Sunday, July 27, 2008



At Gluten-Free Living we are very excited to start this blog as part of our brand new website. We will be able talk to you directly and frequently. We hope that helps us be an even bigger part of your happier, healthier gluten-free life.

I'm Amy Ratner, associate editor of GFL. For me, the gluten-free journey started 16 years ago, when my then 2-year-old daughter Amanda became acutely ill and was diagnosed with celiac disease. She miraculously recovered simply with the gluten-free diet. I can say "simply" now after years of experience with the diet. But I remember the panic and confusion I felt then.

And I remember how quickly, even back when celiac disease was virtually unheard of, someone reached out to help me. My older son had just started kindergarten. I was dropping him off late one morning amidst the chaos going on in our house as I tried to learn all about safe and unsafe foods and ingredients. I mentioned to his teacher that he was not on time because things were a little crazy due to Amanda's recent illness and this new diet. Immediately, she asked if Amanda had celiac disease. The teacher's neighbor had also been diagnosed. The next day, she brought a care package from her neighbor that included a copy of Bette Hagman's cookbook, "The Gluten-Free Gourmet," note cards with her own handwritten recipes and boxes of gluten-free mixes and pasta. Amanda gobbled up all the food as part of her hungry recovery, but I still have the cookbook and recipe cards.

The years since have flown by. Much has changed in our family's life and in the gluten-free world. I am constantly learning new things about the diet as Amanda's Mom and by writing for GFL. My confidence in my ability to help my daughter has grown. But this fall Amanda heads off to college. It is a thrilling but frightening experience for all the usual reasons -- plus the fact that she will have to contend with the gluten-free diet on campus and completely on her own for the first time.

Thankfully, we have once again serendipitously found someone willing to help at this important juncture. When Amanda attended college orientation last week, she discovered that one of her professors has celiac disease. The professor kindly offered space in her freezer for things that won't fit in Amanda's small dorm refrigerator, as well as rides to a nearby health food store. And she told my husband and I that she would take Amanda under her wing and keep an eye out for her. In a month, when we drive away and leave Amanda on a campus that is six hours away from home, it will be a big comfort knowing she has a guardian angel (Still, I can't guarantee I won't cry. Ok, maybe I know I will since I am tearing up even writing about it.)

I am struck that at the two points when I've felt most vulernable about the gluten-free diet someone has stepped up to help. I suspect you have met some guardian angels of your own.

While we can't drop a care package off at your house or give you space in our freezer, we hope that you can turn to this blog for observations and information about the gluten-free lifestyle that will be helpful to you.

For a start, we will post three times a week. Although we may veer from it every once in awhile, the plan is to have my blog appear on Mondays, editor and publisher Ann Whelan's on Wednesdays and marketing and sales director Kendall Egan's on Fridays. Ann and Kendall both have celiac disease, as does Kendall's son. We all have unique perspectives on the things that impact your gluten-free life and we look forward to sharing them with you. Check back often.