NYACK, NY (WCBS 880) – For a child with celiac disease, gluten found in wheat, barely, rye, and oats is the enemy.

WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reports

“It’s a protein and when they digest it, it attacks their intestines, which then in turn attack their immune system,” Gabrielle Simon told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams.

At first, a diagnosis can be frightening, but Simon offers a message of hope.

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She leads a support group at Nyack Hospital. It’s called R.O.C.K. – Raising Our Celiac Kids and this chapter serves both Rockland County, New York and Bergen County, New Jersey. Simon lives in Bergen County.

LINK: R.O.C.K. NYNJ (via Facebook)

One of her five-year-old twin boys has celiac disease, and he’s now gluten-free.

“The good news is is that for everything I’m about to tell you, there is an alternative,” says Simon. “So, pasta, most desserts – you know, cakes, cookies, muffins – a lot of mixes and marinades. Anything that would have wheat in it.”

She says awareness is growing.

“CBS ran a promo, a PSA, about celiac disease and it came up and we didn’t know it was going to run and it was enough to just hear the words ‘celiac disease’ on a major network,” says Simon.

She keeps the message of ROCK positive, hopeful, and upbeat.

Simon says, “We’re not just going out there to complain in a room and talk about how difficult it is. We’re actually there to give people sound advice and to help them and, you know, it’s sort of become natural to use. It’s how we live our life and we don’t make a big deal and we keep it positive. It’s too easy to dwell on the bad stuff.”

LINK: Best Gluten-Free Food, Restaurants In New York City

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