Traveling when you are highly sensitive to gluten, or any other common food ingredient for that matter, is a challenge. We live in a gluten-filled world!
The consequences of becoming ill can be severe.
It can take up to a week for symptoms to appear. The illness can then last for several weeks. The symptoms can manifest in many different ways and these often change over time.
For example, there are well over 250 symptoms associated with Celiac disease.
And the difference between having Celiac disease and simply lacking the ability to tolerate gluten is the long-term damage to your body. Celiac disease damages the small intestine and can lead to a multitude of illnesses, not the least of which is cancer.
When I first started reacting to gluten I would experience great intestinal distress which included gas, bloating, constipation and an overall feeling of sickness. Today, if I get “glutened “ or “contaminated” I react with flu -like symptoms, swollen glands and depression.
It is a struggle just to function day to day.
Being away from home and out of my element is not something I look forward to. However, staying in hotels can be pretty painless. Request a microwave and mini-fridge for your room and purchase food that requires little, if any preparation.
This presents you with a safe option.
Staying in someone’s home, even if it’s with family or friends, can be much harder.
People are sometimes offended when you don’t partake in their meals. I hate to repeat this again and again but unless you have to live with a food intolerance every day you can’t understand how difficult it is.
I have been called “paranoid” and told to “just eat it.” And sometimes people just don’t understand that I cannot have any gluten.
Tips for Living Gluten Free
Generally, the longer you abstain from eating a problem food the more sensitive you become.
When visiting it is best to bring your own cutting board, knives, skillet, pots and pans. A blender is a good idea too. Make sure anything you use is run through the dishwasher. Gluten can actually hide in the imperfections of plastic.
Even though it is not environmental, using paper plates and disposable utensils can also give you peace of mind.
Easy food options include frozen veggie burgers, steam in the bag vegetables, frozen fruit and pre-packaged hummus.
The goal is to minimize food preparation, keep food safe from contamination and have as little contact as possible with anything in the kitchen. Also, be sure to clean and secure a place in the refrigerator that is just for you.
Eating out presents even more problems.
There are usually a lot of social occasions which involve eating out when you are visiting. The only 100% safe choice for eating out is a raw food restaurant as there is usually no gluten in the kitchen. In any other establishment the risk of cross-contamination is high.
Even gluten-free menu items are prepared in a glutinous kitchen. I have actually taken my own food to some restaurants in order to alleviate the isolation I feel because I am the only one not eating.
I don’t choose nor do I want to be this way, but it is the way I am.
Celiac disease is a genetic auto-immune disorder with no known cure. The only way to remain well is to eat a 100% gluten-free diet.
Hopefully over time there will be more empathy and understanding surrounding food sensitivities.
To discover other tips for healthy eating and living, please send me an email (address listed below) or feel free to leave a comment for me here as well!