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

glen4cindy

Traveling To China

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I will be traveling to China to adopt a daughter, but, it will be some time into the

future. What I am interested in is staying gluten-free in China.

It is going to be really hard anyway, because the babies usually cling to the fathers first. So, I will be the one not getting much sleep, and the one the baby will probably be all over. She will probably be around 15 months old, but, I don't want to be fighting gluten problems.

The adoption agency suggested getting a statement from my MD that would allow me to take my own food into the country. I was considering using one of those vacuum sealing machines and trying to prepare some of my own stuff to take. Not now, but, much later more near the time we plan to go.

The problem is, we will be there 2 weeks, so, there is going to be a very long peroid of time to prepare for. Does anyone have any advice?

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It isn't going to be easy at all. I would suggest you find some sort of translation of your problem with a short description to print on a card of some sort. The main issue in Asian countries is they do not have the kind of hygiene a lot of us westerners are used to and cross contamination will be a big issue.

I suppose since western culture has taken over in Asia you can get a lot of western foods which may better suit your needs.

Good look on taking your own food, I will be amazed if you get away with it even with a note from your doctor. You would have much more luck taking branded bought products rather than your own home made stuff. The chances of a manufactured food carrying a contaminant or insect is a lot less likely than your food from home and this is how they will see it. They are super cautious these days after the whole bird flu and numerous other problems.

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I will be going through the same situation sometime within the very near future. A friend of mine adopted a son from Russia last year. They had no trouble taking in boxes of sealed crackers, gum, and peanut butter. China may be different though. I am trying to get some information on the subject will post if I hear anything though.

:D We also will be adopting a daughter. We are doing research and will begin the actual process in a few months, after we do some remodelling to our home.

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I was in China in September, but it was pre-diagnosis. Also, we were only in Beijing so this might not even help you anyway.

One thing I would suggest is finding the most western-style hotel you can. The one we stayed at included a breakfast which had plenty of fresh fruit and a chef making eggs to order (I don't recall anything being cooked in the pan besides eggs). So breakfast should be fine.

For lunch and dinner, I would get aquainted with the staff in the hotel restaurant. In Beijing at least, many people are trying to learn english in preparation for the olympics and we didn't have any trouble with communication. The staff in the hotel restaurant always remembered us when we came in and was very friendly (I'm sure the fact that I was the only redhead I saw on the entire trip helped make us memorable). If you can talk to the manager or chef of the hotel restaurant and explain your needs you should have no problems. It's really to your benefit to come back to your hotel during the day anyway, because the bathrooms everywhere else are foul beyond description. I only used a public bathroom twice on the entire trip, and believe me, it was out of dire necessity.

If you like tea, drinks are fine too. You can get tea anywhere. And my experience was that unless you asked for oolong, you always get jasmine tea (that is very good).

As for eating away from your hotel, I would just ask for everything without sauce. You will get a ton of really bland vegetables, but I think the sauces could be really risky.

And about bringing things into the country, I wouldn't worry about it too much. You have to remember that the US is WAY more of a PITA to get in and out of than any other country. You know those little customs forms they make you fill out on the plane? When we got to Beijing two very bored looking teenagers just collected them and tossed them into a pile. It's not like in the US where you have to carry it with you and let everyone read it. Seriously, I bet by the time anyone read those things we were already on our way home. Our entire entry process into China consisted of another really bored (and rather sulky looking) young man stamping our passports. That was it. No questions, no "can I check your bag?".

When we went, I had just been married so my passport was ammended. So the picture page had my maiden name in it, and my married name was stamped in the back. That meant that the name on my ticket didn't match the name on the picture page of my passport. And no one ever even noticed, said anything or looked at the back page until we were leaving Tokyo on the way home. So I made it through 3 international flights without anyone saying a thing. I have never been hassled at a foreign airport as much as I have been hassled trying to reenter the US.

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Thank you so much for the earlier posting. I am going a week from now for 21 days and have many concerns. I found this link helpful in packing snacks: http://www.enabling.org/ia/celiac/backpack.html

Has anyone traveled in China? I will be visiting many places throughout the country. In western hotels and at street vendors is it easy to get plained steamed rice, hard-boiled eggs or plain tofu? Has anyone found safe snack items for sale at grocery stores or at street vendor? I would love to hear your ideas.

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I will be leaving to LIVE in Shanghai for at least a year, my friend who is already there is celiac and is finding it hard and although I am not celiac I am allergic to wheat and rye amongst other things. I would like to know if anyone knows any gluten-free friendly shops other than the std fruit and veg markets and any other helpful tips for living in China and maintaining healthy eating habits.

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Although I have not been to China, I have found it fairly easy to bring manufactured wrapped and sealed food products into foreign countries throughout Europe and also Russia. But do not bring any animal products, such as canned meats. Additionally, some countries have problems with egg products.

I wish you the best of luck on your adoption journey!

Theresa

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well, if one eats chinese food in china, then it's not hard to be gluten-free. shopping at traditional wetmarkets is what you see is what you get. eg. soy "milk" is soybeans and water, sometimes sugar. Fresh meat and vegetables are just fresh meat and vegetables. rice is rice.

Tapioca or potato starch is used as thickener--not flour, so the biggest worry is soysauce. But you'll find that Americans use more soysauce in their chinese cooking then Chinese do! However, it is used as a marinate so be careful with meat dishes.

If you are living there, then rice noodles (mifen), bean noodles (dongfen) are very common. There are also things made from rice flour that are quite good called Nian gao. I say these things for the long-termer because it will take a while to learn which places are safe from cross-contamination.

MSG is used alot in many places. And when i say "a lot" i mean by the heaping tablespoon, but you can ask people to not use it if you don't want it.

Shanghai has a great breakfast of sticky rice and egg. Sometimes they put a fried bread stick in it, but you can always ask for it without. (glutinous rice does not have gluten in it, btw)

i have never had to deal with being gluten-free in the US so i think my travels to there this summer are going to be a nightmare. It's the land of wheat everything! So i think its just all a matter of getting used to the place and its food. Although getting used to a different cuisine can take a long time.

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Hi there: I went to China, staying in the Holiday Inn in Bejing for 2 weeks and loved it. It was about 10 years ago and am happy for your trip to bring home your new baby. What I did was get a paper from a local chinese woman who translated all of my allergies which I presented to all the restraurants and vendors. I never had one problem. I brought along a small cross dictionary that helped with a lot of pointing and jesturing. I always got delicious meals especially if I asked for what they thought was the best thing on the menu. I was never disappointed. The joy of traveling is the food. And this was no exception in China. The variety was wonderful and The best food was always in the local restaurants where it was packed with the local people. And yes, everyone was so friendly. Including the old gent that wanted to know if I knew his nephew in Minneapolis. I live in Connecticut. It was a joy to travel there. I had no trouble getting snaks at the Holiday Inn, and the breakfast was chocked full of the best fruits, eggs, and yogurts etc. Enough to last me till suppertime. Just don't take a chance with the chicken embryos on skewers the streets vendors sell . Still makes me gag to thinkof it. I always drank bottled soda, andwater. There was never a time I felt hungry or thirsty. So go and have a wonderful trip. You must let us know how it went when you get back. :D

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Maybe because I was stuck traveling with a tour group all around the country I found China a little difficult. I was already gone before reading the current postings. Thanks for those who have added more!!! Most items served to me at restaurants were cross-cont., breaded and stir frys with sauce for our group meals. Things I found helpful: I was able to order hard boiled eggs at breakfast (usually had to ask in the kitchen and I had brought good computer icon pictures to point to) and asked for steamed rice at every meal. I ordered Sprite to drink. I brought a dietary alert card translated in Chinese that I ordered from the internet. My stomach is a mess even back home (yours might be too if you are on this site) so I packed a REI type water filter and was glad I did even though the added weight is a drag. It seems funny that I filter bottled water but even small changes upset my system at this point. We got a seal-a-meal to package up my adult diapers. This really helped on the added bulk in my suitcase and makes them easy to transport. Foods I packed and was glad to have them from home: Jay Robb's Egg White Protien powder mix vanilla flavor (Wild Oats Market), individual packets of mashed potatoes (Costco)...This was a huge help on the the many plane rides!, Gerber Graduates Mini Fruits freezed dried banana and strawberry, Aunt Candice P&B Choc chip bars(New Seasons Market), Ener G WF Pretzels, Almond butter, Nana's Banana gluten-free bar cookies, Pamela's Biscotti, Cliff Nectar dark choc & walnut bar, Tillamook Country Smoker Old fashion Steak Nuggets, plain rice crackers and lots of preserved ginger for my tummy. I did OK most of the trip but near the end when the imodium couldn't keep up I was glad to have also packed Oral rehydration salts and some Cera Lyte 70 Rice Based Oral Elecrtolyte powder. It is good to know that bacon and ham are frequently marinated in soy sauce there and MSG is wheat based in most of Asia. The northern part of the country is more wheat based and the south I found much easier to find options as it was more rice based.

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Another thing I was REALLY glad to have in China was a small version of theTherma-Rest foam camping pad for sleeping. I don't sleep well on really hard beds. It was like gold to me.

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My son has the opportunity to tour China with his orchestra next summer (2007), and we are dealing with a tour group. From what I read here, the tour situation might be the most challenging. The executive director of the orchestra asked the tour company about dealing with Celiac Disease and has gotten no reply. This was more than a month ago, and she again asked the question this week with no response to date. We need to commit to this trip with a substantial non-refundable deposit by August 1, and I am unsure about how to assure my teenage son's food supply on a two-week tour where he does not know the language and probably won't have many options for getting his own meals.

Are tour companies simply trying to ignore this sort of situation and hoping that we just won't go? I'd appreciateany advice that anyone has with regard to approaching the company or dealing with the food (buffet style, ideal for cross-contamination).

He has been gluten-free most of his life and is in excellent health - completely symptom-free on a regular basis. I hate to risk his health for a trip since his symptoms can last a long time and can impair his ability to focus, among other things.

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Which tour group are they using? I could send you a dietary request page that I paid to have translated in Chinese before I left explaining about cross-contamination and and all the grains issues. It goes into detail and is a page long. I never got a confirm from my tour company that I believed they understood and would help. I got stressed out and frustrated right befgore I left. My guide once I got there was my saving grace and I used the translated page with him. I think that if he were to eat steamed rice, hard boiled eggs, steamed veggies at the table and bring his own foods to add to meals that it would be tough but he could do it. I found it handy that I packed some tupperware containers and I always filled them up with eggs and rice for snacking in my room. I know it feels so much easier at home when you have control and can go to the grocery store yourself. I thought China was so amazing to see and I am planning on returning to one area I liked very much.

Kristi

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I just came back from 5 weeks of travel in Asia, had the time of my life and never got sick.

I went to Western China, Eastern Kazahstan, Eastern Russia, Western Mongolia and on my return trip, visited a friend in Soeul, Korea.

These are some things which worked for me:

1- I notified the tour company in advance. Sent them a list of foods I couldn't eat and referred them to internet sites about Celiac Disease. The tour leader, in turn, notified the other tour guides on the trip of my dietary concerns.

2- At their request, I brought my own light weight pan that I purchased from REI. It was used on occassion.

3- I brought some food of my own. For instance, Bumble Bee Tuna Pouches. ( You can find them at Whole Foods) . Individual sized cans of sardines. Tasty Bite Dishes (the ones with rice included, I took them out, as rice is plentiful in China and the other countries. Also brought my own individualized packets of soy sauce (the brand name slips my mind, but you can get them on the internet) Brought my own nuts, like almonds. The snack bar I took was AlpsSnacks, cranberry and apricots is my favorite. Prior to going, I taste tested a lot of gluten-free bars, and they were the best with the least amount of sugar.

4- I brought the appropriate dining cards, one was triumph and the others were from sites I found on-line, of which I printed and laminated to give to restaurants of the tour leaders.

There were times when I said I thought I could eat something and they told me not to because it had a sauce. They were more cautious for me than I was.

I was really taken care of. FYI, the tour company I used was Wilderness Travel out of Berkely, CA.

Hope this helps. Let me know how it goes.

Suzanne

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Suzanne, sounds like a wonderful expereince and you had a good tour company. I went with China Focus and their office racked my nerves with lack of communication until I was on my way and met my national guide over there. I think it was the part of losing control, I don't usually travel with tours. I love the "bring your own" pan idea. I'm sure it seemed like a pain, but wow, if languauge breaks down that would be so helpful and you rest assured. Hopefully we'll hear back from Susan p-r.

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Thanks for your advice. I was out of town last week with no internet access, and anxious to see what help I might find when I checked in. I have not heard from anyone at the tour company (Music Celebrations International), and I suppose I won't. I hope that we might be able to take the additional food; since this is a group of musicians traveling with instruments in addition to the usual luggage load, they might be fussy about the amount of luggage taken. The tour company would be more likely to answer that question! I like the idea of taste-testing the food we transport, since that means we know if my son will like it! We will check into the pan as well, since that would help in assuring that cross-contamination would be avoided. Right now, my son's been at music camp for 5+ weeks and is doing really well, so our confidence is growing with regard to travel. I would rather have his decision to do the tour be governed by factors other than his diet, and it sounds like he can have that freedom. The tour's about a year away, but the better we plan now, the better the experience will be. Thanks again!

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I will be leaving to LIVE in Shanghai for at least a year, my friend who is already there is celiac and is finding it hard and although I am not celiac I am allergic to wheat and rye amongst other things. I would like to know if anyone knows any gluten-free friendly shops other than the std fruit and veg markets and any other helpful tips for living in China and maintaining healthy eating habits.

Cool, my brother lives and works in Shanghai. The city is so international and cosmopolitian, I am sure you will have no problems, as many if not most speak English.

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'susan p-r' Did you want me to send you the letter I used in China that I had translated before I left with my group? It has a lot of details. I would be happy to mail you a copy (or we could see how a fax would turn out) both in English and the Chinese version. I'm not sure how to send it online here, as I don't know how to use my computer to write you in Chinese. : )

Kristi

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Kristi, actually I would really like a copy!

I lived in China for half a year in college and now am involved in international business. I actually really want to return to China for an extended duration! But having recently been diagnosed w/ Celiac's disease I am terrified about avoiding gluten. I even speak Chinese and I'm afraid it will be difficult to avoid (customer service is not exactly the same at street restaraunts)...

So anyway I'd love to get a copy of what you used, if for nothing more than to gain access to accurate descriptive words in Chinese that are not in my dictionaries. :)

If you would be willing to send me a copy please send an individual message and I'll send an address. Or you can just email me a scanned copy (if possible): sundberc@hotmail.com

THANK YOU!

I am thrilled to read this entire post about other people successfully avoiding gluten in China - gives me hope to return without endangering my health! :lol:

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'susan p-r' Did you want me to send you the letter I used in China that I had translated before I left with my group? It has a lot of details. I would be happy to mail you a copy (or we could see how a fax would turn out) both in English and the Chinese version. I'm not sure how to send it online here, as I don't know how to use my computer to write you in Chinese. : )

Kristi

Kristi, that sounds like a great idea. Since I am pretty much a novice at faxing, if you'd mail me a copy, that would be wonderful. My email is sapierceruhland@aol.com, and if you'll send me an email, I will give you my mailing address. Thanks!! :)

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No problem, I've sent both of you an email. Hey another thing I always have with me is a note from my doctor that explains I have a medical need to be on a restricted diet. This helps locally since I'm always packing all kinds of weird food into events. I brought it on my trip but no one cared about my luggage. It felt good to have it.

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