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Health Column: How to have a gluten-free vacation

Angela Wetzel
LIVING AGAINST THE GRAIN
Free Press Health Columnist
Traveling man looking at map of New York in car, while on road trip.
Getty Images/Ingram Publishing | Ingram Publishing

Now that Memorial Day has come and gone, full summer vacation mode is on.

This means traveling via plane and car, which can sometimes strike fear into the heart of anyone who is gluten free.

Here in Grand Junction, I know where I can eat and where to shop to get the items I need. But when going to another city, it’s the fear of the unknown that really gets to me.

Here are some tips to help your vacation stay healthy and gluten free.

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1. Do your research.

If you are traveling to Houston, do a search on restaurants that have gluten-free menus or stores that carry lines of gluten-free foods. This way you have the information ready when you enter that city.

You may also want to see if there is a local celiac support group; they probably can tell you what places are good to go since they are familiar with the area.

2. Rent a condo or hotel with a kitchen.

Sometimes it’s easier to do your own cooking than to eat out and this will help you stay safe. You may want to bring a few of your own pots and pans, as well as utensils, along so you know that there won’t be cross contamination with the equipment already supplied.

3. If you are visiting friends or family on your vacation, be honest with them about your need to stay gluten free.

If they insist that you stay with them and have meals at their home, make sure to cook the gluten-free items first to reduce the amount of cross contamination.

For example, if you are having spaghetti, cook the pasta and rinse it in a colander before doing the same with the regular spaghetti. Also, ask to help plan the meals so you can stick to an easy gluten-free diet.

4. Bring your own.

I know when I travel, I bring my own snacks. If it’s by plane, it’s fewer snacks and probably smaller type snacks like a protein bar and some almonds.

If by car, I load up and bring as much as possible! That way I don’t have to search for a place to replenish my inventory.

When it comes down to it, pre-planning is the key. You just need to think ahead to what situations you might encounter and be ready. If you pack a lot and still bring items back, not a worry. At least you were prepared.

Have a safe and healthy summer!

GJ Free Press health columnist Angela Wetzel has celiac disease and is president of Gluten Free Grand Valley, a support group for those with celiac disease and wheat allergies. Contact her at glutenfreegrandvalley@gmail.com or visit Gluten Free Grand Valley on Facebook.


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