Stress Free Gluten Free Holidays
Don't ruin your holiday by worrying about your diet - by planning ahead you can have a stress free time even if you are gluten intolerant.
Planning Ahead When Gluten FreeThe first thing to decide is whether you can cope with going abroad. While many tourist destinations have become used to dealing with ‘special’ diets, they tend to do so on the basis of preference and choice rather than avoidance of harm.
What this means, practically, is that waiting staff have got used to having food sent back because it contains meat or some other ingredient that the visitor rejects, and simply cutting/lifting/taking off the offending item and returning the plate to the consumer! That can leave a gluten intolerant person still eating a salad, for example, that contained croutons, because the waiter has only taken the croutons away, not started again from scratch with a salad that contains not a trace of wheat. Knowing the risks you’re taking can help you decide how limited you wish to be in your choice of destination.
Remember that cosmetics, postage stamps, toothpaste and even some tablets can contain gluten, so be careful when buying items abroad, just because they are safe at home, that doesn’t mean they are safe elsewhere.
If you have gluten-free foods on prescription, ask your doctor if it’s possible to have a double prescription so you can take extra on holiday. This means that if your resort or hotel can’t cater to you as well as you’d hoped, you don’t run short of staple foods.
Travelling By PlaneWhen you book a flight, especially long haul, ask for a gluten free meal. 24 hours before you travel, reconfirm your dietary requirement with the airline; caterers have been known to forget to put some special diet meals on the flight. If you can, take a small packet of your own food in your hand luggage, just in case. Many gluten-free foods come in individual packet sizes, ideal for travel.
Ask your doctor if they would provide a letter saying you have to eat gluten-free foods if you have packed some in your luggage. In some areas, sniffer dogs can ‘spot’ foods in cases and this can lead to your foods being confiscated in places where food imports are banned because they may be carrying harmful viruses or insects.
Travelling By Cruise LinerThere’s always a risk of cross-contamination on a cruise liner, because chefs and food servers will be catering to many hundreds of people at the same time. Some cruise lines have an excellent reputation for their coeliac meals, so ask a good travel agent for advice on which lines to choose and ensure you get written confirmation from the cruise line that they understand that you are gluten intolerant and require gluten-free food to be prepared in a safe environment.
Self CateringWhile this is usually seen as the easiest option, it can be hard work for the gluten intolerant person who ends up doing all the cooking! If you are self catering, make sure that you share the responsibility by preparing a couple of menus that your family can cook for you – such as seafood or a barbecue, and which you can guarantee will be gluten free. That gives you a few hours off and allows you to enjoy a stress free meal.
Resorts And HotelsThere are hotel chains that have great systems for catering to gluten free diets. A good travel agent will be able to tell you which hotels have an established training structure for their catering staff to make them allergy aware.
Take some restaurant cards which are available from many support websites, to help you bridge the language divide. They show a chef everything they need to know about preparing gluten free food and come in a wide range of languages.