Saturday, July 30, 2011

Gluten Free on the Road

One of the biggest challenges with being gluten free is figuring out what to eat when traveling and on the road.  Of course, you can bring your own food, but that only goes so far, especially if you are taking a very long road trip as we recently did.   We drove 1400 miles in 2 days.  It was exhausting, but even worse was trying to figure out what was gluten free while eating away from home.  The sad fact is that most people don't have a clue what "gluten free" means, and it can be very hard to get a list of ingredients from restaurants.  Gluten seems to lurk in so many hidden sauces and other items, that it can seem very overwhelming at first..

In previous road trips, we would use quick restaurant stops as  a fun way to break up the monotony of driving mile after mile and hour after hour.  However, stopping for a quick bite to eat is quite different when one can't consume a major ingredient found in many foods.
Of course you can bring your own food, but that gets pretty boring after awhile.  Plus, refrigeration can be an issue...a cooler packed with ice and cold packs isn't going to keep food really cold for longer than a few hours. When you're on the road for over 12 hours a day, it just may not cut it.

What we ended up doing is bringing along enough foods and snacks for two meals and then stopping and eating out for the 3rd meal of the day.  

We brought the following foods
  • homemade trail mix (with raisins, peanuts, cashews, and hard-shell chocolate candies (this was one of our treats). 
  • rice cakes with peanut butter
  • EnviroKidz Organic Gorilla Munch Cereal  (yes, this isn't very frugal, we almost NEVER eat cereals due to cost...but again road trips are a splurge and an exception for us)
  •  apple, carrots and bananas
  • water bottles.
Of course, the most important, useful thing we brought on our trip was a book very similar to Next Exit only specific to the interstate we traveled on.  This book was such a gem.  We could look ahead and see where we could find a specific restaurant (that we knew had gluten-free items) or a even a grocery store or walmart where we could buy things like cheese, yogurt, fruits, raw vegetables, etc.  

The key for us was planning.  Having an idea of which restaurants had gluten-free menu items (in our budget) and then combining that knowledge with Next Exit to find those restaurants or stores was so, so helpful.

Of course, once you reach your destination, the difficulties don't stop there..but at least things are a bit easier.  And, unfortunately, we have had a few mistakes, a few slip-ups that left us feeling the effects a few days later (but on the same token, it was only another confirmation that we needed a gluten-free diet for health reasons).

So, if you are embarking this summer on a long road trip have safe and happy travels and hopefully this post will make it just a bit easier to be gluten-free while on your trip!

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