OATS ARE OK?
Although 1 in 5 Australian coeliacs may be able to eat oats*, the majority of us suffer after consuming avenin (the protein in oats) just as if it was gluten. Unfortunately for us, America deems oats to be gluten free and safe for coeliac consumption. This puts our oat free bodies in an awkward situation. Even if you hunt down a gluten-free product, shop or café- you may still be eating oats, which makes USA a bit of pickle. Gluten free products, meals and restaurants are still your safest bets but be sure to state oats are also a problem for you to save your stomach the grief!
*(ONLY AFTER UNDERTAKING A MEDICALLY SUPERVISED OAT CHALLENGE)
Yelp is America’s answer for Urbanspoon and is a great resource to search out gluten free friendly restaurants in the local area, as well as read reviews. If you are organized and know where you will be around mealtime, the app also allows you to search a particular area of the Big Apple. Every place recommended as Gluten Free on this app I visited had gluten free options and were mostly aware of cross contamination risks. Even better, this app is free! Can I sell it to you more? Download it now!
GLUTEN FREE ACCREDITATION
This little sign is something worth hunting for. Often displayed in windows, you can breathe a sigh of relief that these restaurants know how to handle us coeliacs (even with our oat issues!). Staff and menus alike demonstrate extensive knowledge of coeliac disease and provide plenty of tasty treats for us, minus the worry!
For any health food lover, coeliac or not, you really cannot go past Wholefoods (my first visit took over an hour!) This supermarket has thousands of fresh naturally gluten free food options, as well as an aisle dedicated to packaged and frozen gluten free foods. The selection spanned from apple pies to bagels, cupcakes and pasties and everything in between. This is the perfect place to stock up on those handbag snacks just in case you are out and get stuck. My personal recommendation is Lara Bars. I had at least two per day, even if gluten free options were available at mealtime. If that doesn’t speak for itself, just try one. You’ll thank me later.
PREPARATION AND QUESTIONS
As is the case when travelling anywhere, preparation and questions is the key to survival! My final three tips in one:
Head to Wholefoods to stock up on gluten free staples, and remember to always read those labels (oats sneak in a lot!)
Research gluten free friendly dining options.
Use your voice! State you are a coeliac, need gluten free options and cannot consume oats. If you follow the questioning protocol, you'll have the best chances at being safe.