Friday, October 2, 2015

How to Conquer a Gluten-Free Expo Like a Pro

As a gluten-free blogger, and avid foodie, one of my most favorite things in the world is gluten-free expos and events. Where else can my love for gluten-free foods and meeting new people come together? 

When I first started blogging, I had no clue that gluten-free expos were even a thing. However, after quickly falling in love with the phenomenon at the Gluten-Free Living Expo in Orlando, I soon began to plan around these foodie spectaculars to try to go to as many as possible. After fully recovering from a busy Natural Products Expo East, I  knew that I wanted to put (proverbial) pen to paper to share tips and tricks I've learned along the way to make the most of expo opportunities. 

Plan Your Time

One of the most important things I have learned about gluten-free conference-ing is that planning to see, sample, and do everything is simply not possible. It is exhausting to spend even one day on your feet all day, much less multiple days for longer events. Definitely pencil in time to step away from the action, regroup, and get some mental and physical distance. In the heat of the show floor, it can be easy to ignore subtle signs of burnout, so definitely check in with your body to make sure that it doesn't give out mid-show.

Balance Your Diet

If there's any certainty about gluten-free expos, it's that the sampling is predominately carb-heavy and sugar-laden products. While I enjoy these delicious indulgences as much as the next person, I make sure to supplement my diet in the days before and after the event with lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, and protein. It certainly helps my stomach to handle the marathon of samples, and helps me not fall into the trap of eating junk food for days on end. On an similar tangent, make sure to bring plenty of water to last a day. Doing so will help you stay hydrated and save money, as sometimes concessions at a convention center or hotel can be pricey. 

Good ol' plant-based protein and veggies: a nice way to balance out a carb-full, sugary sampling schedule.

Come Prepared

Although it's almost a sure bet that sample bags (usually reusable shopping bags) are often handed out at expos, I always arrive with additional items to help me navigate the floor. Plastic containers with lids are handy to hold samples that you'd like to try, but might be too full or too sugar-ed to taste at the moment you stop by the booth. I also often bring a lunchbox, or small cooler, to preserve chocolate samples or other melt-prone items. At Expo East this year, bringing a cooler really paid off because it allowed me to transport home a delicious pouch of bone broth! Other handy items to bring on the show floor are hand wipes (for sticky samples), a folder to organize flyers or business cards, and comfy shoes. 

Make Friends and Spread the Word

Probably the simplest, but most important thing you can do at a gluten-free expo is to meet new brands, fall in love with products, and spread the word about them. Sharing is totally caring, because spreading the word about new brands or products allows them to grow and gain foothold in a pretty saturated gluten-free market. I am always amazed by the passion that goes into creating gluten-free companies and products, and thus am proud to support the people and passion behind new products. See something you like? Asking to have it stocked at your local grocery or health foods store. We truly have power as customers, and stores will listen if they know there's demand.

Final Thoughts

While these tips by no means comprehensive, I hope they help in some small way to help you navigate a gluten-free expo. Want to know when there's one near you? Check out my event listing at this link, or simply take to your favorite search engine to find events near you. Go, have fun, and revel in the gluten-free glory of an entire room dedicated to products you can eat. There's nothing like it, and I look forward to many more expos ahead.

What are your tips for tackling a gluten-free expo? Share below!

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