EXCERPT: 'The G-Free Diet,' by Elizabeth Hasselbeck

PHOTO The cover for the book "The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide" is shown.

Elizabeth Hasselbeck spent years trying to figure out what was making her sick, going from doctor to doctor, trying a multitude of different medications and altering her diet. After years of searching, she discovered that she had celiac disease, an autoimmune condition triggered by gluten: a protein found in most grains, cereals, and breads.

In "The G-Free Diet," Hasselbeck chronicles her journey to the gluten-free diet and provides some delicious recipes for others suffering from celiac disease. Read an excerpt of "The G-Free Diet" below.

Click HERE to learn more about Hasselbeck's Eating Out G-Free app.

My G-Free Journey

I learned about gluten the hard way. I wrote this book so you don't have to. Most people with celiac disease, like me, have a story to tell. My hope is that in reading mine, and the pages that follow, you will be able to begin your journey to a better body and a better self—without all the heartache (and bellyache!) that I endured for far too long.

I grew up in an Italian-American neighborhood in Providence, Rhode Island. There wasn't a single holiday that did not feature "Mama's" (my grandmother's) famous baked penne along with a thirty- inch loaf of fresh Italian bread. After dessert, my whole family would even sit around dunking any remaining bread into our coffee. My cousins and I would ?ght over who got the "end" of each loaf. I remember watching Mama slice into the loaf, waiting to see if it was my "day" or not.

The smell of more toasted Italian bread and butter would wake me up the next morning.

In my childhood home, it was all bread, all the time—and that was just the way we liked it.

While some things haven't changed in my family—we still have baked penne at every holiday dinner—other things certainly have. Since 2002, for example, my mom has made two baked penne: one for everyone else, and one just for me, a gluten- free version that hurts neither my stomach nor Mama's feelings when she looks over and sees a plate devoid of our traditional family fare.

"What do you mean you 'can't have the penne'?" Mama would question me after we sat down at her table. Over and over, I would try to explain to my grandmother, whom I love with my whole heart, and hated to upset at all, that "I am allergic to the pasta."

"Since when?" she would immediately shoot back.

The answer to that was a bit more complicated.

My G-Free Journey

The trouble began in early 1997, during the spring of my sophomore year of college. I went on two big trips that spring. The first, over winter break, was a three-week-long immersion/teaching trip to the village of Red Bank and the city of Dangriga in Belize. The second, a spring training trip, was within the United States, with my Boston College softball team.

I had been feeling a little under the weather since Belize, and shortly after I returned from the softball trip, I was diagnosed with a severe bacterial intestinal infection—residue, the doctor said, from my trip to Central America. I landed in the school infirmary for nearly a week, with an immensely distended belly and a 103- to 104-degree fever. My memories of that week are hazy at best: I can recall little more than opening my eyes to see my mom standing over the bed. And Tim, my college sweetheart and now husband, looking more than concerned.

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