose claim to fame is appearing on a reality television show. And look for a book that is not warned against by Celiac Foundation!! Ms. Hasselbeck is only trying to line her pockets with more money. Doing so off the back of a very serious illness is really disturbing.

    ...more info
  • Somewhat smooth but some sticking points tough to digest
    As a health counselor whose nutritional counseling practice is heavily focused on helping people with gluten allergies, intolerances, sensitivities and celiacs phase gluten out of their diet to regain their health, I wasn't expecting to learn much from this book. I'm well versed in gluten-free living from helping my clients and living gluten-free myself.

    But I was hoping it would shed more thorough light to the public on how gluten can wreak havoc on one's health - even if one isn't celiac. It's called a Gluten-Free Survivial Guide - not a book solely for Celiacs. And, most people would benefit from being low or gluten-free.

    Unfortunately, this book didn't accomplished that. If anything, I walked away feeling like someone reading this new to a celiac diagnosis or hoping to improve or even reverse their asthma, inflammation levels, cholesterol, skin problems, diabetes, IBS, acid reflux, exhaustion, anxiety attacks and depression (all which can be done by going gluten-free and changing over to a whole foods diet) would feel overwhelmed and afraid of eating forever.

    I understand Elisabeth has no nutritional background beyond her own experience, but she has access to some of the most progressive health professionals in the world. She could have brought in more research on the incredible benefits of a gluten-free diet, or at least a low-gluten diet. And also the lifestyle and behavior change suggestions needed when under-going dietary changes. By focusing more on the benefits and the how's, which there are hundreds, people would be more motivated to attempt to make these changes in their diets.

    Also, there was no clear cut process for removing gluten from the diet. Many people who have dieted all their life or are emotional eaters (which is the other majority in my practice) will at first, cling to this "deprivation" but in the end, binge on these gluten-foods. This is very dangerous territory and can send people who have a fragile relationship with food off the deep end.

    It personally took me a year to remove gluten from my diet and the easiest way is doing it gradually and making sure the rest of your diet and lifestyle supports this change. Professional help is needed during this transition if you don't want to go insane in the process. And this type of stress can do more damage than gluten. This results in stressed-out people who will never experience the amazing benefits of being gluten-free. I wish Elisabeth would have at least stressed this in the book so that people who already feel like failures with food, wouldn't set themselves up for more heartache.

    I also found some of the information in this book to be inaccurate. For example, there are brands of brown rice syrup that are gluten-free. And one doesn't need to avoid all dairy substitutes. Certain almond milk brands are gluten-free and can be helpful in restoring your health as dairy is very hard to digest. Also, oats are naturally gluten-free and at one point in the book, she mentions they contain gluten. There are other times she says you can find gluten-free oats and they are OK but the inconsistencies can be confusing when you are trying to even remember what gluten-is. And, the book is poorly written with every other line being a ! which personally, was annoying.

    However, there were some interesting things I learned. For example, make sure eggs when you are eating out aren't mixed with flour. And to check my vegetable boullion cubes (which I did and happily, they are gluten-free).

    I also appreciated her commentary on the pharmaceutical companies role in health-care and the need to get away from processed foods. It seems there we both agree.

    Overall, I wish I would have bought the book used.

    Ali M Shapiro, CHHC, AADP
    ...more info
  • R U kidding me?
    Just the kind of book I wanted, written by a nutritian expert like a co host on The View. I am tired of Suzanne Sommers and all the other celebs tryijng to make an extra buck off gullible celebrity roadies. When will the public learn. What is her medical training in this field? ZERO...more info
  • Easy, fun read.
    My Celiac daughter and I enjoyed this book. We learned a few new things and especially enjoyed the chapters on being a guest and eating out. As any Celiac knows, these experiences can be frustrating and extremely challenging.

    We had an "Ah-ha" moment regarding her suggestion for finding out exactly how someone prepared 'gluten free' food for you as a guest. I know it may sound silly, but finding a non-judgemental way to ask has proved to be difficult at times. Some people find the what, where, and how question offensive. We never thought of the kind, yet simple way of pretending excitement of the possibility of a new recipe/preparation technique in order to find out exactly what is in a food item. This will come in handy with the in-laws!

    Elisabeth also mentioned restaurants that she eats at, that offer gluten free menu's. We learned about a few new ones, and would like to share our favorite: Z'Tejas. Best gluten free menu we've found aside from PF Changs. We did not however care for the restaurant card she included in the book. We can't imagine any server, no matter how caring, reading that long card!

    We also did not care for the lack of recipe's. We realize this is not a cook book, however It was frustrating to read over and over again about one particular person's fabulous this and that, and not have a recipe to back up the claim. As any Celiac knows, gluten free recipes are hit and miss. If any of you are like us, you own way too many gluten free cook books looking for an actual good one. I would be thrilled to buy another at Elisabeth's recommendation if even one of this person's recipes were included to try. I think one or two recipes would not have been to much to ask for the free endorsement and advertising given in the book. BTW we love Analise Roberts books!

    One last thought: this is not a medical book. As stated previously and I'm sure to follow, there is some debatable information. This book is about Elisabeth's experience with Celiac, how she deals with it and her tips and ideas. It reads like you are having a conversation with her, not like you are discussing a disease with a doctor. If you used this book as your sole source on Celiac, you'd be in trouble. If however, you enjoyed this book as one more source to help you find ease in a less then easy disease, we believe you'll be happy.
    ...more info