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Road Tripping? How Do You Do It?
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We're planning a road trip this summer across the U.S. With a newly diagnosed celiac in the family, suddenly I am at a loss to figure out how we will handle eating out. We are doing great gluten-free at home, but, er, well, how do you do it when you can't cook it yourself? And you can't call ahead to see what's available at the local restaurant...

Are there chain restaurants you head to that are "safe"? Do you stock up a week's worth supply of food just in case?

Help! (admittedly, we haven't even eaten out since my son was diagnosed 1 month ago, but we have been calling local restaurants and stock-piling lists of where we can go. But you can't do that when you are on the road, right?)

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When we travel, we are normally in the car for at least 2 or 3 days. We bring a cooler, stock it with ham, chicken, yogurt, fruits and veggies. We buy fresh gluten free bread at our local gluten free bakery the day before we leave so it is fresh. If you don't have that option, Udi's bagels makes good sandwiches too (we find we don't have to toast the bagels). We also keep peanut butter and jelly on hand, and gluten free crackers with cheese.

If we want to eat out, we look for PFChangs. We have eaten at PFChangs in alot of different states when traveling, and they do such a great job of keeping things seperate we don't worry about CC. (we don't want to be sick while traveling). We bring gluten-free cereal for the hotel for breakfast. Sometimes we will get a baked potato from Wendys, but we don't do much else from Wendy's except the Frosty. But if we have our own salad makings in the car, a hot baked potato goes well with it.

Good luck! and Have fun!

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I don't do restaurants. :) I just picnic from food at the grocery store.

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Grocery stores and a cooler. :) My family has always done road trips that way. Good restaurants are expensive and we usually have better stuff in our cooler than is offered at Denny's or fast food.

We pack bread, lunch meat, cheese, mayo and lettuce for sandwiches, fruit, carrots and celery, crackers, nuts, and chips. You can fill the cooler with ice every night at your hotel to keep everything fresh and it's easy to restock at a grocery store.

I also keep a lookout for places with gluten-free food for a treat. Boston Market is a favorite of mine, Wendy's is good, and if I find a P.F. Chang's, I've hit the gluten-free jackpot!

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We too are grocery stores, cooler, lots of picnics! We even take our camp stove with us! A picnic blanket or two helps a lot! We often stop at playgrounds and reststops. I find the kids get lots of exercise going up and down grocery store aisles :)

The girls are lobbying for us to buy a freezer which plugs into the power point so we can have ice cream anywhere!

Also, I pre-pack TONS of snacks. My favorite containers are the ziploc divided rectangles http://www.ziploc.com/Products/Pages/ContainersSmartSnapSeal.aspx?SizeName=Divided Rectangle

Lots of fruits and veggies.

Also, we've always been fine bringing food into restaurants for the kids (one we suspected had celiac, turns out both do...). We either brought food in in our snack pack ziploc containers or just packets of oatmeal (make sure your child does ok with oats!) and asked for a bowl, spoon and hot water!

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By the way, have fun!!! Have you planned your route yet? Are you going I-40 or I-70 to visit the Grand Canyon?

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Camping! ... you can find great campgrounds all over the U.S. but especially in the West/SouthWest and in or nearby National Parks. Check out KOA. Plus a cooler and a camp stove. We've fired up the stove at rest stops for a quick lunch of soup or noodles rather than rely on fast food.

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We have made several cross country moves. First, get yourself AAA books for all the states you'll be going through. That way you'll be able to see all motels and hotels and what amenities they have. We always look for a place with at least a refrigerator available if not an kitchenette. We don't actually use the pots and pans and such in the kitchenette but it's handy for preparing food.

There will also be a list of restaurants. I don't know offhand if it will list which ones are gluten-free or not. We didn't have to worry about gluten when we made our moves but we did travel with a cat so did not want to stop to eat in hot weather and leave the cat in the vehicle. You might also have good luck finding restaurants using a GPS. There are some chains with gluten-free menus. The ones I know of are Olive Garden, Old Spaghetti Factory (some locations), Outback Steakhouse, Bonefish Grill, Pei Wei and PF Changs. I'm sure there are others.

What we always travel with are corn chips and some form of beans. Either bean dip, canned refried beans or other canned beans. Also canned green beans and canned olives. That's enough for us to make a meal of if need be. Dried fruit and nuts are good things to have to. Be cautious about taking fresh fruit and vegetables from state to state. Or even sometimes within a state. There can be checkpoints where they will stop you and take what you have so you don't inadverently bring bugs in. Some brands of beef jerky are gluten-free.

We found that most mini mart type places these days have string cheese or other single serve cheeses, little packets of nuts and chips and even fresh fruit. We also got very lucky once and were able to stay near a Walmart with a grocery. I drove over there and bought a ton of stuff.

At one place we stayed, we noticed a family in the communal food room at our hotel. There was coffee, some snacks and a microwave. They brought in (not sure where they bought them) some canned refried beans, corn tortillas and bagged salad. They made bean tacos to eat.

We also stopped at Wendy's on occasion. You can get the chili and a baked potato there. Both are gluten-free. I think the side salads are fine as well.

If you are eating at an unknown restaurant, opt for very simple food. Yes, you will likely get bored with it but better safe than sorry. Hamburger patties are almost always safe. So is bacon or a piece of ham. Baked potatoes are almost always safe although they could be cross contaminated. Fresh or canned fruit should be fine. Cottage cheese should be fine. Chicken might not be okay. Some frozen chicken contains wheat. Eggs might not be safe. Ihop puts pancake batter in thier eggs.

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Thanks for the answers - you all make it sound so doable! I'm teaching a course in Utah, so the boys are driving out from the Midwest to Utah, then we are all going camping for a while in the Rockies and then heading home. It should be fun!

I was traveling for work yesterday, and although I brought lunch, I didn't bring dinner, and suddenly it felt like there were no options available that were gluten-free. I realized how dependent we are on our kitchen!

Cooler and picnics sound like the way to go. That's how we used to travel as kids. My husband and I have gotten lazier and eat more at restaurants when we travel. I guess we go back to the good old days: cooler and picnics.

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:) Our cousins who have Celiac went to Zion National Park last summer and said that the National Park concessions had many gluten free options! They are a very conscientious family!

Out of curiosity I started to look on the Zion site. There is a restaurant menu for the more fancy restaurant. On the bottom of the menu it says gluten-free options available upon request

http://www.zionlodge.com/UserFiles/2011-menus/zion-2011-dinner-final-5-9-11.pdf

Zion is an amazing park! I hope you go!

Also, there is a LOT of good Mexican food outside the park--might see how that works for your family too!

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    • Thanks Stephanie & Gemini for the info. that the 4 of 5 doesn't apply to children. I wasn't aware of that until now. 
    • I think the posters above have given you very good information and I will throw in my 2 cents worth.  I am surprised that they did not test her DGP IgA also.  I am sure that would have been positive.  They switched off with antibody classes and usually they do both tests for both antibodies.  IgA is more specific to Celiac but the IgG is also useful.  The testing shows your daughter is producing antibodies to the gluten in her diet. (DGP IGG). THe tTg shows positive for some damage or inflammation. You know........your daughter is only 4.  She hasn't been on the planet or eating gluten that long. It can take years for enough damage to occur for it to be able to be found on biopsy.  I would say it is highly likely that this is Celiac, especially with her symptoms. But because the damage hasn't graduated to bad enough yet, they won't diagnose her. I think you need to do what others have said and get all copies of testing and find someone else who will take a look and give a diagnosis, especially if they have you do a dietary trial and her symptoms go away.  That might be the only recourse if you want faster proof. I know I would want faster.  I would not really be happy if I thought I had to keep feeding her something that was making her sick.  If you keep her on gluten long enough, the diarrhea will probably show up. BTW.........the criteria mentioned regarding diagnosis does not apply to kids.  I know it's silly and stupid but most leading Celiac specialists do not go by this criteria for kids.......adults only.  Keep that in mind because it might come up.  You could recognize it but they might not. Have you considered gene testing, to help bolster a diagnosis? As far as false positives go, it's the other way around. False negatives happen more frequently than many people think.  It's a recurring theme here.  With her symptoms, which is what I had, a bloated belly and tummy aches are telling.  Have they tested her for lactose intolerance?  That can cause similar symptoms, although it sure won't raise those 2 blood tests.  Keep looking for Celiac because there are many red flags here.
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