Living Abroad with Celiac Disease
Today we have one of my favorite people in the world (my sister!!) on to share a personal story of living with Celiac Disease while studying abroad in Europe. Sammie got her diagnosis this summer and it was equal parts a breath of fresh air and nerve-wracking for the entire family. but I’m so proud of Sam and how she’s choosing to view this whole experience. she’s amazing! So take it away sammie!
If I’m being honest, maintaining a gluten and lactose free diet abroad has not been easy and has come with many slip ups. Luckily for me, my friend who I am traveling with is also gluten free so I don’t have to watch in envy while she enjoys pasta and bread without me. We are in this together.
A little bit of my story, I have had stomach issues my entire life which I always assumed was due to just having a sensitive stomach and being lactose intolerant (a diet that I do not follow very well, ice cream is just too good). It wasn’t until some of my roommates during my sophomore year of college pointed out that having your stomach hate you as much as mine does is not normal and that it might be about more than just dairy, did I start looking into it. Finally I decided to get tested which led to a blood test then an endoscopy which revealed a not so fun truth: I have celiac disease. I received my test results two days into working at a summer camp and therefore never really was able to process this information and how greatly my diet would change because of it. At camp all my food was cooked for me and I never had to worry about what had gluten and what didn’t or finding places to eat, it was all done and labeled for me.
So then we get to being in Europe. Being in the land of pasta, pizza, bread, and gelato is not ideal for a person with Celiac disease. Me and my friend spend many hours planning out exactly what we can eat in each city that we will be traveling to and what “gluten” and “dairy” translate to in whatever language the country speaks. So while we have had times when we forgot to research and spent around 40 mins wandering around trying to find something that we can eat, overall Europe is becoming more and more gluten free friendly and we have found some great spots. Some of my favorite finds in Prague so far are the restaurants Svejk Restaurant U Karla and Lavande.c
the GF chocolate souffle!!
My recommendations (so far):
Svejk Restaurant U Karla has a whole separate menu for those that are gluten free and has what so far has been my favorite GF pork schnitzel. Lavande also has extensive gluten free options including many GF pastas and a GF chocolate souffle which tasted better than any regular souffle that I have ever had, which is saying a lot. I wasn't deprived of great pasta or gelato in Italy either where I had some of the best pesto pasta in my life at Ciros and Sons in Florence and enjoyed some vegan gelato with a GF cone in Cinque Terre.
So while I may still throw myself an occasional pity party over the loss of cookies and bread, being gluten and dairy free isn’t the end of the world, and it definitely does not deprive you of all the amazing food that Europe has to offer.