Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Gluten Free Wedding Etiquette and "The G Free Diet" Book Review

The other night I made a pile of books that I may want to bring on vacation with me next week when I ran across "The G Free Diet" by Elisabeth Hasselbeck.  I had planned on writing this same book myself and was annoyed that some chick from The View had beat me to it and had her celebrity behind the whole thing.  I guess I was angry enough to buy the book.  Oops.  I mean, my title could kick her title's butt!  "Life after Lucky Charms" is so much more creative, right?  Anyway, the book has the approval of some Harvard MD, so I'm hoping most of it is legit, but a few comments made me wonder if she's the Jenny McCarthy or Suzanne Somers of Celiac Disease.  By that, I mean an uneducated, emotional celebrity who uses anecdotal evidence instead of science to appeal to other uneducated, emotional people who are desperate for solutions to health issues.  (For more rants on this, tune into "The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe" podcast.)

I'm half way through the book and generally, I think she should not be categorized with those other two moronic celebrities.  Her information is super helpful, seemingly based on science (she admits things are not black and white), and simplified in a way that makes it accessible to people desperate to figure things out after first being diagnosed.

There are a few things that bugged me, though.  Like, telling people to cut gluten as a way to loose weight.  I'm assuming this is just a ploy to sell more books.  There is no way in hell that anyone should be cutting gluten to loose weight.  Gluten substitutes can be filled with unhealthy starches and non-whole-grains.  If you want to loose weight, then stop eating processed food and stop eating out.  I think this is what she's getting at, though, that a side effect of going gluten-free is to be more aware of what you're eating and often results in cooking things at home from whole foods, and therefore, could result in weight loss.   

My second issue is her chapter on trying to survive, socially, with a gluten intolerance.  She says to never RSVP to a wedding and ask the bride to go out of her way to arrange a gluten free meal for you because they really just have too many other details to worry about.  Really?  Am I rude?  I've had three close friends/cousins be super-brides and order me a gluten free meal for their wedding day (Thanks girls!!!).  I'm not sure how much of a hassle it was, but it seems to me, if you're putting in an order with your caterer and you say, "I need 50 chicken dinners, 60 steaks, 10 vegetarian pastas, 20 kids plates, and 3 gluten free options," the worst your caterer can say is "No!"  In this case, I would know ahead of time to go grab pre-dinner before the sit down dinner, which is totally not a big deal, and everyone would be happy.  Then the bride wouldn't have spent Lord-knows how much money on my plate that wouldn't get eaten.  Elisabeth Hasselbeck tells us that she sits by her husband and has him eat half of his meal, then switches plates with her so she doesn't feel rude for not eating the food.  I will agree with her on one thing, though, that it's always a good idea to have back-up food in your purse.  My purse is always stocked with a gluten free granola bar and a fruit bar for low blood sugar emergencies.  

Her solution to a lot of social situations is just to eat before hand.  I used to do this, but I've discovered that it's just as easy to make something awesome yourself to bring to the party so you know there's one thing you can eat.  Sometimes this one thing is a huge hit and I have to fend off others from eating all of it so I can have some!  (I'll be sure to share these recipes with you along the way.)  I'm also lucky because most of my friends have been with me through this whole process and they know what gluten free means.  They're not afraid to say, "Keah, don't try my potato salad 'cause its way contaminated!" or "Keah, this is totally gluten free, so dig in."  I think my friends are particularly good at this because a lot of them are vegetarians and just like they wouldn't appreciate a random piece of steak in their salad, I don't appreciate contaminated food.  They are also healthy, whole food eaters, which really makes most of their food edible to me.  My family, because they live so far away and only have to deal with feeding me twice a year, usually has to ask a lot of questions before knowing if something is gluten free, which is super sweet of them to ask.  My aunt used to make me my own chipped beef spread so we didn't contaminate my favorite spread with rye bread from everyone else! 

Dear Ms. Hasselbeck,

Thanks for stealing my book idea.  I'm sorry I didn't get to it first, but I was too busy writing this thing called a Ph.D. dissertation.  Plus, no one would have published or bought my book, so it's really better that you make the money while I blog for free.

Sincerely, Dr. K. 
I'm curious, what do you think about the wedding situation?  Is it rude to ask for a gluten free meal?  How does the cake situation work with a gluten free bride or groom?


Earthtonegirl said...

I think the wedding thing depends on how close you are with the bride/groom. I was invited to a big wedding last week where I didn't know the couple very well and didn't want to bug them, so I just called the hall myself and made arrangements. If it were my best friend, heck yeah I would've put her to work.

Now I have my own wedding to plan, and I'm a little torn about the food. On the one hand, I think I shoudl be able to eat everything at my wedding! but then again, I know brides don't usually get to eat much anyway, so I'm kinda wondering if I should bother doing everything GF. (I'm dairy-free, too, which just makes everythign more complicated). Of course, part of me wants to show everyone that GF food really can be awesome (so maybe my family will stop saying helpful things like "If I had your diet, I'd hang myself.").

Becky said...

Well I'm in the middle of planning a wedding right now, and I think her solution is insane. If I invite someone to my wedding it's because I want them to be there and I want them to have a good time, and part of that is EATING! If I found out a friend of mine pulled that whole swapping plates with her husband thing rather than telling me she needed a gluten-free meal, I'd be sending someone to the kitchen to find that woman a meal! As far as I know, no one on our guestlist follows a gluten-free diet, but I sure hope they'll tell me if they do.

Of course, I'm coming from a position of being a little tired of "the bride is the princess and it's her special day so she gets whatever she wants" that's plastered all over the wedding internets. :P As for cakes, there must be a way to make a gluten-free cheesecake or ice cream cake, no? Flourless chocolate cake? Yum, now I want dessert.