by Stephanic C. Lyons-Keeley
Having celiac disease is a challenge. I should know and I don’t even have it. But I do by association – and that’s because one of my children was diagnosed at age 11 after no less than a six-month battle with unexplained stomach pains, headaches, moodiness, and difficulty focusing in school – which led to some pretty severe school anxiety that frankly stuck with her for the six years that followed.
Now that she’s 100% gluten-free and has been since her diagnosis, we only have very random episodes of glutenization. She’s careful, she’s healthy, and our whole family watches out for her. But that doesn’t mean eating is fun, because among the biggest challenges of having a child with celiac is mealtime. Giving up tasty foods and watching her family and friends rapturously devour savory pizza, chewy breads, and countless delectable sweets is torturous for a celiac person. So when we learned about the Gluten Free and Allergy Friendly Expo (GF & AF Expo) I’ll say we both were in heaven!
Where else can one go where their specific needs are the primary focus of attention? It is a rarity to find dedicated bakeries or other food-focused events where there are more than a few, or a handful at most, gluten-free choices. Rarely can you go to a restaurant where the modifications necessary to make something gluten-free will ultimately taste good or pack the same punch as the gluten version. And rarer still can you discover yummy gluten-free products aside from the handful that may be available in the local grocery, many of which DO NOT taste good, are expensive, and that you end up tossing in the garbage after forking over half your grocery bill in order to learn that they aren’t worth the mastication.
After six-plus years of gluten agony, I’m thrilled to accompany my daughter to the GF & AF Expo – a place where she won’t have to ask that awful question, “Is that gluten-free?” A place where the person on the receiving end won’t be looking at her like she has three heads then mumble something unintelligible and we walk away wondering how anyone in food service isn’t keenly aware of what in fact gluten is, or the importance of allergy awareness and food preparation safety.
This is a day for her – and for me as well. A momma-daughter day, but also a day to focus on one of the simplest and most fabulous human pleasures – gastronomic delight. But delight in a form that my daughter is thrilled to know she can consume without issue.
We can’t wait to share our findings – my celiac girl and I will have a lot to report, so stay tuned!
Check out these other social media sites for the event as well!