Celiac.com 05/06/2009 - Like so many people with celiac disease, Elisabeth Hasselbeck of ABC's The View has a story to tell. Like so many people with celiac disease, that story involves a long, slow, painful journey from suffering to understanding, to self-empowerment and recovery. In between were periods of confusion, doubt, isolation and malaise. Hasselbeck describes that journey in her new book: The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide.

The G-Free
Diet:
A Gluten-Free Survival GuideHasselbeck's odyssey began during her sophomore year of college, when she fell ill after returning from a three-week-long trip to Belize. She was diagnosed with a severe bacterial intestinal infection which, her doctor said, was a result of her travels in Central America. The illness put in the school infirmary for nearly a week, with an immensely distended belly and a 103+ fever. Once the initial infection subsided, she was naturally relieved, and thought the worst was over. Little did she know that a long road lay ahead.

As an athlete, Hasselbeck was eager to get back into shape after she was discharged. Her body had other ideas. During this period, she says she felt absolutely ravenous, yet the only dining hall foods that seemed appealing were soft-serve vanilla frozen yogurt and Rice Krispies. Food had lost its appeal.

Hasselbeck grew up in an Italian-American neighborhood in Providence, RI, in a family that prized all things bread and pasta, so she wasn't about to give up the appetite and food battle without a fight.

However, no matter what she ate nothing satisfied her hunger—and everything seemed to upset her stomach. After nearly every meal, she had the classic bloating, and sharp, gassy pains in her gut that are all too familar to most celiacs. Cramps, indigestion and diarrhea were familiar companions; sometimes all at once. Often, she would become too tired to move.

It was about this time that she became a contestant on Survivor: The Australian Outback. While enduring the trials of surviving in the outback, Hasselbeck was deprived of her normal, gluten-rich American diet, and forced to subsist on things she would never willingly eat at home. Yet, her symptoms were gone, and she had never felt better. Once she returned to the U.S., she narrowed the scope of her quest. She eliminated nearly everything from her diet and introduced items one at a time.

After nearly forty days basically starving herself, she sought solace in her pre-Australia diet, with dire consequences. After the joy of knowing a healthy, happy gut for the first time in years, she suddenly found herself feeling worse than ever, and spending days in her room, bedridden, save for urgent trips to the bathroom.

She saw a doctor and received a diagnosis of "irritable