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Gluten Intolerant & some hot spice sensitivity

I am gluten intolerant. Some spices, if too much is consumed for my system, causes problems. I get very ill from gluten. I avoid foods with spices that I am very sensitive to. I have gotten much worse after chemo.

I want to enjoy my travels. When I was in Paris & Nice for 3 weeks before my battle with cancer and treatment with chemo, I did lose several days of getting out and about due to food problems. I usually do not go on tours but need to travel on my own schedule to accomodate problems with food which for the most part is tied to gluten. I have not traveled abroad for several years.

I am new to this forum so if this topic has been covered and suggestions made, please direct me to those postings.

Thank you for your time and consideration of my request.

Posted by
11286 posts

Which country or countries were you planning to visit? If you let us know, people can give more specific recommendations.

You will probably want accommodations with kitchens, so you can prepare your own food. Avoiding gluten is getting easier, but spices are trickier; even if you know exactly which ones cause problems (and from your post, it's not clear if you do), you cannot always guarantee they will not be used. In addition to apartments, there are "aparthotels" that will have kitchens. Again, if you tell us where you want to go, people can give you places.

For Italy, the subject of gluten has come up repeatedly, and the good news is that Italy is very gluten-aware. Here is the most recent thread; in it, I put in links to many prior ones, some of which cover other countries as well: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/italy/challenges-of-gluten-free-dining

Posted by
2827 posts

Yes, it is important to know what country you are considering. Italy in my experience is very friendly to gluten-free diets. Just skip the pizza, pasta, and bread, and enjoy risotto, grilled fish and meat, salads, and vegetable sides. The sauces, if any, are not thickened with flour like French sauces. And hot spices are uncommon, if those are the ones that bother you.

Posted by
2132 posts

Ditto what Harold said....where are you going this time? I was just in Frankfurt and at the airport Hilton they didn't just offer Gluten Free - they had an entire table of Gluten Free that they kept in a little side area away from the rest of the food. Ditto the Four Seasons in Cairo (probably not helpful to you).

Apartments will definitely be easier for you so you can browse the grocery stores and cook your own food. I travel with a food allergy and usually rent an apartment. However, I did a trip to Europe in April and did all hotels and did not have any trouble...Spain and Italy...and gluten free looked doable.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you both for your input. I am seeing what I can do before next surgery. I have been binge watching Rick Steves' programs today on Create. This is how I have traveled for awhile - watching some of the DVDs I own. It has been such a breath of fresh air and hope. I will be back traveling again.

Thank you again. I am putting together info on several countries.

Have a fantastic week-end.

Posted by
4419 posts

I had to be very careful what I was eating the year I had my gall bladder removed. I brought some packaged travel meals with me to cover the first few days, picnicked from grocery store food, and I ate some Starbucks salad combos that I had eaten at home. The food wasn't the reason I was going, and I had a wonderful time.

I hope that you're able to travel and have a very nice trip!

Posted by
11613 posts

No need to skip pizza and pasta in Italy, most restaurants will accommodate you but many like to know a day ahead for gluten-free pasta so they can prepare it, and sanitize the utensils and area of the kitchen where they prepare it (without advance notice your order may take a bit longer while the cook takes these precautions).

Gluten-free dishes on a menu will be marked.

Posted by
13467 posts

I am seeing what I can do before next surgery.

Judy, I know your question isn't about this but your comment above is of some concern? I don't know what sort of surgery you're going to have (and I'm not asking as it's none of my business) but you should consult with your physician before booking any sort of travel, especially abroad, if you are dealing with serious health issues? If he/she gives the OK, you definitely should have travel health insurance which will cover you while out of the country, and which you are SURE will cover any unforeseen complications from a pre-exisiting condition. This insurance should also include coverage for medivac transport back to the States (or wherever home is) if necessary.

Just thought that was worth a mention? Much of Europe does a better job with gluten-free dining/grocery options than the U.S. so depending on where you intend to go, I suspect that won't be as much of a worry as you think it will be.

Posted by
219 posts

One more note to perhaps help you - We always rent apartments when travelling so that we can cook for ourselves. We have found that the grocery stores are very well stocked with gluten-free items. The gluten-free Schar brand (also sold in the US) I believe you will find easily in most supermarkets in Europe.

It is possible to eat safely gluten-free when travelling in Europe. Good luck!

Posted by
3 posts

I am celiac and have traveled extensively. I have always found that pre-planning is the key. Bring language cards explaining your needs and snacks to supplement between meals.