Going Against the Grain

By Erika Mahoney

November 16, 2012 Updated Nov 19, 2012 at 4:12 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Raising kids, and juggling a busy life style, Binghamton native Karen Rose thought she didn't feel well because of her "on-the-go" life.

But then, she was diagnosed with Celiac Disease.

"Just cutting out all gluten, 100 percent, starting on very natural foods, very basic foods, meats, vegetables, fruits, potatoes, that sort of thing, made me feel immediately better," Rose said.

Through increased awareness about the diet, Rose said she can now go to Wegmans and find items like bread, waffles, and cookies, items that aren't just naturally gluten-free.

"I would say just within three months, we've gotten hundreds of new products," said Wegmans' Nature's Center Manager Holly Mahonski.

Nature's Center employees can answer all sorts of question for both gluten-free veterans and newcomers.

"We tell them, take their time, there's going to be a lot of reading, a lot of homework, but don't be overwhelmed, there's a lot of help out there," said Mahonski.

Binghamton restaurants have jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon too.

"Downtown Binghamton has become really kind of trend setting in that area," said Rose. "We don't go out a lot, but we do go to the Lost Dog Cafe downtown. That has worked out wonderfully."

"People love the fact that we have so many gluten free options," said Lost Dog Cafe Catering Manager Nicole Howard. "Even people who aren't gluten free like to eat gluten free. Gluten free foods have changed so much, they're just not what they used to be. They're much, much more flavorful, moist, rich, they're much better foods."

The restaurant's upcoming menu includes even more options, adding gluten free pasta and breads to the list.

"I think right now, aside from the fact people actually have the allergy, it's becoming more of a trend," said Lost Dog Cafe Chef Chuck Naholnik.

Last October, the completely gluten-free Little Hen Specialty Bakery opened its doors.

Tucked inside Old Barn Hollow, you'll find Debra Jeanne McCullough, the baker and owner of Little Hen.

"I make breads, cakes, a lot of pies," said McCullough. "I do holiday cooking, cookie trays... lots of cookies."

And it's something she has a lot of practice with. Her entire family has been gluten-free for decades.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, McCullough is taking orders for the holiday's essentials.

"I had one woman come in and just start crying, because she hadn't had bread in four years," said McCullough. "So I gave her a piece of bread, and she just started crying. That's the type of reaction you get, it comes from the heart."

For more information on gluten-free living, check out "The Fingerlakes Celiac Group on Facebook."