Coeliac Travel Difficulties

I like to be positive about travel and life with coeliac disease, and of course it’s good to make the most of what you have and be grateful. That doesn’t mean that it’s always easy though. This week I’ve been completely out of my comfort zone.

We couldn’t find somewhere to stay in Hampi island with self catering (also can’t seem to find any veg/food markets apart from fruit stalls) so I’ve been eating out everyday which makes me really anxious as I never can tell if the waiter has a 100% understood the severity of cross contamination or what does and doesn’t have gluten in and it feels like a gamble everytime.

Well meaning friends & family in England can find the strictness of a coeliac diet hard to grasp, so of course strangers in a foreign country who have never even heard of coeliac are going to struggle to get their heads around it. Even places in the UK, with it’s food safety laws, that claim to be gluten free can forget to put warnings on their menus about deep fryers used for gluten and non gluten foods etc so it’s no wonder I’m left feeling paranoid whenever I eat out!

Yesterday I was so tired and hungry that I suddenly felt really left out in the restaurant watching everyone around me literally break bread and dip it into each others curries, sharing across cultures and enjoying food together whilst I was scared of what was on my own plate not being sure whether it was safe or not.

So, I let myself be a bit sad about it, got an early night and this morning I’ve taken myself out for breakfast. I’m drinking fresh fruit juice, tea and have just ordered a rice pudding with raisins – all things you pretty much can’t go wrong with gluten wise!

I’m overlooking beautiful paddy fields with vibrant, rich green shoots growing beneath the palm trees and ancient rock formations behind. Ill get lots of fresh fruit for lunch with some nuts and seeds then I will clearly and calmly explain celiac again tonight at a restaurant and get an omelette and salad. It will all be okay and I’ll have a lovely time and be well fed.

Because I know eating out can be difficult I’ve fit my travel plans around my gluten free diet and next week will be going to stay with an ayervedic doctor near Mysore through “workaway”. He has said I am welcome to eat and cook gluten free at his place. This will be considerably better fitted to my needs!

So, sometimes it does get hard. Sometimes I do question how realistic it is to globe trot as a coeliac. But where there’s a will there’s a way and we can definitely find ways to make it work.

I look around me at the breath taking beauty of this place and I’m glad I pushed my comfort zone and dared to travel without being held back by a health condition. Like many challenges in life, it’s well worth the highs and lows.

With love from India x

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2 thoughts on “Coeliac Travel Difficulties

  1. The Coeliac Journals

    Hi! Just wanted to thank you for this blog post. I relate to it so deeply, particularly the anxiety of risking eating out and being misunderstood, the frustration of having to carefully explain it for the thousandth time, and that gnawing sadness as you watch other people share and enjoy food while you watch and your tummy rumbles! You can try your hardest to tell them ‘it’s okay, I don’t mind at all, keep enjoying your food!’…but sometimes I just want to scream and throw their roti out the window or rub their pizza in their face!! 😂 I also stayed in Hampi, at Goan Corner, and really struggled with all these things. From one coeliac traveller to another: well done!
    One question: how exactly did you navigate the risk of cross-contamination when eating out in India? Throughout my trip I mostly cooked for myself on my camp stove or in hostel kitchens…did you do much of that?
    Thanks again! Katy (on instagram and WordPress as thecoeliacjournals).

    1. Hey Katy, thank you so much for your message! So lovely to know there’s someone out there who can relate 🙂 . I think the honest answer to how I navigated the risk of cross contamination when eating out in India is….I didn’t, it was a gamble and a risk every time and I ended up pretty ill. I did cook in hostels with kitchens some of the time and did workaway also for 4 weeks, both of which were definitely the best option but then when going to places like OM beach and Hampi where there was no where to cook I basically just risked it and got proper ill so next time round I would do things differently. Thanks for sharing your blog and insta page can’t wait to have a look! I’m in need of some coeliac travel inspiration! Jasmine xx

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