Personal Stories and Resources For a Gluten-Free Diet
Did you know that going gluten-free can help improve mood, behavioral disorders, foggy thinking, memory, intestinal health, acid reflux, chronic pain, and headaches? Removing gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye) can also boost energy, help with infertility, allow for better absorption of nutrients, and help heal skin disorders like psoriasis and eczema. Going gluten-free is not an end-all-be-all, but it is a large gateway to better health. Several friends of mine that have celiac disease would like to share their stories and the resources they have used to make being gluten-free manageable.
Anthony Radzikowski’s story:
I have been in the pizza industry since 1985. Then, at age 21, in 1991 I opened Nana’s Pizza on Main Street in Everett. Everything was going great until November of 2008. It was then when I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Having only made pizzas for a living I was terrified! I thought to myself “Great! Not only can’t I eat my favorite food anymore, but at age 39 I’m going to have to walk away from the business I have built and figure out a new career?” It seemed like a bad joke- a pizza business owner and I have celiac.
After making adjustments to my work environment to avoid any air-borne ingestion of gluten, I was able to stay in the business. The main change was switching to a white rice flour on the pizza making station. It allowed us to keep the pizza flavor in tact without compromising my health.
Then in 2010 we acquired the space next to us and added a beautiful casual dining room. Because it was so difficult to find a really good tasting GF pizza, my wife Gia & I decided to develop a gluten-free menu to offer now that we had a dining room. We have the crust made at a certified GF facility and I have personally trained my staff in avoiding cross-contamination. It provides customers with gluten intolerance or Celiac much more comfort knowing that the owner of the business has a personal vested interest in making sure every precaution is taken.
The reviews of our pizza have been nothing short of great since we started. We also offer other GF menu items so that customers can get the full pizzeria experience. We have 4 flavors of wings available; all our salad dressings are GF; and we also carry Redbridge so you can get a pizza and a beer just like everyone else!
We basically made pizza eating fun again for adults and kids who have the challenge of eating gluten-free.
Anthony Radzikowski-Founder/ Owner
Nana’s Pizza, 410 Main St, Everett, MA 02149
617-389-6262 FREE FREE (
Leona van der Meer’s story:
I was diagnosed with celiac disease about 12 years ago. I have struggled with stomach upset and pain all my life and was misdiagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and a Spastic Colon. It wasn’t until I was extremely symptomatic with chronic anemia, fatigue, severe weight loss and joint pain that I was sent to a gastroenterologist for further testing. He took one look at me and said, “I’m pretty sure you have Celiac Disease.” I had a colonoscopy, intestinal tissue biopsy and Celiac Panel blood testing. All tests and the damaged villi in the small intestine, confirmed his suspicion. I was to be one of the many suffers of Celiac Disease in the United States. Statistics say that 1 out of every 100 people in the U.S. population has celiac disease.
Since my diagnosis, I have adhered to a strict gluten-free diet which has brought me back to good health. I also make sure that I take vitamin supplements, especially vitamin D and calcium since natural absorption of these vitamins can be especially difficult for those with Celiac Disease.
Living with Celiac Disease has become much easier over the last few years. Many restaurants offer gluten-free menus and most grocery stores have whole aisles dedicated to gluten-free products. I truly am thankful to a new awareness and acceptance of the disease that has made life for me, with Celiac Disease, less of a struggle.
Leona van der Meer
Matt Labarre’s story:
Since high school, I had been to many kinds of doctors. I was misdiagnosed with diverticulitis, hiatal hernia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, acid reflux/heart burn and was put on all kinds of medications for those various issues. The best doctor I had at the time was most concerned with my esophagus and the acid reflux. In addition to those diagnoses, I was also taking aspirin daily for arthritis, which made things worse for my acid reflux. All of these things combined were irritating my stomach and this concerned my doctor, who suspected that I had Celiac Disease. He told me that the way to find out was to actually eat a gluten based diet for a period of time and record what happens. I decided that I did not want to undergo this experiment because I already knew what would happen: constant trips to the bathroom, bloating , and pain! So I decided to research on my own and alter my diet. I like to eat chicken and rice, and vegetables, so I stuck with those basics and started to feel better. I also came across the book written by Elisabeth Hasselbeck, entitled The G Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide. It was all starting to make sense to me, but I wasn’t exactly ready to go all gluten-free.
Four years ago, I happened to visit a bed and breakfast with my wife. Upon looking at the menu, I noticed mostly gluten-free options and after having a conversation with the owner, she told me that she has Celiac disease. I thought about what she said for about a year.
One year later, my wife and I attended a wedding and sat at the table with another person who suffers from Celiac and told me about the gluten-free diet. So I decided to try the gluten-free diet for a week. I actually knew in a matter of days that I had Celiac Disease and the gluten-free diet was working. My digestion was better and I had no more pain!
So now I live a gluten-free diet and I feel so much better. My gluten-free diet is very basic: chicken, rice, vegetables, and salad. The biggest challenge is going to other people’s houses to eat because I do not want to make them adjust what they make just for me, so it is not often that I do. If I am invited to a party, I eat ahead of time, and just socialize. My only weakness is ice cream, but if I decide to indulge, I do it at home where I can make the trips to the bathroom without causing any worry from my family and friends.
For more information and over 300 delicious recipes, check out this new book: Nourishing Meals: Healthy Gluten-Free Recipes For The Whole Family by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre MS, CN . You’ll find easy-to-make gluten-free bread recipes using nutritious ingredients, healthy breakfast options, vegan and non-vegan main dish recipes, plenty of ways to add more vegetables to your diet, and of course many amazing dessert recipes!
A new website that was recommended by one of my friends, Craig Sherman, from the Gluten-Free Boston Facebook Group is Celiac Now: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Another website I have found is National Foundation for Celiac Awareness
If you are aware of any other resources, or you’d like to share your own personal story, please let me know and I will add it to this post. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed, and for all of you readers for spreading gluten-free awareness!
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