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Sandy1003

Member Since 27 Jan 2011
Offline Last Active Jul 12 2011 03:26 AM
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Topics I've Started

Singapore

11 July 2011 - 06:28 PM

Hi all,

I am in day 5 of my 18 day visit to Singapore, and so far I have found it to be quite difficult to eat gluten-free here. I thought it would be much easier: I didn't expect much food here to be so wheat-based, Singapore is an english speaking country, and it's a global mecca of cuisine. So imagine my surprise that I got glutened on the very first thing I ate: Chicken rice. Some recipes call for soy sauce and others don't. Aparently this one did, although the vendor told me it was just chicken, rice, and spices.

Some things that I have learned by being here:

1) Real chinese food is fried. The hawkers stands sell just about everything that you could want, battered and deep fried. Also, dim sum, noodles, spring rolls, and buns abound.
2) Soy sauce is used in everything. Even if it doesn't seem like it should be, it's in there.
3) Many of the Indian food places serve fried foods that are battered in chickpea or lentil flour, which is great until you realize that they use this same flour and frying for their vegetarian dishes, which the "meat" is wheat gluten.
4) Although technically an English speaking country, many Singaporians speak Chinese, Maylay, or Tamil as their preferred language, and about 20% of the blue-colar workforce are from another surrounding country. This can make communicating a food allergy very difficult.
5) The groceries here do not have many western foods, and what they do have is extremely expensive. gluten-free staples that I take for granted in the US, such as corn tortillas, simply don't exist. The items in the stores are somewhat limited. Although there are a few gluten-free products that I have seen shipped from Australia, there is not much. I have been mostly eating fruit, vegetables, chicken, and rice that I've prepared at home. This has made it very boring and depressing when I have gone to restaurants with my family and had to sit there while everyone else ate because the only thing I could have was water.
6) Servers do not get tipped in Singapore, so they don't necessarily have the drive to please customers that they may in other countries. In a few restaurants I've been to (an Italian and a German restaurant) when I told the servers that I could not eat wheat and to please check with the kitchen for me, they looked at me very confused and I had to explain my allergy before begrudgingly going to the kitchen. Not only did it seem like a nuisance for them, but they honestly looked like they had never heard of a food allergy before. Obviously that is never a good sign.
7) There is a dearth of information on gluten-free friendly places in Singapore. I've searched online and the only restaurant I found was one called Cedele. However, upon reading a review, someone said that their "wheat free" products are made with spelt (which still has gluten in it!)

I figure that I've gotten hit and will keep on getting hit even if I try to avoid gluten. My symptoms include DH, which means that I am already going to be miserable for the rest of my trip. So, I've made the decision that for the next 2 weeks, I'm not even going to try. I've always been an adventurous eater and passionate about food, and since I've been gluten-free, I have denied myself many things that I would otherwise enjoy. Therefore, I am going to try to enjoy the food that is here despite the fact that it's making me sick. It's a difficult decision, but I feel like I would be more upset if I never tried real dim sum or curry laksa instead opting for a green salad that will probably make me sick anyway or sitting and watching the rest of my family eat while I have a pear that I smuggled from home.

Southeast Asia

02 June 2011 - 06:43 AM

Hi all,

I am going to be visiting my brother in Singapore for 3 weeks in July. I don't expect that I will have too much difficulty explaining my situation there as English is the official language, however, we will be taking a few trips to other SE Asian countries where I do not know the language (Vietnam, Thailand, etc.) and also Japan. I know there is an iphone app that will translate "I can't have wheat" into many other languages, however, I'm concerned that my phone won't be working or people in the villages may not be able to read. I don't think that wheat plays a big role in most of these cuisines, but I wanted to know what sorts of things I should stay away from and what is safe. Has anyone been to Asia? What was your experience? What advice can you offer me?

Thanks!

Sandy

Sensitivity Threshold

27 January 2011 - 08:52 PM

Hi there,

I'm new to this, and only really have an unofficial diagnosis. As I'm a student and don't have insurance, I couldn't afford testing or the dreaded "pre-existing condition" on my record. However, my doctor felt confident that all of the problems I've been having for over 10 years were likely related to a gluten intollerance and recommended that I go on a gluten free diet. She told me that the diagnosis wouldn't really do anything for me since the treatment was the same, with or without the diagnosis.

I've been gluten free for about 6 weeks now. Before I went on the diet, I ate bread, pasta, and other gluten-containing items regularly. My symptoms included: constant intestinal cramps, going to the bathroom about 5-6 times a day, and itchy, watery blisters on my hands and ankles (which had been previously diagnosed as eczema dyshydrosis). Within 2 days of starting the diet, my body started acting normal. No pain, no running to the bathroom, and even my eczema went away (I haven't had clear hands in almost 10 years, so this was particularly amazing.)

However, I am now having a problem. Although I have ridded my entire house of anything with gluten in it, I have already had several instances where unknown cross-contamination was an issue. For example, the other day, I bought a bag of dried lentils and made some soup. I washed them before use, and there were no warnings on the bag. However, by the next day, the blisters were forming and my stomach was in knots. After calling the manufacturer and a 2 day investigation on their part, it turns out that the lentils were packaged on shared equipment with gluten containing products. It took 3 days for the intestinal problems and almost a week for the eczema to go away. It seems that the less gluten I eat, the more sensitive I become to any contamination.

So, is this normal when you go on a gluten free diet? Do you become more sensitive to lower thresholds of gluten? And if that is the case, is it really worth it? As I am still learning the rules, it seems like I have been running into this issue about once a week. Now, instead of having a consistent, mild to moderate reaction, I'm having more severe, longer lasting reactions. Has anyone else experienced this, and if so, does it get better?

Thanks!