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Jennifer’s Way

Jennifer Esposito

Award-winning actress and health advocate Jennifer Esposito's guide to getting a proper diagnosis for celiac disease and other autoimmune disorders, with practical tips and healing recipes


The Bottom Line

“It takes a village of celiacs to help anyone learn how to thrive with this illness.” So says actress Jennifer Esposito in her memoir about struggling with chronic health issues and then dealing with a diagnosis of celiac disease in her mid-30s.

I. Introduction

If you’re a fan of police procedurals or offbeat comedies, you may recognize Jennifer Esposito from hit shows including Blue Bloods, NCIS, Samantha Who? and The Affair. More recently she’s appeared in Awkwafina is Nora from Queens and Amazon’s super-anti-hero drama The Boys.

But off-camera, Esposito’s life is far from what you’d expect from a glamorous Hollywood actress. Starting in her teen years, she battled a series of mysterious and debilitating illnesses, including severe anxiety and depression, abdominal pain and other digestive problems. Eventually her hair and teeth started falling out, her skin became dry and flaky with an increasingly yellowish tinge, and she had constant headaches, sinus infections, bloating, nerve pain and weakness, and plummeting blood pressure. Often she was unable to move from her bed for weeks — with only her golden retriever keeping her company — and she was regularly hospitalized with a variety of dangerous symptoms.

Still, doctors couldn’t explain what was wrong — and many dismissed her symptoms completely. It wasn’t until she was 35 that a doctor finally gave Esposito a name for her condition: celiac disease. But her battle didn’t stop there. “I had thought that, with my diagnosis, I’d reached the end of a journey. But this wasn’t the end. It was the beginning,” she writes. Part memoir, part celiac guidebook, Jennifer’s Way explores the frustrations of fighting a disease and a health care system that doesn’t understand or believe you, and the challenge of making a new normal for yourself.

II. An Autoimmune Disorder Triggered by Gluten

III. Physical Symptoms in Your Gut and Beyond

IV. Celiac and Your Mental Health

V. A Long Road to Diagnosis

VI. Giving Up Gluten Isn’t an Instant Fix

VII. Embracing Your New Normal

The Takeaway


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