Friday, December 28, 2012

Bloggers blog about blogs more than you think...

Lately, I find myself drawn to food blogs much more than ever before. Rather than assert that the blogs are getting better, I’m sure that the shift occurred within me. Through recommendations from friends/ family and the growth of avenues for sharing sites (no, I’m not on pintest yet…and no I don’t need an invite until my master’s degree is complete) I guess I’ve slowly turned into a food-blog follower. Oh, and it’s pretty awesome. There is such a wealth of free information out there – recipes, tips, restaurant reviews, product reviews, etc.—that it is becoming difficult not to follow more and more bloggers. I am finding all of the information invaluable, especially since I have to adhere to a strict gluten-free diet. So many talented writers and experienced foodies are open about their own trials and tribulations with gluten-free living and the food that they have experimented with or discovered. Here are some of my favorite gluten-free food blogs:

But that is not even a complete list of the food blogs that I keep an eye on. Seriously, I could go on. But why am I telling you this? Because the book that I read most recently is the memoir of the woman who writes the Gluten Free Girl and the Chef Blog, that’s why.  Being familiar with her blog, I thought that her book would be a fun read…and it was, but it also impacted me in a way that I didn’t expect.
Shauna James Ahern is pretty well known in the gluten-free world and in the food blog world in general.  In her book Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found the Food the Loves Me Back and You Can Too she allows the reader access to her life lived with celiac disease. Like many of us, she wasn’t diagnosed with celiac disease until adulthood but the signs were there throughout her childhood and adolescent years.   Her explanations of how her family ate when she was young and how she began to define her own relationship with food when she set out on her own were endearing and most likely hold some familiarity for all Americans in the Gen-X and Millennial generations.  But it was her journey toward a diagnosis of celiac disease and the way her life changed afterward that impacted me the most.
                Shauna (I now know so much about her that I feel like we’re on a first name basis) had symptoms and struggles that were so similar to my own before I was diagnosed celiac that the familiarity really resonated with me.  So much so that reading her story helped me to reflect on and understand my own in a deeper way than I have before.  I’m not sure if I fully realized the blessing that having celiac disease has really been in my life. Having an autoimmune reaction to gluten has forced me to take better care of myself. It means that I HAVE to be conscious of the food that I put into my body; there is no such thing as mindless eating for me anymore.  And that I HAVE to advocate for myself in situations that I wouldn’t have before (something I am still working on in some cases).  It has taken patience and time but I feel like it has literally made me a new person, healthier and more stable emotionally and physically.  
                Since there is comfort in solidarity, reading about how Shauna found a “new lease on life” after her diagnosis was interesting and entertaining to me.  Not to mention I learned a lot! I learned things about celiac disease that I had never thought to research before. I learned about a few new foods to be wary of and a few new foods that can be added to my repertoire.  The book is intermixed with some gourmet recipes and inspiring tidbits about life, so it is now properly sticky noted and will remain accessible in my apartment. 
                The bottom line? The book maintains an easy, enjoyable pace and Shauna James Ahern has a background in teaching writing, so there is substance there for sure. This book is a quick, pleasing read about gluten and celiac disease. It is worth a read if you have celiac disease or if you have an interest in learning more about the disease and how it affects the people in your life who have it. It may also be worth a read as just an interesting memoir that gives you perspective on a different walk of life (I can’t really say for sure on that one, because I can’t read the book as a person without celiac disease).  I will definitely recommend it to any gluten-free newbies as a useful way to learn more and to get some insight on their own struggles.

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