Time for the Badger Girl Book Club again. Every week, I try to review a book that deals with health, cooking, or diet. To see past books, check out the Badger Girl Book Shelf.
This week’s book is one that is near and dear to my heart, The Gluten Syndrome.
This book was brought to my attention while I was assisting with a cooking class. The subject of a gluten-free diet came up during the class and one participant started talking about a big gluten-free event that would be happening in Madison next Fall. My ears were piqued. I had just hosted Kim from Sunny State of Mind on the blog, an awesome gluten-free blogger. On top of that, Manatee and I were beginning to experiment with a wheat-free diet.
To give you some background, Manatee had always complained that he didn’t like bread or pasta and he never felt good after he ate it. Like the sympathetic wife I am, I made fun of him and generally gave him a hard time about it. Then we started doing some reading and found out how much trouble wheat can cause in your body.
Boy, did I feel like a jerk.
We cut wheat out of our diet and both of us felt a ton better. Every once in awhile, I will have a craving for bread or pasta and give in. Lo and behold, I never feel well afterwards. It doesn’t necessarily stop me because sometimes it’s worth it. But most of the time, it’s not. Manatee is grain-free and super happy about it.
So, back to the book and the class: I talked to the participant and he put me in touch with one of the organizers who sent me this book.
I am going to be honest with you, The Gluten-Free Syndrome is not an easy read nor is it a coffee table book.
This is really geared at people who are either struggling with gluten and want to understand the technical reasons why or experts in the medical field. It is very technical and includes data from studies and personal accounts from case studies.
I have to admit, I skimmed in places but I also couldn’t put it down. Dr. Ford is essentially proving that you don’t have to have celiac disease to have a problem with gluten. He explains why people struggle with gluten (it has to do with your immune system and whether or not you create antibodies that attack it or not) and why it’s becoming such a huge problem (gluten is EVERYWHERE, especially in processed foods).
What really struck me about the book is that gluten can affect you in so many different ways. Yes, the most common have to do with your tummy, but there is so much more.
Having problems with your skin? It could be gluten.
Feeling anxious, depressed, or flighty? Gluten.
Are your kids having trouble concentrating in school? Dyslexia? Hyper? Sluggish? Gluten, gluten, gluten, gluten.
For me, the highlight of the book was the case studies. Account after account of kids and parents who were amazed at what happened when gluten was removed from the diet. It broke my heart because you could also tell the parents felt so terrible that they had been feeding their kids the problem, but how would they know? How would anyone know?
More and more, people are realizing they have trouble processing gluten. For many of us, we never realized how good you can feel without it.
If I was a braver person, I would show you pictures. You will have to just trust me that removing wheat and gluten totally changed my body. I thought that I was doomed to always have a pooch stomach. No matter how thin I was in high school, my stomach was always round. Would you believe the school board even discussed whether or not I was pregnant because my track coach saw my round stomach at practice? How’s that for making a teenage girl self-conscious about her body? My mother told me my stomach was hereditary and I accepted that. I have no butt, but I will have a stomach, it was fine. I dealt with it. (And I still shake my fist at the nerve of that coach and the school board.)
Then I stopped eating wheat and suddenly the pooch was gone.
Not to mention, my energy sky-rocketed. I work out at least twice a day and sometimes three times a day. I am blessed to have the time, but I am even more blessed to have the energy, which I didn’t have when I was eating wheat.
I eat less than I did pre-wheat. I used to have breakfast (an english muffin and egg whites) and be hungry in a few hours. I would have lunch (including wheat!) and be hungry again. Now I stay fuller longer.
I am not as bloated as I was pre-wheat. I feel good after a meal and not full and crampy.
Don’t get me wrong. I am no wheat-free saint. I do lapse and eat wheat sometimes. I like bread! And when I do, the bloated feeling comes back. I have just learned to accept and expect it. I don’t believe in extreme diets though I have to admit, I would feel better if I did. Manatee certainly does.
And don’t think it doesn’t make me a little cranky. I was and am a bread lover, but how can I deny how I feel?
Points of Contention with the Book
I liked the overall message of the book, but let’s be honest, it was over my head. Lots of technical terms, suggested blood tests if you think you have a serious problem with gluten, diagrams of how gluten passes through your intestines. It’s not easy reading. Lots of stuff that didn’t appeal to me but would if I had a more serious problem or was a colleague of Dr. Ford.
At one point, Dr. Ford equates himself with Galileo and Copernicus as being a pioneer in the field. That’s quite a claim (or an ego) I know his talk at the upcoming event is how everyone needs to avoid gluten because it is destroying us. I give him credit because if you are going to stand behind something, then stand behind it.
But do I think it’s believable that all of America will rid their diets of gluten? Probably not.
Would they feel better if they did? They probably would.
The Big Madison Area Gluten-Free Event
On October 1st, the Gluten Intolerance Group of East Central Wisconsin is going to host the author, Dr. Rodney Ford.
He is going to give a talk on the harms of gluten and I believe there is going to be a gluten-free dinner. Check out this website for more information.
Later this summer, I will be interviewing one of the organizers for this event.
Gluten-free diets are quite the rage now, what is your take?