To make sure she is offering the most up-to-date advice, Atkinson approached two giants in the field — dietitian Tricia Thompson, a world-renowned expert in celiac disease, and Jennifer Iscol, president of the Celiac Community Foundation of Northern California. She asked them to review her content and to give her a sense of what people today wanted to know about the challenges and pitfalls of gluten-free living. What she learned is that people often feel like they just don’t have time to navigate the confusing maze of dietary and nutritional information required to stay gluten-free.
These days, gluten — a storage protein in wheat, barley and rye — is found in more than just breads and cereals. It’s also hidden in many types of seasonings, marinades, gum, mints and other packaged food products commonly found on grocery store shelves.
If you’re among the 1 out of 133 Americans with the chronic autoimmune disorder celiac disease, or if, like Atkinson’s daughter, you have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, eating or drinking anything with gluten can have painful — and sometimes serious — repercussions.
“For some people, just smelling the air in a bakery can be a problem,” Atkinson said.
If left undiagnosed, people with celiac disease can become malnourished because they lose the ability to absorb vitamins and nutrients. They suffer severe stomach pains and can even develop osteoporosis. Going gluten-free can drastically improve long-standing health problems with their digestion, joints and sleep patterns.
Atkinson’s first book on the topic was originally a homemade one she devised seven years ago as a resource to empower her own child heading off to college. “Glee” was full of tips and food lists to help daughter Madeleine navigate the daily trips to the college cafeteria, as well as the weekend dorm parties or spontaneous stops with friends for a bite at the local burger joint without feeling sick afterward.