As a precursor to the Annual Washington D.C. Gluten-Free Expo, I had the pleasure of visiting the Children’s National Health System in Washington D.C. for the Celiac Disease Program’s, “Blogger Day.” It was a fascinating and inspiring afternoon that fed my mind and my stomach!
Through its partnership with Children’s National Health System, the Celiac Disease Program strives to improve the way that pediatric celiac disease is diagnosed and treated. Their 5-part approach includes:
Treating medical needs
Meeting psychological needs
Educating and training healthcare providers
Providing community outreach and advocacy
Conducting research to better diagnose and treat celiac
It is important to remember that living a gluten free lifestyle is not just an annoying trend. Okay yes, it is also an annoying trend. But before it became an annoying trend, it was an absolute necessity for those living with celiac, or a gluten allergy or intolerance. Many of you may remember your diagnosis, and being told you can no longer eat gluten or wheat. Bam! You are set forth into an unknown world without any form of guidance or support. That can be really tough, especially for kids. The social, personal, and cultural relationship that many of us have with food, particularly comfort foods like bread and pasta, runs deep. Giving it all up is a change that can be devastating and ostracizing. Imagine being a kid who can’t eat pizza. You stop being invited to the pizza party. You are excluded.
The Celiac Disease Program has developed a great number of resources for children, and their entire families, to help guide them through this major lifestyle change. “Blogger Day” was an introduction and preview to the specific work they do with patients and their families. We enjoyed a nutritional, and gluten-free baking presentation by Vanessa Weisbrod, the Celiac Program Director of Community Programs, a cooking demo by Wildfire, who the Celiac Disease Program has teamed up with to offer cooking classes and nutritional and educational forums and special events for people living with with celiac disease and gluten-related conditions. We also took a tour featuring special areas of the hospital, including the Sheik Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, and met with Dr. John Synder, Director of the Celiac Program, who taught us about the process of a patient getting diagnosed with celiac disease at Children’s National.
The care, concern, and empathy that the Celiac Team displayed is impressive, inspiring, and comforting. They make a diagnosis hopeful and manageable instead of overwhelming and depressing. In continuing with their amazing community efforts, they help thousands of families living with celiac disease find the best gluten-free products on the market with their flagship event, the Washington D.C. Gluten-Free Expo and Educational Session.
If you would like to be a part of this exciting event, you can purchase tickets here. This year, there will be sample gluten-free products from more than 70 vendors. My readers will get an additional 25% off tickets by using coupon code: GFNYEXAMINER25OFF
Hope to see you there!