July 15, 2024

How to Travel Gluten-Free by Gretchen Scalpi, R.D.

How To Travel Gluten-Free

If you are gluten sensitive or have Celiac Disease then you know how difficult it is to manage your condition under normal circumstances.  Add to that a schedule that includes travel and things can get out of hand.  No matter how you travel or where you go follow these tips to eat gluten-free on the road.

* Use a travel agent to plan your gluten-free trip.  There are many options including guided travel with guides who share your condition.  Research all of your destinations in advance to find gluten-free restaurants.

* Ask your doctor to give you a letter explaining your diagnosis and dietary needs.  If flying mark all your food as gluten-free by adding labels or writing on bags.

* Start by notifying your hotel, airline, cruise line or train company about your dietary needs.  In addition to asking about gluten-free  options ask how food is prepared so you can avoid cross-contamination.

* Pack your own non-perishable food.  Make sure you have enough snacks like gluten-free trail mix, packages of tuna fish, dried fruit, cookies, chips and fresh fruit.  Make sure you have enough of your own food to eat when you can’t eat gluten-free.

* Many airlines offer gluten-free options for meals that you can purchase.  The standard airline code “GFML” is used to designate gluten-free meals. You must order these meals in advance and make sure that is what you receive while in the air.

* Take your gluten-free supplements and medication with you.  Don’t pack them in your suitcase in case it takes a side trip without you!  Keep them in your purse, briefcase or carry-on bag.

* Take a list of gluten-free food with you or download one of the many apps available for your cell phone or tablet.  If you are traveling to a foreign country buy the list in the language of your destination.

* Research restaurants at your destination online first and then call to verify the information you found.  Ask to speak to a manager when call.  Double check everything with the staff when you arrive.

* If you must stay in a hotel or as a guest in someone’s home be sure keep in mind that you will not be able to use certain kitchen appliances like a toaster or toaster oven to avoid cross-contamination.  If you do not have a mini fridge ask for one.

* Consider taking your own cooking utensils, knives, bowls and cutting board with you when you travel.  If you fly the utensils and knives must be stowed away in your checked baggage.

* If you need more help getting ready to make your gluten-free travel work for you make an appointment with a Registered Dietitian who has experience working with this challenging diet.

With a few precautions and advance planning traveling around the world can still be fun, educational and safe for your entire family.

Gretchen Scalpi is a Registered Dietitian, author and Certified Wellcoach® who has celiac disease and know the challenges of eating right with this condition. Gretchen is pleased to announce her new online program “Gluten-free Bootcamp”, designed to help those who need to follow the gluten-free diet. If you are new to the gluten-free lifestyle for medical or health reasons, you’ll want to attend Gretchen’s new free webinar “Five Things You Should Know Before Going Gluten-free

How to be Gluten-Free in the Office by Gretchen Scalpi R.D.

How To Be Gluten-Free In The Office

Eating gluten-free is something that involves your entire life. You can’t just eat gluten-free at home. One of the most difficult places to keep to a gluten-free diet is the office. With all the candy, doughnuts and homemade treats people bring into the office sticking to your gluten-free diet will be a challenge. You also have to worry about cross contamination.

Start with talking to your office manager or human resources department. Communicate your needs clearly and offer reading materials about gluten-free diets to those who would like to learn more. Be prepared to explain your needs clearly.

Ask for some gluten-free counter, shelf and refrigerator space. If necessary, and allowed, you could create a gluten-free kitchen in your office with a mini fridge, microwave, toaster and a small table.

Bring your own meals, snacks and drinks a whenever possible and label everything clearly.  Make sure everything you bring is sealed completely to avoid cross contamination.  Bring your own condiments and never share.

If you tire of eating frozen or pre-packaged meals at the office set aside a portion of your dinner from the night before and package it for lunch.  Bring your own paper plates,  plastic utensils, paper napkins and zip lock baggies to keep in your office.  You may want to keep these in a locked drawer.

Eating out with co-workers or clients should be something you enjoy but it can be a problem if you need to eat gluten-free.  Do your own research and find restaurants that offer gluten-free options.  If they say yes then your research is not done.  You’ll need to find out if they use separate pots, pans, plates, cups, etc. for gluten-free guests.  Ask if their staff has been trained to accommodate gluten-free diners and if they use a separate preparation area for these types of dishes.

Many offices have the tradition of bringing in food for staff or to celebrate certain milestones like birthdays.  You won’t have to miss out if you bring in gluten-free goodies on those days and take the opportunity to share your how delicious gluten-free food can be with your colleagues.

If you are struggling to transition to a gluten-free lifestyle consult with a nutritionist who can help you create a plan that will work for you.

Gretchen Scalpi is a Registered Dietitian, author and Certified Wellcoach® who has celiac disease and knows the challenges of eating right with this condition. Gretchen is pleased to announce her new online program “Gluten-free Bootcamp’, designed to help those who need to follow the gluten-free diet. If you are new to the gluten-free lifestyle for medical or health reasons, you’ll want to attend Gretchen’s new free webinar “Five Things You Should Know Before Going Gluten-free” at How To Be Gluten-Free In The Office.

5 Hidden Sources of Gluten by Gretchen Scalpi, R.D.

For people who must follow a gluten free regime for life because of a medical condition, gluten avoidance goes beyond merely choosing foods known to be gluten free.  One needs to be extra vigilant about avoiding all sources of gluten.  Unfortunately, gluten may be lurking in places that one would never imagine. Even meticulous attention to the finer details of gluten avoidance may not prevent incidental exposure to gluten from other places.

Here’s my list of hidden gluten sources which can cross contaminate safe and otherwise gluten free foods:

1. The toaster:  If your toaster was previously used for toasting wheat products, this is a source of gluten contamination.  It is impossible to clean out the inside of a toaster adequately.  Purchase a separate toaster that is used solely for the purpose of toasting gluten free breads or muffins.  Alternatively, if you have a toaster oven with a removable tray that can be thoroughly cleaned, you may use that to toast the gluten free bread.

2. Flour sifters:  The mesh screen found in flour sifters or mesh strainers are difficult to clean.  For the gluten free kitchen, these items should be replaced.

3. Wooden cutting boards, spoons, spatulas:  Wood is porous and if used with wheat products previously, small particles of gluten remain in the wood, despite cleaning.

4. Colanders are often used to drain pasta. The small holes in colanders are difficult to clean and get completely free of gluten.

5. Peanut butter, jam, or mayonnaise are just a few examples of foods that are spread on bread.  Knives that come in contact with bread and then go back into a jar will contaminate the spread.  Purchase separate jars of each, then label “gluten free” for the person who needs to avoid

If you have been maintaining the gluten free diet for a while, yet still experience symptoms, dig a little deeper to see whether you are exposed to gluten from a “hidden” source.  In addition to the suggestions I’ve listed here, don’t forget to check your medicine cabinet, vitamin, and mineral supplements as well!

Gretchen Scalpi is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator and Certified Wellcoach. She is the author of “The EVERYTHING Guide to Managing and Reversing Pre-Diabetes 2nd Ed.”, “The EVERYTHING Diabetes Cookbook 2nd Ed.”, “Virtual Grocery Store Tour: Getting The Most Nutrition Out Of Your Food Shopping”, “Pre-Diabetes: Your Second Chance At Health”, “The Quick Start Guide to Healthy Eating”, “The Quick Start Guide To Pre-Diabetes” and “Quick Start Recipes For Healthy Meals”.  Read her articles, recipes and blog at
http://www.nutritionxpert.com and learn more about her books at http://www.gretchenscalpi.com.