A letter from my wonderful friend Tania Beltrano. Her wonderful message does not need any explanation her lovely words says it all. I hope you find this useful and helpful.
love JM

I am a mum to one. Yes, I wrote mum ( I am Candian). She is a wonderful teen of almost 15. Love of my life and very easy to mother.  Always has and always will be,  well one could hope😝 Anyways, the one thing that many could consider as “not so easy” concerning my daughter is her gluten-free diet, a way of life for us since 2010. And no, we didn’t happen upon this journey to be trendy or follow some fad diet. We were actually forced to adopt it. My daughter from the age of around 5 would complainweekly about stomach pain. I’d have her try to pinpoint the exact location of the pain and ask her age-appropriate questions about how it felt,  such as; “do you feel like throwing up, or do you feel as if a sharp object has pierced you?” A bit much for a 5-year-old to answer but she’d usually answer that it was a combination of both. So in other words, if your kid ever feels like throwing up a sharp object you may want to consider getting him/her tested for Celiacdisease….

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder and the positive aspect of this disorder is that you can keep the unpleasant symptoms of it at bay but ONLY if you follow a gluten-free diet to a T. I’m talking nada, zip, zero, NIENTE gluten. Cross contamination is real and if you are a person who suffers from not only Celiac but a sensitivity to the protein called gluten as well,  then you really need to be careful. It is taxing and quite sad, as a gluten sensitive person who consumes even a minuscule amount can become violently ill within a matter of seconds. My daughter does not suffer the allergy so gluten does not affect her in this way. What happened to her was that from when we discovered it and stopped gluten completely her body began a period of reparation. Within a year of cutting out the gluten that was poisoning her system, she underwent a massive growth spurt. The girl grew and a lot!

The peculiar thing about this ordeal was that her father and I had brought her to various doctors concerning these stomach aches but they were largely be dismissed as a common childhood ailment. In 2007, we moved to a new neighborhood and the new pediatrician we chose was originally from Greece. When my daughter had her annual physical, I explained that she had experienced persistent stomach pains since early childhood. Without skipping a beat the doctor asked if I’d heard about a condition called Celiac disease. Ce..li..a – what? Any ailment ending with the word disease concerning your child is enough to place you on the verge of a massive panic attack. She then went on to explain it in layman’s terms to me. She said the reason I’d hadn’t heard of it and it was never mentioned to me by any North American doctors was because it was still relatively unknown here.  This disease is recognized in Europe, especially in western Europe’s Mediterranean countries, like Italy,  where the rate is quite high. I am guessing my daughter has a genetic disposition to it since my parents are Italian.People with celiac disease carry one or both of the HLA DQ2 and DQ8 genes. Anyways, h ere is a quick dictionary explanation of Celiac:

” a hereditary digestive disorder involving intolerance to gluten, usually occurring in young children, characterized by marked abdominal distention, malnutrition, wasting, and the passage of large, fatty,malodorous stools. 

The doctor explained that a quick blood test could determine if my daughter suffered from it but for total accuracy and to rule it out completely she’d need a biopsy of her small intestine.  We went ahead with the procedure and she had her blood drawn and a week after received a call from the doctor telling me that she had tested positive for Celiac. Next step was the “feared” biopsy and she’d have to consume gluten until after testing was done.

The biopsy date arrived and I almost fainted in the room with her. Let me tell you, it is no fun watching your 8 yr old child go under anesthesia. Her father and I were pretty scared and she was freaking out. The look on her face when she went under was enough to traumatize anyone. Weeks passed and it was determined beyond a reasonable doubt that my child had Celiac disease. Now what? Meet with a nutritionist. Change our entire lifestyle. In theory, it was easy enough. The doctor explained that her levels would be normalized through a strict, no gluten diet. Cut out wheat, oats, barley, rye, bulgar, etc….simple enough? Not so fast. This was an 8 yr old child in a classroom filled with cupcake eating kids celebrating birthdays every month. Also, gluten-free alternatives oftentimes have triple the amount of sugar. Not to mention freakin’ expensive or the fact that I was constantly forced to travel with my alternatives, such as pasta, bread etc. That sucker gluten is hidden in almost everything. Want licorice?  My daughter and I absolutelyadore it but almost every brand of it contains gluten. Those hard to pronounce, gross, chemical ingredients such as Avena sativa Cyclodextrin, that we shouldn’t be consuming anyways,  yep gluten.

The one thing that saved me from an epic meltdown ( God sure does work in mysterious ways) was that about 6 months prior to this diagnosis I’d taken an online course concerning nutrition. Funny thing,  thesame one Johanna attended, although we still had yet to meet.  Luckily, I had grown up eating well. Mostly organic and natural due to the fact that my parents were Italian so they settled in Canada armed with a knack and love for gardening and fresh, delicious homemade food.  We had a large garden in our yard containing all the good stuff – tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant you name it. We had fruit trees – peaches, apricots, cherries, figs. Ahh, now I am feeling nostalgic, but I digress. We ate clean and had a tasty homecooked meal prepared by my mother’s beautiful hands every evening; dinnertime was family time. In any case, other than knowing I ate well growing up I still had no clue as to what every vegetable or protein’s function and purpose was. Simply put, why we eat what we eat? The course I took helped, as it simplified this gluten-free endeavor without overwhelming me.

To make an, “oh, so long story” short,  I will just leave you with this. My daughter is now in her teens and fits in just well with everyone else. Her levels have normalized completely. She is a tall, strong, badass soccer goalkeeper that plays 15 hrs a week on 2 different winning teams. Also, being that we are rooted in 3 countries – living in the USA but we travel yearly to both Canada and Italy, I have to say that we’ve found Italy as very advanced in their knowledge of Celiac. We can dine at restaurants where I have yet to experience a server that has a look of confusion on his or her face when “senza glutine per favore”  is mentioned.  They seem to have a vast knowledge of this disease and the intricate food preparation that goes along with it.

Vancouver, BC is another place with fantastic knowledge and such variety of gluten-free cuisine. I think this has to do with the mindful, healthy, hippy culture of this great city. In any case, it is a relatively simple place to visit if you have Celiac and want to eat well. I must admit though, in my observation, NYC has the most options but maybe because we live here and have learned to navigate our way through the gluten-free fortress.

I wrote this article in hopes that you can gather some useful information. Whether you have a child that is suffering from stomach pains or a lot of temper tantrums, anger issues etc. My daughter has a very calm character but I remember back in her gluten days after a day of quite a few carbs containing wheat she’d have temper tantrums, unexplainable ones that seemed to pop up out of the blue. Those subsided altogether once she was no longer being

“gluten-ed”. Or maybe you just want to test out a different eating lifestyle for yourself or your family and would like some basic information to see if it’s for you.

Below I have listed some of our favorite companies that make gluten-free products and quite a few are from Italy. Also, I don’t have celiac but follow a gluten-free diet to support my daughter. I can honestly admit I do feel lighter and my skin has cleared up.



La Veneziana (personal Favorite and Italian)


Ancient Harvest


Bob’s Redmill

Whole line devoted to various products 

Schar (My favourite and Italian), Glutino

Pamela’s Products

We are discovering new ones daily and our local health food store has a large variety of products.

Also, if you live in Nyc, the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center is excellent.


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