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January 15, 2014

Saying goodbye to gluten

Inspired by daughter, West Newbury author writes lifestyle guide

Living a gluten-free lifestyle is sort of like being pregnant — because you can’t do it just a little bit.

And yet West Newbury author Beth Atkinson — whose latest book on the subject, “Gluten-Free in 60 Minutes,” is now available as an e-book — says she is continually amazed by how many times she’s heard people say they are trying to follow a “more gluten-free” diet.

“They don’t realize that it doesn’t work that way. You can’t just be gluten-free sometimes,” Atkinson said. “You can’t do it halfway. It’s a 100 percent commitment, and it doesn’t happen overnight.”

The writer’s primary focus has always been preteen fiction infused with lovable, slightly over-the-top characters who learn to embrace their quirkiness despite the dreaded peer pressures of their middle school years.

Popular with the “tween” demographic, her books “From Alice to Zen” and “I, Emma Freke” have won numerous writing recognitions and awards. Atkinson is currently working on her first story written from the perspective of a preteen boy.

After the publisher of her first nonfiction book, “Glee! An Easy Guide to Gluten-Free Independence” (2009), went out of business, Atkinson started receiving emails from people asking where else they might get a copy of it. This, coupled with her dismay over the amount of misinformation in cyberspace about gluten-free living, prompted her to take on what she describes as “a labor of love.” She simplified and condensed all the tips from “Glee” into one succinct manual, and she published it in an easy-to-access digital format.

“As a parent of a child with severe gluten sensitivity, I know firsthand how overwhelming — even paralyzing — the lifestyle can be when starting out,” she said. “So I wrote the book I wished I could have read the day my daughter was diagnosed.”

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