Gluten Free Guerrillas
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Eating out on autoimmune diet

Hi everyone, my husband is on autoimmune diet which excludes gluten and he is also diary intolerant so he strictly avoids dairy too. We went away for the weekend to the Cotswolds and I must say it was a nightmare to follow this diet. If something was gluten free then it was loaded with diary. I think we need to be better prepared, maybe a self catering would be the best option. How do you manage on holiday and when eating out?

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I hear ya! We usually look at the menus before hand to see what is ok to eat and often end up preparing meals and bringing snacks that are aip compliant.

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We will be more careful next time. It is incredible how much junk food is on the menu everywhere and we are just eating it like it’s normal. I guess unhealthy food has become normal.

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I couldnt agree more, not to mention whats all added in to “healthier choices.”

Yeah, it sure has, have you seen the documentary, What the Health? Or the other one that just came out called The Magic Pill?

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I have watched “In defence of food”, but the other 2 are on my list now, so will watch it soon :)

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I haven't seen that one, will have to check it out! The others are pretty good :)!

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It is hard! We find Indian is the easiest food group, but you still have to be careful.

I did have a really good meal out last night, in a place where you build your own burgers - I was surprised by the allergen list though - sweet potato fries had milk in them! When we went in, I asked if I could see their allergen list while I picked my food, and it was no problem, so I'll be doing that in future.

As for trips away, we have had one holiday with dietary restrictions, and it was tough. We minimised our risk by buying fruit and nuts for breakfast, and bread and cold meats for lunch, from a nearby supermarket, and that way we only had to stress about dinner. In a few weeks we're trying self catering, and I'm looking forward to that. I'll take my slow cooker, so we can set that going and come home to a cooked dinner each day.

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Self-catering is a good idea but I’m worried a bit that I would spend the entire holiday cooking. We might try it though and see how this work.

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I know what you mean! There are a few options:

- Cook a few meals before you go, and reheat them (only really works if you're driving to your destination though

- cook enough for a couple of nights, then you're only cooking half the nights

-pick quick dinners like grilled chicken salad

I'm taking my slow cooker, and I'm going to go for something that needs minimal prep (pulled pork or stew with ready-prepared veg), so we get a really hearty meal. We might get a takeaway one night too.

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Great tips!

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After being left with nothing to eat on a few occasions, it really does pay to do some research in advance! Also always carry a snack to eat, just in case (I keep a pack of nuts in my bag).

Depends a lot on where you go. We had a holiday at Centre Parks with an extensive menu, well labelled, gluten free and dairy free. Most bigger chains have gluten free menus and as Cooper mentioned, they must be able to provide you with a list of allergens. We have found it best to avoid most ‘pub grub’, unless they cook from scratch.

There is a Coeliac map site which may be helpful.

If you’re going abroad you’ll find that Spain and Italy are a good bet, but France not so.

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Will definitely do more research next time. As you said it does pay off to be prepared.

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Hi there, I'm replying to you from holiday at the moment. I'm gluten, dairy, soya and alcohol intolerant and I'm normally the family cook at home so when I'm away I like to be able to have a break and eat out. We're in Dorset at the mo and I haven't found a problem with finding a meal. I generally always take snacks with me just in case and prepare in advance if we're going to a place where there's just a small cafe by making a GF/DF sandwich for me. Eating out in the evening doesn't tend to present a problem. I check out the menu and most of the time there's something I can eat and if things are looking dodgy I haven't found a pub/restaurant yet that isn't accommodating, they will always modify a meal so I can have something. I always mention my intolerances to the waitress/waiter though just in case I've misread the menu and check that what I want is ok. And yes, I agree with one of the the other respondents, Indian is definitely the best!

That's in the U.K. Abroad I've found France difficult, but Spain and Portugal (especially Portugal) very easy.

Personally, I don't find meals hard at all, it's very easy to have a proper meal, the hardest things is when we go in cafes and I have to watch my husband and son eat cream teas! And I'm afraid there's no substitute for that. Again it's about preparation, I might take a nakd bar with me or something similar just so I don't feel completely left out :-)

You will all get used to it, and learn the best way to handle it for you. Good luck!

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Thank you for replying! From what I gathered so far is all about the preparation and speaking out. My husband doesn’t like to create a fuss but he would have to learn. Interesting about France - we always struggled there because of diary everywhere. Good to know about Spain and Portugal. Whilst my husband was always diary intolerant, the gluten is a new thing. To be honest he also doesn’t tolerate soya, yeast and alcohol well so he avoids it now too. As you said we should get used to it so it should naturally become less daunting. Enjoy Dorset! :)

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I can understand that he doesn't want to make a fuss, I struggled at first. I tend to make a bit of a joke about it: 'sorry I'm one of those awkward customers you'll go and swear about' with a big smile. It tends to work well. I'm extra accommodating and open to new things too as I know people are making a special effort for me. I'm the same re food, I've been dairy, soya and alcohol intolerant for years and only gluten for a year. It was daunting at first, but it does get easier!!

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Just a slightly off-topic comment on alcohol as he's avoiding it. If he's been desperate for a beer for years (as I was), many coeliacs can't tolerate gluten-free beer because almost all of it starts from barley or wheat mash which they then add an enzyme to. The enzyme breaks up the gluten protein into fragments but many coeliacs react to specific fragments of the gluten DNA which is why many can't drink beer, whiskey, vodka etc. Greens beer brewed in Belgium brew half of their range from non-gluten grains - look for 'ancient grains' on their website glutenfreebeers.co.uk - you can get them direct by the case or from Ocado (which has a great GF range), the other supermarkets unfortunately only seem to have the gluten 'removed' one's from Green's range which probably won't work for him.

As others say, it does get easier to handle over time but I too have been nervous of foreign hols - that's my next challenge :-)

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This is really good to know in case people come over and he doesn’t want to feel left out, he could have a gluten free beer :) Overall, the alcohol isn’t a big issue as we are happy to not drink it although we have lost some friends we used to socialise in a pub as people don’t understand and don’t symphatise.

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Yes it can have a negative social effect. As accommodating as some friends may be I find they really don’t understand when I explain why I can’t drink GF beer. Things generally have been getting easier for Coeliacs year by year 😊 Good luck! 🍀

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Funny enough, I bet others most probably feel rubbish after alcohol anyway and don’t want to admit it. :)

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Beers don't agree with me, much as I like one in warm weather, so I also avoid grain based spirits, but I have come across Black Cow Vodka, which is made on the farm from cheese whey, so no grains, and lactose all fermented out. It is very smooth with a slight sweet edge. It is available in Sainsbury's.

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This is a bit counter-intuitive, but Italians are very good at gluten free because gluten / wheat intolerance is very common in Italy, so it has become 'normal'. So a proper Italian restaurant could be another option, and should be possible to avoid the cheese too. We have a small Italian cafe locally and asking for wheat free was absolutely not a problem there because they understand it. Otherwise, I agree with Cooper 27, there are usually options with Indian too.

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PS; it is a legal requirement for eating establishments in UK to have an allergens list available on request. It is worth asking, but I have found these to be hit and miss, and often drawn up by someone who hasn't a clue. e.g. in a well known chain pub, allergens were listed as menu items, such as 'soup and a roll' contains gluten. This is not very helpful, the roll will contain gluten but the soup might be OK. Others are better, eating out at another pub (!) we asked for the allergens menu to identify wheat containing items, and were assigned a waitress who was herself coeliac. That gave us much more confidence, but clearly not an option everywhere. :-)

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I find the breakfast buffets in the hotels the hardest. Apart from “soya milk available on request “, there is no info about the allergens in the food.

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It can be difficult, and sometimes you might be a bit embarrassed to ask because you feel like you are making a fuss, but they should be able to supply an allergens list in hotels. The more of us that ask for the allergens list , the more 'normal' it will become. One that has caught me out is scrambled eggs. If they are not made from scratch with fresh eggs, they come as a powder, which can contain wheat. Hotel breakfast (cheap) sausages usually have wheat based rusk. Black, pudding, baked beans are suspect, let alone the cereals. If they cannot supply this information in your hotel, that is very valid grounds to make a complaint. This link details what the legal obligations are.

food.gov.uk/business-guidan...

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I so sympathise with your husband and you on this. We recently went away and I gave up on trying to eat food without dairy just to ensure that they got the gluten right. Second night I was sweating with gut pain from the potato dauphinoise... clearly loaded with dairy. Good to know that I can't eat dairy for sure but I am still in recovery 8 days later... hear it takes about 2-3 weeks to get the igg reaction out of the system fully. Atm I have to deal with ringing ears, foggy thinking, tiredness, still very painful gut and an extra 5lbs of water!

My advise is to call a restaurant in advance and ask them to substitute dairy where possible with olive oil or similar. I often ask for new potatoes freshly cooked with olive oil and seasoning... usually they are very happy to comply... but it just means you have to go to the restaurants where the chef is willing to go the extra mile.

I also often take food with me and make sure that there is at least a fridge for me to store it in. Self catering is also a very good way to go but clearly cutting boards/cooking implements may be an issue for your husband so you may need to either clean everything thoroughly before cooking with them or take your own - long dishwasher cycles are usually very good at getting hidden gluten out. Let us know how you get on!

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