Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How To Start A Gluten-Free Diet: Handling Social Events and Traveling

There's a discussion on twitter right now. The question is, "What's the hardest thing about being gluten-free?" The answer I'm seeing over and over is socializing. This means eating at restaurants, dealing with parties (especially kids' parties when your own child is gluten-free) and traveling. So for today's installment of How to Start a Gluten-Free Diet, I knew I had to address this topic. But here's the thing: I suck at this.

Yep, you heard me. I would like to be your voice of authority here, and give you lots of great tips, but if you've learned anything about me yet, it's that I'm honest to a fault. I can't pretend to be an expert at restaurant eating, navigating parties, or traveling gluten-free because I'm not. I rarely dine out, and when I do, I generally go to restaurants that have gluten-free menus. If I'm going to a restaurant without a gluten-free menu, I inevitably become more and more anxious as the waiter comes to take my order. Will he understand what I'm saying? Will he get the cross-contamination issue? Will he make me repeat myself over and over? How about I just run across the street to the grocery store and get myself a snack and meet you all back here after dinner? Now, I've gotten better over the last couple of years, and my Triumph Dining Cards are a big help, but this is still not my area of expertise. Luckily for me, I love to cook, and I believe that learning to cook is the key to living a gluten-free lifestyle.

Nonetheless, social situations are a part of our reality, and we have to figure out how to handle them with ease, right? While I may not have all the answers, I have spent countless hours looking for those answers, and I want to share with you the best resources I've found for these tricky situations. If you have any tips or resources that have made it easier for you to socialize gluten-free, please feel free to leave them in the comments below for other readers!  

Dining Out and Traveling
Gluten-Free Passport: Tips on traveling and dining out, as well iphone apps for eating out.
Gluten-Free Travel Site: This site has reviews of restaurants with gluten-free menus, as well as resources for traveling gluten-free.
Gluten-Free Dining Tips at Gluten-Free Mom
Dining Out at Gluten-Free Living
Gluten-Free Travel Tips at A Gluten-Free Guide
Tips for Traveling Gluten-Free at Gluten-Free Dietitian
Gluten-Free Travel Tips at The Gluten-Free Diva

Social Events and Traveling with your Gluten-Free Child
Handling School and Other Activities Gluten-Free at Gluten-Free Mom
Kids Party Planning at Gluten-Free Food Diet
Gluten-Free Kids at Gluten-Free Living
Gluten-Free Kids Travel: This blog is written by Jen, who travels frequently with her husband and young daughter (who has Celiac Disease).
Top Ten Tips for Traveling with a Gluten-Free Child at G-Free Mom 
Summer Holidays with Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Kids at She Let Them Eat Cake
Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom: Heidi is a great resource for up-to-date information on kids and the gluten-free diet. 

Check out the other posts in this series:

This post is linked to Gluten-Free Wednesdays at The Gluten-Free Homemaker, where you can find many more articles on living gluten-free.


Tasty Eats At Home said...

Iris, this is still a very valuable resource! I too am no expert when it comes to dining out or traveling. I have Triumph Dining Cards, but even while using them, explaining and asking a million questions, I've still gotten sick. But there are others out there that do an incredible job of navigating a gluten-filled world - and I think you've gathered some very good experts for this! Great post.

glutenfreefun said...

I launched Gluten-Free Globetrotter a few weeks ago as both a guide to traveling on a gluten-free diet as well as encouragement for those with Celiac Disease to get up and live their lives and not be scared to travel. I think it is important to not let Celiac Disease "win" but to keep living your life and seeing the world!

Safe gluten-free travels.
Erin Smith

Barb said...

Use the internet to contact gluten free groups in the area you plan to be. They often can send you info on food and restaurants. Travel with a GPS unit. You can click on food, get phone numbers and call ahead. Let them know that you are far from home and count on them for help. People have been amazing. I had a chef break out a brand new pan for fear of c.c. Another opened a new bottle of oil for my fries. Yes, they were the best ones I ever had. You can use your GPS on walking mode in a city and call ahead. Sometimes you just have to settle for something odd. Ice cream anyone?

withoutadornment said...

Thanks for all the links! I sometimes get really stressed out about food while travelling or in social situations, so any advice helps! :)

withoutadornment said...

Thanks for all the links! I sometimes get really stressed out about food while travelling or in social situations, so any advice helps! :)

Anonymous said...

My child is gluten free, so we tend to travel with our food most of the time. That way we can enjoy events and weekend outings without the worry. We have bento boxes from Laptop Lunches for the whole family. The boxes are easy to pack and offer a fun, colorful presentation, so no one feels like they're missing out and we all feel so much better. You should check them out:

gfe--gluten free easily said...

Iris, another great post! I tend to use different approaches to gluten-free travel for different situations. For example, when my husband and I go on our motorcycle trips, we stay in B&Bs/inns, so I check those out for their ability to serve gluten-free breakfasts first. If it's an establishment that also has a restaurant that accommodates gluten-free dining, then all the better. Otherwise, I wait until we arrive and ask our hosts for restaurant recommendations. Usually they have menus of local restaurants and I can look at them to see which restaurants are more likely to be safe. On the road, just stopping here and there, we go to basic restaurants and I choose the meals/items that are most likely to be safe (steamed seafood, meats grilled on clean grill or aluminum foil, salads, baked potatoes, and such) after I do question to staff and urge safety in preparing my food. I don't think there's a completely fail-safe method. I've gotten glutened at restaurants that have a gluten-free menu before. I'm reluctant to order items at most restaurants that would normally contain gluten just because it seems the risk is much higher, and many "gluten-free" products make me sick, so I tend to stick to basic real food.



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