Being diagnosed with celiac over ten years ago put a bit of a dent in my desire to travel. Worrying about where and if I could eat in my chosen destination took most of the fun out of going abroad. Awareness about celiac is growing worldwide and this has improved things dramatically. However when I do travel I still tend to plan in advance and do a lot of research so this still means that I don’t do a lot of spontaneous weekends away or avail of last minute cheap flight and hotel deals .
This needs to change, there is a lot of the world I want to see and I also want to stop saying no to interesting and fun opportunities just because I have to worry about what I can eat. Sometimes I need to put food considerations second, this is difficult for anyone with an allergy or condition which restricts what they can eat. A lot of this difficulty for me is psychological, I don’t mean that it is all in my head, what I mean is that I make this problem, the problem of finding suitable food when I am away from my comfort zone, such a huge deal that it stops me in my tracks and therefore I am starting to feel that I have missed out on a lot.
Last weekend I went to Italy, home of all the gluten filled food, pastries, pasta and pizza. I was so stressed from moving house that I didn’t have time to get stressed about eating in Italy. I also didn’t have any time to do any research in to restaurants that cater for celiac. Once simple google search would have found me this very helpful page: http://www.mytable.com/l17351/en?cuisine=GLUTEN
For me this trip wasn’t about food, it was about the break, getting away from work and finding a bit of headspace while hanging out with friends and wandering around some very beautiful spaces with my camera. I just wanted to say yes for once without having to think about it first. I am very glad I did.
I packed a GF pastry for the flight and some individually wrapped packets of crackers for emergencies. I was only going to be in Milan for three days / two nights so I figured I wouldn’t starve even if I couldn’t locate a gluten free restaurant. This first day of wandering down towards the Duomo we stopped off in a café and they had a GF stand with sealed packets of bread sticks, cakes and crackers, my plan of action was to eat or buy GF food when I found it so I had a cake with my coffee as this would tide me over to dinner. Dinner was in a tapas restaurant where the waiter had very good English and was able to point out the dishes I could eat, there wasn’t much, some roasted vegetables and pork in a tomato sauce but again it did the job and kept me going. The next morning I filled up on fruit, yogurt, cheese and coffee in the hotel.
After breakfast we travelled to Aosta and on the way I got some GF crisps for the road, dinner was a huge salad and although my dining companions were both indulging in giant and gorgeous looking pizza’s I didn’t feel hard done by in the least. Milan was beautiful, we had just been in Pila Ski resort, walked through the snow and then sipped wine while looking out at the mountains and I was about to go on to the thermal spa in Pre Saint Didier where I would sit in warm water while looking at the stars, what had I to feel bad about. The next day after an omelette for breakfast we headed out to Conge and walked through the snowy national park before stopping for a Vin Brule and then back to Aosta for a Gelato and on to the airport and home.
As you can see I didn’t eat a lot while I was away but the things I got to see and do more than made up for that. For a longer break I would have had to have done some proper research and contacted restaurants in advance to ensure they could cater for celiac but for three days I figured I could wing it and I was right.
What I have learned from this is to stop making a such a huge deal out of my dietary requirements that it stops me from saying yes to things I really want and that sometimes it is worth feeling a little bit hungry when you get to see so much beauty.