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Speaking Volumes: Whether gluten-free by choice or by necessity, lots of resources available

What do you know about the gluten-free diet?

Although this diet is considered “trendy” for some, others are on it for serious medical reasons.

There are different levels of gluten intolerance, ranging from gluten allergy to Celiac Disease.

Celiac Disease is an auto-immune disease in which the body is severely intolerant of gluten and can cause over 300 symptoms and lead to other serious complications.

Celiac Disease, along with gluten intolerance, is vastly underdiagnosed. There is no cure for Celiac. The only way to keep this disease under control is to follow a strict gluten-free diet for life.

When I was diagnosed with Celiac in 2010, I felt overwhelmed, isolated and lost. Although difficult at first, I was slowly able to regain my health and feel better than ever before.

There are many resources available, places to eat, doctors and support groups. If you enter “Celiac” or “gluten free diet” in our catalog, you will come across dozens of books and e-resources.

To get a comprehensive overview and learn more about the disease, I would recommend “Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic” by Peter Green.

A book I wish was around when I was diagnosed is Gluten Dude’s “From Crappy to Happy: the Naked Truth about Celiac Disease.” In addition to being brutally honest, it has some great humor and uplifting stories.

Some notable cookbooks are “Recipes for gluten-free kids: fun eats from breakfast to treats” and “Gluten-free baking for dummies” by Jean McFadden Layton.

Carol Lee Fenster has written several notable gluten-free cookbooks, including “100 Best gluten-free recipes” and “1000 Gluten-free recipes.”

For delicious Asian recipes, check out “Gluten-free Asian Kitchen” by Laura Russell.

The Sarasota-Bradenton area is fortunate to have several options for completely gluten-free restaurants and cafes, as well as many places that offer gluten-free dishes in a mixed facility. I will highlight dedicated gluten-free places, since those are the ones that I recommend for those with Celiac Disease.

Fresh Kitchen is a chose-your-own-bowl casual dining place with locations in Sarasota and other parts of Florida.

Sarasota has an excellent bakery called Island Gluten Free Bakery, famous for their Key Lime Pie. Sarasota also has a couple of other “healthy” gluten-free restaurants, including Paleo Connection and Beauty of Sprouts.

One of my favorite places is in St. Petersburg and is called Craft Kafe. Additionally, there are grocery stores where you can find a large assortment of gluten-free foods, including Whole Foods, Detwilers, Earth Fare, Aldi and Publix.

There are doctors and specialists to seek for help. I see Dr. Arun Khazanchi of Florida Digestive Specialists, which is affiliated with Lakewood Ranch Medical Center. Another option is the Digestive Disease Specialists of Manatee, part of Blake Medical Center.

Although I do not go to one, there are a couple of support groups in the area. One is the Gluten-Free Support Group (affiliated with Lakewood Ranch Medical Center) and another is the Facebook group Gluten-Free Sarasota.

For a community of this size, the resources for gluten-free are impressive.

Call your local branch for more information on available titles.

Central Library — 941-748-5555;

Braden River — 941-727-6079;

Island — 941-778-6341;

Palmetto — 941-722-3333;

Rocky Bluff — 941-723-4821;

South Manatee — 941-755-3892.

You also can access the library via the internet at mymanatee.org/library.

Rachel Suntop is a librarian at the Central Library. Speaking Volumes, written by Manatee County Public Library System staff members, is published each Sunday in the Bradenton Herald.

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