May 1, 2012

I'm Back From the Celiac Disease Foundation's Annual Education Conference and Food Faire

I can't believe the Celiac Disease Foundation's Annual Conference took place this past weekend. It felt like a whirlwind of activity and gluten free greatness all squeezed into one short day.  I arrived in Los Angeles Friday afternoon and left to return to Chicago Saturday afternoon. I was probably on the plane the same amount of time I was there, but it was worth every second.


Friday afternoon kicked off with a Leadership conference for CDF Support Group leaders. If you can remember, I am a support group leader in Chicago. Our group has been on an infinite hiatus for quite some time and I've been wanting to get it back in full swing again. I was able to meet a lot of other leaders and get ideas for running a successful group. I was simply amazed at the amount of time and effort some of the ladies put into their Chapters. They really inspired me to do a better job at being a leader for others in my community. I won't go as far as getting another phone line installed in my home for a celiac hotline, but I will try my best to hold a monthly meeting on a regular basis!

Marilyn Geller, new COO of CDF and Phyllis Kessler, President of the South Florida CDF Chapter.

Best of all, during the Leadership meeting I was finally able to meet my very first blogging buddy, Chandice from Gluten Free Frenzy! Chandice has the #1 blog to visit for gluten free giveaways. Not only that, she's also a support group leader in Phoenix AND has launched Gluten Free Calendar. A site that brings "Unity in the Gluten Free Community". Gluten Free event listings from across the nation (CDF, GIG, NFCA, CSA, etc.) are all listed in one convenient place. Lots of great things are in store for Gluten Free Calendar, including Celiac Awareness Nights at Major League Baseball games. (Including my White Sox! Pencil in September 29th now!)

Friday night, I tooled around Universal City Walk near the hotel. I had some yummy food and took in some entertainment. I even found Cupcake Popcorn that was certified gluten free.

Nerdin' out by myself! :)
Cupcake Popcorn?!

Yes, this is real.
Saturday morning for the actual education conference was jammed packed with a handful of excellent speakers including Dr. Stefano Guandalini from the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, Dr. Peter Green from the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center, Shelley Case RD, and Melinda Dennis RD from Delete the Wheat. Here's some of the interesting things I learned from them:
  • I should be getting annual blood tests to make sure my antibody levels are still in the clear
    • I used to think just following a gluten free diet was good enough to manage celiac, but the doctors expressed that celiac patients actually need greater care due to other autoimmune disease that can appear over time.
  •  None of the glutenases on the market are for realz - DO NOT USE!!
    • A pill that blocks gluten absorption? Don't waste your time or money, gluten will still be absorbed and will cause damage to your body.
  • In a study from 2007, celiac disease in babies was higher in those delivered by cesarean.
  • Celiac Disease is in constant evolution - you need to stay updated! 
  • The rate of diagnosis of CD has increased two-fold over the past 3 years, although the US is still has the lowest rate of diagnoses in all developed countries
    • Rate of diagnosed to undiagnosed:
      • US - 20:1
      • Italy - 7:1
      • Finland - 2:1
    • Females diagnosed more than men 
  • Celiacs have a 3-10x greater chance of developing another autoimmune disease than a non-celiac
  • This one was a bummer: There is a modest increase of death rate in celiac patients.
    • Again, celiac patients need special medical care. More than just handling it by themselves.
Julia, Chandice, and Dr. Stefano talk celiac disease in children.

Now I know you want to know about the food. And boy, was there food! From the snacks at the Leadership conference to the breakfast and lunch served at the conference, the day was filled with food.

The best part of breakfast was these scones from Gluten Not Included.

Cobb Salad with Fried Chicken Tenders for lunch!

One of the highlights was from Julia's Gluten Free Bakery. Located in Phoenix, Julia makes a mean gluten free cupcake. I had the pleasure of enjoying both her red velvet cupcake AND her lemon cupcake. Delicious. But the ultimate "are you kidding me?!" goes to her Cinnamon Rolls. They are hands down the best cinnamon rolls I've had in my entire life. That's pre- and post- gluten free. That's saying a lot. My mom would make Ann Sather's Cinnamon Rolls when we were growing up and I thought those were out of this world. Julia's gluten free rolls are just another galaxy. I urge you to visit one of the retailers that carries her products if you ever happen to be in the Phoenix area, you will not be disappointed!

Julia's Gluten Free Bakery Red Velvet Cupcake.

Julia's Gluten Free Bakery's Famous Cinnamon Roll.

Julia, the sweetest person ever, and me - professional super models.

No celiac event would be complete without a swag bag. The amount of goodies that was given away was ridiculous. My swag bag weighed more than my carry on luggage. No joke. From flax seed to cereal, cookies to coupons, the swag bag was filled to the brim.

Just some of the samples from the gift bag!

For more pics of the amazing gluten free good times I had, check out my Facebook album!


Anonymous said...

Did you try Rudi's Gluten Free tortillas? They were the best of show!

Gluten Free Betsy said...

YES! They were delicious!