Brian Gansmann has been in the food-marketing business for more than two decades, a career that includes a stint on the creative team that came up with the porkerific slogan "The Other White Meat." So he knew what to do when he was first diagnosed with celiac disease: He went to the library to learn more, he remembers, "and after four days of reading, all I'd found out was how my lower intestine works."
But he already knew plenty of food experts -- including scientists, nutritionists and dieticians - so he started quizzing them. And by the time he was done, he'd become the Gluten Gladiator...and the author of a new book, Defeat Wheat: Your Guide to Eliminating Gluten and Losing Weight, just published by Sakura Publishing out of Pennsylvania.
The book is a guide to living well -- and eating well -- with celiac disease, full of information on "how to shop, how to build a plate, how to snack," Gansmann says. For starters, you have to avoid all the land mines, items in which gluten is hidden. "I didn't know there was wheat in soy sauce, in Rice Krispie treats," he notes. "And with each one of those land mines? For a celiac, you're down for the count the whole day."
But it's also important to avoid what he calls the Aunt Bee syndrome. Whenever a mishap befell a resident of Mayberry, Aunt Bee would be there with her basket full of high-sugar and high-fat treats - and when people hear you have celiac disease, Gansmann says, they suddenly show up like a gluten-free Aunt Bee with a basket full of fake treats that replace the gluten with lots of other unhealthy ingredients.
But there are much better ways to eat while avoiding wheat, and Gansmann will be talking about them from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, December 3, when he signs and sells copies of Defeat Wheat at Marczyk Fine Foods II, 5100 East Colfax Avenue. It's the first signing at the new store. "We're doing it because Brian is so great," says co-owner Barbara Macfarlane. "And we get so many requests for eating gluten-free, and over the holidays people are really looking for alternatives."
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And Gansmann has them. Marczyk is full of alternatives for people who can't have gluten -- even if some of those alternatives, such as all that fresh produce, aren't labeled gluten-free. But there are definitely ways to beat wheat.
"I knew it was going to be me against gluten," he concludes, "and guess who won? Me."