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Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Tips for Gluten-Free Travel by Danna Korn

This article appeared in the Spring 2005 edition of Celiac.coms Scott-Free Newsletter.

Celiac.com 06/08/2005 – Theres no point in enjoying the improved health and vitality youll experience on a gluten-free diet if youre just sitting at home pining away for excitement because youre afraid to venture too far away. You have to live life to its fullest—you should be livin la vida loca! Theres no reason whatsoever to limit or, worse yet, give up travel because of this diet. Traveling wheat-free/gluten-free might be a little intimidating at first, but really, it just takes a little more planning, and sometimes an extra suitcase or two.

Pre-Travel Checklist
Before you leave, research your destination: Check with a support group in the area youre visiting to see if they have a list of celiac-friendly restaurants or grocery stores. Also search the St. Johns Celiac Listserv archives for frequent posts about gluten-free-friendly restaurants. You might want to go to the Internet and look up your destination city to see if they have one or more health food stores. If they do, call the store(s) and ask what gluten-free products they carry—if you have a favorite product, ask them to order it for you before your trip so they will have it in stock when you arrive.

Be aware of legal considerations when crossing borders: Some countries have laws about what foods can be imported. Make sure you know what the laws are, and dont try to bring foods with you that might be confiscated. My family and I had an – umm – interesting experience at the Mexican border when we brought gluten-free pancake mix in an unmarked, vacuum-sealed plastic bag.

Know the language (at least key words): Learn at least a few key words of the language spoken in the country youll be visiting. Make sure you can say wheat, flour, and other key words. Bring restaurant cards written in the language(s) of the country youre visiting (see www.celiactravel.com), or use translation software to create your own. Ask for rooms with a kitchenette, or stay in a condo: Even a small kitchenette with a microwave, refrigerator, and sink will make your life a little easier.

Ship food to yourself: If youre traveling a long distance or are going to be gone for a long period of time, consider shipping some of your favorite products to your ultimate destination so theyre waiting for you when you arrive.

Carry a "kitchen in a suitcase": If youre accustomed to making your breads, cookies, and other baked goods from the mixes that you order online or find in specialty stores, bring them with you, as it may be difficult to find them at your ultimate destination. Bring your specialty tools or appliances, too, like your bread slicer, if you plan on cooking while youre away.

Grab your gadgets: Manufacturers offer some ultra-convenient travel gadgets these days, even for the traveling eater. Most sporting goods stores carry a small refrigerator (there are several brands) that plugs into the cigarette lighter of your car, making it easier to bring yogurt and other perishables on long drives. And we all know how toasters can present a problem since "regular" toast seems to spray its crumbs everywhere, contaminating them for gluten-free eaters. A travel toaster available on the Internet:
(www.fsmarketplace.company.uk/traveltoasters) eliminates the worry—just take your own and youre set.

BYOF: Even gluten-free bread travels well if you slice it and pack it in a hard plastic storage container. Hard-to-find cereals, pretzels, and favorite treats—even pre-baked frozen cookies—make great snacks en route or when you arrive. Dont forget to pack food for the trip itself, as well as food for your stay at the destination.

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There are grocery stores everywhere you go: When you arrive at your ultimate destination, stop in at the local grocery store and stock up on some of the basics. Dont forget to buy aluminum foil and resealable bags, which work well to store leftovers from restaurants, or any foods that you may have brought with you.

Remember your restaurant rules: Use the tips mentioned in my books or in past issues of Scott-Free for eating out at restaurants, since youll probably be eating out more than you do when youre at home. If youre traveling to certain places in Europe, you might be pleasantly surprised to find that in some countries like Sweden McDonalds offers two types of hamburger buns: gluten-free and "regular."
Getting There

When planning how and what youre going to eat on your trip, you have to first decide where youre going and how youre going to get there. How much and what you bring depends on whether youre taking planes, trains, or automobiles.

Driving: Driving allows you the most flexibility, and is easiest when youre trying to accommodate a restricted diet. If youre driving in the United States, there will most certainly be national fast-food chains all along the way. Even if you dont want to rely on greasy burgers and fries as a staple for your entire drive, you know that you have a backup—just in case. National restaurant chains (even those that are not of the fast-food, greasy-burger variety) have branches in all major cities—find out which restaurants are along your driving route (you can check www.mapquest.com or a similar Website), and check the restaurants Web sites or contact them for their lists of wheat-free/gluten-free products (this is where your three-ring binder with restaurant lists that you leave in the car comes in handy). There are also commercial gluten-free restaurant guides available, such as the one at www.celiac.com.

Most important, BYOF. You will probably bring snack foods to munch on while you drive, so just make sure youre loaded with snacks that are easy to eat in the car, travel well, and of course, meet your dietary restrictions (and dont forget the paper towels or wet wipes!).

Flying, cruising, and riding the rails: Theres less flexibility in how and where you can eat when youre at the mercy of a commercial airliner, ship, or train—but you still have a number of options. Many commercial airlines offer a selection of specialty meals, including gluten-free ones. Be careful, though, and read the labels if the food has them, because sometimes our gluten-free meals have come with fluffy, doughy bagels (that obviously arent gluten-free). If mistakes are made, dont be mad. They tried, and at least they considered having a gluten-free meal as an option. Be glad they made the attempt, and consider writing a polite, gratuitous letter to the food supplier offering information on whats gluten-free and what isnt.

These days, airlines restrict the number of carry-on bags, so youll have to be more efficient in packing snacks and meals for the flight. Snack items that you might include in a sack lunch usually make good take-along foods for the airplane.

Cruise ships always have executive chefs. Theyre accustomed to accommodating restricted diets, some of which can have dangerous consequences if mistakes are made, so they take the subject very seriously. By contacting the administrative offices of the cruise line several weeks in advance, you can arrange for the chef to provide you gluten-free meals throughout your cruise.

Trains are tougher, since most of the foods found in café cars are usually along the lines of packaged sandwiches, croissants, pastries, and other oh-so-not-nutritious goodies. I highly recommend bringing food on the train, and not just because of your restricted diet, if you know what I mean.

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5 Responses:

 
Dave
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingemptyratingempty Unrated
said this on
18 Jan 2008 9:03:58 AM PDT
I would think National fast food chains would be a poor choice for travel or anytime because of cross contamination

 
Crystal Davidson
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
24 Jul 2008 10:53:45 AM PDT
I have found several things to be good for travel. #1 - a bag of carrots. Totally gluten free and I have never had a problem with airport security on this one. #2 - McDonald's - I order the fries (totally gluten-free) and some apple dippers to tide me over because I know they're safe. #3 - Corn tortillas. These store better than gluten free bread and you can easily make a quick 'sandwich' on the go.

 
goodhealthgourmet
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
13 Jan 2010 11:15:28 AM PDT
One *very important* note about Crystal's comment - the fries at McDonald's ARE NOT gluten-free, as they contain a flavoring derived from wheat and milk (this information is clearly stated on the McDonald's website). They also may not be cooked in a dedicated fryer so there's a major risk of cross-contamination.

 
admin
( Author)
said this on
13 Jan 2010 12:17:42 PM PDT
McDonald's fries are cooked in dedicated fryers, and gluten testing on them has never found gluten at detectable levels.

 
Rene
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingemptyratingempty Unrated
said this on
11 Oct 2010 8:26:28 AM PDT
My son has tested negative for celiac yet he is 'gluten sensitive' and always gets sick after eating fries at McDonald's. We have found Wendy's to be a better alternative but I always check that they have a dedicated frier. Below, information as copied from McDonald's website:
................
French Fries
French Fries:
Potatoes, vegetable oil (canola oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural beef flavor [wheat and milk derivatives]*, citric acid [preservative]), dextrose, sodium acid
pyrophosphate (maintain color), salt. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to
preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.
CONTAINS: WHEAT AND MILK *(Natural beef flavor contains hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk as starting ingredients).




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Feeneyja, This will be a little long but I will try to be brief as possible. See this discussion thread that talks about how Pellagra is often diagnosed as other disease's today because doctor's rarely recognize it today in a clinical setting. Pellagra's is described as the 3 D's if you don't count the 4th D of death if it goes long enough and is not diagnosed in a timely manner. Dementia (Neurological) Digestive (GI problems), Dermatitis issues (Ezcema, Psorsias, Acne etc.) According to mdguidelines website http://www.mdguidelines.com/pellagra indicates that quoting ?The diagnosis of pellagra is straightforward when the classic rash is present but may be elusive if there are only gastrointestinal and/or neurological manifestations.? And why I believe in many cases Pellagra goes undiagnosed today. Because doctor's have forgotten how it presents. A longer researcher article about the neurological presentations of pellagra mention the many ways a Niacin deficiency can present itself. Here is the link https://www.hindawi.com/journals/cggr/2012/302875/ and I will quote some of the neurological/dementia related symptom's of an undiagnosed pellagra patient. "Mental symptoms were wider than dementia, in that depression, fatigue, psychomotor retardation, mania, obsessions, and a whole range of psychoses with auditory and visual hallucinations were well described, along with personality change and sociopathic and drug and alcohol addictive behaviours. Panic disorders were seen as was a general inability to deal with physical or mental stress. Poor brain development such as hydrocephalus or cerebral palsy was also common. Acute delirium or even coma occurred, with some patients having myoclonus and other extrapyramidal signs reminiscent of the spongiform encephalopathies. The dementias of pellagra included features akin to Lewy body, Alzheimer?s, frontotemporal, vascular, and prion diseases. Parkinsonism was also common and a festinant gait was first described in pellagrins. Tremors of various descriptions, including asymmetric rest tremors, were noted and some patients had typical paralysis agitans. Pellagrins had a characteristic expressionless facies, so some signs of parkinsonism were present in most cases. Many features of pellagra closely resemble the nonmotor aspects of PD. The neurological manifestation did not stop there because other degenerative conditions, such as an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-like picture, were described, with fasciculation of the tongue and upper and lower motor neuron signs. Cerebellar syndromes occurred and vertigo was frequent. Headaches, sensory and pain syndromes, epilepsy, and involuntary movements were noted as well as sleep disturbances. Cord lesions were also seen, as was optic atrophy, so there were multiple sclerosis (MS), like variants." It is me again. You can see the neurological symptom's of Pellagra are severe and wide ranging. Taking Niacinamide 3/day for 6 months can alleviate many of these symptom's if your daughter has subclinical pellagra and the doctor's don't know to look for it. I had deep depression for many, many years and I shudder to think now that only a Vitamin could of helped me 30+ years ago and the doctor's didn't know to look for it. Shoot it isn't just Niacin. All B-Vitamin's help your stress levels. IF you have stress B-Vitamins can help your stress levels. I take Folic Acid for Blood pressure problems and it keeps my BP with in a normal range. A article on celac.com discussed this topic in detail a few months ago. https://www.celiac.com/articles/24658/1/A-Differential-Diagnosis-How-Pellagra-Can-be-Confused-with-Celiac-Disease/Page1.html I hope it is helpful. Good luck on your continued journey. If you have never heard of Pellagra you are not alone. Dr. Heaney discusses why this is so in his online article Pellagra and the 4 D's. http://blogs.creighton.edu/heaney/2013/11/18/pellagra-and-the-four-ds/ If you don't have time to read the whole hindawi article I also suggest this shorter but informative blog about why a Niacin deficiency can cause dementia related conditions. https://pellagradisease.wordpress.com/ Then decide for yourself and your daughter's sake to decide whether to take Niacinamide or not to see if it helps the D's symptom's she is experiencing (Digestive, Dementia etc.) The International Journal of Celiac Disease makes note of this in their research that Pellagra could be contributing to symptom's being diagnosed as Celiac disease today instead of a possible (co-morbid) Pellagra that causes the same symptom's. When they discuss how Pellagra and Celiac disease are related (Co-Morbid) in a Celiac diagnosis are surprised to find that in 58% of Celiac's -- can also be diagnosed with Pellagra. See this link http://pubs.sciepub.com/ijcd/3/1/6/ Quoting 3. Pellagra and celiac disease "The two diseases can be connected in two aspects. 58% of pellagra patients were shown to have malabsorption and many had intestinal pathology on biopsies [36, 37]. Alternatively, Pellagra was described in celiac disease [38]. The skin manifestations in pellagra might have some additional etiologies, since multiple nutrient deficiencies are at the origin of the cutaneous manifestations in celiac disease. The following nutritional deficiencies inducing skin rashes, were describe in celiac disease: Zinc, Iron, Vitamin A, E, B12, niacin, folate, selenium and essential fatty acids [39, 40]." If one is being diagnosed incorrectly the other co-morbid conditions can continue to cause Celiac like symptom's. But if the majority of those who have been diagnosed as Celiac could be helped by taking Niacinamide I see no you reason you shouldn't try it. Or at least research it some more. Again good luck on your continued journey. 2 Timothy 2: 7 ?Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things? this included. Posterboy by the grace of God,

Read this posted on the FDA.gov site: https://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/guidancedocumentsregulatoryinformation/allergens/ucm362880.htm

Color me confused. I went to Costco yesterday and there were 2 products there that had GLUTEN FREE plastered on the box but then in the ingredients was a: May contain wheat. How is this possible? How can they still put gluten-free on the box? We should be able to trust gluten-free labeling no?? And second question: How many of you would still buy that item? I REALLY wanted to buy the Island Way Sorbet for my daughter as it is her FAVE. But I didn't want to take the risk. Maybe when she is healthier? I mean it is SORBET?! LOL So frustrating!

JMG I have never laughed so hard! This was the best epic comment I've read! Thankyou so much! Your all teaching me so much! Love the 'my glass to go' idea!! I will be adopting this... can't believe the mucky glasses we must be drinking from! Shocking! Im still baffled how so many people don't understand cross contamination i.e. The crumbs on the work surface to cut the lime for your tasty beverage! Your all amazing Thankyou x

Yes! I never really had GI symptoms, but I did have palpitations and restless leg syndrome from anemia. These went away within the first month. But myalgia and joint aches aren't better after 1 year. Waiting to get my antibodies re-tested and see if they're negative.....