Monday, August 11, 2014

Books Six through Ten: Read, Reading, Read

It's no surprise that celiac has greatly influenced my recent reading materials. It is kind of surprising (to me, at least) where I have ended up on my latest health-related reading jag.

It started with Gluten Freedom by Alessio Fasano. First off, completely awesome book. Seriously, read it. Forget about reading Green's celiac book. If you are going to read one celiac book, this should be it. New bible. Yes. It's easier to read but has more in-depth information. Great book. I wish Dr. Fasano was my doctor (but not enough to go to Boston.) Two thumbs up.

Anyway, in the book, Fasano mentions patients that don't respond well to a gluten-free diet. (Oh look, just like me!) He mentioned a special diet he puts those patients on that helps most of them, so I ended up reading a study he did about that diet. That's what my current restricted diet is based on (though it has migrated a bit as I react or don't react to things.)

Then I started reading about connective tissue disorders and lyme disease (because there was some thought that I had other non-celiac issues going on and a resurgence of my lyme disease was mentioned (though the tests have been negative - yay!)). Well, a treatment/management tool for lyme disease (and a whole bunch of other things) is a low inflammation diet. A... what? I had no idea what that was (other than apparently eliminating gluten - oh look, done!) so I ended up reading The Inflammation Syndrome by Jack Challem.

That one had borderline too much information but it turns out the anti-inflammation diet is quite similar to Fasano's diet so okay, I'm interested. Maybe Fasano's diet works because it eliminates all traces of cross-contamination or maybe it works because it focuses on anti-inflammatory foods. Either way, it sounds good and hey, if it works, I'm all for it.

It turns out both diets (regardless of the reasons particular foods are included in the "a-ok" list) are pretty darn similar to the fad, the Paleo diet. Given how much I object to fad diets on general principal, you know I just I loved that. But I'm also desperate (and pretty much following that diet already) so, I ended up reading The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain.

Seriously. Paleo diet. I feel a bit dirty but knowledge is power, right?

At this point in the reading chain, I wasn't expecting too much new information and I don't think I really encountered any. I mean, I've been running across Paleo things online for a while and felt I had a decent understanding of it and turns out I did so there was nothing earth shattering there. It wasn't quite in depth science-y, which I had been hoping for, but more fad-diet-y. So that wasn't awesome. Still, it had its interesting moments if the overall information wasn't shocking or shiny new to me.

One big complaint about the book though (aside from the whole fad diet thing): the author came across as massively arrogant. Everything was "I discovered this" and "my colleague So-and-so" like nothing of importance could possibly be attributed to anyone else - even other doctors and scientist in the field were only important because they were "my colleague". Yeah, that was off-putting even if the information being shared was interesting. And it was quite the contrast to Fasano's more humble style (and he's done a lot for celiac - he could crow a bit but doesn't. Sometimes it seemed that all Cordain did was crow. Ugh.)

Well, my mild dissatisfaction with that book led me to another Paleo book, The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson. It had footnotes! Much more what I was looking for. First off, the author didn't come across as arrogant. He did kind of push his website a bit, but not overly in a used-car-sales way.

The information was presented in a more logical and detailed fashion that the first Paleo (or Primal, whatever) diet book I had read so that was good. This one also walked the line more of "diet book" and "food book". Still not quite enough "food book" for me but I definitely preferred this book and would recommend it over the other. (Just in case anyone wants to read a fad diet book.)

And then rounding things out (but being more directly related to celiac), I also read Jennifer's Way by Jennifer Esposito, a gift from my delightful in-laws.

Reading her journey was pretty awful. I think I kind of cheated when it came to my celiac diagnosis. Hindsight, I was having gluten-related issues for about seven or eight months before being diagnosed, but so many people go seven to eight years. The only reason I wasn't diagnosed sooner is because I didn't go to the doctor sooner.

Of course, I was the one that asked them to include a celiac test. If I hadn't I could be on that same medical hide-and-seek others go through. But I knew I had the gene, I knew to ask. And it was positive. I totally lucked out (relatively speaking because, you know, autoimmune disease). I can only imagine what would have happened if I had not known to ask about that test as I was to the point in my reaction that I could barely walk. But my celiac horror story is remarkably short-lived. Unlike people like Jennifer Esposito. So yeah, really glad I missed the extended version!

As much as my road to diagnosis did not look like hers, I totally understood her post-diagnosis story. Food becomes the enemy? Fear at every meal? Yeah, totally get those. (I have no idea how long it will be before I decide to eat at a restaurant. I'm thinking never is a possibility.) And the detox and inflammation issues she death with? That is an experience I didn't get to skip! (And am still dealing with it.)

Honestly, at this point I think I'm kind of full up on celiac reading. I might next need to read something that doesn't make me contemplate my health. At least by this point I've pretty much figured out what my new diet is going to look like. No wheat or gluten (obviously), but no corn, no rice (I'm still having reactions to those two - corn (even in full vegetable form) now makes me feel like I've been drugged while rice makes me feet and hands hurt and swell. So far the reactions last about three to four days.), no dairy (sadly of any sort - even sheep and goat. Sadface.) There are still questions about things like potatoes - I think those are okay in small doses but do know that lots of potato chips are bad. Anyway, the food adventure will continue, even if the reading takes a slight more "for fun" bent for a little bit!


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