Jennifer Esposito: Her Celiac Story


I always rail on the media when it comes to…well…pretty much everything.

But in this case, they got it right. Mostly right anyway.

Above is an episode of Fox Files from a few weeks back that highlighted Jennifer Esposito’s battle with celiac disease.

Here’s the Good and the Not So Good Gluten Dude breakdown…

Good: I’m by no means a fan of Fox, but they really did a nice job with this piece. They treated it with the serious nature that it deserved.

Not So Good: Although only the last few minutes focused on the CBS fiasco, Jennifer told me the TV Guide and other garbage publications made it the topic of the show in their promotions. I guess celiac disease by itself wasn’t sexy enough for them. Dolts!

Good: Love how they interviewed family members. Celiac disease affects everyone; not just the one lucky enough to have it.

Not So Good: When Jennifer says that she was given prozac or xanax INSTEAD OF BEING LISTENED TO, I seethed. I hear this over and over again from our community. Arrogant or lazy doctors who refuse to LISTEN to their patients.

Good: Very powerful when Jennifer’s response to the doctors was “That’s not it. There’s something else going on.” You can see the pain and the frustration when she tells the story.

jennifer esposito
How cute is she??
Not So Good: Jennifer was called difficult; finicky; a picky eater. God forbid she was a successful woman in a real tough business with a damn health issue.

Good: So cool celiac disease was in an episode of House. I used to love that show. Watched every episode of season 1 and then realized I don’t have one hour each week to watch a TV show on a regular basis. Yes…I’m sad and pathetic.

Not So Good: Dr. Fasano says the gluten-free market was $100 million in 2003. Today, it’s valued at $4.2 billion. That’s not necessarily a good thing.

Good: They show Jennifer shopping at a health food market buying NATURAL foods. Compare this to pretty much any segment on Miss Hasselbeck where she is mostly promoting gluten-free crap.

Not So Good: Jennifer found out, on camera no less, that she is also allergic to almonds, beef, chocolate, egg yolks, bananas, broccoli, peanuts, onions, cod fish (??), soy bean and chicken. At what point do you just wave the white flag?

Good: Love, love, love the fact that they covered two other people with celiac disease besides Jennifer (Barbara Hudson and ex-NHL’er Mickey Redmond). Yes, this disease can happen to anyone.

banana babies
The "banana babies"...undiagnosed celiacs
Not So Good: Barbara Hudson and others in the 1930’s lived on a diet of bananas for three years to try to alleviate horrible digestive symptoms, unbeknownst to anyone at the time they had celiac disease. Seeing images of these babies (see picture to the right) is just heartbreaking.

Good: Jennifer is now dedicating her life to celiac awareness. She is using her celebrity platform to bring attention to this crappy disease. As a fellow celiac, any time the attention is focused on the disease itself and NOT on the gluten-free food market, it’s a good thing.

I am doing my share as much as possible as well.

Please help the cause in any way you can.

Thank you.

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16 thoughts on “Jennifer Esposito: Her Celiac Story”

  1. This is my story, almost to a T. It has been 3 years and I am still fighting. I try to be so very careful, but becoase of a back injury I have lost my job and insurance, so going back to the Dr. is not an option right now. Such a mess.

  2. Great roundup, Gluten Dude!

    I was just reading today – did you know Joanne Weir has a gluten allergy? I had no idea. She’s a cooking guru with some great tv shows.

    I’m just wondering if its a new diagnosis, as she’s tried the food on her show before (I think, its hard to recall since I haven’t watched her show in awhile).

    It was in Tasting Table Good Taste today. Those folks are doing a great job trying to include gluten free content that’s good in their newsletter frequently.

  3. I’d venture to say we’ll all see ourselves reflected in this piece. It’s a shame that no one’s story is a diagnosis after just one month or even a year. Funnily, I just got my food allergy test results last week (another thing to investigate in trying to find a path to healing) and my list was equally jaw dropping — 31 staples ranging from garlic to lettuce and beyond. White flag indeed, GD.

    I’d be interested to know if any of the veterans here have experiences they can share with other food allergies. For my part, the doc wants me to do a 90 day elimination of all things on the list and then slowly add back to test for sensitivity. I’m only one year GF and I’m not sure that I’m emotionally capable of living an even more restrictive life in the kitchen.

    And, as always, your work is inspiring GD. Thanks for fighting the good fight.

  4. Amazing video. Thanks for posting it, GD.

    I love Dr. Fasano and appreciate his dedication to helping celiacs. His research into zonulin could benefit future generations with possible vaccines.

    I love that he VALIDATED the fact that just going GF is not the magic bullet, but it is the key….but that some people take a long time to heal because our bodies are so beat up.

    My cousin’s wife was one of those banana babies. Another celiac I know was also—and you know what they eventually did? Ate gluten– because no one diagnosed them properly and the doctors said they would “outgrow it” . They suffered serious ramifications as a result.

    Like Jennifer and Mickey Redmond, I went years not knowing what I had. I knew there was something very wrong with me during the worst years I was so deathly ill–and I simply could not get any doctor to see it. I followed the same path as Jennifer–dozens of doctors– until I was sure I would be in a mental health ward, a wheelchair or dead.

    I INSISTED …”SOMETHING is keeping me ill. This is not me at all.” I am not just anxious or depressed or menopausal or have fibromyalgia,blah blah blah….I said this so many times, that even 2 years later, I still shudder at the memory of it all. I probably triggered the disease early on (I had a mysterious bout of illness in high school that my family doctor called virus X as he could not determine what is was. I was sick for a month.) I had many symptoms and conditions develop through the years. I never knew how they were ALL connected until my diagnosis.

    Reversing a lifetime of malabsorption is not easy.
    I was just crying and applauding Dr. Fasano when he said that—it validates us all.

    She does all she can to promote celiac awareness. You do too, D Dude, my friend!!!… and I try my best too. I made it my mission to not let anyone suffer as I did —if I can help it.

    It’s a damn shame how many people go undiagnosed when there is really no excuse for it at all.

  5. I was super excited when I saw that this piece was going to air. I stayed up late to watch it and sat through the torture of the first half of the show. I was so thrilled to see that instead of focusing on what happened with CBS, they focused on how this is a horrid and debilitating illness that is complicated and life changing. This wasn’t a crap storm of how we have some trendy disease or are on some fad diet. I felt for the first time in a year like the media actually got something right reporting about this awful disease.

    I also have read and reread Jennifer’s story on her website, and watching her tell it is no less touching. I think we can all related. I remember going over and over to the doctor and being told they couldn’t find anything wrong with me. They didn’t know what it was. Maybe I should try this or that medication, maybe I should see a psychologist. I knew I wasn’t crazy, I knew I was sick but no one would listen.

    If only a channel more people are willing to watch would air this! More people should see that this isn’t trendy or cool. It is real and impacts not only every one of us who has the disease but everyone close to us. Every time I see that Dr. Oz or the Today Show or some such is talking about celiac again I just want to bash my face on my desk because I know that they’ll just talk about how cool I am for having such a fun disease.

  6. I think it’s absolutely wonderful that the US has such strong advocates. All the good doctors here like Dr. Green and Dr. Anderson have moved on to you guys over there.

    We need more coverage over here, people!!

  7. I really like your style! Jennifer was a client of mine a few years back and couldn’t of been nicer, so I was really sad to see her treated so poorly. People in general are still slow on the take to accept celiac disease as a pandemic problem; most see it as a diet fad or a flash in the pan. Your piece highlights this problem perfectly. Cheers!

  8. As a mother of a daughter with celiac this is so heart breaking. While I am glad we have a diagnosis I fought (and fought, and fought, and fought some more) to get someone to notice what are TEXTBOOK signs of celiac. I had no idea what was wrong with her but I knew my 4 year old didn’t have the mental fortitude to carry on a charade that lasted 12 months. Even more disturbing is her dentist was completely unaware that celiac was the cause of her badly damaged teeth. To this day I can’t get close relatives to test their children despite many of them moving down the growth curves at each check up. Join Team Gluten Free, post on your facebook, educate whenever you can. So many are suffering unnecessarily.

    1. Kim,

      I feel for you and meet with countless parents who suffer/struggle with this disease with their children. My son is 11 and was diagnosed 5 years ago after a 5 year battle to find out what was wrong. They diagnosed him as Autistic but after lots of testing and trials he came out of a lot of his Autistic issues after the CORRECT diagnosis of Celiac. Parents don’t have to struggle like we all have. We need to educate every second, minute and hour of the day.

      Thanks to our efforts here we have a supportive school system and a great gluten free annual Expo as well as Camp Gluten Freedom for our children. (glutenfreelivingnow DOT org).

      Thank goodness for strong women like Jennifer Esposito who will keep putting this disease in the public view where it should be. It really pains me to think that parents are suffering through this so unnecessarily…. Doctors need educated too.

  9. Thanks so much for posting this video. I didn’t see it advertised until after the fact and was sorry to miss it. My 14-year old has Celiac. He was diagnosed when he fell off the growth curve a few years ago. What I am struggling with is why is Jennifer still so sick? I thought once on the GF diet (and she seems to be so careful), you could lead a normal life???? My son doesn’t feel faint or sick at all. Is it because she went so long without diagnosis?

  10. I’m so glad I got to watch this one “after” the ridiculous TV piece w/Dr. Drew.

    Fox Files and Jennifer did an Excellent Job. This is An Educational Show. The other one is just A Sick Joke.

    A year after gluten free ….Now I can’t have chicken or eggs anymore either…..and potato. It certainly did not end with just cutting out gluten.

    Thank you for posting both of these GD.

  11. What a wonderful piece! Jennifer is so well spoken and so earnest. I’m so proud of her!

    I watched it with my husband who burst out into laughter when Redmon starting talking about mouthwash and even mentioned “Listerine”. I was a bozo and had been glutening myself the past two weeks with mouthwash.

    So, even celiacs need more awareness (or at least reminders:-/)

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Who I am. And who I'm not.

Who I am. And who I'm not.

I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didn’t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, I’ve done my job.

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