I was flattered and very pleased to be asked to review Alex Gazzola’s new book, “Coeliac disease: what you need to know.”
Alex is a health journalist with several books under his belt already, all about allergies and intolerances, including: “Living with food allergies” and “Living with food intolerances”.
I am not a coeliac, but I do benefit from cutting out processed wheat and baked goods from my diet, and with the advent of another Coeliac Week (16-22 May 2011), I have decided that for the duration of my reading of this book I will eat gluten free. I actually feel much better for it; could I have more of a problem with gluten than I’ve been admitting? That’s another conversation altogether.
I’ve been enjoying fruit, gluten free (Genius bread) toast and nairns oat gluten free porridge. Quinoa stir fry, jacket potatoes and salads; a very healthy diet in fact.
But back to the subject in hand. I’m generally not very good at reading factual books. I love reading but usually I can be found buried behind a good novel so I wasn’t sure if I’d make it to the end.
I have however, been completely sucked in. I’ve learnt so much about what Coeliac disease really is, how complex diagnosis is, how challenging a GF diet can be, the emotional effects, which of all the chapters in the book, really struck a chord with me.
Having suffered with eczema and allergies all my life the emotional toll, depression and psychological effects are often not considered. You feel very alone, often in pain and very frustrated. Despite the fact Coeliac disease and allergies are on the increase, I often look at my friends who smoke, take drugs, eat whatever processed foods they like, but look much better than me. No red sore itchy skin for them. It seems unfair, and life avoiding certain foods is NOT easy. This chapter has been very well written, considered and understood; no mean feat from the author, who I know has no allergies and is not in fact a Coeliac himself. Well done Alex on this chapter. Often an area missed out and not discussed in other books I’ve read on this subject.
This book really has taught me a great deal and I count myself as somewhat of an expert in all things to do with allergies and gluten free. I even suspect, from going gluten free for just a few weeks, that I might well have a problem with gluten that I’ve been avoiding. Gluten or wheat denial. I usually follow this process with every new allergy I acquire. When you have a list of allergies as long as your arm, denial for new ones can be a big problem.
The only section I would have liked a bit more information was in Chapter 5, Food Sense: diet and nutrition. Where moderate and low GI diets are discussed “a few fruits” (moderate GI diet) and “many fruits” (low GI diet) were mentioned. I’d have loved to have been told which fruits! I’m being very critical here, but when reading it I just thought: what a shame we don’t find out which fruits. I’m sure it’s not hard to discover, and I intend to do my own research to discover just which fruits we’re talking about here.
If you have Coeliac disease, or even suspect that you might have a sensitivity to wheat and gluten, this is a must read, bible of a book, packed full of everything you’ll ever need to know. It’s well written, concise and very informative. I will be keeping my copy and referring to it regularly (Alex it will not be going on ebay – even with your signature inside, honest!). Some chapters, such as the one about Testing and Diagnosis, are very complex and will need re-reading I think. There is a huge amount of information packed into this slim little volume.
The chapter on future treatments and therapies was also very interesting, especially with the recent news that scientists in Australia are working on a vaccine for coeliac disease. If you’re interested you can read
Coeliac Disease Vaccine in Trial Stage on the Third Age website.
You can read another review of Alex’s book on the free-from gluten blog.
And finally, if you’re interested you should read what Alex set out to achieve on the Foods Matter website which also has links to buy online on Amazon, or cheaper direct from Foods Matter.
Have you read it? Are you tempted? I have really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone with Coeliac disease, wheat or gluten intolerance or food sensitivities. It’s a very good read. Well done Alex!