Monday, 10 May 2010

Gluten Free Holidays

Sometimes an idea seems so obvious, you assume people have already had it, and I've just not noticed. This is one such idea - I can't believe it isn't already happening on some scale out there somewhere.

Nevertheless, I have not come across it. And so...

I like to travel. Its a change of pace, a breath of fresh air. And until recently, it was easy: just book a flight, find a hotel and go. The world was my marine mollusk.

Not any more.

Because I am gluten-intolerant. Which means I can't eat anything with gluten in it. At all. I notice even the slightest bit of contamination. And I know that any gluten I notice, means the lining of my gut has noticed even more - and even if I'm not paying for it now, I'll pay for it later.

A quick experiment of going back onto gluten fully showed it sapped more or less all of my energy, and slowed most of my thought processes. It took well over a fortnight for my body to even begin to adapt to coping with gluten again. I can't go back.

Which makes travelling hard.

Because before, I could pop into any restaurant and order whatever I fancied. Now I have no such option. Before I could eat anything and everything. Now I have to be careful. and in the UK, I know how to be careful. I know how to read the labels. I know what is and isn't likely to cause me grief.

But drop me on a street in Calcutta, and I'm going to be stumped.

So I propose Gluten Free Holidays. There are holiday companies that specialise in all sorts of things. Why not a company that specialises in a few trips each year for people who have allergies and intolerances to food. These trips will be 100% full board. The travel company will make sure that the hotels know exactly how to cater for the eating requirements of their guests. The travel agency will liaise with airlines to ensure the right quantity of special meals are laid on.

Much of the world doesn't use wheat as a staple - in India, for example, rice and chick-peas win. There is no reason why it should be hard to find appropriate and, where desired, culturally authentic food. I might just be talking about practical holidays here... but I might also be talking about gourmet tours.

In any event, Gluten Free Holidays would open the world to those of us who have shied away due to food finding problems

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