Travelling and student residency….a celiac on the road

Here is the third episode of our interview series with Martina regarding celiac disease.

Episode one and two are Martina’s smart approach against gluten and out and about…and glutenfree

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Hi Martina, you have presented yourself as an avid traveller, can you tell us how you approach a trip abroad?

Before travelling abroad, I usually check the local celiac association’s websites for recommendations on restaurants or supermarkets with gluten free products.

Luckily it has become much easier to find gluten free products. 10 years ago I had to travel with a bag full of food, even for short trips.

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Blogs, mobile apps, forums and review sites are very helpful. I can often find useful information and suggestions by celiacs in reviews. I myself have gotten into the habit of posting reviews for restaurants and hotels, to help fellow celiacs out.

You have to plan ahead and not limit yourself when travelling. I make arrangements before my departure and let the hotel know of my gluten intolerance. I notify them, even if it is just a B&B, so that staff can be made aware for breakfast. I like to be prepared so I verify, if there are supermarkets in the area carrying gluten free products, before commencing my trip.

I often choose to rent a place or to stay in a residence so that I have the option to prepare a sandwich for lunch and some snacks in the morning.

As a resident student how did you get organized with your flatmates?

 I am the only celiac in my family. We have learned to organize well, to be aware of the risk of cross contamination. My family is careful and has always taken very good care of me. We often eat gluten free as a family and have taken on the challenge of using gluten free flour, experimenting with sweet and savoury dishes for the entire family.

I have been a resident student in Milan for three years now and living with other people I had to adapt my routine and coordinate my needs with those of my flatmates. I believe that the level of faith in who you live with, respect for each other first of all, building relationships and a sort of family away from home are essential.

My flatmates are aware of cross-contamination, they have always been very careful and considerate of my space and my food. I often enjoy cooking for others and organizing dinners, it helps me psychologically and takes the pressure off my guests.  A couple of friends have even started to really enjoy gluten free cuisine and improvise themselves as chefs, trying out tasty new recipes.

Do you consider it important to let people know that your food has a different cost?

Yes unfortunately, even though I receive four monthly food vouchers as a celiac, the price of gluten free products is exponentially higher and it is impossible to manage your purchases with the food vouchers alone. Taking flour as example, 500 grams of regular flour cost around 50 cents, while the same amount of gluten free flour costs around 5 Euros.  The price difference doesn’t only affect us celiacs, more and more people find themselves gluten-intolerant or sensitive towards gluten but don’t receive vouchers as they are not diagnosed celiacs. However they need to eliminate gluten from their diet to eat well and feel well.

Report by Carlotta Corvi and Simone Eder with the kind of participation of Martina Corvi

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