Eating gluten free used to mean staying at home to play it safe, or deciding to travel knowing that you wouldn’t have many healthy meal options along the way. Fortunately, all that has changed. Due to the increasing number of people banishing gluten from their diets, more and more places—including national park lodges, high-end hotels, chain restaurants, and even many bed-and-breakfasts—are offering gluten-free menu options. That means that it’s now possible to eat gluten free whether you’re visiting Yosemite National Park, taking a cruise, embarking on a multi-city road trip, or traveling internationally.
Try these tips to enjoy safe, pleasurable, gluten-free trips:Always carry your own snacks. Meal/snack service has been cut on most flights, and virtually all of the food sold in airports or served on trains contains gluten. That means it’s essential to pack your own gluten-free food. Any snack will give you temporary energy in a pinch, but to keep yourself well-nourished for the extra time and effort involved with traveling, concentrate on combining foods into mini-meals that provide some protein, healthful fats, and unrefined carbohydrates. For example, try nuts and an apple, or Tanka Bites (buffalo cranberry jerky pieces) and carrot sticks, or simply a food bar that contains protein, such as the Organic Food Bar with brown rice protein.
Use coolers and refrigerators when you can. For road trips, pack perishable foods—such as hard-boiled eggs, chilled watermelon pieces, or hummus and veggie sticks—in a small cooler. And try to stay in hotel rooms that have mini-refrigerators. That makes it possible to keep gluten-free dinner leftovers as well as perishable foods that you either bring from home or purchase in natural food stores while traveling.
Research restaurants. Before you leave home, get a copy of The Essential Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide by Triumph Dining, or use the Internet to find restaurant suggestions from celiac support groups in the area that you’re visiting. Get the addresses and phone numbers of places that sound appealing and map them. If you’re not sure about the availability of gluten-free food at a particular eatery, call ahead and talk with the chef or manager.
Bring a restaurant card with you. Although it’s best to plan ahead and research restaurants that you want to try, carrying a card that explains specific ingredients that you can and cannot eat is good insurance. If a waiter doesn’t know which choices on the menu are gluten free—or could be made that way—give him your restaurant card and he can hand it to the chef who can quickly advise you about your options. Get printable restaurant cards at CeliacTravel.com, or order sturdier, laminated, wallet-sized dining cards in ten different languages at TriumphDining.com.
Ask for help when you need it. If you need additional advice regarding upcoming trips or working around other food sensitivities, consider consulting a nutritionist who specializes in gluten-free and allergy-free diets. If you’d rather not have to do any planning, look into taking a trip with a gluten-free traveling group, such as Bob & Ruth’s Gluten-Free Dining & Travel Club (bobandruths.com). Or try making arrangements through a travel agent who specializes in gluten-free vacations.
Adapted from Chapters 6 and 7 of Melissa’s book, Gluten Free Throughout the Year.
Almond Butter Energy Bars
Need a stabilizing snack to take on your next trip? Try these homemade bars that contain healthful fat, protein, carbohydrates, and no refined sweeteners.
4 Tbs. Nutribiotic Plain Rice Protein powder
4 Tbs. blanched almond flour
1 Tbs. shredded unsweetened coconut
3 tsp. date sugar
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tbs. organic unsweetened applesauce
4 Tbs. unsalted roasted almond butter
4 Tbs. unrefined coconut oil
1 tsp. grated orange zest (optional)
4 tsp. organic raisins
3 tsp. chopped pecans
PER SERVING: 236 CAL; 10 G PROT; 19 G TOTAL FAT (9 G SAT FAT); 9 G CARB; 0 MG CHOL; 9 MG SOD; 3 G FIBER; 5 G SUGARS
Recipe adapted from the Amaretto Protein Bar recipe in Melissa's Going Against the Grain book and the Carrot Cake Power Bar recipe in Gluten Free Throughout the Year.