Today I decided to join American forum, basically, because I would like to warn people interested about living in Poland with celiac disease or travelling here for a long time.
I am not Pole, but I live here since I remember. Forgive my poor English then.
Although country I live in, is in Europe and European Union Member, being one with celiac disease is really, really hard.
I am on a gluten-free diet for 2,5 years now, and I am a vegetarian for 10 years.
Here's a list of typical difficulties you may meet in Poland:
- Ignorance about the gluten-free diet showed by many people, including doctors;
- the waiters swearing, that the dish is gluten-free, while there threw spices with gluten;
- belief that barley is gluten-free (chef in a very good restaurant claimed so);
- no gluten-free option in almost every restaurant;
- Polish hospitality ends when they find out that you are on a special diet (excluding diabetes, because the awareness of diabetes in Poland is high - it is very popular disease here);
- very poor variety of gluten-free products in the supermarkets;
- very poor information about gluten traces in products (very often there is no information, and it is better to be aware of that product);
- even if you buy gluten-free product, it can contain traces of gluten (more than 20 ppm). It should be punishable by law, but judiciary here is ineffective);
- intolerance - even gluten-free people are intolerant for the other gluten-free people! I was shocked when I read on Polish sites and forums, that people FORBID the others to be gluten-free without full diagnosis. Yes, they forbid other people... Without respect to every person's right to choose.;
- misleading - e.g. (as I written in one of my posts) I am trying to fight the belief that whisky contains gluten. Almost every foreign site explains why it is gluten-free, but on the official Polish sites whisky still is forbidden for celiacs...
- frustration (I guess). People here are not very wealthy, so they are frustrated and think that being gluten-free is kind of whim.
Poland is very beautiful country, but you have to choose if you want to live here. Although short excursion may be very pleasant, living here for a long time can become a problem for someone on gluten-free diet.