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Marisa Travels the World, with a wheat gluten allergy

Updated: Mar 2, 2023

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Traveling the world with a wheat gluten allergy

I recently had the opportunity to interview Marisa. She is from the United States but travels all around the world for her career.
Marisa was diagnosed 25 years ago with a severe allergy to wheat gluten. She carries an epi-pen with her in case she is exposed. Not only does Marisa have to worry about ingesting wheat gluten but also being exposed to it topically. She needs to use wheat gluten-free lotion, shampoo, etc. She will quickly find out if there is wheat gluten in her products as she breaks out in a rash.

Getting Diagnosed

She, like many of us, had a hard time getting a diagnosis. After going to doctors and getting no closer to getting answers she went to a nutritionist. They recommended an elimination diet. It was when she started adding foods back into her diet that she found out that she was allergic to wheat gluten. She said that it has gotten easier to find food but it is still challenging.

Training to be a chef

At the time of her diagnosis, Marisa was training to be a chef. Marisa attended the Natural Gourmet Institute for Food and Healing. She explained that there were times after her diagnosis when she had to ask others to taste test her food if it contained wheat gluten. She did finish her course and is a trained chef. She has worked as a chef over the years but currently is working in a different area.

Best country to eat gluten-free

When asked if there was a country that was better for eating gluten-free she said that New Zealand was the best. However, she pointed out that other countries are better than the U.S. for wheat & gluten-free.

Where are the most difficult places to eat?

“ I really have not worried about one place more than the other. I prepare myself for each place I go by doing research on where I am staying. I look to see what restaurants and markets are around and if they have gluten-free options. I read a lot of reviews. For countries that are non-English speaking, I learn keywords for ordering at restaurants. I learn what words to look for on ingredient lists so I can safely buy items at markets.
Airports and airport lounges are some of the harder places to find good safe healthy options.”

What is the hardest part of your diagnosis?

"Having limited food choices. I love food. I wish I could just eat anything I choose."

Is there a silver lining to your diagnosis, that you have found?

"I am really aware of what I am eating and what it is in the food I eat."

Thank you Marisa for allowing me to interview you! I know how hard it can be to travel with celiac. I can't imagine how stressful it would be to travel with a severe allergy to wheat gluten. I admire Marisa for her upbeat attitude and for not allowing her food allergy to keep her from doing what she loves!
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