Traveling gluten-free and with other dietary restrictions

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September 7, 2009

Do you have a favorite brand and flavor of yogurt? A certain kind of wine youFresh, right-off-the-farm veggies
prefer? Do you prefer fresh and/or organic produce? Perhaps you have some ethnic foods you enjoy. If you do and are like me, sometimes you worry whether you’ll be able to find those items as you travel. If you have food allergies/sensitivities, eat only gluten-free foods or have other dietary restrictions, finding them can be a necessity.

George and I found that eating gluten-free is much better for us. We have both lost a lot of weight and want to keep it off. Plus, like many people, we are sensitive to gluten and find it affects our digestive systems. George now bakes gluten-free English muffins for us once a week and other interesting extra-protein, gluten-free bread. He found recipes in Gluten-Free 101: Easy, Basic Dishes Without Wheat by Carol Fenster. She uses a flour mixture that includes sorghum flour, tapioca flour and potato starch that is the basis of most recipes. To that you add other ingredients. Sorghum four and the others are not found in Wal-Mart!

We spend most of the time in the West and I can usually find a Whole Foods or other good health food store to keep certain favorites in stock. When we traveled east of Colorado, I worried that I would be out of luck for many of my favorites. While I may not find the exact brand, it has turned out I don’t need to worry. The familiar logo of Bob's Red Mill
Before leaving for Alaska, we stocked up a bit in our RV, but flour is bulky and we had to go through Canadian customs so kept quantities down. Luckily, we found a store that carried Bob’s Red Mill products in Whitehorse. Fred Meyers, in Alaska, has a natural food section and some of those products too as did other natural foods stores.

As we headed back into the lower 48, George discovered that we would be very close to Bob’s Red Mill retail outlet in Milwaukie, OR so a visit was one of our goals while near Portland. We were not disappointed. Most stores only carry a small selection but the retail outlet has flours made from nearly every grain and bean. What fun to see quinoa flour, fava bean and green pea flours, plus all the ingredients called for in our English muffins. We bought 25 pound bags of sorghum, tapioca and potato starch. We are set for a while! (Click here to read more about our visit to Bob’s Red Mill.]

Eating out
While eating lunch at the Bob’s Red Mill café —sandwiches on gluten-free bread— Sandwich served on gluten-free bread we got to talking to a couple of fellows from Tampa, FL who love to travel. They use frequent flyer miles to get to destinations, then eat at restaurants that add more points to their frequent flyer accounts. One of them has celiac disease and must eat gluten free. That’s how they had come to Bob’s.

He had a list of restaurants in the Portland area that are members of the iDine Club, giving frequent flyer miles. He then used Gluten-free Portland to find ones on that list that offered a gluten-free menu. Portland even has two pizza places that offer gluten-free crusts! Another site, Gluten-freeCeliacWeb lists restaurant chains that offer gluten-free items. Another place to check is with the state or regional Celiac association for local suggestions. Googling the area or city you are in combined with gluten-free should bring back some results too.

Any more suggestions for finding gluten-free products or restaurants? What about other dietary restrictions? How do you handle them while you travel? Can you usually find something to eat on a regular menu when eating out? Have you run into any problems? Let us hear from you.

By the way, here are the results of the poll on what you use your oven for. It will be up for another few days if you want to add your vote.

Jaimie Hall Bruzenak

Leave a Reply


  1. Thanks for encouraging others, Christina. It is worth sticking to a restricted diet, though it can be tempting to stray.


  2. Great post Jaimie! I’ve got a wide variety of serious food allergies, so I always make sure I have snacks on hand while traveling. Fresh fruit and veggies are healthy and available at local stores almost anywhere you go. I can almost always find something to eat on a regular menu–even if I have to combine a few side dishes to fill me up. It’s certainly not glamorous fare, but at least I don’t go hungry when I’m dining out with a group of friends at a new restaurant.

    I’ve been living with a restricted diet for 4 years now, and it really does become second nature to check the labels for ingredients before eating anything. I agree with Ray, that even though my dietary restrictions force me to give up favorite foods, the benefits to my waistline and digestive health make it all worthwhile. To anyone who has recently had their diet restricted I urge you to stick it out and not get too discouraged when dining out. It does get easier with time, and I’m sure the improvements to your health will help you stay on track. Bon Appetit! 🙂

  3. Taking control of what you eat is a lot of work and it does have health benefits. Processed foods are loaded with ingredients that are disguised. We pretty much follow the “caveman’s diet” too- protein and steamed vegetables are our mainstay. We limit most everything else. We are fortunate we don’t need to be as careful as Bob and Ray but avoiding certain things helps with weight gain and health.

    Ken, so many of the added ingredients and carbs are sugars that bog your system down and cause sugar to spike and fall. Avoiding gluten may not be the answer for you, but how you eat very definitely will affect your diabetes and health.

    Liz, that is an advantage of RVing- you can make sure you eat things that are good for you.


  4. Ray Shoemake

    I have Crohn’s disease and after a particularly painful 10 day bout realized I had been playing Russian Roulette with bread, pasta, beans and potatoes. I have switched to the Caveman Diet. It actually simplifies ordering at restaurants. For lunch, instead of Hamburger with fries, I order a hamburger steak with fruit. Admittedly, I miss a lot, but, I am loosing wait and my digestive system is a whole lot happier. The essential rule of the Caveman Diet is: if you can eat it raw, its ok. You can still cook it, but you know that you digestive system is designed to process it.


  5. Liz Bard

    My husband is also a type II diabetic and is on a renal failure diet since he only has one kidney. The reason I purchased our RV is because of his restrictive diet. We eat mainly chicken, fish and turkey and must restrict our dairy products and of course salt. He is unable to eat potatoes anymore or beans. We love mexican food and it makes it hard for him. Plus all the resturant food is over salted. It is easier to maintain his diet and have fresh fruits on board. We just got the RV in March and of course when you buy a used RV you buy someone else’s problems but the challenges make us want to continue on. We enjoy knowing our toothbrush is in the same place and when we last washed the linens.

  6. Bob

    Great to see this in the RV .net, my spouce has been a celiac for 20 years and it has limited our ablity to enjoy the great rally meals and pot luck dinners at RV events. We hope you will take the time to read this post carefully as it can help all of us understand better. Fran as a celiac and myself as a type two diabetic find this type of help great. Keep up the good work.

    Ken Porter as a diabetic i find no link between this and celiac but do find better blood sugar control now that we have to watch the ingreadents so carefully. It is amaising how many products have hidden dangers.

  7. Ken Porter

    I’m a diabetic and I was wondering how glute would affect my condition?