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    Do you have questions about celiac disease or the gluten-free diet?

marfil

gluten-free Kid Travel

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Hi

My kid is gluten-free (and casein free and some other allergies). He is 12 now and has been learning English since primary school (we live in France). Travel with us has never been a problem (we managed to find gluten-free shops easily, and for restaurants we use japanese restaurants usually, or sometimes Grills), but either next summer or most probably sumer 07 I'm thinking of sending him to a host english or american familly (2 or 3 weeks in total immersion, as is usually done for teenagers to help them learn a foreign langage).

But my big problem is that all the agencies I have looked through who organise this kind of travel of course do not take special diets into account.

Has any parents of teenagers here experienced this problem and do you know a good agency who takes this into account and place the kid in famillies that do know what a gluten-free diet is ?

Thanks

Bye

Martine

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Hi Martine. I won't be of much help because I don't have an answer to your question, but I just wanted to applaud you for being so brave to send your gluten free son out into the world. I hope I can do the same one day, as our son's diagnosis has completely curtailed our travels. We even dread traveling to another city.

I understand Europe has a high awareness of gluten intolerance, but sadly, we're not quite there yet in the U.S. I live in a big city (Miami) and I've never met anyone else with Celiac Disease. I've looked for support groups, etc., and have only found this site (which I am constantly thanking God for). My husband and I joke about one day moving to Europe where Celiac is a commonly known condition and, therefore, we can better accommodate our son's needs.

Anyway, perhaps one of our site members will prove to be the perfect host your son and you won't need an agency's assistance after all!

Best of luck.

Mart

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If he is coming for two or three weeks it shouldn't be a problem if he truly wants to stick to his diet. He could bring a few things with him and then order American or French products to shipped to the host house if there aren't any sold by them. I have never done the programs but know people who have (some did it for a few weeks and others for a year) and when the kids get to the host family they can eat whatever they want and whenever, just like they do at home.

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Thanks for the answer. The problem is I always do the shopping and the cooking for him. It's true I should probably have him learn to do that by his own already, but for the moment I'm not sure he would be old enough to pick out foods by himself (I know in the US it's easy to spot an organic shop nearby (we do that even on the internet before travelling to the US) and in any organic shop you can find gluten-free products easily when you are used to it. But I thought if I find a familly who has no clue what gluten-free is, they will probably cook things that are not allowed for him to eat (and though for somethings he'll recognise easily and will say that he cannot eat that, he cannot spot some ingredient in a sauce or things like that that are hidden).

I thought by the way gluten-free awareness was much better in the US than Europe, on the contrary. Actually my son is not really Celiac, but he used to be autistic when he was small, and now is completely recovered, but he is on gluten-free diet (and casein free and some other stuff free like chocolate and the like). But I do think he's celiac also, though we never did the test, because he used to have awful diarheas when he was small and then when we did the Gluten-free Casein-free diet not only was he out of autism, but also out of those diarheas and his physical health in general much improved. So basically his diet is the same as a celiac, + there are some other stuff he cannot eat (quite a lot actually).

But it never prevented us travelling. Sometimes (in some countries, where it's hard to find gluten-free products and organic shops) we simply had to make him eat almost the same very restricted food for some time, so I guess it was pretty boring for him eating the same thing everyday, like chicken and rice and vegetables and fruits for eg, but he's an easy eater. This summer we are going (all together) to Russian (St Petersbourg and also probably Siberia), and there it is hard to pick some food. And summer 07 (we travel together 3 weeks every summer) we'll probably go to China (should be easy there since rice is the standard diet).

If you hear of an organisation that organises familly "immertions" in the US and does take the celiac diet into account, please do let me know, I'll very much like to find that either for this summer or summer 07 for him (and his brother, but his brother does not have a diet, so it's not a problem).

Bye

Martine

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Well what state will he be in? Can you know that in advance? Once you DO know, get on line and look up the closest Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Boney's, Wild Oats and Henry's stores. Those are all standard American Health food stores. They usually carry comprehensive lines of gluten free/casein free foods. Your child's host family should be able and willing to make some safe purchases in advance of your son's arrival. That way he can have a safe meal first thing. Then they can go to the nearest health food store with your son and purchase safe foods he likes.

http://www.wholefoods.com/

There's a link^^^^^ for wholefoods to find store locations.

Oh, and you should know that you can tell any group you're working with that you have a child with a special diet and they should work with you HAPPILY to provide your child with a family that will accomodate his needs. I mean, this is an easy one for them. This is not a lot to ask. A good org. will happily assist you and your son with every thing he needs to stay healthy. Do not use a group that dismisses your child's health issues as no big deal.

http://www.kinnikinnick.com/

As the other poster suggested... you could order foods for him and have them shipped to the host family prior to his arrival. I recommend Kinnkinnick products. THEy are great!!! Most are casein free as well as gluten free. Most products are also soy free. The goal at Kinnikinnick was to make everything soy free, so that may be the case already. Donuts are good, bread is good, pizza crust is good..

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By the way, I thought also about something since you wrote :

>>I hope I can do the same one day, as our son's diagnosis has completely curtailed our travels. We even dread traveling to another city.

I can host someone's kids (providing of course he is about the same age as mine or a year or 2 older at most, who are respectively 10 and 12) even this summer (June would be the best time for us to host, since he could go to my younger kid's primary school (even if he is older than 10) it's a nice private montessori school in Lyon, they easily accept host students, and live with us. gluten-free food absolutely garanteed (I'm so used to this diet and we have everything here). In return the familly could host my kids summer 07.

If anyone is interested please let me know. Kids could exhange mails before that to make sure they get along. We'd like to host a kid too since my own kid would learn English even if the host was here and not the other way round (of course it would be more interesting for someone learning French, but if the child does not speak French we all speak English here, and in the Montessori school, they have a native English teacher so they speak English there too).

By the way, you should not dread travelling to another city : just before travelling learn about the city on the internet, spot organic shops, grills or japanese restaurants, and that's it. Usually during travel you just have to keep a "boring" diet (that is it will be less varied than at home). Also, we use enzymes (vegetable enzymes that digest gluten), I do not know if it works for everyone, but it does work for my son (not on a lot of gluten, but on traces which you can find for eg in soy sauce they serve in japanese restaurants) so if by accident he encounters a molecule or 2 of gluten that was hidden somewhere he does not get diarhea with the help of those enzymes (it does not work of course of whole gluten meals, just in case of hidden traces). Rice is pretty much our staples diet when we travel : plain rice, whole rice, rice pasta is many forms, that makes already varied meals :) and also grilled chicken (I'm carefull with that in the US, because in some malls they sell you grilled chicken which do contain gluten), varied fruits and vegetables.

bye

Martine

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>>Oh, and you should know that you can tell any group you're working with that you have a child with a special diet and they should work with you HAPPILY to provide your child with a family that will accomodate his needs. I mean, this is an easy one for them. This is not a lot to ask. A good org. will happily assist you and your son with every thing he needs to stay healthy. Do not use a group that dismisses your child's health issues as no big deal.

When I contacted an organisation here is france that organises such travels they said they could not tell about the familly in advance, and we could not refuse to travel once signed up because the familly did not suit us, so that go me afraid, imagine he comes into a familly found of eating at fast foods and the like... As I wrote, he is not big enough to cook his own meals yet, even if we spot an organic shop nearby where he will be. :(

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>>Oh, and you should know that you can tell any group you're working with that you have a child with a special diet and they should work with you HAPPILY to provide your child with a family that will accomodate his needs.  I mean, this is an easy one for them.  This is not a lot to ask.  A good org. will happily assist you and your son with every thing he needs to stay healthy.  Do not use a group that dismisses your child's health issues as no big deal.

When I contacted an organisation here is france that organises such travels they said they could not tell about the familly in advance, and we could not refuse to travel once signed up because the familly did not suit us, so that go me afraid, imagine he comes into a familly found of eating at fast foods and the like... As I wrote, he is not big enough to cook his own meals yet, even if we spot an organic shop nearby where he will be. :(

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Oh... So you need to contact MORE organizations then! :lol: I understand that they cannot tell you about the family, but they shut you down too quickly. There has to be some reassurance that your child will be safe and properly fed!! When I signed up to be a host family this summer, I told my facilitator that we were open to kids with special dietary needs, particularly Celiac Disease and she just about fell over. She had just placed a celiac disease kid with a celiac disease family and was surprised that she was hearing the words again. She was unfamiliar with the diet. You may find your U.S. contact more helpful.... Though, you may not. It's a tough call as a parent. Wholefoods carries many microwave meals that require button pushing as culinary skills. I'm sure your son could manage that! But microwave food for three weeks can make you feel pretty gross. :huh: Well, you have a year to prepare your son. Teach him some simple meals he can prepare. He may not be ready to do this adventure this year.

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Hey, I just thought of something. The U.S. has a group that does Camps for kids with Celiac Disease. I know I've read about it. I don't know where. I'll look for it. Rather than do a host family, maybe you'd feel better sending your son to a camp for Celiacs??? It's way WAY safer, I'd imagine! At least you'd be able to sleep at night! :lol:

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Actually the more I think about it the more I think it would be a good idea to host a celiac American or English kid here in June 2006, and then send my kid (or both him and his younger brother) to the kid's familly summer 07. That would give him one more year to grow up, cook his own food, etc, and they'd actually love to receive a kid here and it would be great for English practice too.

I'll post a new topic about this. May be I can find someone interested (who had the same idea as me, but has difficulties because of the diet too).

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