by Tricia Thompson, MS, RD
The Gluten-Free Dietitian
Although many of us may be vacationing closer to home this summer we will still be away from home. Eating gluten free while on vacation can cause stress â€" something we definitely donâ€™t want to feel.
Here are some things I do to make sure my gluten-free eating goes smoothly while on vacation:
1. I always travel with convenience breakfast foods, such as rice cakes, nut butter, and honey. Sometimes I eat my breakfast in the room while my husband and son enjoy the complimentary continental breakfast. Usually, because I want a cup of tea, I join them. Nobody seems to notice when I walk in with a baggie filled with my rice cake â€śsandwich.â€ť
2. I also always travel with gluten-free snack foods, such as fruit and nut bars, homemade trail mix, and rice crackers. The rice crackers come in handy if we are staying somewhere serving wine and cheese (and gluten-containing crackers) in the afternoon.
3. If we are going to be in the car over lunch we brown bag it. We have a travel fridge that plugs into the car. My lunch often consists of gluten-free turkey roll ups with diced tomatoes and rice chips.
4. Before leaving home, I familiarize myself with any gluten-free friendly restaurants in the area we will be staying. Helpful resources include:
The Essential Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide by Triumph Dining
This book includes a state-by-state listing of restaurants that are gluten-free friendly.
The Gluten-Free Restaurant Program run by the Gluten Intolerance
Groupâ€"their website is available at glutenfreerestaurants.org and includes a searchable database by zip code.
Local support groups
Who better to advise you where to eat than those who live in the area! To find out if there is a group in the area you will be visiting contact the national support groups â€" Gluten Intolerance Group, Celiac Disease Foundation, and Celiac Sprue Association. I also maintain a state-by-state listing of support groups in the newsletter section of my website glutenfreedietitian.com.
5. If all else fails, I peruse restaurant menus while walking around town. The menu generally gives me a fairly good idea whether the kitchen will be able to put together a gluten-free meal.
Recently we were on Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island and I had absolutely no trouble eating. On various occasions I was able to order salads with broiled chicken, grilled salmon, Jasmine rice, baked potatoes, broiled potatoes, grilled asparagus, steamed mixed vegetables, and fruit smoothies. Yes the food was plain but with a little salt, fresh herbs, and lemon delicious nonetheless.
I am finding restaurant staff and chefs to be increasingly knowledgeable about food intolerances and allergies. No one looked at me cross-eyed when I said I had to eat food without wheat, eggs, and milk. All they did was talk to the chef and tell me my options. This made for very pleasant dining experiences.
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Tricia Thompson, M.S., RD is a nutrition consultant, author and speaker specializing in celiac disease and the gluten-free diet. She is the author of The Gluten-Free Nutrition Guide (McGraw-Hill) and co-author of The Complete Idiotâ€™s Guide to Gluten-Free Eating (Penguin Group). For more information, visit www.glutenfreedietitian.com.
For a copy of The Gluten-Free Nutrition Guide click here.