Jackie Aanonsen McEwan is the founder of Gluten Free Follow Me, the Guide to Dining Gluten Free. She details and ranks over 2,000 gluten free friendly eateries, brands, and recipes on her website glutenfreefollowme.com. Jackie is based in NYC and LA and enjoys splitting her time between the best coasts. Head over to her website glutenfreefollowme.com or follow her on Instagram @glutenfree.followme for more!
What do you do best?
I’m hardworking and dedicated to whatever I am doing, whether it be planning a gluten free trip, collaborating with restaurants & brands, or helping out a friend in need. I’m creative and love to take my recipes and photos to the next level which keeps things fresh and interesting for my followers and me.
What makes you the best?
I know what it is like to be told you have to cut gluten out of your diet. Five years ago, I was incredibly overwhelmed when doctors told me that gluten was making me sick. I had recently moved to New York City and was so excited to eat at all of the amazing restaurants. My celiac disease diagnosis forced me to rethink my meals and snacks. A few years ago, I started posting some of the gluten free foods I was eating on Instagram. Surprisingly to me, my posts were met with such a great reception. My followers kept asking for more gluten free friendly eateries, products, and recipes, and I was more than happy to continue to make these discoveries. I meet with chefs & owners at eateries to figure out what’s gluten free at their restaurant and bring up the right questions such as potential cross contamination and modifications/substitutions. I also work with brands and develop with my own recipes using their products. I do my research and due diligence because I’m passionate about my gluten free lifestyle, and I need to eat safely in order to stay healthy. My followers can trust me because I’m looking out for them and me. I wish I had something like Gluten Free Follow Me to guide me through my new gluten free diet five years ago, but I’m glad I can be a guide for others now!
What are your aspirations?
I love where I am now with Gluten Free Follow Me but am always looking for opportunities which can take me on other journeys. I could see myself writing a book about my gluten free lifestyle and continuing to share my story and advice on other forms of media.
Gluten Free Follow Me is my biggest success. It happened so organically since it stemmed from my passion, but it also took my hard work and dedication for it to become what it is today. When I started posting on social media and launched glutenfreefollowme.com a couple years ago, my family and friends never really understood what I was doing or why I was spending all this time focused on GFFM. Now, it’s easy to see how the journey happened but it wasn’t in the moment so I’m glad I believed in myself and kept at it!
Most Challenging Moment?
My most challenging moment was five years ago when I was told that I had to follow a gluten free diet. Looking back, my diagnosis made a lot of sense because I would get sick at least once a week in college. My reaction to gluten is I have to throw up anywhere from three to ten hours after eating it. In college, I would eat stir fry on Sundays (using gluten-filled soy sauce) and always felt nauseous. I would get sick after eating my favorite sandwich at Cosi and thought it was food poisoning. I went to the Emergency Room at a nearby hospital a few times because I couldn’t keep any food or water down. I had these reactions throughout college but no one ever brought up gluten as a reason for my sickness. Gluten intolerance and celiac disease were not as wide-spread as they are now. Even though my gluten diagnosis was one of my most challenging moments, I’m so thankful for it because I now know how to keep myself healthy, and it’s taken me on this amazing journey to Gluten Free Follow Me!
When people tell you that you can’t, just smile and say ‘watch me!’
Favorite People/Role Models?
Actress Jennifer Esposito is one of my role models because she’s a celiac advocate and even created her own 100% gluten free and dairy free bakery in Manhattan. She wanted other people with food allergies and intolerances to have a safe place where they could eat anything.
I love traveling and exploring new places! I’ve lived in New York City for over five years and absolutely love it – there are always new restaurants to check out which I enjoy doing. I just moved to Santa Monica with my husband so I’ll now be splitting my time between the East Coast & West Coast. I’m excited about exploring a whole new city of restaurants and bakeries. I recently honeymooned in Thailand which isn’t the easiest place to be gluten free but I made it work. Italy is actually one of the most gluten free friendly places I’ve been to – they have amazing gluten free pizza and pasta there!
Gluten free baked goods and chocolate are my weakness – they’re so tasty! I also love wearing Lululemon and Bandier workout clothes whenever I can which happens to be daily :) One of our wedding registry gifts was a snowflake pancake mold which I’m really excited to use now that winter is coming!
I’ve always loved to run, and I ran the Boston Marathon and NYC Marathon a few years ago which were great mental and physical tests. I recently started taking barre classes which has been amazing. I enjoy baking and trying out new recipes. I love spending time with my new husband!