Gluten-Free Throughout The Year by Melissa Diane Smith
Nutritionist Melissa Diane Smith, author of Going Against the Grain, has written a new book, Gluten Free Throughout the Year: A Two-Year, Month-to-Month Guide for Healthy Eating. I’m happy that today we at Celiac.com have the exclusive first interview with Melissa about her book.

Scott: Hi Melissa, thank you for stopping by to answer my questions about your new book. I think this is a book that will interest many Celiac.com readers and we’re delighted to have you here.

Melissa: I am delighted to be here. I really admire the work you do on this site and I’m thrilled to have Celiac.com be the first place to begin spreading the word about my new book.

Q: Let’s start with this question: What was your primary goal in writing Gluten Free Throughout the Year?

A: My primary goal was to help people learn how to eat gluten free and healthy so that they can experience improved health and protect themselves against disease.

If you stop and think about it, improving and protecting our health is the reason all of us began eating gluten free in the first place. We all know that it’s quite a challenge to go from the diet that most of us were used to eating, to avoiding all sources of gluten in our diet. Because of that, many of us focus on gluten free and nothing else, either not knowing or just plain ignoring basic rules of nutrition that could keep us healthy. By doing that, we often end up getting brand new health problems, including unintended weight gain or blood-sugar- or insulin-related health problems such as diabetes or prediabetes. Many people think “Eating gluten free is so hard, I can’t make any more improvements to my diet.” But in my book, I wanted to show people that it’s not as difficult as they think. You can live the gluten-free lifestyle you’re currently living and gradually learn how to make better food choices that are very tasty and that keep you healthier over the long term.


Q: You have organized the information in your book in an interesting way. Can you tell our readers about the format in the book and how that came to be?

A: The chapters in the book are organized in a month-to-month format and cover seasonal topics or common issues that gluten-free eaters run into. The chapters are short, easy to read, and packed with practical tips. With this format, people who don’t have much time can quickly grasp the main concepts that are covered and how to apply them in their gluten-free life.

That format came to me in large part because after the publication of my Going Against the Grain book in 2002, I held in-person Going Against the Grain Group monthly support meetings for six and a half years. From those meetings, I came to understand the issues and seasonal topics most people had questions about and wanted the most help with at various times of year. I also came to understand that people couldn’t learn everything about nutrition all at once. People need time to learn how to eat gluten free and to improve their diet in other ways. They need time to learn helpful nutrition information, to have it soak into their minds, to learn how to choose tasty but higher-quality gluten-free foods, and how to combine gluten-free foods in simple yet delicious ways.

Because we’re all busy, most of us learn in bits and pieces, and what we learn first is usually based on what is most timely, applicable or helpful to us right now. So, the book is organized as a handbook to help you eat better no matter what time of year it is. You can flip to the March chapter (“Spring-Clean Your Diet”), to July (“Eating Out in Restaurants”), to September (“Gluten-Free School Days!”), to December (“How to Have a Healthier Holiday Season”), depending on the information you need at the time.

Q: In your book you indicated that consumers seem to know how to manage their symptoms of gluten sensitivity, regardless of the fact that most doctors are still clueless. Why do you think doctors are so behind times with this vastly growing epidemic?

A: Many doctors are so busy in their everyday practices that they simply don’t have time to stay up to date on the latest research. Most doctors who now practice medicine were taught in medical school that the only gluten-related disease was celiac disease and that it was very rare and only showed itself with severe gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea, malabsorption and weight loss. That’s what doctors look for, if they’re looking for gluten-related illness at all. We now know that all of that “information” is out of date.

We also know that gluten sensitivity is a bona fide medical condition that affects far more people than celiac disease and provokes an astounding array of symptoms, but most people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity simply aren’t diagnosed with it and needlessly suffer from unwanted, uncomfortable symptoms. Without adequate help from doctors who understand gluten sensitivity, more and more people who were told they didn’t have celiac disease started taking matters into their own hands and began taking gluten out of their diets to relieve and eradicate their symptoms. Going gluten free helped many people when modern medicine didn’t and couldn’t. When people go a bit further and eat gluten free and healthy, they can take their health to a whole new level.