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Gluten-Free 101: How to Pack Food for Trips


Many places in the U.S. are not gluten-free friendly and many places are great to visit if you’re gluten-free. New York City and Atlanta are fantastic in terms of gluten-free shopping and dining, while Panama City Beach, FL is horrid. For this reason, many people who can’t eat gluten pack an extra suitcase full of food for any trip.

Taking your own food on trips is often a good idea. It is a terrible feeling to find yourself without something safe to eat – even if it’s just a cracker to nosh on when others around you are dining on gluten filled appetizers. It’s a good idea to keep a survival pack of food in your car, even if you’re not leaving town. There is something comforting about knowing there is safe food available, should a need for it arise.

If you are traveling from the U.S. to some parts of Europe, you might want to rethink your packing habits. Planning our first visit overseas after my celiac diagnosis was scary. Through much research I knew that it seemed easier to eat out outside the U.S. than at home, but until you experience that for yourself you’re a skeptic.

We have a packing rule at our house. Whatever bags you pack, you have to be able to carry. Still, I packed one extra back pack full of food including, but not limited to ; pretzels, dried fruit, nuts, nutrition bars, crackers, salad dressings, honey packets, soy sauce packets, etc. We ate several bars and some nuts and fruit during our trip, and I ate crackers almost every morning with cheeses served at our hotels. Some days I needed the crackers with lunch and other days I did not.

In the end, we came home with a back pack 90% full of food. You need to find out if your destination is gluten-free friendly or not, before deciding how much food to pack. For instance, London, Paris and many parts of Italy are very gluten-free friendly in terms of buying food. Though celiac diagnosis rates are almost nil in Greece, the larger areas have gluten-free food for visitors. You can stock up on shelf stable foods before beginning your island hopping. The Greek diet is not overloaded with gluten and hence they have very little incidence of celiac there.

Gluten-free food is sold in the pharmacias in Italy. In Paris the health food stores carry shelf stable brands like Valpi-Form. In London the Tesco and Sainsbury’s stores have excellent selections. Those stores have shelf stable gluten-free food lines which are sort of like gourmet Hostess products. We stocked up on tiny cakes from Sainbury’s to use in Paris for breakfast. Valpi-Form in France makes scrumptious Madeleines which you’ll find hard to believe are gluten-free.

The only problem with visiting some of these places is that you’ll likely want to move there when you find out how easy it is to eat out there compared to here. We returned from our trip and I started researching how we could move to Europe. Then I decided instead of running from the challenge of navigating the gluten-free lifestyle here, I should do everything possible to change things on my own turf. Three years later that work continues.

For more info: Visit Gluten-Free Passport and Special Gourmets for gluten-free friendly places in many countries.

Author Information: Tiffany Janes, Atlanta, GA
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About Tiffany Janes

Tiffany Janes
Tiffany is known as the gluten-free warrior of Atlanta and is considered the most discriminating gluten-free diner around. She works as a gluten free consultant in the Atlanta area and was recently given a Top Health Blogger award for her gluten-free lifestyle blog. If you have questions for Tiffany please contact her at Tiffany also writes the Gluten-Free Travel Examiner page.
  • dave says:

    Great article, wish there was more information on travel destinations and places you can buy gluten free foods

  • Jared says:

    There is a great new company sending gluten free packs directly to your hotel or destination.

    I used them when I went to Alaska and it worked great.

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