Who are you and where are you?
I’m Tabitha, and I am 22 years old. Â I currently live in North Adams, Massachusetts, located in the beautiful Berkshires.
Tell me about your relationship with gluten..
Two years ago I was diagnosed. I was extremely bloated and lagging with headaches, stomach aches, and nausea. Â I switched doctors to a primary care physician from a pediatrician, and she was the one who diagnosed me on the first visit. Â I explained my diet and symptoms and she immediately ordered blood tests, which came back with levels which were off the charts. Â I saw a gastroenterologist soon thereafter and the results matched the blood tests. I was celiac.
I suffered serious shock the following summer, especially being a camp counselor who needed to bring lunch. Â I never really knew what to bring and how to deal with cross-contamination at BBQs. Â I kind of just stuck with tuna, egg salad, chips, and salads. Â I slowly started getting the hang of it, but also struggled living with four college housemates who knew nothing about celiac disease. Â I finally took charge and begin researching healthy living, not by solely eliminating gluten but also getting more fruits and veggies into my diet. Â I own several gluten free cookbooks along with powerfoods and natural cookbooks. Â I eat lots of spinach, quinoa, seafood, homemade smoothies, kale, carrots, brussels, etc. Â I have become consumed with putting the right things into my body, and I owe this to my diagnosis. Â I do not know if it would have happened otherwise.
I thought I knew what I had to do to stay safe and well but I had a melt down when four of my best friends and I took a trip to New Orleans, LA for spring break. Â I thought I was prepared by having a dining card. Â I was ready to take New Orleans on. Â The first night in town however, I had a panic attack. Â The tears would not stop and I felt like the past two years meant nothing and that I could not convey to people the seriousness of my allergy. Â My friends sat down with me and their smart phones trying to find local restaurants that had decent looking menus, but I felt so overwhelmed and helpless that I could not handle it. Â It truly hit me that no matter how much I prepare myself, the rest of the world has yet to catch up. Â That trip confirmed to me that I am more comfortable in my own kitchen than in someone else’s (unless they know how to cook gluten free).
Why should gluten free travellers visit your town?
I am not writing to talk about North Adams, because this area is very unfriendly to the gluten free community. Â I very seldom eat out for reasons stated above. Â But I do want to talk about the area near Sharon, Massachusetts.
Tell me something fun about your town..
Sharon, MA is a very quiet town. Â It also has a lot of history behind it. Â Sharon, MA is the home to Deborah Sampson, who dressed as a man and fought the British in the Revolutionary War.Â It is perfectly centered between Boston, MA and Providence, RI. Â Travelling to either city is perfectly easy by way of commuter rail or car.
Where is your favourite place to eat out in your town and why?
Sharon has Alice’s Mandarin Taste; this restaurant is the best thing to ever happen to me. Â I have always loved Mandarin’s food, but once I got diagnosed it became a safe haven. Â They can make 90% of their menu gluten free using gluten free soy sauce, rice noodles, and gluten free stickers / clips. Â I have eaten lunch with my mom there and my plate had a little clip that read ‘gluten free’ attached to it. I was elated! Â Their food is absolutely amazing, and the owner has made it part of her mission to accomodate allergies.
The other restaurant in that area is in Dedham, Massachusetts in Legacy Place Mall. Â Wicked Fire Kissed Pizza can make their entire pizza menu gluten free (for an extra charge of $1), and their pizza is amazing. Â They can also do gluten free buns for burgers.
These two restaurants are life savers for me and whenever I am back in my hometown of Sharon, I make sure to visit these two establishments.
Do you live in Sharon or have you travelled there? Where is your favourite place to eat gluten free?