by Danielle Sacht
Sometimes having a food allergy or intolerance such as coeliac disease can result in you needing a holiday, after your holiday! With all the stress of wondering where you can eat, and praying you don’t get sick from the dish you just ordered that you think is going to be ok, here are my top 8 tips to keep you stress-free and healthy during your overseas adventures!
Take the time to research your destination of choice to see how good they are with gluten-free options. One Google search can provide you with a lot of information! Look at hotels that have been reviewed to provide gluten-free and restaurants that can cater. Once you have an idea of where to stay and eat, you can plan your holiday around those venues. Another idea is to contact Coeliac Australia who can provide you with lots of information on travelling gluten-free.
A crucial component a lot of people forget about! Whether your flight is 3 or 30 hours long, you’re going to need some food! Packing your own food is an excellent idea, but if you’re flying for hours with connecting flights, it’s a different story. You don’t want to be lugging around enough meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner and then breakfast again! My tip is to take healthy and appropriate snacks that are easy to travel with and won’t spoil easily. Next is to contact your airline and organise appropriate gluten-free meals. That way the hard work is done for you!
Although exciting and exhilarating, travelling can be stressful, which means even the healthiest of bodies feel the effects of stress. Stress can cause digestive discomfort and can put strain on our immune systems. Who wants to feel bloated and unwell while on a tropical island?! Before you travel, make sure you invest in some travel insurance to cover any unwanted illnesses, bugs or hospital visits while you’re away. Make sure that when you contact your insurer, you let them know that you have coeliac disease, as coeliac disease is considered a pre-existing medical condition. This way, if you were to fall ill with something that is digestive-related, your travel insurance should cover you.
4. Be prepared
It takes our bodies a while to adjust when we’re away. Different foods, environments and climates take our bodies’ time getting used to. To keep your body balanced, invest in a gluten-free probiotic (most are gluten-free, but good idea to double check) that you can travel with. Another good idea is to take some digestive enzymes to help ensure your digestion is optimal while away. If you have any prescription medicines to help with your coeliac symptoms, bring them with rather than having to worry about finding a pharmacy to dispense them while you’re away.
5. Translation cards
This might just be my best tip! If you’re travelling to a country where you don’t speak the language, get a translation card to speak for you! Coeliac Australia have translation cards in many different languages so that you don’t need to worry about miscommunication. Save a copy of the card on your phone as well as take a hard copy with you, so that you don’t need to worry about connecting to the internet when you’re out.
If possible, self-catering apartments are a coeliac’s best friend! Having a kitchen or kitchenette means you can prepare and cook your own meals from scratch, without having to worry if they’re gluten-free or not. If you’re staying at a hotel or anywhere that doesn’t have self-catering facilities, make sure to let them know in advance of your dietary requirements so that they can make the proper arrangements before you arrive.
7. Don’t forget about fruit and veg
Or rice, fish, eggs, milk, meat and nuts! Many foods are naturally gluten-free- it’s what gets mixed in with them that worry a coeliac traveller. Most countries will have grocers or markets, where food is sold in its natural state. When you are eating out and unsure of what to order, ask for your dish to be cooked as plain as possible with a side of salad, rice or steamed veggies. Remember to make a point of asking them to clean any utensils and cooking equipment that they’ll be using to cook your food, as any cross-contamination can turn a dream holiday into a coeliac’s worst nightmare!
Don’t forget to have fun while you’re away! Don’t let your food be the sole focus of your trip. Remember, there are many people out there who have food allergies and have been able to safely and deliciously eat their way around the world. As long as you’re prepared, there is no reason to be worried!