Food Lovers

BOOK REVIEW

A Gluten-Free Life

The journey of Jeeva Anna George in her fight against and triumph over gluten is a story that has been comprehensively told in A Gluten-Free Life, My Celiac Story

According to Celiac India, the prevalence rate of Celiac disease (the allergy to gluten) is around one percent globally. In India, the ailment was considered to be more prevalent in North India, and only in recent decades has it percolated into South India. The diagnosis rate of Celiac disease stands at just 5% since its symptoms are varied and often related to more common illnesses of the gastrointestinal system. Jeeva Anna George was among the 5% diagnosed, that too after having suffered the ailment for a long time. A Gluten-Free Life is her story, written along with Sheila Kumar.
 
Food literature in India today has evolved to include a lot of personal narrative and this book is a hitherto untold story of living life with Celiac disease. Sure, we have heard of restaurants and menus including gluten-free options, but we all need to realize that these options have much more to them than just being a means to potential weight loss.
 
The book is a personal account of how Jeeva lived with Celiac disease, undiagnosed for a long while, the emotional turmoil of being constantly unwell and the effects it had on her personal life. All this, till she was rightly diagnosed and now had a sense of direction in terms of streamlining her life as far as her diet is concerned.
 
What the book has going for it is that it is a personal account and so hits the right chords in terms of connecting with an audience. It has a ‘Dear Diary’ style, a bit over dramatic and slightly repetitive in terms of the various food situations faced and how it was solved. That said, it puts in words, emotions and mental conversations you have with yourself when in trouble, quite well.
 
For those who suffer from the ailment and even for those who don’t, the book is comprehensive in telling you why symptoms are misdiagnosed, how you can get your life back on track in terms of diet, how to read labels and why it is important, how you can plan travel, attending parties and ensuring that the “forbidden foods” list does not prove a dampener in any situation.
 
It touches topics you would otherwise not have thought of – such as looking for gluten components in products that you wouldn’t have thought had them. Take Hing for example – the processed powder form contains maida! Processed oats can be cross-contaminated with wheat because they are harvested together.
 
The book includes a set of recipes with easily available ingredients that achieve as close to the original recipe taste as possible. An index for them would have been a helpful addition though.
 
A Gluten-Free Life gives everyone a solid look into the world of a person living with a food ailment that is not really well understood. It helps makes things clearer and may even be useful to others who live with food allergies and are looking for ways to make sense of it all and live happy lives.
 
A Gluten-Free Life – My Celiac Story
Jeeva Anna George and Sheila Kumar
Harper Collins
Rs 299

Posted: May 25, 2018
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