You might be a pro when it comes to eating gluten free at home, but if you’re travelling, it’s a whole different ball game. Although it’s hard to get an entirely accurate picture, approximately 12% of Canadians now follow a gluten-free diet and it’s estimated that 1 out of every 100-200 people in North American has Celiac Disease. So if you are trying to follow a gluten free diet, know that you’re not alone! The positive side of more people eating gluten free is that there are ever-growing options being made available. As long as you put some thought into it, eating gluten free while travelling can be manageable.
Don’t Rely on Your Language Skills
If you’re travelling in a country where you’re not fluent in the language, don’t rely on your phrasebook, or an intricate system of gestures, to try to ensure yourself a gluten free meal. Look out for smartphone apps such as “Gluten Free Restaurant Cards” and “Gluten & Allergy Free Travel Translation Cards” which will generate text for you in a language of your choice explaining what you can’t eat. You can show this directly to your waiter and be certain that nothing gets lost in translation. You can also buy printed cards in various languages, if you’re not ready to go high-tech.
Always Be Prepared
Although it’s unfortunate, there may be times when you can’t find anything on the menu that you can eat. As a last resort, always carry some sort of snack around with you, so you don’t go hungry. Snacks that are durable and don’t take up much space; such as GF protein bars or nuts are ideal for throwing in your bag. It’s worth noting that packaged gluten free foods are an average of 242% more expensive than regular food products. If you’re travelling on a shoestring, save money by choosing naturally gluten free foods over pre-packaged items — ditch the gluten free crackers and reach for the dried fruit. You can also make gluten free wraps for meals on the go.
Learn Some Safe Options
Certain restaurants are more likely to have gluten free options than others, so it’s safer to head in that direction. As long as you stick with rice and curry, and avoid the naan or roti, than Indian food is a good choice for those who forgo gluten. Thai cuisine is another safe bet, since even the noodle dishes tend to be made using gluten free rice noodles, just make sure to ask them to lay off the soy sauce. On the other side of the coin, it’s wise to avoid most Italian restaurants, with their gluten laden pizzas and pastas. If it comes down to it, there’s always the trusty hearty salad! Just ask for no croutons and double check the dressing.
Breakfast can be a challenge in hotels, as you often get served up standard options, such as toast, croissants and cereal, all of which can be problematic for the gluten sensitive. Call or email your hotel or bed and breakfast before you arrive, to let them know about your dietary requirements. At the very least, they should be able to rustle you up some fresh fruit.
Eating gluten free on holiday is a lot easier if you have your own cooking facilities. Look out for hotel rooms or holiday apartments with a kitchenette. Although it’s nice to eat out while you’re travelling, at least you can be certain that you won’t be getting any unhappy surprises if you cook for yourself.
While it can be irritating to have to consider your dietary needs when travelling, it really doesn’t take all that much thought and preparation. Even though I don’t need to follow a gluten-free diet anymore, I tend to stick to gluten-free option as it makes me feel better.
One thing to be careful of is food that is gluten-free isn’t necessarily healthier. Watch out for foods that are highly processed, low fibre and that contain strange or dangerous ingredients. Two of my favourite gluten-free brands are Naked Coconuts and Rudi’s. Naked Coconuts produce a sweetener called coconut nectar and a soy-free seasoning sauce, both of which are delicious! Rudi’s gluten-free products are new to Canada but I was introduced to this brand at an event. I’ve tried numerous other gluten-free tortillas that would crumble and fall apart but Rudi’s don’t. I place my ingredients in the wraps and bring them with me as a packed lunch.
My favourite recipe to date is, my Power Green Wrap. Use the following ingredients to create your own:
- 1 Rudi’s Free Spinach Gluten Free Wrap
- Half a handful of baby kale
- Large pinch of micro arugula
- 4 slices of cucumber
- 1/4 container of broccoli sprouts
- Chipotle dressing (I use one from Culver City Salads)
- Anything else you wish
Spread the guacamole on the tortilla, place down the kale, broccoli sprouts, cucumber and arugula. Dress lightly with the chipotle dressing. Wrap it up, stick and toothpick in it, place in container and head out the door. You can easily substitute other ingredients, enjoy!
Do you have any gluten free travel trips to share?