Healthy Living

7 Travel Tips for Celiac Patients

7 Travel Tips for Celiac Patients

Key Takeaways

  • When a person with celiac disease consumes food with gluten, an abnormal immune reaction takes place and results to a damaged small intestine.
  • Have a list of the foods that are good and bad when you are traveling.
  • Become familiar with the cuisine of the location you are traveling to. Do some research!

A dreaded illness called the gluten-sensitive enteropathy, which is commonly known as celiac disease, affects both men and women regardless of age. It is likely acquired through hereditary genes that tend to develop or mutate in the body. Getting to know celiac disease is rather complicated and full of things to acquaint yourself with first. As it is an illness that a person could never be cured from but can only be managed to avoid worsening the symptoms and effects, it is wise to know every bit of information about the disease. From its causes, symptoms, do’s and don’ts, and most especially the diet that is associated with it, it could be quite troublesome to be unaware of the needed precautions.

Several symptoms and effects arise from a person having the illness which could impossibly go unnoticed. This includes, but not limited to, weight loss, weakness and frequent tiredness, vomiting, gas and bloating in the abdomen, bowel movement changes, diarrhea, constipation which is more often in children and osteoporosis, arthritis, iron-deficiency anemia, seizures, migraines, abnormal menstrual periods, infertility, miscarriage, fatigue, and skin rashes for adults. This only means that children and adults somewhat differ in symptoms but still share common effective management of the disease through following a strict discipline of a gluten-free diet.

With the unpleasant symptoms that people with celiac disease suffer from, they do prove a major problem when travel plans come up. So, let us be mindful of the things to be noted for the right preparations on how to plan for travel when you have celiac disease. Here are tips and reminders to consider:

1. Know what foods to avoid

When a person with celiac disease consumes food with gluten, an abnormal immune reaction takes place and results to a damaged small intestine. The supposedly healthy villi, or the finger-like forms lining in the small intestine, are inflamed which prohibits nutrients absorption from food intake.

A gluten-free diet poses many problems on how to plan for travel when you have celiac disease, especially since many food products and recipes do contain gluten. Some of the examples of food containing gluten are wheat, barley, malt, rye, bread and pasta, crackers and even seasonings and spices like soy sauce. Food preparation may prove quite difficult as very limited menus or with restricted variety of products can only be utilized.

2. Always know what foods are safe

As gluten-food intake could result in severe consequences, how to plan for travel when you have celiac disease may seem difficult, but wouldn’t be impossible if proper planning and insight are done ahead of time. First, it should be basic knowledge to be able to determine what foods are safe for persons with celiac disease. Eggs, fruits, vegetables, potatoes, chicken, seafood, lean beef, beans, nuts, fresh and plain dairy products, corn, and rice are the foods you can be assured are gluten-free. Traveling with a celiac patient requires more than just a companion, but a caregiver, chef, and nutritionist rolled into one. Knowing what foods to prepare and bring for the travel is a necessity.

3. Make a list

It is always better to be cautious rather than be sorry later. A list to remind you of the foods that are good and bad for a person with celiac disease is a brilliant idea. Sometimes, the food or the product itself may slip through your senses resulting to accidentally consuming of one containing gluten. A list in hand could always remind you when dining or buying foods outside on the way to your travel. It can even be handy when dining out in a restaurant, and you can share your list with the chef or the kitchen staff to make sure they won’t serve the wrong meals. You should also be wary when buying food products, especially the ready-to-eat kind as they may contain gluten. Checking the ingredients of the food first before buying it is the best way to do it.

4. Determine the Itinerary

The travel’s information should be known ahead of time. Always be ready for delays and emergency situations to be able to pack easy-to-carry and non-perishable goods for the journey. Determining the meals that should be covered on the way to your destination should be determined to prepare gluten-free meals or even light alternatives for snacks. It is truly bothersome and reckless having to know the travel details on a last-minute’s notice. Definitely, an unplanned trip is highly discouraged.

Traveling by car, you could always pack with you some boiled eggs, fruits, potatoes, and nuts. You can even bring with you steamed vegetables with chicken. Stopping for take-out in fast-food restaurants and bakeries is definitely not a good idea since most of the foods on their menus are processed and seasoned.

When traveling by plane, you should consider the hours it will take to arrive. Traveling abroad, for instance, takes longer hours in the air and needs better preparations. Calling the airlines for the preparation of a gluten-free meal is a good start. Bringing with you some foods you prepared yourself like grilled chicken, fresh fruits, and yogurt, or a gluten-free loaf of bread is also advised, although you may need to ask permission from the airline about bringing some food with you, since most airlines don’t allow consuming foods outside their menu. However, proper communication will always be considered, especially for individuals with health issues like celiac patients.

5. Learn about your destination

Your destination and type of accommodation play a role on how to plan for travel when you have celiac disease. When planning on staying at a hotel, it helps a great deal to call ahead first if it would be possible for the hotel to provide gluten-free meals, or if not, a provision of a refrigerator, microwave or other means to cook or prepare food will do for a person with celiac disease.

A great alternative is to locate restaurants that cater gluten-free food recipes by researching about your trip’s destination. You can also research and study the local cuisines of the place or country you wish to travel to familiarize yourself with its local and typical food in the area to be able to distinguish whether the food could be safe or harmful when served to you upon your stay. Though just to be safe, if unsure of the food being served, always check the label or the ingredients.

Celiac travel cards and other leaflets translated into other languages from all over the world about celiac guides and information can be researched and downloaded on the internet to help for conveying needs when going to other countries. For convenience, it is also possible to download apps to your mobile phone about travel guides for celiac disease patients like gluten-free food restaurant finder, gluten-free travel guide, and safe gluten-free travel.

6. Consult your physician and dietitian

A person with celiac disease usually has a deficiency in iron, zinc, fiber, magnesium, calcium, niacin, folate, riboflavin, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. These nutrients and minerals are essential, which answers why a person with celiac disease, whose small intestine does not absorb many nutrients, is often losing weight.

Planning for travel when you have celiac disease should always include seeing your physician and dietician first. They will give you the proper prescription, vitamins, and supplements to maximize your body’s ability to gain nutrients and avoid nutrient deficiencies. Discussing with your physician about your nutritional needs is of top priority, especially if your travel plans might affect your gluten-free diet.

7. Have some company

Both children and adults alike need a companion and someone to help them in sustaining their needs while traveling. A gluten-free diet is quite complicated to sustain and prepare. Thus, an extra hand may come in handy. In a worst case scenario, a celiac patient needs to be taken care of when accidentally suffering from consuming even a little amount of gluten.

Traveling with celiac disease is nonetheless difficult, but never impossible. You only need to equip yourself with proper planning, good preparation and insight, and adequate knowledge onhow to plan for travel when you have celiac disease. Having this illness is never easy, but it could be better by doing the things mentioned above.