I’m not sure if I’ve said this before but the coeliac community is one of the nicest you’ll ever meet! We’re united by a mutual desire to find delicious things and we share our great (and not so great) finds. I feel lucky to have been able to attend the expo and chat with different services providers and members of the coeliac community.
Gluten Free Joy was an unexpected find! Travel is always a double-edged sword for the coeliac. You want to go out, explore new places and dishes but eating out in a foreign country can be extremely stressful – from finding a restaurant to communicating your needs in another language, there is a lot of risk and anxiety. Jane from Gluten Free Joy is aiming to relieve some of this stress! Gluten Free Joy offer Coeliac safe tours both onshore and overseas. At the Expo, Jane was advertising an eight-day luxury coeliac Danube cruise in May 2023 in conjunction with Uniworld. And it sounded wonderful! I’ve always wanted to do one of those boutique river cruises in Europe and the idea of a coeliac specific cruise sounds like a dream. You can check out the website and blog here for more details.
There were a few authors selling their books at the Expo. 4 Ingredients, Easy Gluten Free by Helen Tzouganatos, and subscriptions to the Australian Healthy Food Guide were available. I took advantage of the Australian Healthy Food Guide subscription paying $69 for twelve months and was gifted a bag of goodies that included Kellogg’s Sultana Bran, Cobram Estate garlic oil, Helga’s gluten free traditional white bread and Corn Thins to name a few of the many samples.
However, what I was really impressed with was Gluten Tootin’! The author, Kylie Anderson was at the Expo with a man dressed as a sloth! And who wouldn’t love that! Kylie wrote Gluten Tootin’ when her son was diagnosed with coeliac disease at 5 years old. I bought a copy for the girls to help them understand what being coeliac means. While Milly is old enough now to understand what’s happening with my diet, Bell is not quite there and doesn’t understand that after eating toast or cake, she can’t wipe her hands on mummy! The girls and I loved the book – it’s bright and colourful, the writing is clear and funny. It’s a great resource for teaching the young’uns about the symptoms of coeliac disease (read: farts) and how to avoid them.
Another interesting service that I’m really keen to experience was Foodini. The Foodini app provides dietician reviewed restaurants and menu options in your area. They cater to multiple allergies including gluten free, wheat and oats, and they even had specific Coeliac Australia Accredited restaurants recommended! At the moment Foodini are Sydney-based but they have plans to expand to Melbourne in the next two to four weeks, and Canberra in the next six to eight weeks. The interface seems user-friendly and I’m excited for the Canberra roll out!
The Gluten Free expo is hosted by Coeliac Australia. If you are coeliac and are not member, I highly recommend you join! Coeliac Australia do amazing work! They support a ton of research, have an accreditation program, and provide a great support network for coeliacs plus lots more. I think Coeliac Australia do amazing work for the community and the volunteers at the expo we’re friendly and helpful.
There were a number of presentations, demonstrations and Q&A sessions running throughout both days, and Michael and I managed to get seats to listen to Professor Jason Tye-Din, Gastroenterologist and Chair of the Coeliac Australia Medical Advisory Committee. Dr Tye-Din enlightened the audience on some of the latest coeliac research and results taking place in Australia, and answered plenty of tricky questions from the audience. The most interesting points I took away were:
- Pooping Glutes – Stool samples taken from coeliacs have shown traces of gluten despite being asymptomatic, particularly after eating out. It goes to show the importance of discussing your dietary needs and cross contamination when you eat at restaurants. You may not have a reaction but could still be causing internal damage.
- Time Oat! – Oats contain the protein avenin which is chemically similar to gluten and can affect some coeliacs. In Australia, oats are not recommended as part of a gluten free diet however, gluten free oats (harvested and processed without cross contamination) are considered safe in some countries, like the UK and USA. Research into the effect of oats on coeliacs is currently being undertaken but Dr Tye-Din suggested that they may be safe for some coeliacs to consume. He recommended a biopsy before eating oats, then a second biopsy three months after you start eating oats to check for damage. Their research showed that some coeliacs didn’t demonstrate damage, even if they felt unwell after eating oats. It’s important to note this research is still in its infancy and is not published so I wouldn’t start scarfing down porridge and digestive biscuits until it’s out and Coeliac Australia have provided official advice!
- Reaction severity – Research has shown the severity of a coeliacs reaction to gluten increases over time. The longer you follow a gluten free diet, the worse your reaction to being glutened can be.
Overall my time at the expo was great! I ate delicious food, met delightful people, drank tasty beer, subscribed to everything and learnt about poop and oats – what more could I ask for! I highly recommend the expo to both coeliacs and gluten free foodies, just make sure you bring a nana cart to next years’ expo to roll around!