By Karen Kennedy
Who knew that alternatives to a simple protein found in wheat products could draw a crowd?
The third annual Gluten Free Living Now Expo continues to grow and will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 5 at The Fountains, 502 E. Carmel Dr.
In 2012 the event hosted more than 4,000 people from all over the country. The organizers are expecting even more this year.
The number of people nationwide who are turning to a gluten-free lifestyle continues to grow as awareness increases about Celiac disease and gluten intolerance. According to the Website of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment in Boston, one in 133 people in the United States are affected by this genetically-based autoimmune disease, and many more are suffering undiagnosed.
When individuals with Celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, tiny hair-like projections in the small intestine are damaged and cannot properly absorb basic nutrients. Symptoms can range from severe abdominal cramping and other digestive disorders to migraines, joint pain, dental problems and depression.
Gluten Free Living Now is a nonprofit organization founded by Carmel resident Shelia Cafferty, who suffered from mysterious medical issues for many years until she was ultimately diagnosed with Celiac disease.
Cafferty said the diagnosis changed her life, and she started to look for a way to help others who were suffering as well. She created the expo as a way to reach as many people as possible.
“We are passionate about bettering the lives of those who suffer from a gluten intolerance of any degree,” Cafferty said. “This is personal for us. We are looking to empower people with the tools to lead a happier, healthier, less restrictive life.”
People attending the expo can sample new gluten-free foods and learn new cooking techniques. Medical experts from across the country who specialize in Celiac diagnosis and treatment will present lectures about living with the disease, and food vendors and local restaurants will have booths with gluten-free food samples.
A kid’s corner will offer a play area and gluten-free kid-friendly snacks, and adults can enjoy the gluten-free beer and alcohol garden.
Gluten Free Living Now Expo • 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 5 • The Fountains, 502 E. Carmel Dr. • $10 for adults; free for children 12 and under • For more information visit: www.glutenfreelivingnow.org