A Gluten-free Love Story in New York
GFG: When you met, was one of you already living a gluten-free lifestyle?
Maria: Not when we met. It wasn’t until a few months after the birth of our second son in 2009 that I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease.
Wills: No. At the time she was diagnosed with Celiac Disease we had been together for about nine years and married for five. Finally getting an answer as to what was causing her to feel so horrible for so long was great. And in the moment you realize that no matter what it is, you do what is necessary to make yourself healthy again. But you aren’t thinking of how it changes everything moving forward. The new dietary restrictions create a sort of upheaval of everything you have known. No more going out to eat without proper planning. No more grabbing something quick when you’ve been running around all day. Or even just using separate cookware when cooking in the kitchen. Our entire lifestyle had to change. As we’ve dealt with her diagnosis together and as I’ve learned more and more about this disease, I think that it has definitely allowed me to become her biggest advocate.
GFG: Did he like the first GF meal you prepared?
Maria: I don’t remember but I know he is NOT a fan of
gluten-free pasta. Not at all. That may have been the first meal.
Wills: It was horrible. If I remember correctly, it was gluten-free pasta with sauce. It tasted like hard cardboard and had a plastic aftertaste. As time went on and more gluten-free options have become available in supermarkets and specialty stores the meals have gotten better. Anything home cooked and made with fresh ingredients is good. But even now, I don’t like most of the prepared/packaged meals.
GFG: Does your partner live a 100% gluten-free lifestyle along with you?
Maria: No, he doesn’t, but he supports me 100%.
Wills: No. I still eat gluten. It would be difficult for me to give up the foods that I really enjoy as I know it has been for her. But like I said earlier I feel that aside from herself, I am her biggest advocate. I try my best to make sure that whenever we go out, she has options to eat. When it comes to birthdays and celebrations, I’ll make special food or bake allergy friendly cakes to try and make it as easy as possible for her. I know how difficult that lifestyle is by watching her live it and even though I am not gluten-free, I do everything I can to make it as easy as possible for her.
GFG: What is your favorite GF meal that you enjoy together? Homecooked? At a restaurant? Which restaurant?
Maria: While I love it when he cooks for me because the man really can cook, we both enjoy eating at Ragazzi Italian Kitchen and Bar in Nesconset, NY. Not only is there a separate area for gluten-free food prep, but the food is outstanding — both gluten-free and non-gluten-free.
Wills: Anything off the menu at Ragazzi’s. It is one of the only places that I enjoy eating gluten-free options. I can’t taste the difference between the regular meals and the gluten-free options, and the food is terrific.
Maria Faller, who lives with Celiac Disease, is the founder of Be A Better You Fitness. She is a Fitness Trainer, Youth Trainer and Nutrition Consultant certified by the International Sports Science Association. She is also a certified wellness coach. Maria is dedicated to helping others feel better, look better and work toward achieving better health. She is the author of a new book to be released in the winter of 2018 “BABY steps: A realistic guide to Being a Better You”
Photo credit: Lisa Maria Photography, Rocky Point, New York