SNOWMASS - Snowmass resident and real estate agent Deb Bamesberger had never even heard of Celiac disease before 1997.
It wasn't until a conversation with her mother-in-law when she first heard about it, and not until about four years later that she thought that she may have it.
"I said, 'I'm going to try this gluten-free diet and see how it makes me feel'," she said.
Bamesberger, 52, suffered from stomach and abdominal problems for most of her life. So, why not give a change in diet a try and see what comes of it? To her surprise, after about only a week on the gluten-free diet, she did feel better, she said. Soon after, she talked her husband, Craig, into cutting gluten from his diet, too. But finding gluten-free food and facts about the disease proved difficult.
"It was tough at the time," she said. "Because hardly anyone had heard of it then."
Shopping was the most difficult part, because there was no indication of what had gluten in it, and what did not.
"The shopping is the hardest part," she said. "When you go to the store you have to read every single label, because gluten is in everything."
She thought that it would be nice to have a book that would be a guide for people affected by the disease, one that tells them what they need to know, and lists what foods to avoid and which ones to look for. That was when she decided to write her book, "Should I be Gluten-Free?", which came out in June 2009.
The book breaks down the disease, what to look for and what types of foods to avoid. But the book also offers some hints and recipes as to what can be made gluten-free.
But it's more than just changing diet habits, it's a change in lifestyle.
"It's a different lifestyle is what it is," she said. "But it's made a huge difference in my, and my husband's life."
Celiac disease, or gluten intolerance, is hereditary and is an autoimmune condition - a sensitivity to gluten. The gluten affects the small intestine lining and inhibits the body's ability to draw nutrients from food.
People with the disease, according to Bamesberger, can suffer such symptoms as intermittent diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating and indigestion, fatigue, anemia and skin rashes.
According to Bamesberger, about 60,000 people each year are diagnosed with Celiac disease in the United States, and about one in every 133 suffer from it. And the consequences can be severe, and even result in death.
"Once you are not absorbing your food's nutrients anymore, it could lead to other types of diseases like diabetes," she said.
Bamesberger self-published the book - which is available at several area locations, including the Book Train and Through the Looking Glass in Glenwood Springs. The book is also available for purchase at Amazon.com, and on eBay or her website.
"My goal is to help people," she said. "That is the main reason I wrote the book."
For more information on the book, or about Celiac disease, visit Bamesberger's website at www.shouldibeglutenfree.com.