It was 1986, while trekking deep in the Himalayas of Nepal, when we had a chance encounter with an elderly couple on the trail. The exchange of hellos was brief, but the impression it left on us has lasted a lifetime. We looked at each other as we walked away from these vibrant, energetic “sixty-somethings” and simultaneously said, “That’s what I want to be like when I’m that age!”
And so began a lifelong commitment to keeping active, eating well and striving to enjoy each and every day. It wasn’t a huge stretch for either of us. We were both former college athletes, had graduate degrees in exercise physiology and were involved in successful careers in the health and fitness industry. We understood the importance of “practicing what we preached.”
A few years later we started our own health education publishing company and created a weight management/healthy eating program called THINK LIGHT!®. It was a credible, sensible and effective lifestyle education program that we ultimately licensed to over 5,000 hospitals, insurance companies, employee wellness programs and health clubs around the world. The program helped millions of people improve their eating and exercise habits.
The success we enjoyed with THINK LIGHT! allowed us to grow our business and raise a family over the next two decades in the beautiful mountain town of Durango, Colorado where we were able to work hard, yet stay true to our commitment to an active, healthy lifestyle.
Sound like a happily-ever-after story? Fast forward to 2009, when we were shocked to discover our oldest daughter had celiac disease (CD). Worried and concerned for her well-being, we were also in a state of disbelief. How could someone in a family so focused on health and fitness have a diet-related disease? Did we do something wrong? Was it fixable? We knew next to nothing about the cause and treatment of CD.
On the one hand, it was a relief to finally understand the reason for all those years of stomach problems, not to mention the various severe allergic reactions she occasionally had. On the other hand, we were overwhelmed with the challenge of learning about the disease and figuring out how to manage it. Health professionals differed in their opinions and available information and advice was often conflicting. We discovered early on the difficulty of not only removing gluten from the diet, but also doing it in a way that still allowed our daughter (and us!) to continue to enjoy the healthy and nutritious way of eating we were all used to.
After a year of eating mishaps, tear-laden social interactions and experimenting, we all eventually figured out how to live with celiac disease. It was then that we came up with the idea to do what we know best – take what we had learned about CD, couple it with our knowledge and experience in health education, and create a program that would help people diagnosed with CD or gluten sensitivity successfully make the transition to a healthy, gluten-free diet. We recruited a top-notch team of health and nutrition professionals experienced with CD, hired Web developers, graphic designers and videographers and spent a year and a half creating the Gluten Freedom Project™ (GFP).
We hope you will find GFP helpful and easy to use. We know that if you don’t enjoy it, you won’t do it. That’s why we’ve worked so hard to make the GFP experience a positive one with delicious and healthy menus and recipes, concise and accurate information, and readily available, compassionate support.
We thank you for trusting us to help you on your gluten-free journey and wish you well. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll see you on the trail…
Jan & Greg Phillips
Co-Founders of GlutenFreedomProject.com