Ashlee Adams is a coeliac. She is a marketing manager and graphic designer. She is also within the top 50 food blogs in Australia.
Ashlee was diagnosed with Coeliac disease at the age of 6 in 1998. For ten months prior, she had seen her mum be diagnosed with the disease and readjust her life. So for Ashlee, being a kid was tough at times. “The disease gave me social anxiety and I got bullied because of it.”
Such problems lead Ashlee to a period in her teenage years where she just didn’t care about the disease anymore. “I got sick of it all. I pretended I didn’t have coeliac disease and ate whatever I wanted”. One day, Ashlee collapsed at school, ending up in hospital because she had fed her body so much gluten. “I had damaged my internal organs so much that I couldn’t get nutrients and I had a baseball sized ulcer”.
Although struggling with disease at times, Ashlee has now taken it in her stride and has created a blog “The Aussie Coeliac” that is within the top 50 food blogs in Australia and the top 50 food blogs for that particular niche in the world, something which hasn’t come easy.
Ashlee tells me that her main motivation behind her blog was realization that she wasn’t alone in being a coeliac. In fact 1 in 70 Australians suffer from some form of the disease. “I wanted to share my years of knowledge and help them.” Having to learn to cook at a young age so that her food was safe to consume, she has begun to share the recipes with others so they can (safely) indulge every now and again too. “I had a lot of recipes that others hadn’t figured out yet”.
So what exactly is coeliac disease? Well to put it simply, it’s where the immune system cannot handle gluten and therefore reacts abnormally, over time causing damage to the bowel. This means that the bowel can become inflamed and flattened when gluten is consumed which, overtime, may lead to gastrointestinal and nourishment absorption difficulties.
So Ashlee’s blog is essentially dedicated to eliminating and replacing certain foods that are toxic to those suffering from coeliac disease, something that she has worked on over time.
Like any blog, getting ‘The Aussie Coeliac’ up and running was a slow process. “Posting quality content on a regular basis was a good start. Finding likeminded groups and reaching out to companies or influencers was a big part.” Ashlee also credits The Social Media podcast as helping her boost her blog by offering great tips and tricks.
Although the process was slow, with Ashlee having been writing her blog for 5 years, this year her blog was finally recognised in the top 50, something which she is very proud of. “It took me time and money to get where I am now.”
For her blog, Ashlee’s research included dining at many different restaurants and food spots that boasted gluten free options. “I spent money at these places and reached out to people, leaving my card with them.” From there, Ashlee put reviews on sites like Trip Advisor, Zomato and local groups. “If you tag the restaurants or brands in your social media share, I’ve found most would reshare or even sponsor.” Basically, the more people that share your post, the more it is out there and the more reputable you become.
However successful her blog has become, the success of it all is still sinking in. “Every time somebody shares something, I get really surprised,” she tells me.
“I was at an expo and Olympic Gold medallist Jacqui Cooper came up to me and asked me for a photo.” She further tells me that hearing how her blog has helped others really satisfies her.
The self-proclaimed perfectionist says her life revolves around food, something which is an integral part of her life. Aside from completing a Bachelor’s degree in literature, graphic design and web development plus a certificate 3 in marketing and journalism, Ashlee’s passion for food is what really defines her success as a blogger. “Food is a science, and I love mixing and meddling with ingredients to find new techniques,” she says.
Ashlee’s blog has led to her write a cookbook, something which she is in the process of writing now. Titled ‘RSVP Gluten Free’, the book focuses on gluten free and allergen free entertainment. Whilst there is no release date yet, ‘RSVP Gluten Free’ is likely to be the ultimate cookbook Bible for any person who suffers from Coeliac Disease or gluten intolerance or for those of us, like me, who want to cut a little bit of gluten out of their diets.
For now Ashlee is enjoying her success and writing about what she loves. You can read more about coeliac disease, coeliac friendly restaurants and Ashlee’s life by visiting: http://www.aussiecoeliac.com.au