Friday, May 21, 2010

Raving reviews on the Celiac Disease Foundation's Education and Food Fair

The CDF Education and Food Fair was absolutely fantastic. So many people to meet, so much new information, a plethora of GF vendors with samples, who could go wrong with that? In addition, we were provided with a delicious gluten-free breakfast provided by General Mills; more specifically one of their new GF products that they revealed at the CDF Conference “Bisquick”  made GF pancakes with maple syrup. Not to mention, a scrumptious GF luncheon. It was very delicious and filling. The favorite was the mango sorbet with fresh berries on top served with GF cupcakes by Betty Crocker . The Marriott Hotel in downtown Los Angeles was spectacular, but was unfortunately unable to provide the amount of space that was required by this huge event. Who knew so many people with Celiac and vendors sampling gluten-free products would show up for this event?!

Aside from the venue being a bit too small and rather cramped, the conference was a complete success. We had such dynamic speakers as Dr. Peter Green author of “Celiac Disease: The Hidden Epidemic” from Columbia University. Dr. Green’s studies have revealed that 30 to 40 % of Americans can get Celiac simply due to their genes. As many strides as the U.S. is making in Celiac Awareness, and producing new gluten-free products, we are still behind the ball when it comes to diagnosing. Apparently, still only 1% in the U.S. are being diagnosed with Celiac. Whereas in other countries such as Finland and Sweden they are diagnosing at a rate of 70%, while Australia and Italy are only diagnosing 20 to 30 %.

They have discovered that HLA DQ2 or 8 only accounts for 50 % of the genes that are involved with the diagnosis of Celiac. There are many other genes involved and they are just beginning to determine them. Another interesting fact is that all women who have a c-section during childbirth increase the risk of their children getting Celiac.

Shocking but true, most folks are getting diagnosed from physicians with other specialties other than a gastroenterologist. They are seeing a huge amount of diagnosis from Urologist. Nowadays 50% of all diagnosis in the U.S. present with diarrhea.

Thyroid cancer is 23 times more common in those with Celiac than once thought. 30% of Celiac’s have at least 1 autoimmune disease. But on a good note, the earlier a person is diagnosed (20 years old and under) the lower the chance of them developing another autoimmune disorder.

The best Celiac panel to have taken on an annual basis is the tTg + IgA + DGP. There are still false negatives in testing, and while biopsies are the gold standard in diagnosing Celiac, Dr. Green requires during a biopsy 4 to 6 pieces should be taken to be absolutely certain. And these should be interpreted by an experienced pathologist. If you are told that you did not come up positive for Celiac and are still symptomatic you should request a 2nd opinion from another experienced pathologist using the original biopsy.

Dr. Green says that those with gluten sensitivity, DH, IBS are responding to a gluten-free diet. Even people with severe psychiatric disorders have positive antibodies for gluten-sensitivity; such as:


Daniel C. Adelman M.D. is the Senior VP and Chief Medical Officer for Alvine Pharmaceuticals explained their new medication that is in the works called ALV003. This medication is no means a substitute for a gluten-free diet, it is to be taken in addition to a gluten-free diet.

We had a visit from the lovely Kari Gai who is currently Miss Kansas City , and she herself has Celiac in addition to her sister, and is now a strong advocate for Celiac as well. She has a strong platform to increase awareness.

Then we hear from Sheila Crowe M.D. who is a Professor of Medicine, Gastroenterology/Hepatology and Researcher, University of Virginia Health Care System, and also the author of “Celiac Disease for Dummies” . She spoke about how she is the wife of a Celiac and how she came to write this book for the For Dummies series. She and her husband have two children and only their daughter has Celiac. Nevertheless she still worries that her son may develop it at another time.

No shock here, but first and second degree family members should be tested for Celiac.

There were several notable speakers such as: Shelley Case, RD , and Anne Lee RD, and the favorite of the day was Frank Baldassare from “The Missing Ingredient”. Shelley and Anne gave out great guidelines for maintaining the gluten-free diet and some myth busters for example: ALL distilled alcohol is o.k. to drink on a gluten-free diet as long as it has been distilled. Rice malt is the only kind of malt that is o.k. And commercial sushi with a substitute fish product in it has wheat in it. They broke down 20 PPM (parts per million) as the following: 20 ppm = 20 mg. = 2 mg. or 1 oz. of food. So never let any one tell you a dish only has a little wheat or gluten in it because it only takes 1/8 th of a teaspoon of wheat and or gluten to make you sick. On a sad note, no pun intended, but a Columbia study was conducted by Dr. Green where they found that 70% of folks on a gluten-free diet feel blue all of the time. While only 9% of folks on a regular diet feel blue all of the time. One of the main issues is that gluten-free food is 2 to 3 times more expensive than mainstream food. They also found that compliance was a major issue and that one of the top reasons to not comply was in social situations. They found that 90 % of people on a gluten-free diet cheated in social settings. The highest number of cheaters found were in the teen to young man category; namely on their first date. Further research will be done to see about how to lower the number of folks feeling blue on a gluten-free diet.

With that being said, the good news is that while the economy is at an all time low, with slumps in the market; yet the gluten-free food industry in on the rise. They found gluten-free foods industry rising 25% each year even during the recession.

Frank Baldassare woke everyone up with his enthusiasm, vigor, humor, postivity and his complete knowledge of a gluten-free diet and life style. He hosts his own show on the internet called “The Missing Ingredient” by Cody Boy Entertainment ; coming soon to a cable channel. Franks’ cooking show is the first of it’s kind for a step-by-step of gluten-free cooking, baking and all other allergens as well. One of the messages that Frank wanted us all to hear was that while it is fantastic that gluten-free food is going main stream, we should still beware. “Just because it is gluten-free does not mean it is good for you!” We should remember what got us here in the first place and that we should continue to eat healthily not out of a box. We should honor our bodies by trying to only feed it healthy, locally grown and organic food whenever possible. As a teacher Frank promotes overhauling the food system in our children’s schools. He feels that it is important to support getting better food for our children in schools, and that we really need to support children and teens through this gluten-free life style.

As for the highlight of the event; enough cannot be said about the gluten-free vendors. There were over 90 gluten-free vendors, some old timers and some new. So many samples and so little time to taste them all; fortunately the majority of the vendors had their items prepackaged.  General Mills unveiled two new products GF Bisquick, and GF Hamburger Helper. Many of these samples were the larger sizes you’d find in your local stores. Mary’s Gone Crackers  introduced their Mary’s Gone Cookies , One of their newest products was Mary’s Gone Crackers bread crumbs, which is made from all of their leftover cracker crumbs . Glutino gave out samples of their new yogurt covered pretzels, and their chocolate covered pretzels. Zojirushi America Corporation magnanimously donated two bread machines for the CDF raffle. We sampled Kettle Cuisine soups. Chicken noodle was a favorite made with all organic ingredients and rice noodles. We had the pleasure of sampling Bards Tale Beer and Greens Beer which was preferred by those loving a rich, thick, dark beer. There were many pizzas to sample but a few that stand out are the ones by Clean Cravings and Almond Glory . Almond Glory are gluten and soy-free, have a low glycemic level, and are absolutely delicious!! Smooze is completely preservative-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, cholesterol-free, GM-free, 100% Vegan.  Plus it has 40% less sugar than most frozen treats on the market. They are made from coconut milk and are incredibly refreshing and tasty. Fresh and Easy handed out their 100% recycled cotton shopping bags which complemented the goodie bags handed out by CDF that were filled with lots of gluten-free treats and literature. Overall an extraordinary time was had by all!  Look forward to more photos posted soon.


General Mills LiveGlutenFreely, Mary's Gone Crackers, Growing Naturals, Glutino Food Group, Crunchmaster®Crackers, Bob’s Red Mill, Zojirushi America Corporation, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, King Arthur Flours, Nature’s Path, Kettle Cuisine, The Pure Pantry, Bard's Tale Beer Company, Attune Foods, Clean Cravings, Alvine Pharmaceuticals, Inc.


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