Celiac Disease is a huge part of my life. I have had to change my diet, the products that I allow in my house and they types of foods I feed to my family to protect myself from this food allergy. On the outset it may not seem like celiac disease is a troublesome disease. I mean diabetics remove sugar from their diet, why can’t a person with celiac disease simply remove gluten from theirs? What people don’t realize about celiac disease (and neither did I until I was diagnosed) is that it isn’t just ingesting gluten products that make you sick, but rather situations such as simply inhaling flour while making play dough for your kids in you kitchen can result in a sever reaction. No we don’t break out in visual sign like hive when a person with peanut allergies eats peanuts, but rather we silently kill off part of our intestine putting us into a state of malnutrition.
As a result, I have done a ton of research and joined amazing associations like the Canadian Celiac Association, to arm myself with the knowledge that I need to protect my body. At home, I’m a pro (unless all three kids are screaming at me at the same time and I accidentally place the gluten noodle spoon in my mouth!), but eat ANYTHING outside of the home I’m taking a huge risk. So when I attended the Blissdom Canada conference, I was afraid that there would be nothing for me to eat, everything would be contaminated with gluten, and I would end up all week suffering from severe stomach pains or worse on the toilet all weekend.
THANK YOU BLISSDOM CANADA
Blissdom Canada blew me away! As with every event I attend, after purchasing a ticket, I inquire about the type of food available and whether or not they cater to food allergies. I don’t expect everyone to change their meal plans as a result of my food allergy, but rather I like to know if I need to bring my own snacks and food. The chicks at Blissdom Canada where ahead of the game. They sent out a survey to every attendee to see if they had any food allergies and made sure to accommodate all allergies. That little gesture made me feel amazing and very loved!
THANK YOU MEADOWVALE DELTA
From the “newbie” appetizer buffet to the final sit down lunch, Meadowvale Delta was on the top of their game. The visual awareness was awesome! There was labels on everything! It was amazing to see huge “Gluten Free” signs on tables letting you know it was safe to eat. The staff was amazing too. Several times, I double checked with the staff that the food on the labelled table was actually gluten free. They knew the answers right away and there was no hesitation or confusion about what gluten free was. They were knowledgeable, accommodating and even snuck us gluten free desserts not available on the tables when we asked. The restaurant even went so far as to bring the chef to my table to personal suggest a meal and oversee the preparation of it to ensure there would be no contamination. They really went all out!
THANK YOU TIM HORTONS
One sponsor blew me out of the waters! Tim Hortons is a well known name in my family. Whether it be catching up with a long distance sister, surviving the day after a sleepless night with the baby or a simple “Me Time” moment, Tim Hortons was there. We frequented there so much that by age one my kids could recognize the Tim Hortons sign when we passed one. Before the conference, I wrote a post on attending a conference with a food allergy. It described my fears and suggestions on how to prepare oneself. I love social media! Tim Hortons actually read it! They were so supportive and send out a tweet saying they would make sure they brought some gluten free treats! I was excited! When the Tim Hortons suite opened, I rushed down for my COFFEE and my treat! After talking to the Tim Horton crew, I learned that they went out of their way and specially bought me (read: gluten free attendees) gluten free macaroons, I was touched beyond belief! I couldn’t believe that a huge organization like Tim Hortons would take the time to make one person smile! I know that Tim Hortons can’t change all their products to be gluten free or even make too many gluten free products (They have to be wrapped and processed separately to avoid cross contamination), but the ability to have a sweet with my coffee is an unbelievable!
My experience at this conference was outstanding. Sure I had to step out of my comfort zone and ask if things were gluten free, but rather then receiving the normal confused or annoyed faces, I was treated with concern, compassion and understanding. I did not have one reaction on this four day adventure, nor did I starve. I would love everyone to give a huge shout out to these companies who have made my experience amazing!
Thank you @TimHortons
Thank you @BlissdomCa