Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dishing With ... Diana Rocco

Diana Rocco, right, with the NFCA's Alice Bast
(Photo credit: Pictures by Todd)
While Diana Rocco is a newcomer to Philadelphia, she's no stranger to the news. Before joining the CBS3 Eyewitness News team as a general-assignment reporter in February 2012, the award-winning journalist reported for stations in Boston, Washington, D.C. and New York. In this "Dishing With..." segment, she talks about how she manages to eat gluten free on the road, her favorite places to eat, and how Philadelphia compares to other cities when it comes to gluten-free options.

When were you diagnosed with celiac disease?
I was medically diagnosed in November 2005. I actually diagnosed myself after reading an article in Self magazine about celiac disease. I had never heard of it before but as I read the list of symptoms realized that I had nearly all of them. I knew I hadn't been feeling well but had learned to live that way and dismissed the symptoms as job stress.

As a general-assignment reporter, you're called on to travel throughout the Delaware Valley. How do you manage your diet on the road?
I try to always bring my lunch or dinner to work or at least a snack. I never know where I'm going to end up and if there will be a gluten-free option available for me. On the days I do find myself stuck, I'll usually pop in a grocery store and get some veggies and hummus - that's always safe. I've found Wawa can be a huge help when I'm in a jam. They always have pre-packaged veggies, cheese sticks, eggs and Greek yogurt.

Have you had to change anything about your lifestyle since your diagnosis?
Everything has changed! I lead a very normal life but my approach to my health is so much different. I didn't know how sick I was until I went gluten free and started feeling well again. I had more energy and I found it even affected my mood. It was like a fog had lifted and the world went from black and white to color again. I exercise more now; I cook more; I take more time preparing my foods. I'm definitely a label reader. I'm not afraid to ask questions at restaurants. I have a different outlook on life and I think I'm an overall happier person to be around.

How does Philadelphia compare to other cities you've worked in with the amount of gluten-free options available?
Philadelphia is the best! In fact, Gluten Free Philly is one of the things that sets Philadelphia apart from other cities. Starting a new job in a new place can be tough and this is an amazing resource when you don't know where to start. New York and Boston definitely have gluten-free options but restaurants are not as well-versed as they are in Philadelphia. I was surprised with just how many restaurants have gluten-free menus and how many options I had. There are so many gluten-free bakeries and even entire cafes dedicated to gluten free that I don't feel I miss out on anything I once took for granted.

Do you like cooking? 
I love to cook. Sauce is one of my favorite things to make, and for the most part it's naturally gluten free. I also love making pizza at home, but you can't do that every night so I usually keep it simple with grilled chicken, veggies and quinoa. Quinoa is quickly becoming one of my staples.

Where are some of your favorite places to dine out?
Amada has to be one of my favorite restaurants in the city. I'm a big sushi person and I love Zama too. Whenever I have friends or family visiting from out of town, I make sure we stop at one or both of them. I've also found Pure Fare to be a great resource when I need to grab a pre-made meal on the run. Pure Fare is all gluten free and they have some wonderful desserts.

Have you had time to explore Philadelphia since you started at Eyewitness News?
I've spend a few weekends walking around the city exploring. I love the Art Museum area - it reminds me a lot of D.C. The Barnes Museum is one of my favorites. The farmers' market on Rittenhouse Square on Saturdays has also become a regular weekend destination for me.

What do you like most about your job?
I love that I have the ability to impact people's lives. I really enjoy getting to know people and to hear and tell their stories; if you can help someone in the process then it's a rewarding and fulfilling day. It's a privilege to be able to serve my community in that way. I enjoy going to work and seeing where each day takes me, and I know every day is going to be different. It's never boring!

When did you develop an interest in becoming a journalist?
I've always been interested in the news and had a general curiosity about the world around me. From the time I entered high school, I knew this is what I wanted to do. I saw it as a way to make a difference in people's lives.

Have parts of your job changed since the Internet has essentially created a 24/7 news cycle?
In the 10 years I've been in this business it has changed immensely. Information is much more rapidly available and changing by the minute, so there is more pressure to stay up on it. There are also more avenues to get information. Five years ago, I didn't even know what Twitter was; now I'm tweeting more than I ever thought I would and staying on top of other people's tweets to make sure I don't miss a thing.

What was it like to emcee Appetite for Awareness?  
It was an honor and a pleasure. I had so much fun! It was really amazing to see so many people in one place bringing awareness to a cause that has impacted my life so greatly.
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