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4 Tips for Traveling When You Have Celiac Disease

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I absolutely love to travel, and food has always been one of my favorite parts of it.

During summers on my dad’s island of Cyprus as a kid, my family and I would scarf giant portions of moussaka off porcelain blue plates after mornings spent at the beach. I remember the juice from the meat and the eggplant pooling at the bottom of the plates, staining the andethero bread we used to sop it up a bright orange.

When living in Uruguay, I ate lavish feasts of grass-fed steak and fresh from the oven empanadas. One of my coolest eating experiences while traveling was inside a cave restaurant an hour north of Mexico City.

In the years before my celiac diagnosis, I never had to think twice about the places I was getting take-out from or eating out at during these trips. Now I do.

For many, our celiac diagnosis means we’re no longer able to be so carefree. Our condition requires careful planning, selecting restaurants in advance, and calling places to ensure that their food will be safe for us before we go.

To help make the experience a little easier, here are a few tips for fellow celiac travelers:

1. Plan in advance.

Book a place with a small kitchen, or at least a microwave and fridge. Boil eggs and bring foods that are high in protein to keep you full for longer.

My typical line-up of travel foods is Epic venison or chicken sriracha bars, Aloha protein bars, cartons of bone broth (one mug of it gives you 10-15 grams of protein) hard-boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, tangerines, and one or two already-cooked meals in a Tupperware. I pack them all in a cooler then refrigerate them as soon as I get to my destination.

2. Download the Find Me Gluten Free App.

This app is a Godsend! It helped me find a tasty celiac-friendly pizza place in Angels Camp, a Chinese restaurant in Twain Harte, and a phenomenal 100% gluten-free poke chain in LA.

3. Carry the “Celiac Card” while traveling.

Offered in different languages, it can quickly and easily communicate your needs to restaurant staff if you don’t always feel like repeating the same spiel. You can find it here (the owner of the site requests a $5 donation from those who choose to download it).

4. Google gluten-free guides to the city you’re going to.

They abound on the Internet, so depending on where you’re traveling, there will likely be an “eating out gluten-free” guide for that city that a google search can yield. My next big trip will probably be to Barcelona to visit a good friend who lives there, for which I’ve already found a helpful article on dining gluten-free.

It’s a relief to know that we can still enjoy the food of other regions, even if it’s less convenient for us!

How do you navigate traveling? Do you bring all your own food, or seek out celiac-friendly restaurants? Do you find yourself traveling less or restricting your travel now (more so than before) because of celiac? Or have you simply found ways to work around it and still travel as much as you always did?

Getty image by Foxy’s Forest.

Originally published: January 5, 2022
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