Traveling with Celiac

Toothbrush? Check. Spare clothes? Check. Five pounds of gluten free food? Check. In the year since diagnosis, it's become a common trend for my day bag to smell more like major snackage than fresh laundry. 

This weekend's trip wasn't any different

All da foods!
With only a week left in my winter break (gasp!), I went a-visitin' friends about an hour away. And, because late night driving and I don't particularly care for each other, I stayed the night. What's a celiac to do besides stuff a mini fridge in her backpack? 

As I threw together the dry ingredients for my favorite oatless porridge, I remembered when I could skip out of the house with nothing but my phone, wallet and jacket. That's no longer the case. But, following the tips I've tripped over so far, celiac can be another travel partner rather than an intestinal backseat driver.

Celiac take the wheel?

First, pull a squirrel and over pack. As I cram yet another snack inside my shoulder bag, sometimes I let self consciousness overwhelm me. Once again, I'll be the weirdo dragging three day's worth of noms to a one day event. 

That self consciousness pales compared other risks, though. Hungry but out of snacks? (Trust me - your friends would rather you drag along 50 lbs of safe snacks than be hangry.) Jealous of movie noms your friends are chomping down on? (Rice cakes to the rescue!)

If people question your edible ball and chain (been there, done that!), keep it simple. Usually, once I explain my celiac disease and joke about having separation anxiety with my fridge, people move onto more interesting questions. Like why is there a Facebook picture of your roommate with 96 corn dogs

Tis a good question

Second, don't cave to peer pressure or taste-bud temptation. It's hard being the only person with food limitations - especially if others have them, but bend the rules. In the moment, it might seem easier to just eat that dessert your friend swears is gluten free - even if gluten-eaters have already taken a few bites - but it isn't worth it. Trust me. 

A few weeks post-diagnosis, I was asked on my first date. Boy and girl goes to the movies, boy buys popcorn, girl eats popcorn because surely it must be gluten free. Wrong. After her first date, girl experiences her first glutening. Not exactly the sweet memories I was going for! 

Glutening > wisdom teeth

The fact is, it just isn't worth it - socially or medically. So instead of going for the cool points, dig into those chipmunk cheeks for a safe snack substitute. Your tummy will thank you later!

Finally, have fun. This is the easiest and the hardest tip - loading up the car with food has steps to follow, while shedding the social embarrassment and anxiety that can accompany celiac disease doesn't

If you're already a dork, this may be easier...

What has worked for me? Number one, tell your friends about your food needs and worries! At first, I downplayed my celiac diagnosis because I didn't want to sound needy or high maintenance. Now, I spell out explicitly what celiac is (glutening effects and all!), what I can eat, and that I will bring my own food to most activities. 

You don't have to blurt out celiac confessions while shaking hands, but when it feels right (or food festivities are in the near future), wear your diagnosis with pride. Eventually, your friends will adapt - and learn that Chipotle is always a stellar suggestion for lunch! 

Chipotle all the way!

And after you drop the c-bomb? Forget about it! Eat your safe food while they devour their gluten goodies and enjoy the day! Unless they ask questions about it, you've told them most of what they already need to know. So kick back, relax, and for goodness sakes, eat another bliss ball

As a celiac, leaving home always involves a bit of anxiety. What if I forget my food? What if the nice little old lady next door doesn't understand I can't eat her brownies? (True story.) 

My kind of (safe) treat!

But the one question a celiac should really ask themselves? Do I really want my diagnosis to keep me from the fun? 

*Also found at Running with Spoon's link party!*

What are your celiac traveling tips? What is your favorite snack? Comment below! 


  1. Always always packing loads of food and utensils for ALL my trips!

    1. Yep, I'm pretty much a moving fridge at this point :D

  2. I always scope out my meals ahead of time and carry lots of snacks in my purse and car!

    1. Preparation for the win! And snacks never hurt either :)


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