Gluten-Free Health & Wellness Festival in Victoria

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In ten days, on February 22, 2014, Victoria will host it’s first ever Gluten Free Health & Wellness Festival at the Victoria Conference Centre in downtown Victoria. I am proud to offer two tickets to giveaway to my readers and a little bit of information for you about gluten, and how it affects us all.

To sum up the Festival:

  • The event is all about community, education and a love of food and health.
  • Events around Victoria: An intimate dinner at Be Love Restaurant – February 21, 2014 (tickets are $75 and nearly half sold out)
  • Dr. William Davis, author of New York Times #1 Bestseller Wheat Belly, will attend the dinner and give a talk on Saturday evening at 7pm
  • The Festival (from 12-5pm) will consist of gluten free vendors and markets; yoga, food and fermentation demos; talks from nutritionists and global issues on sustainability
  • Tickets can be purchased on the website –
  • This event is made possible in part by our Platinum Sponsors – Red Barn Markets, Origin Bakery and Pacific Rim College.

Red Barn is probably my go to market for local meats and produce, mostly because it is close to me but also because they offer so much in the way of gluten-free food and humanely raised (on the island!)meats. Some of their specialties include in-house smoked pepperoni, the best bacon on the planet, sausages in pork, turkey and chicken, and great cuts of lamb, beef, pork and chicken.

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Elham Ansari, teacher of Holistic Nutrition at Pacific Rim College,  and Practitioner of Ayurvedic diet and nutrition therapy at Awakening Wellness Centre took some time to answer some brief questions on the topic as well:

How prevalent is gluten sensitivity in non-celiacs and what can they do to ease into the diet?

Gluten is a very difficult to digest molecule (it is a storage protein containing the nutrients for germination of the seed so it has to be). For most of us our digestion is already tasked and so gluten may create a sort of ‘last straw’ effect. It is primarily our over consumption of refined GMO wheat which creates issues.

Note for my readers: Although Ms. Ansari mentions GMO wheat as an issue, I believe she means more along the lines of  “hybridized” wheat, which is prevalent in our modern age. There are no GMO wheat varieties available to consumers at the moment, although there are test fields in the US, Canada and Europe. 

She continues to say:

One could start by moving towards a whole foods diet and avoiding refined foods in general, including processed wheat, sugar or salt and introducing a variety of whole grains and legumes, especially easier to digest ones, like rice, quinoa, millet or lentils rather than only ‘bread’ and from there slowly moving away from wheat altogether. Most would even do fine maintaining a moderate consumption of wheat like organic non GMO sprouted whole grain breads (as the germination of the gluten takes place once sprouted, and flowered forms accentuate the gluten) or fermented forms like miso (who has a hard time with miso soup?). As well as avoiding other foods that are difficult to digest, especially in excess, like dairy (specially mixed with fruit) or even excess nuts or raw vegetables and cold/frozen food and drink (particularly in the winter).

Most people I talk to are afraid to even think about giving up bread. I don’t have Celiac’s Disease but I do find since I stopped eating gluten, if I do eat it (accidentally) I tend to get VERY bloated and it lasts about 5 days.

Once we begin to support and not hinder digestion and regain our natural state of feeling well, we are more aware of the effects of difficult to digest foods. Also the body stops having to produce enzyme cocktails on over-drive so when gluten is reintroduced digestion is caught of guard and reacts to it as a foreign substance (which it is as we don’t actually have the enzyme to fully digest it) this creates many symptoms such as bloating.”

If you are interested in learning more about living a gluten-free lifestyle or would like to see what Victoria offers for those who are already living gluten free, come to the festival and check out all the local vendors as well as internationally renowned authors and other great resources!

For your chance to win two tickets to the Gluten-Free Health & Wellness Festival in Victoria, simply leave a comment below or do some of the other available tasks for extra entries!

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