Keeping Gluten Out While Traveling Abroad
I once had the wonderful opportunity to travel abroad in Italy for Spring Break. Though I travel frequently state side, this was the first time I have been out of the country longer than a week with a language and culture barrier in place. Often, one of the biggest challenges for gluten free travelers is eating out at restaurants. There are a number of issues including cross contamination, miscommunication, and of course understanding the various terms of a foreign language.
Stick to the Basics
It was very easy to order basic fresh vegetables, meats, and fruits. In this way, I was able to minimize any great risk for potential exposure. Although, my son ran into some issues with cross contamination, the trip went off without a major hitch. One of my meals (image to the right) shows how delicious, whole foods are available everywhere. Steak on a bed of arugula (called ‘rocket’ in Italy) with lemon wedge, and a bountiful vegetable plate that consisted of zucchini, carrots, green beans, eggplant, peas, beans, and broccoli. Additionally, there was always fresh sea food available. Squid, swordfish, clams, calamari, and numerous fresh local fish species were on the menus.
When in Doubt, Skip the Meal
The great thing about eating is that you always get to choose. Choose what to pick or choose not to pick at all. Sometimes, missing a meal is the best choice. I packed a lot of grass fed beef jerky sticks and nuts to tide me over. Fresh fruit was available from many local shops and vendors. Most days, we ate a hearty breakfast of eggs, sausage, fruit, and fresh squeezed juices. We enjoyed long slow lunches with fresh local fare. The Italians were aware of traditional gluten free needs, and that made it easier to make selections. Many of the Italian servers spoke very good English, and this made navigating menus less daunting.
Don’t forget that you can print out this list of foods to avoid before you travel <<<
Don’t forget to pack your supplements. Cross contamination is not always obvious. My list of essential supplements to pack for a long trip include:
- Biotic Defense – to support healthy bacteria in the GI tract and reduce the risk of symptomatic outbreak
- Gluten Shield – to aid in the digestion of foods as well as to break down any possible accidental gluten exposure.
- UltraImmune IgG – to help bind and expel any accidental gluten exposure and to aid in the prevention of intestinal permeability.
Be Prepared to Walk – A LOT!
We put over 70 miles on our feet while there; averaging more than 8 miles per day. There is so much to see and do in Rome, and it often requires the ability to walk. The subway system in Rome is great, but limited. As we didn’t use the bus system, walking was our primary means of transportation, and we enjoyed the exercise. The bottom line? Don’t let the fear of gluten exposure stop you from traveling abroad. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Italy, go for it. My absolute favorite place was Villa D’Esta. It was definitely worth the short bus ride outside of Rome. Some of my recommendations for absolute must see’s here:
- Trevi Fountain
- The Pantheon
- St. Peter’s Basilica and a Vatican tour
- Villa D’Esta
- Roman Aqueducts
If you have helpful travel tips, please be sure to share them below.
Always looking out for you,
Dr. Osborne – The Gluten Free Warrior