Today is a bit of a hybird Everyday Heroes post and an interview with Caroline Shannon-Karasik, author of The Gluten-Free Revolution. Caroline is a fellow health coach, foodie, and the founder of the popular gluten-free lifestyle site, Sincerely Caroline.
When Caroline first reached out to me to review a copy of her cookbook, I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical. I have never loved gluten-free cookbooks, finding that they either contain a ton of specialty ingredients, or the recipes are so far out there that the general population would not be interested in making them.
When the cookbook arrived, every skeptical thought and doubt was erased by the sheer awesomeness of the book. From the first chapter where Caroline talks about her journey into Gluten-Free living, through the recipe section, and into the final pages of The Lifestyle section.
Then I had the opportunity to speak with Caroline. We talked about living with food sensitivities, how the changes one makes as a result involve more than just the food you consume, and how very important it is to create healthy and delicious meals so that you don’t ever feel like you are missing out.
I asked Caroline if she would be comfortable sharing some of the “lesser known” details about her journey into a gluten-free lifestyle, to which she graciously agreed.
She also (graciously) agreed to give away a signed copy of The Gluten-Free Revolution to one lucky reader. Details to follow the interview.
Name: Caroline Shannon-Karasik
Job/Title: Author of The Gluten-Free Revolution // healthy lifestyle writer and health coach
Where you call home: Pittsburgh, PA
When did you first find out that you had Celiac disease?
I was diagnosed in late September 2010. My husband and I were living in Dayton at the time and had decided to spend a lovely fall weekend at an annual Oktoberfest celebration. We had a breakfast of stuffed homemade crepes at our friends’ nearby home and then made our way up the hill to enjoy music, local vendors and, of course, beer. Within the hour I was doubled over in pain.
This wasn’t the first time I was plagued by a host of digestive issues after eating and/or drinking. In fact, now that I know and understand the symptoms of celiac disease (or a gluten intolerance) I can see red flags dating back as far as my childhood.
That day, however, was the last straw. For much of my 20s, I had been to doctor after doctor trying to figure out what was wrong with me and received little to no answers. My white blood cell count was out of control, my immune system weak and the digestive pain was persistent. I was always tired and I had migraines that would last for sometimes 5-6 days at a time. But despite having been tested for every autoimmune condition under the sun –– lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and more –– it wasn’t until that fall in 2010 that my answer finally came: I had celiac disease.
What was life like prior to your diagnosis?
My symptoms of a problem with gluten really came to a head during my early 20s, right around the time I first started dating my now-husband. I always tease him and say, “Why did you still like me?!” because so many of our dinners ended with me on the couch, nauseous and in pain.
Like so many people who have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, I suffered from digestive upset, migraines, lack of energy, persistent illness, joint pain, foggy brain and more. I spent more time in the bathroom than I would ever care to recount (nor would you care to hear about).
What changed for you once you cut gluten from your diet?
As so many of us know, our digestive system can take years to truly heal after removing gluten from the diet. However, within two weeks I started to notice that my migraines had significantly decreased and I had much more energy. I wasn’t waking up in the morning with nearly as much joint pain and I was finally beginning to eat a meal and not run to the bathroom immediately after I had finished.
Tell us about your new book, The Gluten-Free Revolution.
The Gluten-Free Revolution susses out the difference between gluten-free food and healthy gluten-free food. The growing awareness of gluten-free diets has been largely beneficial to those of us who suffer from celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, but it has also caused large manufacturers to latch onto the fad-like nature of the “gluten-free” label. It’s also resulted in a lot of misconception about what a gluten-free lifestyle looks like. Packaged snacks and overly processed foods are always unhealthy –– gluten-free or not.
The Gluten-Free Revolution brings readers back to basics and shows people that a gluten-free diet looks like any healthy diet minus the inclusion of very specific ingredients (wheat, barley, rye and contaminated oats). I don’t subscribe to an all-or-nothing lifestyle (with the exception of always eating gluten-free because of having celiac disease), so the book also relies on my philosophy that you can have your green smoothie and gluten-free brownie too –– and I wholeheartedly believe that.
I chose to include fitness in the book because I think that so often we focus on our gluten-free lifestyle as the defining characteristic of this big, beautiful life we lead. And I don’t completely blame us for that –– being gluten-free has had a huge impact on my life and has clearly shaped my dietary choices. But this gluten-free life of mine involves so much more than the food I consume on a daily basis! And fitness, for example, is a large aspect of the healthy life I choose to lead.
I want people to see that shaping their best gluten-free lives involves the whole picture: healthy foods, fitness, meaningful relationships, discovering a level of serenity, and so on. All of those things won’t always be in check –– and that’s OK. But it’s important that when we are seeking health, we address each aspect of our lives and not just the food we eat. Otherwise, we set ourselves up for feelings of disappointment –– gluten-free or not.
What has been the most impactful part of the journey for you?
Meeting other people is hands down my favorite part of this experience. Even though I have been traveling this path for a bit now, I am consistently inspired by the people I meet along the way. I love hearing their stories of how they discovered a gluten-free lifestyle and learning more about what is important to them as the journey forward. It helps me in the kitchen and it fuels my want to continue sharing information with readers.
What’s on tap for you next?
I am passionate about working with the pre-college/young adult crowd and they are definitely on my radar in terms of how I am shaping my future projects.
Famous last words—share your favorite inspirational quote, thought, image, or idea.
It’s cheeky, but couldn’t be a truer way to live your life. I remind myself of this Cheryl Strayed quote on a daily basis: “The best thing you can possibly do with this life is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of it.
One lucky guy or gal will win a signed copy of Caroline’s book, The Gluten-Free Revolution.
You can do any or all of the following to enter. The more you do, the more chances you have to win. Capiche?
- Comment on the blog tell me why you want your very own copy.
- Tweet the following:
Hey @emilylevenson and @
SincerelyCSK, I want my green smoothie and gluten-free brownie too! » http://bit.ly/1mPn2Yd
- Post about it on Facebook, and then link back in the comments.
- Instagram it! Make sure to tag me (@emilylevenson) so I see it!
- Blog about the giveaway and/or what gluten-free living means to you, and then link back in the comments.
Giveaway officially ends on March 13th at midnight (ET). Winner announced on March 14th.
Get your own copy.
And if you don’t feel like jumping through the aforementioned hoops OR want to get a copy for all of your friends (which I highly encourage you to do), you can purchase The Gluten-Free Revolution here.