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  • Amy Leger
    Amy Leger

    Celiac Exchange Student Brings Food Differences to the Table


    Celiac.com 11/19/2008 - This year my husband and I took in Ida, an exchange studentfrom Norway, who needed a gluten-free home.We couldn’t help but be excited at the prospect to have someone else inthe house set an example for my 9-year-old gluten-free daughter.Ida (pronounced EE-dah) has quickly becomepart of the family. And of course one thing we talk about is food and thedifferences in gluten-free options here in the United States versus Norway.

    Bread, Gluten-Free, Bread
    For all of us, bread is troublesome if you’re on thegluten-free diet.Even if it followsyour restrictions, there’s no guarantee it is any good. That has been thebiggest hurdle for Ida.In Norway, shecan get fast food and the hamburgers have gluten-free buns.Can you imagine?“It is more difficult [here],” she toldme.“I eat a lot of Burger King,McDonalds, and pizza in Norway.We havea lot of gluten-free options.”She saysyou never have to worry about French fries either, as they aren’t contaminatedin the oil like most are in the United States.

    In Norway, not only are the meals more complete (withbread), but they appear to “get” celiac disease.“Everybody understands what you’re saying,”Ida says.We all know here in the UnitedStates, getting a gluten-free burger at a restaurant means no bun. Eating pizza out isa rare treat only at certain restaurants that are willing to explore thepossibility.Right now in the entireTwin Cities area, I know of about 8 places in a 50 mile radius that have agluten-free pizza option.And even this is a hugeimprovement when compared to what was possible just a year ago.

    Navigating the New Gluten-Free Culture
    When Ida first got here, I explained to her just howill-equipped most of our restaurants, and many of the people who work there,are regarding specialized diets.While McDonald'shas lists of their gluten-free items on line, many of the people taking ordersdo not understand the first thing about food sensitivities and allergies oreven about what their establishment has to offer.

    She got a quick guide on the main fast-food places that havegluten-free options, and how to order specialized foods.Also, every time I hear of a place that has agluten-free pizza option, I make sure Ida gets the information.I figure someday she would like to go outwith her friends for pizza.The bestexperiences dining out have been at restaurants with a specific gluten-freemenu (aren’t they all?).

    For now her focus here is school, meeting new people andexperiencing the American culture instead of food and eating out.She is having a great time learning aboutAmerican football (her high school team is in the state championships) andheading out to the movies with her friends.I suppose as long as I have gluten-free food she can load up at home–she is doing pretty well.Ultimately she is a typical teenager, no matter what country she’s from.


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    It seems that if your daughter gets to stay in Norway, she will be enjoying eating out like everyone else!

     

    I wish our restaurants would be more gluten-free friendly!

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    Interesting article. Too bad I can't post any questions here. I was wondering how exchange students would be able to find a gluten-free family.

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  • About Me

    My daughter was diagnosed at 15 months old back in 2000. I have been passionate about celiac disease and the gluten free diet ever since. Now my brother was just diagnosed and during the 2008-2009 school year my husband and I took in a Norwegian exchange student with celiac disease. I have just started a blog called www.thesavvyceliac.com and enjoy sharing my views and experiences with others through my blog.

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