I love to travel and don’t get to do enough of it. I’m making arrangements though to go to Europe for a couple of weeks, so I have to make plans to accommodate my Celiac disease also.
To be honest, it’s a bit scary thinking about going to countries that don’t speak English when I have gluten intolerance. The last thing I want is to pay a lot of money to travel and end up sick again, because I ate gluten by mistake due to a language barrier.
I’ve been doing some research and thought I’d share what I’ve learned so far. First, I learned that England has recognized wheat intolerance as a problem for many years so stores and restaurants are very accommodating. There is no problem finding gluten free food all over the country including at pubs and bed-and-breakfast inns.
The same is true for Ireland which also has acknowledged that many people have Celiac disease (also spelled coeliac in Europe).
In France there are supermarkets that carry gluten free food. One line is called Valpiform. In Italy I’d have to go to the pharmacy to find it. You ask for gluten free food by saying, “senza glutino” which is Italian for “without gluten”.
In Spain there are gluten free brands like Singlu and Sanavi. In Germany you look for the sign on health food stores that says “reformhaus”.
I read you have to be careful about drinking coffee in European countries, because some of it is made with barley in the urns. That affects me, because I’m an avid coffee drinker. Espresso is supposed to be safe to drink which is fine by me. The stronger the coffee, the happier I am.
There are too many countries to list each individually, but the point is there are plenty of places in Europe to buy gluten free foods. That still leaves the problem of how to eat in restaurants without getting sick.
I discovered a wonderful site called www.celiactravel.com. This site has celiac restaurant cards in 38 different languages. For each card there is a list of countries where the language is spoken.
The Celiac restaurant cards are free, though the site asks for a small donation. I printed out the card in Spanish to see what I would get, and it’s wonderful! The first thing it tells me is that Spanish is spoken in Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Cuba, Peru and so on.
The card prints four to a page and tells the card receiver in Spanish that I’m a Celiac and have to follow a very strict gluten free diet. Then it goes on describe what ingredients contain gluten.
The cards are so useful and I plan on taking a set for every country I intend on visiting. I felt better after I found them, because I wondered how I was going to tell someone in French I can’t eat the bread!
Of course, if you plan on traveling overseas, you must always be cautious about what you eat. If I hand my card to a restaurant waiter and then get food covered with gravy, I will probably be wary of eating it without checking again. The cards are very helpful but in no way relieve me from the responsibility of being cautious of the foods I eat while travelling abroad.