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Gluten-Free Getaways: Exploring the World through Gastro-Celiac Tourism

Woman with luggage walking through the airport
Woman walking in the airport

For many of us, summer is a high travel season. I love to travel but would lie if I said that finding safe gluten-free food isn't stressful. Sometimes I think back to life before my diagnosis. I was excited to travel and did not worry about food.

My sister just returned from a trip and was excited to tell us how they shared several local dishes on their tour. Eating food from other countries and cultures is part of the travel experience. As someone with celiac disease, I try to focus on what I can do and not what I may be missing out on. However, this hit me, those of us with celiac disease are missing out on these gastronomic experiences.

According to Conde Nast Traveler, gastro-celiac tourism is growing. Spain has been in the spotlight recently for gluten-free options for celiacs. Córdoba, Spain, is currently working with the local Celiac Association to help businesses with training to provide safe gluten-free options to customers. They want Córdoba to be a travel destination for those with celiac disease.

Dvir Bar, from Gluten-free Barcelona, offers a three-hour culinary tour that includes sweet and savory options from some of the 300 gluten-free businesses in Barcelona. Dvir understands how difficult it can be to find safe places to eat as he was diagnosed with celiac disease 46 years ago. He also has a child with celiac disease. Barcelona is just one of the many cities you can eat gluten-free.

Palm trees lining the road in Barcelona with the Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe Barcelona, Spain

Cangas de Narcea was one of the first certified gluten-free destinations in Spain. This small town in the mountains is about five hours north of Madrid. Several years ago the area had a sharp rise in the number of citizens with celiac disease. Approximately 4% of their population has celiac disease. That is much higher than the average. All of the town's businesses have gluten-free options. They also have a special annual event "Cangas Sin Gluten" in May that brings in many gluten-free visitors. Other cities, such as Seville and Malaga are also focused on providing safe gluten-free options in their cities.

What does this mean for those of us with celiac disease? It means we have options! We can travel and eat safe gluten-free food. We don't have to miss out on the full cultural experience. To me, it sounds like a future celiac group tour. Who wants to join me?

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