Who are you and where are you?
My name is Melissa. I was born and raised in southeast Iowa but now live in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.
Tell me about your relationship with gluten..
About a year ago I started noticing that the extreme fatigue spells I had always experienced throughout my life were happening more frequently after eating certain meals. I suspected some sort of food sensitivity and after some research discovered a list of celiac symptoms. I found many things that I have seen in myself: reproductive issues, missed periods, extreme fatigue, anemia, depression, tingling in hands/feet, headaches, brain “fog”, inability to concentrate, Irritability. Oh! And there are also several auto-immune conditions in my family’s medical history. Â All of these are things that separately could be written off or diagnosed as something else but here I was looking at something and my brain was thinking, “Could this be the reason?” When I asked my doctor about celiac, his reaction was “You’re not a classic case, so I’m not going to test you for it”, even after I pressed him for it. I did an elimination diet, watching what I ate very closely to see how I reacted to it. In addition to gluten, I have a small reaction to some dairy products but my reaction to gluten is huge and my physical symptoms are worse than I originally thought. I feel like I have been hit by a truck (or a really bad flu) and I have to watch cross-contamination like a hawk. When I relayed my findings to my doctor, he was surprised, but said to keep doing what I was doing – super strict gluten free. I do wish I had an official diagnosis but I’m reluctant to go back on gluten for the test.
Why should gluten free travellers visit your town?
Why wouldn’t you? It’s CHICAGO! Never let eating gluten-free stop you from visiting an awesome city (or its suburbs 😉 ). Do some research beforehand and you’ll do great. Â There are a lot of great options in this area.
Tell me something fun about your town..
It’s Chicago – if you go into the city, there is a neverending supply of things to see & do. From baseball games (We’re White Sox fans in our house!) to shopping the Magnificent Mile to theatre shows. But in the suburbs there can be little places hidden away that you wouldn’t necessarily know about that are gems (Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg for shopping, or local minor league baseball games, Naperville’s River Walk – beautiful!). I’m a rather recent transplant here myself from rural Iowa, so I’m still discovering new things to see & do.
Where is your favourite place to eat out in your town and why?
- In the city, there’s a great little spot in Water Tower Place called Mity Nice that we happened to visit on a “day away”, just my husband and I. Great food & they have a gluten free menu that was really great.
- In the suburbs, my favorite spot is The Lucky Monk in South Barrington. Â While they don’t have a gluten free menu, per se, they are super vigilant about cross-contamination and about ingredients for any other allergy as well. If they don’t know about a certain ingredient, they will find out, and they have awesome food. Had a wild mushroom risotto here that was to die for, but always ask, because the ingredients can change and they want to make sure it’s safe for you.
- Da Lucianos in River Grove is an awesome Italian! And yes, prepared in a separate kitchen, all prepared correctly and you would never know it was gluten free – it was THAT GOOD! The family who owns this restaurant developed a gluten free menu after 4 of their 7 children were diagnosed with celiac disease. They have a dedicated gluten free kitchen and their gluten free menu is amazingly extensive (even gluten-free cannolis!)
- Oh! And Sweet Ali’s Gluten Free Bakery in Hinsdale….The cupcakes are AMAZING!
Do you live in the Chicago area or have you travelled there? Where is your favourite place to eat gluten free? Â There is also a city of Chicago post coming soon!