Eating healthy on vacation is a difficult problem in itself let alone trying to eat a gluten free diet. Being someone with Celiac it is very important that I not get gluten, this isn’t just a “staying healthy” issue as it is a “not rolled in a ball crying in extreme pain for weeks” issue for me. With a little preparation and advance planning it not only can be done but can be done fairly easily. We all want to have a good time on vacation and having an allergy issue can really put a damper in ones day!
Here are some basic tips I have learned over the years on how to eat gluten free on vacation!
Prepare well in advance for you trip. We can plan a vacation for months and months on end to make sure that everything goes perfectly so why not take a few steps in the process to make sure that you can stick to your gluten free diet. Glutenfreetravelsite.com is a great resource to use before and during your travel. They have multiple ways to search your destination including: town/zip, state/country and even a spot for restaurant chains. Use this site when planning your daily meals and when looking for restaurants in the area. People even posts review so you won’t be left wondering if you should try it or not! In smaller towns try to stick to restaurants that serve things like fresh salads, steak with roasted veggies, and other real food option. If they use real ingredients they are more likely to be able to accommodate gluten free options.
Try booking your hotel/resort with a kitchen or mini-fridge and microwave. It is much easier on vacation to eat gluten free when you can make your own food and it will save you a ton of money. The cost can be a little higher per night but if you are saving money by cooking yourself you won’t even notice the cost. Once you reach your destination you should be able to plan a shopping trip to purchase all of your gluten free products and be able to plan your meals just like you are at home.
Buy plenty of “go-to” snacks. While out and about on your vacation you will find yourself getting VERY hungry. I don’t know if it’s from all the excitement or from being in a new place but for some reason when traveling I am famished! Pack plenty of fresh fruits and veggies for your day out. There are plenty of gluten free crackers, muffins and snacks available for you in the store. Have a bag packed up and ready to go so you are prepared when the hunger bug bites. When out in the boonies with limited grocery options I usually pre-order snacks for my self and my kids like Nicks Sticks (gluten free pasture raised beef sticks), Justin’s Nut Butter (I love the chocolate hazelnut packets with apples – or, lets be honest, straight into my mouth), dried fruit, and some treats for the kids like Lucy’s Cookies which are allergy friendly for many different allergies. This way we don’t feel left out when the kids friends get special sweet treats.
Don’t be afraid to ask question when eating out. Restaurants are becoming more gluten friendly everyday and it is making it easier to live a gluten free lifestyle. Be prepared when you go into a restaurant and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Before you leave on vacation print off some free dining cards explaining your gluten free diet to help the kitchen better prepare your food. This especially comes in handy when traveling to a foreign country. Check the menu for gluten free options and don’t be scared to ask questions! You are worth it after all! Try eating at less busy times at a restaurant as the kitchen will have an easier time making the requests that you need.
Also, be sure to emphasize what will happen if you DO get exposed to gluten. I think many restaurants may feel like the hassle isn’t worth it and perhaps people are being difficult to be difficult. They don’t always understand that gluten can cause serious health issues. I make sure to emphasize that gluten is an ALLERGY, describe what gluten is and where it can be found, how it can remain in a pot or pan that hasn’t been properly washed, and tell them I will be very very ill and maybe even hospitalized if I get exposed. This may sound a bit dramatic, but in my case it is true and, since I started emphasizing this, I have gotten sick at restaurants much less often.
Making good choices when eating out and advance planning is the most important part of eating gluten free while on vacation. Just take a little time in advance to check out the area you are visiting and map out your road to success! Happy vacationing!
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