Happy Labor Day! Hopefully, you are all savoring the last days of Chicago summer doing whatever you enjoy most and hopefully, not laboring somewhere:)
Gaga Goes Gluten Free
In an ever growing list of celebrities trying a gluten free diet, Lady Gaga is now the latest addition. It was recently reported in the Australian newspaper, Sky News, that she has embarked on the diet in an effort to lose weight. Her gluten free diet reportedly will consist primarily of fish, chicken, vegetables, and the occasional serving of potatoes or rice. She can certainly grill up her famous "meat dress", as that was naturally gluten free.
There has been ongoing debate about whether a gluten free diet can truly help with weight loss. While there is scientific research indicating that individuals who are overweight when diagnosed with celiac disease tend to lose weight after going gluten free, there is no hard evidence indicating that individuals without celiac disease experience weight loss when going gluten free. I actually gained a few pounds when going gluten free - which served as a welcome indicator that my body was absorbing nutrients again. I will say though, that my body is leaner overall. Whether gluten free or not, eating lean proteins, vegetables and whole grains serve as the best foundation for weight loss.
The Savvy Celiac Business Traveler
It's been a while since I've had to travel for business, which as we know, is quite a bit different than traveling for pleasure. My usual trusty cooler of gluten free goodies isn't really practical for the itsy bitsy space provided on airlines nowadays, and I am constrained to go where the business is - often unfamiliar destinations with unpredictable schedules, business meetings and dinners and potentially few options when it comes to gluten free/dairy free dining options.
I was in the Hudson/Akron, Ohio area last week for work travel (about 40 minutes southeast of Cleveland) and was pleasantly surprised to find some establishments with gluten free menus. Along the way, I identified a few tips to help me become a savvy celiac business traveler that I thought I'd share with you. They are similar to my Wheat Free Wanderlust travel tips I've previously posted before, but focused on business travel:
Do your Research. In addition to prepping for your business meeting, it's wise to take some time to prep for your "eating plan". Are there restaurants with gluten free menus near your hotel? Near the place where your business meetings/work will take place? Near the airport? You can't always predict where you will be and when, so scoping out some options around these key areas can help. Yelp is a great tool for getting started, but I always follow-up by personally calling each restaurant beforehand to ask about their menu options, ability to accommodate allergies, and meal preparation to be sure. Chain restaurants, although not giving you a true taste of the region you are visiting, are usually a safer bet and tend to have specialized gluten free menus. A few places that were very accommodating in the Hudson, Ohio area are:
- Nosh Eatery (Hudson, OH): Great sandwiches available with gluten free bread and vegan soup offerings.
- Olive Garden (Cuyahoga Falls, OH): I used to be a sucker for the bottomless salad and breadsticks in my pre-celiac days, but I was pleasantly surprised to see they now have a gluten free menu. I enjoyed the house salad without croutons, cheese, or the traditional italian dressing (due to my casein allergy, I had olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing instead) and an entree of salmon with roasted vegetables.
- O'Charley's (Cuyahoga Falls, OH)
- Altieri's Pizza (Stow, OH): Gluten free pizza crusts, gluten free pasta, and gluten free chicken wings in a dedicated fryer on select nights. Note: This is not an eat-in establishment. Carry out only.
- P.F. Chang's China Bistro (Akron, OH)
- Mustard Seed Cafe & Bistro (Akron, OH)
- The Soup Pot (Solon, OH)
The grocery chain, Giant Eagle, in Ohio also carries a wide variety of gluten free and dairy free options. I stocked up on gluten free English Muffins for breakfast, snacks for the work day, and a few microwaveable Amy's soups and frozen dinners for emergencies.
Check accommodations for gluten free offerings, helpful amenities. With company costs and proximity to business meetings the priority, I don't always have a choice where I can stay. That being said, before check-in, I always request an in-room fridge to refrigerate any perishable snacks I may buy. This time around, I stayed at a Hampton Inn. Unfortunately, all rooms with refrigerators were booked. However, they kindly stored any of my perishable items in their kitchen fridge and retrieved them at any hour that I needed. They also provided a microwave for heating up any of my microwaveable gluten free snacks. While their complimentary breakfasts are the usual gluten-filled standard fare (waffles, cereals, muffins, bagels or toast), I spoke with their kitchen staff and reviewed the ingredients in their pre-made eggs and sausage - both gluten free!
Pack portable snacks. I've found airport terminals one of the least accommodating places for celiacs. That being said, I was so pleasantly surprised to see that O'Hare's Terminal 2 now offers CIBO Express - a convenience store offering vegan, gluten free, and organic items. Hallelujah!!! I did my usual packing of Kind bars, gluten free pretzels, fresh fruit, in my carry-on, along with a gluten free/dairy free ham & cheese sandwich to eat at the gate, but I was able to pick up fresh veggies and hummus, my favorite Vosges chocolate, and Skinny Pop popcorn at CIBO Express. It was a welcome find after having to stand for 2 1/2 hours in United's check-in line after their network completely failed. Here are the TSA's rules on traveling with food, which are a bit less restrictive than I initially thought. Need some ideas of handy snacks to pack in your carry-on? Check out my post on other great gluten free snacking options.
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