gluten free

Gluten Free Travel Tips

For travel lovers, the idea of jetting off to new places is all about finding the perfect spot for some R&R in sun-drenched shores.  However, for those with on a gluten free diet, or in fact anyone following a restrictive diet, such as, dairy free, vegan, etc., the thought of going on holiday can be stressful with the initial thought being, “What can I eat when I’m there?”  However, I don’t ever let me put this off!  I love travelling to new places and trying local cuisine.  Yes it can be a bit trialing, but by planning and researching in advance, you can organise a stress free holiday!  (This is also perfect for people who like organised fun – liked me!).

Being well practiced in travelling as a ‘difficult eater’, I have some top tips to help you for your next getaway:

 

  1. BYO Snacks and Food for Travelling

Small airports with limited food options can be a nightmare when looking for food to suit a restrictive diet.  I don’t like to run the risk of not being able to eat (I am HORRIBLE when hangry) so I always pack a few snacks for before and during a flight.   FYI – I always keep a few snacks in my handbag for the same reason!  I really like the little snack boxes you can buy online, because they offer a range of different snacks, so you can snack according to your mood.  Alternatively, you can speak to your airline and pre-book a special meal.  Here are a few snack boxes that you can buy prior to travelling:

Healthy Nibbles // Graze // Primal Snack Box

       

           2. Notify your hotel

If I am staying in a hotel when travelling, one of the first things I do is get in contact to ensure that they can accommodate my gluten free diet.  More often than not, I will do this prior to booking a hotel!  Normally, most hotels will be good at lunch and dinner, but breakfast can be a little tricky.  If a hotel does not offer gluten free bread, I pack an emergency loaf in my suitcase and then if I fancy French toast or a sandwich I can give the bread to the hotel kitchen – crisis averted!  Also, you can ask your hotel to put a fridge into your room.  This seems like a strange request, but it isn’t.  This means that you can go to the local supermarket and stock up on fresh fruit, salads and little snacks that will keep you going if you get peckish.

My sisters and I enjoy a GF breakfast in  Hacienda San Rafael, Seville

My sisters and I enjoy a GF breakfast in Hacienda San Rafael, Seville

         3.  Research the area you are travelling to

I first of all check Trip Advisor to see what restaurants are available locally – you can search for ‘gluten free’ to check if anyone has reviewed a restaurant based on their experience, this is always helpful!  A personal favourite way of finding brilliant restaurants is by contacting food and travel bloggers on Instagram who are local to the area.  Reading blogs can also offer endless restaurant inspo and will give you a fair idea of which dishes are good to order!  If you like the look of a restaurant, but can’t find any reference to dietary requirements or allergies, just send them an email and ask if they can accommodate your diet.  Here are a few of my favourite travel bloggers:

The Londoner, Mrs. O Around the World, Slice of Pai

La Degustaion, Prague - a Michelin star recommendation made to me through food blogs.

           4.  Bring a Travel Card

I love to try and learn a little bit of the local language before I travel to a country, but to eliminate any miscommunication I always bring a gluten free travel card.  My life saver over the past few years has been www.celiactravel.com/cards/ - they offer FREE printable restaurant cards that you can use when dining out abroad.  These cards explain that you are coeliac, what you can’t eat and provides information on cross contamination.  Further to this, it suggests foods that you can eat, to make it a little easier for the kitchen to come up with a meal for you!

An example of one of the Celiac Travel.com's restaurant cards

An example of one of the Celiac Travel.com's restaurant cards

             5.  Don’t see any gluten free items on a menu? 

Don’t let that put you off!  You will be surprised how many restaurants have gluten free staples in their kitchen.  When I visited Rome, I was shocked that approximately 90% of restaurants I visited had gluten free bread, pizza and pasta available.  It’s always best to check with a waiter before writing the restaurant off completely!

Tre Scalini, Rome

            6.  Never take risks

If you’re unsure whether or not a food is safe for you to eat – don’t eat it!  There is nothing worse than ending up ill or unhappy on holiday, so you’re always better to wait until there is food available that you’re positive that you can eat.  If you get a plate of food that has a piece of bread or croutons on it, just ask for a completely fresh dish.  It only takes one crumb for you to be ‘glutened’.  If in doubt, fresh fruit is always a safe option.

             7.  Choose the best travel partners

Travelling when you're gluten free can also be straining on the people you're travelling with.  If a restaurant can not accommodate your allergy, you can all be faced with the same tricky circumstances of not knowing where to go next.  This is where your choice in travel partner will make the difference.  I have the most amazing friends and family who always make me feel so much better when there's nothing I can eat and will reassure me that moving to the next restaurant is 'our' best option, "I didn't even want to eat there, their menu wasn't that great - let's look for somewhere better!".  People with this attitude are the reason why I have never 'settled' for a mediocre meal while travelling - thank you, you are all my favourites! x

If you have any questions about travelling on a gluten free diet, please get in touch! x

 

5 Tips to a Healthier You

It’s not a diet!  That’s a good place to start.  Beginning to lead a healthier lifestyle is about making small changes that will help to create a better version of you - a happier you!  It's not about deprivation or pushing yourself too hard.  It's not about drastically losing weight and trying to achieve an unrealistic body goal.  Choose the battles that you can win – I'll never be that 5ft11 Brazilian Victoria’s Secret model, but I can be a happy and healthy (shorter) blonde.

1. It’s a walk in the park

It's simple. Get active! You don’t need to join a gym or pay a personal trainer; you can begin by going for a twenty minute walk every day.  I am lucky enough to have a little furry friend, Bruiser, who enjoys going for a walk in the park as much as I do.  The great thing about going to the park is that it's wallet friendly, local and the air is cleaner! Using an app to track the distance and speed you walk every day is a great way to monitor how active you are being (and will make you feel guilty if you don’t exercise).

Bruiser thinks it's a walk in the park...

2. Low Calorie Alternatives

Achieving a healthier lifestyle is about making slow and small changes.  If you take pleasure drinking high-sugar drinks, you don’t need to forbid yourself from having them altogether, you just need to find a low calorie alternative that removes the guilt.  So instead of guzzling extra calories through drinks like cola and lemonade, change your habit to enjoying something more refreshing, low-calorie and sparkling.  This week I enjoyed a new range from Ballygowan – ‘Sparklingly Fruity’.  These drinks are low in sugar and calories (only 23 calories per can) and come in a variety of delectable flavours; my favourite was the Apple, Elderflower & Lemon! Making the change to this low calorie, fresh drink allows you to still get a hit of sparkle and enjoyment, while keeping hydrated!

Sipping on Ballygowan's 'Sparklingly Fruity'

3. Snack Creatively

Eating healthily is not boring, it’s the opposite.  It opens you up to a world of new ingredients that you’ve previously ignored.  Put together refreshingly different ideas on how to combine these ingredients to make low calorie snacks.  In my latest recipe, I made Edible Flower & Elderflower Ice Lollies’  An interesting alternative to a bag of salty crisps?

4. Organise yourself fit!

Without shopping for the right food, planning your daily meals and prepping your food, you set yourself up for failure!  Failing to plan, is planning to fat!  If you open the fridge and feel daunted, not knowing what to cook, the likelihood of eating junk food or takeaway food will be much higher.  Don’t make food shopping into a horrible weekly task.  Make it fun!  I love to go to local markets and buy fresh and seasonal produce – I normally plan meals based around what I find.

5. Digital Detox

I find ‘unplugging’ the hardest thing to do.  I need to force myself to wind down and unfortunately for me this doesn’t involve Instagram or Netflix.  With the majority of our days spent glued to laptops, tablets and smart phones, it can become difficult to disconnect.  To unplug, take some time to yourself – try meditating for 20 minutes, enjoy a relaxing hour of yoga, watch a sunset – anything that gives you a moment to breathe and reconnect with new, healthier you.

Santorini sunsets

Santorini sunsets

Fi x