Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Guest Post: Gluten-Free Living: Surviving a Weekend Away From Home

I am off for a week of fun in the sun! In the meantime, Jenn from the Canadian Housewife is here today writing about traveling while eating gluten free. I am not GF, but I have lots of friends who are and I find it very useful advice- even for people with other food allergies.

Hello there! My name is Jenn and I blog over on The Canadian Housewife about life in the country, gardening, keeping chickens, making crafts and living with food allergies.

When Casey (who I met in the line for the Young House Love book) asked me to share today a little about gluten-free living, I jumped at the chance. You see, I haven’t always been gluten-free and I know that when I first started down this confusing road of avoiding certain foods, I felt overwhelmed and discouraged. So I am hoping to help encourage those of you who are new on this journey or help support others who are already gluten-free.

At first I toyed with the idea  of writing a general post about living gluten-free but felt too overwhelmed by that thought, since I wouldn’t be able to fit it all into one post without boring you all to death and taking up way too much of your precious time. So I opted to choose a specific angle and go with that. 

Before I was gluten-free, traveling didn’t seem like that big of a deal. All I would do is throw some clothes and toiletries in a bag, book a hotel and hit the road. Okay, so there was usually a little more effort than that but you get the picture.  Food wasn’t really thought of much since we normally just ate out at restaurants and chose them according to what we were craving at the time.  Life was easy back then. 

When I first went gluten-free, the idea of leaving the comfort and safety of my home and kitchen was terrifying. What would I eat? Would I get sick from eating something wrong? How long would we be gone for? How many meals would need to be organized? The list went on and on. It was too much to think about and so we didn’t do much traveling at first.  But over time and becoming a little more accustomed to my new diet, it became easier.

That being said, it still takes a heck of a lot more thought than it did before. Now when we plan a weekend away I have to know ahead of time so that I can do the appropriate amount of research. I need to know where we are going, how long we will be there for, what sorts of restaurants are near by, is there a grocery store, a fridge or microwave where we are staying, etc. It takes thought and careful planning so that I know I will be able to eat. 

Luckily, a lot of restaurants are now offering gluten-free menu items so it makes eating out a lot easier than it was before. You can usually find out if you can eat somewhere by checking the restaurants menu online or making a quick phone call. I have also discovered that while some places don’t advertise it, they are usually more than willing to accommodate me. 

I also like to pack lots of snacks when we travel. There is usually a bag dedicated completely to food where I bring things that I can eat, like muffins, bread, crackers, applesauce, peanut butter, rice cakes, cereal and almond milk. We try really hard to only book hotel rooms that have a fridge and a microwave so that I can at least have breakfast and possibly lunch in the room. While many restaurants do offer gluten-free items, I usually feel safer eating foods that I bring and know for sure are safe for me to eat. Not to mention it saves us money to not have to eat out for every single meal.

Going away for the weekend is entirely possible when you are gluten-free, it just usually takes more preparation. It also becomes easier the more you do it and the longer you are gluten-free, since you become more comfortable with your restrictions and aren’t so easily overwhelmed. 

So my advice to you would be to just stay calm and plan ahead. You won’t starve, you just might get a little hungry and grumpy if you do spontaneous trips. But over time, you will get used to it and one day it will be second nature to you. 

I do feel like I should add that traveling is a little bit trickier for me now, since I am now gluten/dairy/corn free, but it is still entirely possible. Feel free to join me over on my blog for gluten-free recipes and stories about living life with food restrictions.

I shall leave you with a quote that I find quite inspiring and hopefully encourages you as well. 

“After I was diagnosed with celiac disease, I said yes to food, with great enthusiasm. . . . I vowed to taste everything I could eat, rather than focusing on what I could not.” ― Shauna James Ahern

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