Just like a bad hair day, gluten is often difficult to avoid. If you are gluten-intolerant or have been diagnosed with coeliac disease, you know the gut-wrenching pain, drowsiness and aggravation that gluten can bring.
Michael Carp, owner of Kez’s Kitchen, a brand famed for appetising biscuit, cereal and snack products, knows the struggles of a gluten intolerance. Carp has been eating a gluten-free diet for eight years and has noted his challenges along the way. Attending functions, snacking and travelling are some of the more difficult situations for people who can’t or don’t consume gluten. In an effort to help other people combat this problem, Carp not only established Kez’s Free, a gluten-free line of snacks, but he has also provided tips for those who are trying to avoid gluten.
Eating out while on any diet is a challenge in itself. It is tempting to eat the great food that everyone else at the table is enjoying. Luckily, finding satisfying gluten-free options is becoming easier. “When we’re really enjoying good food and good company, we might tell ourselves our symptoms aren’t that bad — then have regrets afterwards,” Carp says. “Although a menu may not offer gluten-free meals, if you call ahead, most establishments will be happy to pre-prepare a couple of suitable options for you to choose from. And an increasing number of restaurants are now offering gluten-free options on the menu — including some pizza and pasta establishments.”
Travelling can be exhausting. After sitting on a plane for hours, you might be tempted to eat anything that is served to you — especially bread, so make sure you plan ahead. Gluten-free options are easy to order when you book your flight. “On nearly every flight, my gluten-free meal is often served first and looks better than the person’s next to me, as chefs need to get creative with gluten-free. The remainder of your flight will be much more enjoyable. You might also want to pack your favourite gluten-free snacks for long-haul flights.”
On the go
When you are in a hurry, you need something quick and convenient. While most people could grab a bagel or a sandwich, it can be more difficult for gluten-free people to find something on the go. Stock up on gluten-free snacks and be sure to stick a few in your bag, car or office drawer so you always have something you can eat while you are busy with your daily activities.
When travelling, it may be difficult to find gluten-free options. “A good breakfast is important when you’re travelling. Make gluten-free breakfast options an important criteria when choosing a hotel — ask whether they can provide gluten-free cereals and breads at the time of booking, most are happy to oblige if you give them notice. For dining out, research restaurants around your hotel, or ask your hotel to do the research for you — most restaurants have menus available on their websites.”
Drinks and delicious hors d’oeuvres can be a major temptation especially if you are hungry. “If you ensure to eat a full meal before attending any event, you’ll be much less likely to reach for a few cocktail spring rolls. Additionally, bringing a snack bar in your bag is always a good idea in case you feel peckish, and remember to opt for a cider instead of beer as they’re commonly gluten free,” Carp says. Keep in mind that many types of vodka are also distilled from gluten-containing grains so you’ll want to be sure to avoid cocktails you are uncertain of.
Living with young kids
“Take advantage of any free time you have during the day — for example, during kids’ nap times or while they are at day care — to prepare fresh gluten-free meals that are ready to eat later on when you’re pressed for time. Chicken schnitzel is always a family favourite, and you can still enjoy this by using rice crumbs instead of breadcrumbs — the kids won’t even tell the difference!”
Have a fussy eater? Try these kid-approved gluten-free recipes >>
When entertained by friends
It can be difficult to stick to a gluten-free diet when you don’t know what is being served. “These situations — particularly if it’s a dinner or lunch — are sensitive, as they’re more intimate and the host will notice you avoiding foods that were prepared for you,” Carp says. “If it’s a meal, it’s best to let the host know about your dietary limitations beforehand so they can organise gluten-free options. If it’s a more casual get-together, bring a gluten-free share plate that everyone can enjoy. This way, you’ll appear polite and thoughtful and you’ll know there will be at least one gluten-free dish available!”