8/14/14

Tiny Traveler: Rebecca Talks About Traveling Gluten-Free!

It's time for another Tiny Traveler guest post! Today I would like to introduce you all to Rebecca: blogger, health-lover, and artist. She is sharing some tips today on traveling with a gluten-allergy. Read below to learn about her love of travel, health, and GF tips!


Rebecca on a fishing trip in the
southern part of Texas!
Hello, A Tiny Traveler readers! My name’s Becca and I’m so excited to be sharing some travel tips over here on Natalie’s blog today. I write a faith-based lifestyle blog called Barefoot Thunder.

About 2 months ago, I was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance. After suffering from various gastrointestinal issues for a little over a year, it was a relief to finally get a diagnosis. I’ve felt much better since cutting gluten out of my diet, but living with a dietary restriction can be tricky, especially when traveling.

Today I want to share my 6 tips for traveling with a gluten intolerance. These tips are tailored for traveling, but they are great for use in your everyday life at home, too!
Hopefully, if you have a food intolerance, these tips can make your next trip a little less stressful so you can enjoy the trip more and worry about food less!!


Tip #1: Know Your Gluten!

If you’re gluten intolerant, I’m guessing you already know all the hidden sources of gluten in packaged and restaurant foods. If not, you should educate yourself on all the hidden sources of gluten! There are lots more than you probably think! Visit a site that outlines the various forms of gluten found in restaurants and grocery stores, like this one!

Tip #2: Know your Fast Food Options!

If you’ll be getting quick meals via fast-food restaurants, educate yourself on the options available at the most common fast-food joints. For me, I know I can get a filling, gluten-free meal at Chipotle. It’s my go-to place!! There are plenty of other fast-food places that offer options for gluten-free. Use a website like this one to learn which fast food restaurants are your best options!

Tip #3: Bring Your Own Stuff!

Take a trip to the store before the trip to stock up on your favorite gluten-free snacks. I love LARA Bars and fresh fruit. My all-time favorite bar is the EPIC bar- they have meat with dried fruit and nuts. They are SO much better than beef jerky and are the perfect substitute for a meal since they pack a protein punch. Their flavors are unique and I love all of them. My favorite is the Lamb+Currant+Mint bar.

One of the best ways to prevent slipping up on any diet is to always have good options at hand when you get hungry. This holds true when you’re avoiding gluten!


Tip #4: Know Your Location!

If you know where you will be staying (your hotel, rental house, etc.) use the internet to do some research. Look up nearby restaurants and scout out their menus. Some cities have entire restaurants dedicated to gluten-free ingredients, so research your location to take advantage of neat gluten-free restaurants!

Tip #5- Know the Best Cuisine Types!

Certain restaurants are more likely to be gluten-free friendly. I’ve found it easiest to eat gluten free at Mexican, American (can you say "bunless burger!), Indian, and Thai restaurants. Other ethnic cuisines (like Mediterranean/Greek, and  Lebanese) are also probably safer options. Italian, French, and Asian restaurants are less likely to be safe for you. Italian and French restaurants rely heavily on grains in most of their dishes. Asian restaurants use soy sauce in practically every dish, and since soy sauce is a “no no” for gluten avoiders, eating at an Asian restaurant could be tricky.

Knowing the typical ingredients used at different types of restaurants will help you make better restaurant choices.

Tip #6- Know what you’re ordering!

So you've selected a restaurant and now you're trying to find something to order. It's important to ask questions to learn about the ingredients and processes the restaurant uses when preparing food. (This is where it’s important to have done tip #1!!!)

I eat Tex-Mex often, and many Tex-Mex restaurants marinate their chicken in soy sauce. This automatically takes the chicken dishes off the menu for me. I didn’t know this until I asked the waiter. If I don't ask questions when ordering, I won't be able to determine if a dish is safe or not. It can feel uncomfortable to ask lots of questions, but here’s the deal: You’re paying the restaurant to feed you! It is not rude to ask them what’s in a dish. If they say “I don’t know” ask them to find out!

One other note for restaurants: Be sure to check about the fryers. If your dish is fried (Blue Mesa, a restaurant I go to, fries their sweet potato chips) it’s highly likely that there is gluten in the fryer. Coincidentally, just yesterday I was at Blue Mesa for the first time since my diagnosis. I thought, what the heck- I’ll eat the sweet potato chips! Well, my stomach started hurting a about an hour later. Lesson learned!

Follow this progression for maximum food-ordering prowess:

1. Ask the waiter, "do you have a gluten free menu?"
            *if answer is "yes", order off that menu.
            *if answer is "no", proceed to steps 2 and 3 below)

2. find a menu item that has no obvious gluten containing ingredients (bread, pasta, flour tortillas, etc.) or a menu item you can alter to fit your needs (like ordering a burger without a bun). DON’T stop here. Proceed to step 3!

3. ask about sauces, marinades, and any other hidden gluten possibilities to ensure it’s gluten free. If it's not gluten-free, find another menu item and try again. You can do it!!

If you get to this point and find a safe menu option, congrats. Order it and enjoy your gluten-free dinner! If you can’t find anything to eat, then pull out that delicious bar from #2 and chow down!

Note: Sometimes the only gluten-free option is to get plain meat, a side item, or a plain salad. It’s kind of boring, but it gets the job done. Don’t be afraid to ask for an a la carte item that you know is gluten free (like a baked potato).

  

I hope these tips will be of help the next time you travel or eat dinner out at a restaurant. Apply these principles to any type of food you’d like to avoid and you’ll find it’s pretty easy to stick to whatever diet you choose!

-Becca



What about you?

-Do you avoid a certain type of food/ingredient?
-Do you hate asking questions at restaurants?

-Do you have any tips for maintaining a specific diet while traveling?

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