Life StoryAugust/September 2017 Issue

We've Got Issues: August/September 2017

Irreverent solutions to your real life allergy & sensitivity dramas.

Gluten-Free Wayfarer

Dear Issues,

After taking a multi-generational family vacation where I kept getting sick at restaurants that supposedly served gluten-free dishes, I’d like to go into my next travels better prepared. Aside from bringing my own food and grilling every waiter and chef at my vacation destination, what can I do? Oh, and getting there is also not so fun. Can you tell me which airlines have the tastiest GF options?

Signed,
Traveling Man

we've got issues

evgeniya porechenskaya/shutterstock

Dear Traveling,

I love that you say “airlines” and “tasty” in the same sentence. I haven’t laughed that hard since I heard “more leg room” and “coach” used the same way.

Allow me to answer your last question first: Honestly, I have no idea which airlines serve the best GF food. All I know is what I’ve experienced lately in my own air travels. Both American Airlines and Virgin had gluten-free snack boxes available for purchase. I can generously call them tasty, as gluten-free crackers make me happy. When I flew a year ago on United Airlines, there was a gluten-free snack box available—but it’s possible it’s been dragged off the menu since then. (Rim shot!)

Airline menus change often. Like every restaurant you enter, you need to call ahead and find out what’s available on your flight. But keep in mind that even if you’re able to talk to someone who actually knows the answer, it’s possible it will change by the time you board.

And this is only the beginning of the travel woes for the gluten-free traveler. When you’re with your family, you’re either responsible for finding every restaurant, ice cream stand and food truck or you go with the flow and risk being hungry or getting sick. Whoo-hoo, vacation!

Aside from my advice to vacation in Mexico—it’s mostly gluten-free!—I will reiterate what you already know: Bring your own safe food, question the people serving and making your food and, of course, be very friendly and nice about it so your food is prepared with a smile.

airplane picart

thinstock/istock/marnikus

Having just come off a family vacation where chaos reigned, I’ll add one more travel suggestion: Take a solo trip to the exact, safe location you desire. Stay in control of every experience, whether it’s food related or entertainment. I try to grab one of these every now and again as finances and time allow and I tell you it’s the easiest way to travel if you enjoy digging into a good novel and/or roaming through city streets and museums in peace. Family trips are great but they are rarely stress-free. You deserve a break today and that break might be some gluten-free “me” time.

On a Rant

Dear Issues,

I would like to rant for a moment.

After going to a regular doctor and not getting any clues about why I felt discomfort, I went to my gynecologist who quickly diagnosed my problem as celiac disease. I eliminated everything with gluten from my diet. And then I went grocery shopping to stock up on gluten-free food. Wow! There are all kinds of stuff! And it’s ONLY three times as expensive as regular food! But since I’m the only one in the house who eats this way, it actually lasts longer than the regular food my family members eat, so it’s not the budget buster I initially thought it would be.

Although I can control things at home, everywhere else is a different story. I’ll never forget the morning I was grocery shopping and overwhelmed by the aroma of freshly baked goods coming from the bakery. I fled the store and I now have others do my shopping for me, which also saves money since I can no longer make any unnecessary impulse purchases.

Dining out in most restaurants is a challenge for me. Gluten is everywhere! Thankfully, I enjoy cooking at home.

A positive thing about having celiac disease and being selective of my food choices is that I’ve dropped from a size 16 to a size 10. So I’ve fallen back in love with my bathroom scale.

So what’s my beef now that I’ve learned to manage this dreadful disorder? My short-term memory is not as good as it used to be and my energy level is down drastically. Because of this, I had to give up my business. I now doubt my ability to not make any mistakes. I sleep a lot more now. It’s true I have more time to read—but I’m depressed. I’m 70, so maybe this is normal for a person my age. My husband scheduled an appointment with a psychiatrist for me, but I don’t have much confidence there will be a solution.

So that’s my tale of woe. My special-diet drama can be managed but I’m not a happy camper.

Sincerely,
Ranty McRants-A-Lot

P.S. I LOVE my Gluten Free & More subscription.

Dear Ranty,

Thanks for your rant, especially for the processing of the pros and cons of your gluten-free life. May I add just a few short rants of my own?

1. Consult a savvy doctor (a celiac specialist would be ideal) and undergo a complete and thorough medical checkup. You need to know exactly what you’re dealing with here. Consider consulting a rheumatologist to rule out any other autoimmune diseases.

2. Have these doctors check out your thyroid. It might be responsible for your fatigue and memory fog.

3. Carefully go over your diet with a dietitian who specializes in celiac disease. You want to be certain you’re eating a very nutrient-dense diet to ensure vitality at this time in your life. You may also be getting glutened unwittingly, which may help explain some of your fatigue and memory issues.

4. While you’re in there with the dietitian, ask about the benefits of adding vitamin B to your diet, whether it’s through food or gluten-free supplements.

5. Feel free to rant whenever you need it. We’re listening and behind you all the way.

April Peveteaux is author of Gluten Is My Bitch: Rants, Recipes and Ridiculousness for the Gluten-Free (Stewart, Tabori & Chang), The Gluten Free Cheat Sheet (Penguin Group) and, Bake Sales Are My B*tch (Rodale).

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