My name is Jennifer and I’m a chef, runner, mother of two girls, and a complete Disney addict.
About 10 years ago, medical issues dictated I begin a gluten-free diet. I was devastated. I had just finished culinary school and established my own personal chef business (not catering to gluten-free clients). As a chef, this news meant a drastic change in my career, my life and my business at a time I was just finding my footing.
At first I fought the change. I continued to cook for clients, tasting gluten food as I did, and even worked part-time in a restaurant where I constantly had to taste pasta dishes, pizzas, and all sorts of other foods I shouldn’t have been eating. Not surprisingly, I remained sick and was bloated, in pain, and up about 30 lbs.
Eventually I quit the job, hired a personal trainer to help drop the weight, and began a regular workout routine. After 12 weeks with my trainer, I was addicted to exercise.
But cooking at home and eating out was difficult. Trying to find a restaurant that would satisfy my needs while still providing what everyone else in the family wanted was a challenge. At home I cooked two meals: one for them, and one for me. I spent way too much time and money trying to figure it all out. I was ready to give up. I no longer looked forward to cooking or eating out.
Until we went to Walt Disney World on a family vacation. I was blown away. No one does gluten-free like Disney. There the chefs happily came to visit me right at our table, talked me through the menus, and even offered to make dishes for me that weren’t on the menu. I was in Heaven. The food was incredible. Disney taught me that gluten-free didn’t have to be dry and tasteless. Gluten-free was not all about bread that crumbled in my hands, or baked goods that lasted only one day unless frozen.
Coming home from that first trip was difficult. Restaurants in my home town were not up to Disney speed, but I had learned enough that I knew what questions to ask, what dishes I could have modified, and I came home armed with ideas for my own kitchen. This chef had learned from the experts and I felt recharged and excited for the future.
Fast forward ten years, hundreds of tested and tried recipes, and countless visits and Disney experiences later, I’m still over the moon with the food experiences at Disney (ok, with everything Disney) and I’m eating 100% gluten-free and loving it. I’ve struggled with my health off and on, but exercise, eating well, meditation, and a positive attitude have landed me in a much healthier and happier place today.
And now I’m living free: having fun, staying fit, and making memories. Gluten-free.