"Whether you have Celiac Disease or you have an intolerance like millions of people do, you want to know these things, so you can remove it and not feel uncomfortable. If you just want better fitness and more energy, this book will reach you too. People are using The G-Free Diet to treat everything from ADS and ADHD to depression. I’m blessed to have known this disease. I was able to extract from that this incredible diet, which is so wonderful that I wouldn’t change it if I didn’t have Celiac Disease." - Elisabeth Hasselbeck
Elisabeth Hasselbeck: Living G-Free
By Zsa Zsa Palagyi with Wendy Griffith
The 700 Club
You know her as the spunky, conservative voice on ABC’s The View. She’s Elisabeth Hasselbeck, wife of former professional quarterback Tim Hasselbeck and mother of three. Wendy Griffith sat down with Elisabeth at The View’s rehearsal hall in New York City for a candid conversation about her role on the talk show, her faith and her family. Plus, she shares about her struggle with gluten and tips from her book on living "g-free."
Wendy Griffith: God has obviously given you this tremendous platform, stage and voice to talk about so many issues. Do you ever ask yourself, “Why me?”
Elisabeth Hasselbeck: All the time, but I try to listen for that answer after. There are some days when I think for sure there are so many other stronger Christians than me out there. I don’t claim to be someone that knows every verse in the Bible. I wish I did. I truly do. It just means I need to spend more time in those pages. I definitely feel there’s a reason. That reason is a God thing. I wouldn’t be able to do it otherwise. Early on, it was really rough, because when you’re first revealing your feelings and thoughts about these hot topics, there’s going to be a visceral response from people one way or another.
Griffith: Does that affect you at all?
Hasselbeck: I’d be lying if I said it didn’t ever affect me. There are moments of strength that I have where I say, “It doesn’t matter if you like me or not. Do you respect me?” Then I think, ‘Does that even matter?’ You can’t beg from people what they’re not willing to give you. I have an audience of one. At the end of the day, if that audience is clapping, then I’m okay.
Griffith: Do you pray before you go out to do The View?
Hasselbeck: Oh yes, and on the days that I don’t, I can tell. I’ve had times where Sherri and I have prayed before a show or in between segments.
Griffith: Is it tough being the only true conservative on The View?
Hasselbeck: Joy’s really a conservative. We just can’t tell yet. It’s not difficult. I have never minded any kind of opposition, challenge or thoughtful conversation. That is so empowering. It gets people listening. I see that as an opportunity to really bridge that gap. People forget that there’s so much grace to be offered and understanding in Christianity. That example and the walk are more important than the talk.
Griffith: How do you and your husband – both high-profile – juggle the career and the family?
Hasselbeck: It’s truly a team effort in terms of coordinating everything, but we also know that family is our priority. Career must come second.
Griffith: You suffered from health problems for a long time. What were your symptoms?
Hasselbeck: Doctors were telling me I had IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). They were ready to do surgery on my colon and on my small intestine. I had what I think could be considered a low-grade depression, but who wouldn’t feel that way if your stomach is so irritated all the time?
Griffith: Your stomach was sticking out.
Hasselbeck: It looked like I was six months pregnant. This went on until 2002 when I was able to self-diagnose. That was really only after a trip to Australia when I really figured out what was going on.
Griffith That’s right. You were a contestant on the Survivor: The Australian Outback.
Hasselbeck: Yeah, the deprivation and the stomach pain I had been feeling before were not there. As soon as I came back to the United States and began eating as I had been eating beforehand, I felt worse again.
Griffith: You got sick again.
Hasselbeck: Sure. So I said, “It’s not surgery I need. This is something I’m eating.” I knew it.
Griffith: How did you figure out gluten was the culprit and what is gluten?
Hasselbeck: I have Celiac Disease. It is an autoimmune disease where your body completely rejects and reacts to gluten, which is a protein found in barley, oats, wheat and rye.
Griffith: Before your book, I just thought gluten-free meant wheat-free, but that’s not the whole story.
Hasselbeck: Right. It’s the other way around. Wheat-free is gluten-free, but gluten-free is not wheat-free. Now if you pick up most food and see that it says barley, wheat or oat, you’d be fine; however, there are so many disguises that gluten has.
Griffith: You know, I was surprised to find out that gluten is in things like lip gloss and postage stamps. That’s a little frightening.
Hasselbeck: Well, it’s a binding product a lot of the times, and it’s a great filler for some things, even as far as vitamins. You have to be careful if you have Celiac Disease.
Griffith: Now, 1 in 133 people have Celiac Disease, but only five percent, you say in your book, ever get diagnosed. Why so low a number?
Hasselbeck: It’s actually less than five percent right now. It actually has some pretty sad ramifications. You can be misdiagnosed and miss what’s causing it. For instance, I was diagnosed with a thyroid issue. I was treating the thyroid issue, still not feeling better. I’ve talked to many women like myself who had a very hard time conceiving, and it was a very frustrating season. You question everything from your body to your faith. My body was so busy fighting itself that it wasn’t going to prepare for a child. I talked to many women who have had multiple miscarriages and stillbirths, because they were not treated with this.
Griffith: Now back when you really were in a lot of pain, was there shame involved? I know in the book you tell a kind of a funny story where you take different routes to the restroom. You were really suffering.
Hasselbeck: You know, it’s funny. Since I wrote the book and I’ve talked to so many people about “bathroom symptoms,” even many men will say [that they’ve] been kind of having some issues. For whatever reason, it’s been something that’s not talked about. I’m not going to be quiet about this, even if it involves some embarrassing moments – from many dates that I had with Tim to working…
Griffith: You tried to hide it from him for awhile.
Hasselbeck: I tried. It’s not that easy. I don’t know how the man stayed with me. Our dates were not fun. I’d leave the movies in pain most of the time.
Griffith: I’ve found that pain is a great motivator, as I’m sure that you have too.
Hasselbeck: Absolutely. Pain, I believe, is God’s gift to us as an indicator. It’s that red blinking light. “Stop doing what you’re doing. Pay attention to this area.” It’s a warning sign before things get worse. We demand a lot from everything else – a lot from our phones, our hard drives and our cars. We should be demanding as much from our food. This is the most important device we have. The misconception out there is going gluten-free means going carb-free. It’s not, but I will tell you this. You won’t need as much, because you have the slice of bread that is made “g-free” or you have the crackers, cookies, muffins or pizza. You can have it all that’s gluten-free.
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