Travel and Gluten Intolerance

Smoked chicken, bacon and salad.

Gluten intolerant and travel.

THE UK

The First time I went overseas was in 2009. I went to the UK for 3 weeks. Back then I wasn’t off gluten so I didn’t have a problem with the food.

France / Paris

The second time I went was in 2011. My husband and I took a 10 day trip to Paris and the French country side. We ate croissants and pastries and tarts and although I suffered from a sore stomach some of the time, I wasn’t off gluten then either. Paris is the city of dessert: Tiny, delicate beautiful pastries and tarts. That was 10 years ago, so I have no idea what it is like now, but back then I don’t particularly remember there being “sans gluten” on menus. But then again, I wasn’t looking for it. Something tells me what a person would have difficulty though and I am so glad we went when we did, because I enjoyed the food so much and would hate to go now and look at all those yummy things and not be able to eat them.

The Third time was in 2017, my husband and I went to Mauritius for a week. And yes…I was off gluten by then.

Mauritius…

We Stayed in a resort that provided a breakfast buffet : eggs of choice, fruit salads and yogurts. Breakfast was no problem and I ate as much as I could to see me through the day. I was clever though: I packed my own smoothie mix, I packed snacks and crackers, rusks and brought it all with! I am so glad I did as dinner turned out to be a nightmare…

We would scourer the streets, stopping to look at each menu displayed on the sidewalk. After carefully going through it, we would have to move on to the next place…My poor hubby, so patient and ever loving, how frustrated he must of been and yes, it ended up in a fight here and there…It was not easy finding a restaurant where I could safely eat. We did find a few places that we stuck to and even a Spur and Ocean Basket!

One thing I did enjoy about Mauritius was that the shops stocked a lot of imported gluten free packaged foods like pasta, cookies, chocolate, chips and other snacks which came in handy for our trip although I did keep it to a minimum as I don’t like to consume sugar laden things often.

New Zealand…

The 4th time I wetn overseas was in 2019 when I went to New Zealand for 3 weeks. If you are gluten intolerant or Celiac…this is your paradise!!!

I was super impressed! Not once did I ever have a problem eating out :breakfast, lunch and dinner. Every single coffee shop, cafe, bistro, restaurant all catered for gluten intolerance. As well as dairy free and vegan! They are very clued up food allergies and take it very seriously! Some even have a separate designated area just to prepare glutenfree meals.

New Zealand is a beautiful country. Clean and green. Food is in another league of it’s own. I had forgotten what eggs tasted like until I had eggs there. The yolks are huge and dark orange and the whites thick and white. The taste….I did not know eggs had a specific taste. Most of their eggs are from farms where everything is free range, organic and free from hormones and antibiotics.

Here are some photos of the delicious things I ate. I ate a lot because the food was so good, so healthy, and so safe!

Orange Almond cake with cream
The Iconic potato chips with cream cheese and a burger with a gluten free bun and free range beef.
Fish with a creamy sauce, new potatoes and a fresh salad with micro herbs

Apples for charlotte

This amazing and beautiful coffee shop is in Havelock. (although google maps says it is permanently closed) They had a delightful array of different desserts and I wish I could of tried them all!

You will find amazing places to eat and delicious food there and will not have to worry about gluten!

Eating out when you have allergies is not easy. You have to learn to ask questions.

Lessons learned:

  • Sauces: most sauces are made with wheat flour to thicken. Ask what flour they use. Some will tell you cornflour which is naturally gluten-free. (as long as it is pure corn flour with no additives)
  • Gravies and marinaded food: avoid foods that contain gravy or have been marinaded as again wheat flour is often used.
  • Spices: Some Spices contain gluten, always ask the waiter to check if their spices are gluten free.
  • Fish: always ask for grilled and make sure to specify “no flour”.
  • If it says “crumbed” or “coated” it normally means it is made with flour and bread which is gluten.
  • Always make sure you tell your waiter straight away you are gluten intolerant or Celiac and specify that means you cannot have anything with wheat or gluten in. Make sure they understand what that means. I have often have to give an educational lesson whilst on a dinner date as some people are still clueless as to what gluten actually is or what it is found in.
  • Ask the Waiter to inform the chef. I have found most places are very accommodating and if you tell them it will make you very sick, more care is taken. I would rather be thought of as a hypochondriac drama queen than take a chance.
  • One thing I always do is go online and check the menu of the restaurant we want to go to. If I can find at least two or three things that are possible, or even better, if the menu says “gluten free options available” then I know it will be okay.
  • You can even phone the restaurant beforehand and check if they do gluten free options. It is better to check ahead of time then to get there only to be disappointed. Unfortunately this does take away a lot of the spontaneity of eating out, but it comes with the territory.

be careful with your travel choice….

The last piece of advice I would give is to be careful with your travel choice. You may want to go to a certain place but food wise you need to check if you will actually be able to eat what they offer. If language is a problem and you don’t speak or understand the language where you are going, communicating allergies will be a logistical nightmare. Think about reading labels on the food packaging if you can’t even read or understand the language…

Think about the country’s traditional food: is is wheat based like Italy (breads and pastas)? When you have a serious food allergy, unfortunately, some things like travel take on a whole new meaning. A lot of planning and research is involved. So do your homework so that when you travel, you can do so with peace of mind!

I would love to know: What has been the best place you have been to as far as eating/finding glutenfree food is concerned?

Published by Bonnie

Hello. My name is Bonnie. Welcome to my page. I have been an avid baker for about 20 years. Of those years, seven have been gluten-free baking. I discovered I had a chronic intolerance to gluten and began experimenting with converting my all time favorite recipes into gluten-free ones. I also have developed my own recipe repertoire. I am married and have two children. My husband and son are not gluten intolerant but my daughter is. She has also been the motivation for persevering in creating recipes we both can enjoy. My journey has taught me so much and I know many others can benefit from my experience. My hope is that you will find something you can order that you have missed and longed for being gluten intolerant or celiac. Or perhaps you just want a healthier option as I also offer alternatives to some of my orders such as sugar free, grain free and low carb. I share my experience and story in more detail on my Instagram page. (@bonniesGFbakery) Please feel free to follow me there. Located in Somerset West, Western cape, South Africa. I deliver to the Helderberg basin area which includes Somerset West, Gordans Bay and Strand.

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