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“Celiac Mom”: Local Author Upends a Wheat-Filled Life to Support Her Daughter’s Health

by | Nov 1, 2020 | Arts & Entertainment

Ann Campanella

As a two-year-old, Ann Campanella’s daughter Sydney barely registered on the growth chart, complained of intense stomachaches, and rarely napped. Doctors and well-meaning friends repeatedly assured Campanella, a Lake Norman resident, that her daughter would outgrow these things. But at the age of five, her daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease. From that day forward, Sydney could no longer eat gluten, a substance found in wheat, barley and rye, that when ingested, sets off an autoimmune response in her body.

“As a noncook, I had to learn a new way of eating from the ground up,” says Campanella, author of the recently released memoir, Celiac Mom. After her daughter’s celiac diagnosis, both Campanella and her husband discovered they were gluten intolerant. “Eighty percent of the food we ate regularly—bread, cookies, pasta, cake—was suddenly off limits,” Campanella continues.

The author shares the story of her family’s transition to a gluten-free lifestyle in Celiac Mom. “My goal is to come alongside others who find themselves suddenly facing a major health crisis,” says Campanella. There is no cure for celiac disease. However, most people with this condition can treat their symptoms through diet alone, avoiding serious complications such as failure to thrive, anemia, osteoporosis, fertility issues, and lymphoma, among others.

Giving up wheat, however, is not as easy as it might seem. Gluten is often a hidden ingredient in processed foods. While fruits and vegetables and most raw meats are gluten free, most people don’t realize that many brands of chicken are processed with ingredients that contain gluten, explains Campanella.

In Celiac Mom, Campanella reveals the challenges she faced in preparing holiday meals, sending Sydney to school, planning for vacations, and summer camps. She also provides a list of resources in the book, including recipes and helpful websites.

Campanella, former magazine and newspaper editor and author of the award-winning memoir Motherhood: Lost and Found, is pleased with the response “Celiac Mom” is already receiving from readers. Dietitian Deb Waldron says, “Ann’s book advances the understanding of celiac disease, as well as demonstrates the blessing of having a dedicated caregiver in this monumental task of eliminating gluten from the American diet.”

The late Anthony S. Abbott,  Professor Emeritus of English Literature at Davidson College, wrote, “The thing I liked best about this fascinating and timely book is how valuable it is for those of us who do not have celiac and who need, very badly, to understand it if we are to help those–often members of our own family–who do have gluten allergies.”

“Celiac Mom” is available at Main Street Books in Davidson and can be purchased in paperback or on Kindle from Amazon. For more information, visit


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