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Thursday, September 27, 2012
2012 WEGO Health Activist Awards
As you all know, I am the lead organizer of the NYC Celiac Disease Meetup group. I put a lot of effort into this group each and every month and I am proud of the work I do for the Meetup. I feel like this is the gluten-free community I longed for while growing up. Our group has now grown to almost 1,600 members and I have more than 200 events under my belt!

Last year, I was beyond flattered to be nominated for a WEGO Health "Offline Crusader" award for my work with the NYC Celiac Disease Meetup group. These awards are for "Health Activists [that] inspire us every day with their commitment to online health communities. The Health Activist Awards honor the leaders who made a real difference in how we think about healthcare and living well in 2012.

It is that time of year again to nominate your Health Activists for 2012. While I would love to be nominated again (hint, hint), I also think there are some amazing people out there that deserve some of these awards.

Visit the WEGO Health Activist Awards page for a full rundown of categories for awards and to place your nominations todsya.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Appetite for Awareness 2012: People
This past Sunday was the 2012 Appetite for Awareness hosted by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. I loved this event so much in 2010 that I couldn't wait to get back to Philadelphia for the 2012 event. For me, this event was quite different from the one I attended two years ago. While the gluten-free food was obviously the main event, my main focus on Sunday was all about the people. I saw old friends and met new fans and friends of my blog and from Twitter. I spoke with vendors that I have emailed for months and finally put faces and email names together. I really love having my online friends, but meeting these people face-to-face is even more exciting. It makes the gluten-free community all the more important and real to me.

As a Celiac diagnosed as a toddler, I never knew another Celiac until I was a teenager. Now, I have this amazing group of friends and colleagues all because of Celiac Disease. We share this crazy gluten-free world and get each other through the day with our tips, stories, and compassion. I would never have met these people without having Celiac and for that I am grateful. To be in a room of hundreds of people that know about Celiac Disease and living gluten-free still blows my mind. I don't think I will ever get over the emotions of seeing all of these friendly faces that completely understand what Celiac living is all about.

I didn't get pictures with all of the amazing gluten-free people I spoke to on Sunday, but here is a rundown of who I spoke with at Appetite for Awareness 2012.

Alice, Kristin, Cheryl, Alicia, and Nancy from the NFCA
Michael of Gluten-Free Philly
Candice from Embrace G-Free
Maureen of Hold the Gluten
Amie from The Healthy Apple
Jason from Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free NJ
Amanda aka GFMaven
Sue from Gluten-Free LI
Nicole (and her husband Brian) from Gluten-Free on a Shoestring
Paul from Food Living and Everything Else
Gabrielle from Kitchen Classroom 4 Kids
Jen from Gluten-Free School

I will have some food reviews and product announcements in upcoming posts, but as I said Sunday at Appetite for Awareness was all about the people!


Michael of Gluten-Free Philly and I

Candice of Embrace G-Free and I

Amie of The Healthy Apple and I

Me and Maureen of Hold the Gluten

Michael Savett accepting his award from the NFCA Board


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Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Panelist at the 35th Annual CSA Conference
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I am very excited to be a guest panelist at the 35th Annual Celiac Sprue Association Conference on October 6th. My topic is "Gluten-Free Blogging," something I have been well versed in since 2007 when I first launched this blog Gluten-Free Fun. In 2011, I launched Gluten-Free Globetrotter while overseas in the Czech Republic so blogging is definitely an integral part of my life.

My panel moderator, Cheryl Harris, put together a wonderful post about our session that I would like to share with you. If you are attending the CSA conference, I would love to meet you! I will be there all day Friday and Saturday. Please find me in person, via Twitter, or even by email at gfreefun AT gmail.com.

Gluten-Free Blogging

Saturday, October 6th
Hyatt Regency Long Island

Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is an award-winning Registered Dietitian, Nutritionist and Certified Wellness Coach in Northern Virginia. She loves helping clients learn to live and love a gluten-free diet! She is a regular contributor to the Washingtonian and Today's Dietitian, has presented for the FDA, USDA, Institute of Medicine, Institute of Integrative Nutrition and many others and her comments have been featured on MSNBC, Washington Post, the Food Network and more.


Erin Smith of Gluten-Free Fun  

Erin Smith is a social media expert who has been writing her gluten-free lifestyle blog Gluten-Free Fun since 2007. In 2011, she launched Gluten-Free Globetrotter, a website that encourages those with celiac disease to travel the world and not be scared about eating gluten-free domestically and abroad. Erin is the lead organizer of the NYC Celiac Disease Meetup Group, a social community that has grown to over 1,550 members in the 7 years she has been organizing the group. Erin also sits on the board of the non-profit foundation Kicking4Celiac and she is a regular contributor to Delight Gluten Free Magazine.



Shirley Braden of Gluten-Free Easily  

Shirley Braden is a gluten-free support group leader; and local, state, national, and international speaker. She teaches gluten-free individuals how to live easily, economically, and healtily with her gfe-gluten free easily approach. Her popular and helpful gfe blog, at glutenfreeeasily.com, was selected runner up in Triumph Dining's 2012 Best of Gluten-Free Awards.





Amie Valpone of the Healthy Apple    

Amie Valpone, HHC, AADP, Editor-in-Chief of TheHealthyApple.com is a Manhattan based Culinary Nutritionist, Personal Chef, Professional Recipe Developer and Food Writer specializing in Gluten-Free ‘Clean’ recipes. Amie works as a Food Allergy Concierge and Healthy Family Pantry Stylist sharing her passion for ‘Clean Eating’ by focusing on real food. She understands how difficult it can be to find time to create healthy meals, but is here to show you how easy it can be. Amie’s work appears on The Food Network, The Huffington Post, Martha Stewart Whole Living, YahooShine! and WebMD.




Melissa Mc Lean Jory of Gluten-Free for Good       

Melissa McLean Jory is a Master Nutrition Therapist, lover of simple food, founder of the blog Gluten-Free For Good, and co-author of The Gluten-Free Edge: A Nutrition and Training Guide for Peak Athletic Performance and an Active Gluten-Free Life. She also has a degree in Exercise Science, hundreds of hours of yoga teacher training, and a passion for wilderness adventure. Her mission is to help people navigate the gluten-free lifestyle with confidence, optimal nutrition, and renewed vitality. She serves on the board of directors of the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum & Hall of Fame and is a resource leader for CSA of Denver. 

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Monday, September 17, 2012
Appetite for Awareness 2012


Join the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness at

Philadelphia’s premier gluten-free food fest!

Appetite for Awareness

Sunday, September 23, 2012 1-5 p.m.

The Historic Strawbridge Building
8th and Market Streets 
Philadelphia


I am very excited for this upcoming weekend. I am taking a road trip to Philadelphia for some sightseeing and for the NFCA Appetite for Awareness 2012 event. I've been to this event before and it is one of my favorite gluten-free events I have ever attended. One of the best parts of this event is the amazing vendor fair. When I went to A4A in 2010, I learned about so many new gluten-free vendors. I am hoping this year is much of the same. Click here to see a list of participating vendors. There are also amazing restaurants, chefs, and cookbook authors all cooking up and demonstrating how to make some delicious gluten-free meals. Visit the NFCA website for full details!

Are you attending Appetite for Awareness 2012? If so, I would love to meet you. Send me a message and we will figure out a way to meet up during the event. If you aren't attending, you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter as I report live from #A4A2012!

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Friday, September 14, 2012
I Made a Gluten Mistake
I made a mistake on Wednesday night. I got glutened for the first time in years. I was invited to an event in the city and food was being pre-ordered from a restaurant in NYC that is famous for their gluten-free menu. About 1/2 way into the meal, I stopped eating. I just knew something wasn't right. Then, the conversation in the room turned to the food and my thoughts were confirmed. My order was wrong and I was eating a gluten-filled sandwich. I went through a rush of emotions: anger, sadness, worry, frustration, fear, but knew I would just have to wait it out and see what happens. I finished my event with a poker face on, but I was kind of freaking out inside.

Here are a few mistakes that were made that led me to eating gluten for the first time in at least 5 or 6 years.

Mistake 1: I ordered my meal through email to the person NOT directly talking to the restaurant. Despite clearly mentioning I wanted the "gluten-free sandwich" in my email this did not happen. I should have been more explicit in my order or suggested ordering for myself.

Mistake 2: When I arrived, I went for my food immediately and didn't really look at it. I was starving, this was specially ordered for me so I ASSUMED what I got was the gluten-free sandwich. I didn't ask "Is this the gluten-free sandwich?" I just ate.

Mistake 3: I ate about 1/4 of the food and felt something was a little off. You know what it was?? The awesome texture of the sandwich bread. I had food from this place before so I should have known their gluten-free bread was not that good.

Mistake 4: I was distracted. I was talking and socializing the whole time I was eating instead of paying attention to the nagging feeling in my head. I ate 1/2 the sandwich before I stopped.

Mistake 5: I ate gluten. The girl who ordered confirmed it wasn't gluten-free. Simple as that.

Basically, the people that ordered the "gluten-free" dinner did not realize that the place they were ordering from was not a dedicated gluten-free restaurant. No one in the room except for me and one other person was Celiac so they didn't know the questions to ask and the things to check for that I ALWAYS when ordering food and dining out. They assumed everything on the menu was safe and I trusted them to order exactly what I asked for. This did not happen.

The Aftermath
I think I psyched myself out so much that I started to feel sick. I was honestly freaking out the whole subway ride home thinking "This is it. I am going to die of gluten poisoning" especially since I hadn't gotten glutened in at least five years. I felt a little woozy but mostly just like I was drunk which was especially weird since I haven't been drinking lately. My thoughts were confused and the last 10 minutes of my event were kind of a blur. Was this the infamous gluten brain fog? Was I just dizzy with worry about the gluten I just ate?

I woke up on Thursday with a slight stomach ache so I drank ginger ale when I got to work and took it easy with food for the morning. All day I waited to run for the bathroom or grab a garbage can. TMI? Probably, but you are reading this because you either have celiac or are gluten-free and have been through this before. Again, I had a mild stomach ache all day but not the violent reaction that I had to gluten in the past. Today, the small stomach ache is still there but I did not get the violent reaction to gluten that I have gotten in years passed.

Lesson Learned
Perhaps I dodged a gluten bullet on Wednesday, but this is just a reminder that even after 31 years of being gluten-free I still need to be on my toes and be vigilant for the rest of my gluten-free life. I'm not going to beat myself up about this mistake nor will I hold any resentment to the people who ordered from me. I am going to move on and pay more attention in the future. Next time, I might not be so lucky.








Thursday, September 13, 2012
Happy Celiac Awareness Day
Image:
http://glutenfreeville.com/
Today is National Celiac Awareness Day. I think our gluten-free community could use a little pick-me-up and today is the perfect day to celebrate. If you are reading this blog, you are not alone. There are thousands of people in this country that are living with Celiac and it is up to all of us to continue to talk about Celiac, not be ashamed of living gluten-free, and educate others about this disease.

According to the Celiac Sprue Association:

September 13th is National Celiac Disease Awareness Day.

The date of September 13 was chosen because it honors the birthday of Samuel Gee, MD a British physician and pediatrician. Dr. Gee published the first modern description of the clinical picture of celiac disease and is credited with being the first to identify the link between celiac disease and diet. One of Gee’s famous quotes on celiac disease is “if the patient can be cured at all, it must be by means of diet.”
I encourage everyone to talk about Celiac Disease today with at least one new person. Tell them you have it and how you need to eat gluten-free to be safe and healthy. If they ask you questions, don't be frustrated. Do your best to help them understand what Celiac is and how it has changed your life.

HAPPY CELIAC AWARENESS DAY TO ALL OF MY WONDERFUL READERS!

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Celebrate Celiac Awareness Day with Kit’s Organic Bars
Tomorrow is Celiac Awareness Day. What better way to celebrate than with a giveaway of the new Kit's Organic Bars? CLIF Kit's Organic Bars say "we're excited to offer for the first time a bar that's free of three ingredients our consumers often ask about: gluten, soy, and dairy. CLIF understands the needs of its consumers and wanted to make a bar that everyone could enjoy."

Now available in four flavors, gluten/dairy/soy free, less than 200 calories, and made in a dedicated gluten-free facility, Kit's Organic Bars are the perfect snack for those on the go. As a frequent traveler and a "weekend warrior" on my bike, these would be the perfect snack to take along with me on my travels near and far. I am most excited about the peanut butter and berry almond flavors. Although I haven't tried these bars yet, my samples are in the mail. :-)


Check out the new CLIF Kit's Organic Bars available in the following flavors:

Peanut Butter: Organic dates, organic peanuts, organic almonds, sea salt.
Berry Almond: Organic dates, organic almonds, organic barberries, organic bilberries, sea salt
Cashew:  Organic dates, organic cashews, organic almonds, sea salt
Chocolate Almond Coconut: Organic dates, organic almonds, organic unsweetened chocolate, organic coconut, organic virgin coconut oil, sea salt


Want to win your own samples of these bars? Simply leave a comment below with your email address!

Good luck!

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Monday, September 10, 2012
Clinical Trials for Celiac Vaccine
The Celiac Vaccine is in the news again. Last week, ImmusanT started clinical trails in the US, Australia, and New Zealand to test a vaccine to "treat patients with celiac disease." Personally, after eating gluten-free for 31 years I think I would rather stay gluten-free. It forces me to pay attention to my body and what I feed it while managing my Celiac Disease. I know a "miracle pill" or a vaccine are very desirable to many people with Celiac, but not me. How do you feel about this vaccine? Would you get it?

Click on the link below to read the full article.

http://www.masshightech.com/stories/2012/09/03/daily9-ImmusanT-begins-trials-of-celiac-vaccine-.html

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Friday, September 7, 2012
Photo Friday: Keep Calm

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Thursday, September 6, 2012
One Month from Today: Celiac Sprue Association Conference

I am excited, flattered, and humbled to announce that one month from today I will be speaking at the 35th Annual Celiac Sprue Association National Conference in Hauppauge, New York. The Celiac Sprue Association (CSA) is the largest non-profit celiac support group in America, with chapters and resource units across the country, and members worldwide.

When I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 1981, my parents did not know where to turn for help. It was the CSA that first helped them navigate this new gluten-free world more than thirty years ago. At that time, there was only a quarterly paper newsletter that was mailed to our house each Quarter. As I learned to read, I was excited to learn that others in the country were also living with this "rare" disease. I did not meet another person with Celiac Disease until I was about 12 or 13 years old. Talk about isolation!

The 35th Annual Celiac Sprue Association National Conference is a three-day conference with a "Charting the Course" of Celiac theme. The CSA "invites presenters from a broad spectrum of disciplines to share their expertise related to celiac disease and gluten-induced sensitivity. Researchers, healthcare professionals, dietitians, authors, chefs, restaurant owners, and gluten-­free food vendors from across the United States attend to network with individuals with celiac disease and those living gluten-free."

I am participating in the conference as a social media expert in a panel called "Exploring Social Media, Blogs, and You Tube" to discuss blogging and social media in the in gluten-free community. Our session is on Saturday, October 6th at 4pm and admission to the panel is part of your conference registration.

To say I am excited to participate in a panel that focuses on my passion and my life for an organization that taught me about Celiac Disease from a very early age is an understatement. This is a moment where I really feel that my Celiac life and dedication to spreading awareness is coming full circle.

I will be posting additional conference information over the next few weeks including bios on my co-panelists, our moderator, and the Celiac Sprue Association. For more information today, including conference registration and hotel information, please visit the CSA conference webpage.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Appetite for Awareness 2012

Join the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness at

Philadelphia’s premier gluten-free food fest!

Appetite for Awareness

Sunday, September 23, 2012 1-5 p.m


I am so excited to attend the 2012 Appetite for Awareness event hosted by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. When I went to this event back in 2010, it was seriously one of the best gluten-free events I had been to in my life. Everyone was so excited to be there, I saw old friends and made new ones, and went home with a ton of gluten-free food. You can read a week's worth of posts from my A4A trip to Philadelphia from 2010 here.

One of the highlights of this year's event is that the NFCA is honoring my blogger colleague and friend, Michael Savett, aka Gluten Free Philly. Michael and I first met in 2010 at A4A and have kept in touch ever since. He is an amazing resource for all things gluten-free in the mid-Atlantic states and he doesn't even have celiac! (His son does.) Michael rightly deserves this honor from the NFCA for all of his hard work in the gluten-free community and I am excited to be there to see him be recognized for all of his hard work. 

If you are planning on attending Appetite for Awareness, drop me a line. I would love to meet you. If you see me there, don't be shy. Please come up and say hello.


Here's what you can expect:

  • Gluten-Free Cooking Spree: Philly’s top chefs serving gluten-free dishes with the area’s leading doctors 
  •  Chef Demos in front of the Grand Staircase 
  •  Vendor Marketplace with free samples 
  •  Children’s Pavilion with kid-friendly gluten-free food and fun 
  • Gluten-Free Beer Garden with flat-screen TVs (Watch the Eagles game!)

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