Jennifer’s Way: My Journey with Celiac Disease–What Doctors Don’t Tell You and How You Can Learn to Live Again by Jennifer Esposito
You know when you are feeling completely alone and you’re wondering what on earth is wrong with you? And then you find a book where someone has gone through something similar and you say, “FINALLY! Someone understands! Someone’s been there!” and then you kind of see the dark clouds part and the sun shines a little brighter?
That’s how I felt as I devoured Jennifer Esposito’s book. In case you don’t know Jennifer, she’s an accomplished actress but what interested me most was not details of her celebrity life (you won’t find any in this book anyway!) but her journey from being sick to getting better. When I began having problems with gluten, I craved a book like this one- where we are taken from childhood to adulthood then diagnosis and tips for living gluten-free- you will find that in this book!
Her case is extreme- for her entire life she suffered mysterious illnesses and not one doctor could figure out what was wrong. Barely able to walk, Jennifer struggled to function. She had numerous symptoms that became worse as time went on, your heart will go out to Jennifer as you read what she went through. Jennifer’s diet was bland carbohydrates, later she’d discover the foods she thought were helping were actually causing her sickness.
After years and years of being misdiagnosed, she finally found out what had been making her so sick- Celiac disease. In case you don’t know much about Celiac, this autoimmune disorder can have up to 300 symptoms so oftentimes, its hard to diagnose. What happens is that gluten slowly damages the villi in the intestines, making it nearly impossible for nutrients to be absorbed. You end up getting very sick, tired, and some people end up malnourished. It’s a very serious disease and one that Jennifer is bringing a lot of awareness to.
Maybe you can relate to her story- doctor’s acting dismissive and not taking your complaints seriously, feeling miserable and unable to get out of bed, having to stay home because you’re too sick to join your friends…then after the diagnosis, struggling to understand the disease and wondering what and how you are ever going to eat again! It’s a lonely disease and one that friends and family may not understand or even believe. So its important to read books like this and find websites and forums where other like-minded people hang out. You are not alone!
What I liked about this book was Jennifer’s entire story about food and how it related so much to her fond memories of growing up in Brooklyn. She really takes us through her whole life so we can get a clear picture of what its like to struggle with Celiac.
Finally, she gets her diagnosis then she shares how she had to change her eating habits, cooking style and so on. Celiac is so serious that even a tiny crumb of gluten can make a person with Celiac disease sick for days. Cross contamination and eating at restaurants is a huge concern. Jennifer shows us what she does and how she lives to avoid getting accidentally “glutened.”
Inspired by gluten-free baking, Jennifer went on to open up her own safe place to eat, a bakery in New York City that she named Jennifer’s Way. Here is a place where we can eat and not worry about being glutened! Its a haven for people with wheat allergies, Celiac disease and gluten intolerance. I cannot wait to visit when I am in New York city this summer.