Six Characters in Search of a Blogger

8.1 The Gluten Free Girl (Shauna Ahern)


Shauna James Ahern, the Gluten Free Girl

Shauna James Ahern, the Gluten Free Girl

Shauna Ahern’s blog, Gluten Free Girl, was the first blog I ever consciously read.  It was two years ago (yes, I’m quite behind the curve) and I had just been diagnosed with Celiac Disease–an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks itself when gluten is consumed (wheat, barley, rye, malt, and other derivatives.)  Now it may sound fairly simple to avoid these things, but it isn’t:  gluten is what makes pizza dough chewy.  It makes bread and cookies worthwhile.  It’s in soy sauce.  And pasta.  And movie popcorn.  And some candy.  And some meat products.  And spices.  And envelope glue.  And beer.  And much, much more.  (I even have to avoid microscopic amounts–so I cook in separate pans from my husband, rarely eat out, and have to wash my hands obsessively after I touch anything suspicious.)

My whole world turned upside down when I got my diagnosis; I didn’t know where to turn, knew no one else with the disease, and felt doomed that I’d never be able to enjoy eating again.  I’d be living in the equivalent of a culinary plastic bubble.

And then I started reading Shauna’s blog.

She’s a very talented and lyrical writer; and as I read her posts, day by day, the great cloud hovering over my head began to slowly dissipate.  I started to think, hey, maybe I can handle this.  Shauna provided important insights and advice, even when she didn’t mean to (just hearing her discuss day-to-day trivialities was educational.)  She listed recipes and products I would likely enjoy (like the best kind of gluten free pasta, special celiac flour mixes and alternative grains that were OK to eat.)  And most importantly, she sang about her new life as a celiac.  She sang about food and all its possibilities.  She sang about how her life had changed so much for the better because of her diagnosis–not only because she ate better, but because she lived better.  And most importantly, she sang about everything that had happened to her life since she started writing about it–it was while blogging that she met her husband (a professional chef) Dan; married him; honeymooned with him in Italy; and gave birth to their first child.  And mind you, she has done all of this since she turned 40.  Her life, and her blog, have become about the everlasting “yes,” the positive perspective she brings to everyday challenges (she even got “yes” tattooed on her wrist to remind herself of this.)  Shauna is, without doubt, one of the best examples of the law of attraction (in its New Age sense) that I have ever stumbled upon.

Shauna's book, Gluten Free Girl (based on posts from her blog), debuted last year to wide praise.

Shauna's book, Gluten Free Girl (based on posts from her blog), debuted last year to wide praise.

Now, I will likely never wax as poetical about food as Shauna does.  (Although I like to cook sometimes, I do miss being able to pick up take out on a whim, or go to any restaurant I like, or eat cake at a birthday party.)  And I will likely never be as radiantly happy as she–I was raised as an Irish Catholic in New England, after all.  (That means a certain amount of skepticism and cynicism will always be a part of my genetic make-up.)  But although I will never embrace my celiac diagnosis with the everlasting “yes” she has demonstrated, Shauna has certainly helped to move me away from the “oh, God, no” reaction I had two years ago.  For me, it is now more like an everlasting “hmmmm.”   

And that means I’ve come a long way, baby.

So thanks to Shauna for her inspiration, her wisdom, and her commitment to her craft.  It has made all the difference to me!  

Please take the time to visit Shauna’s website, visit


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