This summer I was away from home for five weeks. I was very excited! However, those of you that have celiac and get really ill when you get "glutened" can understand the enormity of being away from home and having to eat out for five weeks!
Before being diagnosed I never thought of being away from my kitchen as a big deal. After all it's fun to eat out. You can be adventurous and try new things or eat your favorite foods over and over again. Best of all you don't have to cook!
When I eat out all of these questions go through my mind. Does the restaurant have gluten free options, do they take it seriously? If I get sick, what do I have planned for tomorrow? Will I have to miss work?
This summer we had a family trip planned for the beach in Florida and then a few days at Disney World. I was not worried about this part of my trip as we stay at the same place and the house has a full kitchen. I know what restaurants are safe near where we stay.
Disney is wonderful for Celiac and food allergies, so I was not worried about eating there. I have always loved going to Disney. However, since my daughter and I have been diagnosed, and have enjoyed Disney even more! Disney is one of the easiest places to visit with Celiac and/or food allergies.
The week before we headed to Florida my daughter was invited to go to Chicago for a school trip and I was able to go with her. I had only been to Chicago once before, many years ago, and long before I had Celiac. So, I did a lot of planning before we went.
Just after Florida, I went to see friends in Ireland and Northern Ireland. I have been there once since diagnosis but was not that familiar with where I would be able to eat. As we all know COVID changed a lot of things including many small businesses so there was no guarantee what might be available.
When I realized that I would be away from home for almost five weeks, I decided I had an opportunity. I could stress and worry about food and have a miserable trip or I could research and plan ahead and enjoy the time I was going to be away. How often, as an adult, do you get to be away for five weeks and get to see so many places!
I traveled a great deal as a young adult and have always loved to travel. I've traveled to Ireland since I was a teenager to visit my two friends that live in Northern Ireland. We met was I was seventeen and have kept in touch since. I was so excited to be able to see my friends. How could I waste my trip by worrying about food? Also, when I worry it makes my stomach hurt. It becomes a vicious cycle.
I started researching gluten free groups on Facebook and looking up restaurants on the Find Me Gluten Free app. I made lists of places that had high recommendations in both Chicago and all-around Ireland. These were very helpful!
There were some places that I did not eat as I did not feel that they were safe. However, I had some of the best experiences eating out in so many places! I ate more interesting food at restaurants than I have ever eaten since being diagnosed. It was wonderful! I also went to grocery stores in Florida, Chicago, and all-around Ireland.
Being flexible was the most important part of my journey. While in Ireland we had a loaf of gluten free bread in the car as well as grapes, and various snacks. So, when we could not find something we could eat, we always had a backup plan.
What I want you to take away from this is that you too can eat anywhere. The down to earth "real" part of me wants you to know that it isn't always easy, sometimes we were hungry and couldn't find a place to eat. However, we had a backup plan, our food in the car. Other times we were so happy and surprised at the options we had.
The best part...I NEVER got sick!! This was so exciting for me! I know that sometimes even when you ask the right questions you still get sick.