Gluten-ed in Marrackech

© Jasmine Irving
© Jasmine Irving

The day I accidentally ate gluten was the day things went pretty wrong. It was at Earth vegetarian cafe in Marrakech and I think it was kind of my fault. This time it was just me and one other friend, the others were someone else so I showed my gluten free travel card and the waiter said that was no problem. However when my dinner came out it had a sauce on it which my gut feeling told me was soy sauce, having not eaten for a day after lots of walking around, I just tried to eat around it as I was so hungry and lacked the confidence to ask for a new plate. Also I had never been glutened since diagnosis so I was under the very false impression that just this one time would maybe be okay. Which is stupid and as I now know, being assertive is the most important thing when eating at restaurants as a coeliac.

The restaurant was empty apart from us, despite it being a fantastic vegetarian place to eat out. After trying to eat around it then giving up, I told him it had soy sauce in it and he looked genuinely upset, said the cook must have forgot, apologised wholeheartedly and told me that of course I didn’t have to pay for my meal. This is why I would actually recommend this place to eat out in Marrakech – it was the only place I went that fully understood the gluten free thing even though that seems contradictory as they put soy sauce in my dinner! But had I pointed this out to them before trying to eat it anyway then it would have been fine. I was in such a strange mood from exhaustion, hunger and now from eating gluten that I just awkwardly apologised then left and burst into tears. That night I was sick and had the most awful diarrhoea I have ever experienced which lasted a week. A few days later I had a splitting headache, a fever, I fainted and slept none stop for a night and day, feeling full of fatigue for days complete with stomach cramps. I felt so ill and was in so much pain that I wondered what the point in me ever trying to travel was. I told myself I was just a burden to the rest of the group and that I shouldn’t have even come.

But this was just the gluten talking and I still had three weeks of exploring to do. After a few days of taking it easy, drinking lots of water and rehydration sachets, taking pro-biotics (which I brought with me from UK) and other tablets that I got from the local chemist (who were really helpful), and eating just plain boiled rice and bananas, I started to feel better. After that I didn’t once look back and had the most amazing time. The months, and even years, after diagnosis is all one big learning curve so I suppose making mistakes here and there is part of that. I definitely learnt the hard way to always trust my gut feeling, be assertive and never eat anything I’m even slightly unsure about because it’s just not worth the consequences.

© Jasmine Irving
© Jasmine Irving
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