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Coeliac Disease: what you need to know

Foodsmatter.com regular Alex Gazzola’s new book, Coeliac Disease: What you need to know, was published in May. He tells us what he set out to include.

Coeliac disease

“Why does the world need another book on coeliac disease?” was the question put to me when I proposed such a project to my publishers. My editor was playing devil’s advocate but it was a good question which deserved a good answer.

I felt there was a gap in the market for a short book, dense with useful information but free of waffle – which was as suitable for those starting out on their gluten-free journeys as it was for those who have been coeliacs for some time and were looking for a kind of ‘refresher’ or update on the current situation.

These days, there’s so much unedited and non-expert material on the internet – where many coeliacs source their info – that one often needs to plough through hundreds of words for one nugget of advice. I wanted to offer an alternative to that. People are time-strapped: they want facts, delivered sharply and simply. They want to look up answers quickly. They want stuff they ‘need to know’.

There aren’t many current British consumer books on coeliac disease. Of three I came across one was wordy and chatty, one was a bit medically ‘heavy’ going, and another was fairly basic and seemed to draw heavily from official, approved Coeliac UK advice and materials. All three are useful but I wanted to write something brisker, readable and suitable as an ongoing reference book; not too much complex medical language; and not afraid to touch upon speculative and controversial areas.

Another reason I felt a new title was needed was because our knowledge about coeliac disease is constantly changing so coeliac books date quickly. For example:

1. New food labelling laws relating to gluten levels came into full force in January 2012 and these needed to be addressed in detail.
2. There are lots of research projects involving potential new treatments – vaccines, enzyme pills, helminths (hookworms), an assortment of drugs – which have not been covered by other books and which some coeliacs may not know about.
3. As foodsmatter.com reported only recently, the gluten-free food industry is growing at a speedy rate, and new GF food companies (listed at the back of the book) are constantly springing up (and sometimes dying out).

A theme sometimes absent from coeliac advice books, and rarely addressed as a priority in the realm of coeliac disease generally, is the emotional aspect of coping with the condition. At diagnosis, some feel angry, some are in denial, some become stressed. Post-diagnosis, some become frustrated, others embarrassed, and others depressed. A few experience all of these feelings at different times. While my chapter on how to manage this emotional rollercoaster will not be a cure-all to every problem, it will I hope equip you with a number of tools to get yourself psychologically back on the road if you ever find yourself veering off into the hard shoulder.

Elsewhere, Coeliac Disease: What you need to know covers testing, diagnosis, nutrition, food shopping, eating out, health issues, practical issues, children’s issues, aftercare and ongoing health problems. There is also a comprehensive resource section, with recommended websites, coeliac organisations, coeliac-related social media and so on.

Essentially, then, the book tells you how to find out whether you or your child needs to avoid gluten, how to avoid gluten if one of you does, and how to best ensure a healthy gluten-free life.

What doesn’t it include? Recipes. Sites like the one you’re reading and any number of cookbooks, such as those by Phil Vickery, have in my view got that brilliantly covered and I felt there was no point in competing – even were I to have had the space or the cooking talent.

That said, should you wish to try some of my own gluten-free recipes, you’ll be either relieved, indifferent or distressed to learn that I’ll be taking up the gluten-free challenge for Coeliac Awareness Week (starting May 16th), and shall be writing up my experiences and kitchen experiments every day on my blog, Food Allergy and Intolerance Ink.

I’ve started a thread on the FoodsMatter forums where I’m happy to answer your questions about the book, whether you’ve read it or not. Over on my blog, I’ve a dedicated page where I’ll be posting updates, reviews and news throughout the year.

I hope coeliacs everywhere find it useful – and I’d love to hear what you think.

Coeliac Disease: What you need to know is priced £7.99 and is published by Sheldon Press. Click here for national and international online sites selling the book.

You can buy a signed copy of the book for £5.99 direct from Alex via his blog: www.foodallergyandintolerance.blogspot.com

 

First published May 2011

 

Click here for more articles on the management of coeliac disease

 

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