Let’s face it going abroad for a holiday can be a pretty worrying prospect for anyone who suffers, or has a family member who suffers, from Coeliac disease.
Here in the UK we have pretty good food labelling legislation and a fairly high awareness of food allergies in general. Gluten intolerance is particularly well known. This means that many restaurants will offer gluten free menu items, and it’s not that hard to shop for gluten free foods, at least in large towns and cities.
But when travelling abroad how confident can you be that you’ll know what’s in the food you’re eating and that you’ll be able to get gluten free meals in restaurants?
Will I be able to eat gluten free food at the airport?
Most of the bigger departure airports in the UK have all the usual chains, so your chances of getting gluten free aren’t too bad. But the same can’t be said for airports elsewhere, so research ahead of time is very important.
What are the best countries for gluten free food?
I’m afraid the answer is very mixed. A couple of countries stand out as being good destinations; Italy is very good for gluten free food – despite pasta and pizza being seen by many as the sum total of Italian cuisine! Another country with a good reputation is Australia, which is reckoned to have high levels of gluten free awareness.
Europe is uneven and you can’t presume that a European country will be the same as the UK. Fortunately there is a lot of information available online now and quick search for gluten free Germany or gluten free France for example will deliver a lot of useful information.
South East Asia is not a very good area for awareness of gluten intolerance as coeliac disease is very uncommon there.
Gluten Free Air flights
The picture is very mixed again. For short haul budget airlines the situation is not very good. You would be best advised to take your own food for one of these flights. Plan ahead and check the airlines policy and contact them well head of time. Even then whilst they may offer you a gluten free meal one airline went viral recently for offering a banana as their gluten free meal.
For International and long hour flights the situation is slightly better, but again it’s advisable to check the airlines policy and give plenty of advance notice.
Can I take Gluten Free food with me for my holiday?
For many holidays this may be the safest option. But it can mean a lot of preparation and extra baggage. So it’s best to be sure that your destination country will let you bring food in! So check with your airline or tour operator who should be able to advise you. For extra confidence try asking your GP for a letter explaining that you have Coeliac disease and why you need this food.