Many people are familiar with Jennifer Esposito from her work as an actress on TV shows such as Spin City, Samantha Who and Blue Bloods, and in the award-winning film “Crash”, among others. Those of us in the celiac/gluten-free community are aware that in addition to being an actress, Jennifer is author of the Jennifer’s Way blog and is an advocate for the celiac community, spreading awareness whenever and wherever she has the opportunity. Jennifer has lived this disease since childhood, and has documented her experiences in a soon-to-be released book, co-written with Eve Adamson, titled: Jennifer’s Way, My Journey with Celiac Disease – What Doctors Don’t Tell You and How You can Learn to Live Again, published by Da Capo Press – (see Giveaway below)
When the advanced copy arrived to my home, I was excited to start reading, but family and work commitments prevented me from doing so right away, so the book sat on my bedside table for about a week. Every night before going to bed, I would see Jennifer’s beautiful face on the cover (yes she is radiant!), but from what I’d read on her blog, I knew she had suffered from symptoms resulting from undiagnosed celiac, for a very long time. Once I started to read the book, I couldn’t put it down. Jennifer not only shares her celiac story … she bares her soul.
Jennifer writes with such raw honesty about her life, from a childhood riddled with health issues and family turmoil, to her teenage years trying to fit in, yet having different goals and aspirations from her peers. Her health issues were relentless, from a “nervous” stomach to chronic ear and sinus infections in childhood, to fatigue, joint pain, inflamed liver, thinning hair, panic attacks, brain fog and depression (to name a few) throughout adulthood. Jennifer visited so many doctors prescribing this antibiotic and that pain reliever, but none ever connected the dots to find the root cause of all her symptoms. As her sadness and frustrations were mounting due to continued ill health and being disregarded by doctors, she describes a chilling story of being nearly committed to a psych ward (can you imagine?). As someone with a delayed diagnosis myself, I felt saddened by what she had to endure.
She writes “Maybe it was all in my head, after all. Deep down in my heart, I didn’t believe it. My symptoms were too tangible”. When depression was getting the best of Jennifer, and on the border of accepting that she would never receive the diagnosis she was searching for … the illusive one that she hoped would be the answer to all her health issues … a freak incident occurred which she believed to be a “sign” not to give up advocating for her health. So she continued her quest, met with more health & wellness experts, until finally receiving the answer to why she had been plagued by symptoms since childhood – a diagnosis of Celiac Disease. A tad overdue, I’d say. Jennifer writes that her health has improved greatly since eliminating gluten, but because she remained undiagnosed since childhood, her road to recovery continues.
In the book, Jennifer enthusiastically shares her love affair with food and baking, which started when she was a child. When she became gluten-free and had to give up her favorite Italian desserts and comfort foods, she enrolled in a gluten-free baking class and experimented with gluten-free baking. She reflected on how she felt when she made her first gluten-free cake, an adaptation of her aunt’s carrot cake. “I screamed and danced around my kitchen with the pups, like an idiot. I was so happy in that moment that I found some little bit of normalcy. I wanted some cake, so I baked one. I baked a cake! And it wasn’t just normalcy. It was control- a tiny piece of control over this absolute, uncontrollable disease that was still kicking my ass.” I think anyone newly diagnosed with CD or Gluten-Sensitivity will relate to Jennifer’s joy!
Jennifer’s Way is an inspirational book and Jennifer Esposito is an inspirational woman. Many lessons can be learned from her book. Not only does she remind us of the importance of advocating for one’s own health and wellness, but also about accomplishing goals, becoming self-reliant, and the fulfillment of dreams. Jennifer has already accomplished many things in her life, (including opening a 100% gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, corn-free, peanut-free … refined sugar-free, organic & vegan too) *Bakery in her beloved New York City, despite her ill health, which is certainly a testament to her inner strength. She is a survivor and if you are suffering from Celiac/Gluten-Sensitivity, or any chronic illness, she wants you to be one too!
The book’s, Part Two is titled “Your Journey” and contains helpful resources for the newly diagnosed as well as the “seasoned”. Jennifer shares what she has learned throughout her CD journey in: What Exactly is Celiac Disease, After Diagnosis: What Next?, Relearning How to Eat, The Invisible Disease and Finding your Way. She also includes a few recipes and even more resources. Thanks Jennifer!
*More good news regarding Jennifer’s gluten-free, allergen-friendly, products … she has just opened a new 17,000 sq facility that is a completely safe zone to create her yum, healthy, gluten-free goods which will be available for shipping & in stores soon!
Pre-order your copy of Jennifer’s Way, My Journey with Celiac Disease – What Doctors Don’t Tell You and How You can Learn to Live Again from our Amazon bookstore here.
(Please note any book quotes noted above may or may not be in the final book due out in May.)
GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED – THANK YOU ALL FOR ENTERING (winner to be announced soon)!
To be eligible to win, please follow the below Giveaway rules:
1. Tell us below why you would like to read Jennifer Esposito’s book (be sure to enter CAPTCHA Code, before hitting the Submit button) – If you leave a comment below you will automatically be entered to win, but please do 2-4 below, thanks.
2. Like CeliacCorner on Facebook and leave a comment that you have entered the giveaway.
3. Like Jennifer’s Way on Facebook
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One name will be chosen and forwarded to the publishing company. Once book is released in May it will be mailed directly to the winner.
Must be 18 and older to enter … US residents only
Winner will be contacted via email and will have up to 3 days to respond, otherwise a new winner will be chosen.
Thank You and good luck!