Let me start off with, it feels good to be back.  After several weeks of a busier than usual spring, this Savvy Celiac is back in business.  My other job has spurts of crazy busy time, and the last few weeks has been one of those times.

As many of you know, two weeks ago we went to Charleston, South Carolina.  The trip we had was fantastic!  The best choice we made was to rent a place where we could do all the cooking.  Our one time venturing out to a restaurant (Sticky Fingers in Downtown Charleston) Emma got sick (by the way they said they were working on a gluten free menu, they baked Emma’s food which should have helped with cross contamination worries. She loved the food, but didn’t love the way her tummy felt about 3 hours later–But I digress).

Other than that, we had a great trip, until we got to the airport, which brings me to this post.

We had eaten a late lunch and got to the airport at 5:30, two hours before our flight.  We had our emergency “Medical Supplies” box with some snacks and so I thought I could get her through until at least Charlotte where we had our layover.  But Emma was suddenly hungry, as were we.  And we needed to find a gluten-free solution.  And let me tell you, the Charleston, South Carolina airport is not exactly the place for that.  The food was mostly deep fried, pre-made sandwiches or pizza.

From the limited selection of dining, we found a place that appeared to have some possibilities:  salads and fruit.  But the problem:  there was no way to find out if the meat on the salad was gluten free. We asked at the counter and they said she shouldn’t eat it the meat in the salad because they were sure it had gluten in it and she’d be better off with “a bagel or something”…..YIKES!  (-As yet another aside- I really don’t like it when people talk to me about the gluten free diet like they’re teaching me what it is…).

We ended up with fresh fruit and potato chips for her. Great dinner right?  I felt so bad for her, I felt claustrophobic.  Here she was trapped in a place where she can’t leave to eat and she’s still got 3-4 hours of traveling ahead of her.  And I can’t do anything to help her and no one else knows squat about gluten free foods.  Have you ever felt claustrophobic because you can’t find a safe place to eat?  I am sure it must be a common experience.

The Oscar Mayer Airport Back-up Plan (don't eat the crackers or dessert)

About 15 minutes later, after eating and before we went to our gate, we walked by a quick grab-and-go kiosk in the airport. I started looking — for a cheese stick or something with more nutritional value and substance.  I did find some cheese sticks. But I also spotted this:  Oscar Mayer Cracker Combos. The meats appeared gluten free as did the cheeses.  The only things that weren’t were the crackers in the middle and the “dessert” seemed suspect.  The packaging is the reason why I thought we could try it.  There were dividers between each item and the cover  was sealed to each divider, so they didn’t move around and touch the other food.

Emma opened it up on each edge only to reveal the cheese and meat.  The crackers and dessert remained covered and sealed.  She ate the food with her own Schar Crackers and was satisfied and she didn’t get sick.

Upon review online, Oscar Mayer is a Kraft product.  Kraft says it won’t hide gluten in ingredient labels according to its gluten-free statement on their website.  So the meat and cheese were indeed safe (or as safe as they could be given the “Cracker Combos” they came in).  The tray with the food inside appeared clean and there weren’t crumbs everywhere.  Clearly choosing to eat this is a personal decision and some readers might not be comfortable trying it. But I really felt helpless and needed to find something for her.  We would probably do it again in a pinch.

Have you ever gone to lengths you didn’t think you would,  to get yourself or your child a gluten free meal?  Feel free to comment below.



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7 Responses to “Lack of Gluten Free Food Leaves a Feeling of Claustrophobia”

  1. I feel claustrophobic all the time!!! I am allergic to wheat/gluten AND dairy… so my struggle to find food is even more difficult than what you described. At the airport? Forget it. I might as well starve. I can barely even eat out anymore because everything I thought was safe turned out not to be. And now the symptoms are getting so bad that one allergic reaction takes me weeks to repair (b/c I get horrible acne breakouts and then it takes weeks and weeks before they fully go away again). It’s awful… I feel your pain and your daughter’s!

  2. Thanks Jennifer. Sometimes its nice to hear that you aren’t the only one who’s felt that way. It’s got to be even tougher to add on dairy to the mix. Good luck.

  3. Absolutely! It’s definitely a claustrophobic feeling. It’s like leaping tall gluten buildings in a single bound to find something that will work (or find someone who isn’t a moron to help us).

    My most recent experience is when my daughter went on a trip out of state for school. They were on their way back on the big tour bus and everyone wanted to stop at McDonalds for breakfast. She doesn’t do McDonalds at all, but was starving. They were only about an hour from home, so when I picked her up I took her to her favorite gluten-free-friendly restaurant for an awesome breakfast.

    And sometimes—we just eat Snickers until we can find something better.

  4. I definitely feel claustrophobic sometimes when trying to find GF food in a pinch! We live in a small midwest town with a population about 3500; the closest gluten-free restaurant is Chipotle’s Mexican Grill about an hour away. Needless to say, we don’t eat out often. We have 4 kids, 3 of whom have celiac (as do I) so when we travel, I bring a cooler. I have a tendency to pack way more food than we need, but I don’t want my kids to be hungry. The kids are newly diagnosed (March & May of this year) so they are still adjusting to the gluten-free diet. Our whole family is gluten-free, even my son & my husband, so that helps the girls feel a little better about it. But the lack of options in our area makes it difficult to travel sometimes. As a mother, seeing your child hungry is a tough pill to swallow & knowing that there is nothing safe around for him/her to eat is quite a helpless feeling.

    *Btw, I DESPISE when other people try to “teach” me about the gluten-free diet, especially someone who works in the restaurant business. Unless you live it, I guarantee I know more than you!!!

  5. I know the feeling also. It s heartbreaking and lonely as well as claustrophobic. So i have learned to carry nuts or protein bars or even M&M’s in my purse to get me to the next place or next meal. Wal Mart is finally carrying gluten free products and they have some breakfast protein bars made by Glenny’s and they are great for a quick healthy snack of nuts and berries and honey. I love them so I try to always check my purse before leaving home just in case a situation comes up. I learned that to “Always be prepared” is the best advice in my opinion.

    I also look for a Wendy’s whenever traveling because I know that I can at least eat their grilled chicken, salad, baked potato or french fries without getting sick. the rest of my family loves Wendy’s also so that makes it easier on me. And we also find a hotel with a kitchenette in it so that i can make my own gluten free meals if I have too.

  6. I totally get this. I recently went on a two week trip to NYC from Sydney and I can tell you as a twenty five year old it is not only difficult for yourself to get food at say airports, but when you are trying to eat out as a part of the group it’s much much harder.

    It is something as a celiac you woRk around but it limits some social interactions and your daughter will quickly learn as she grows up who her real friends are very quickly. It takes strong friends to support you when locating foods and eating out with you when sometimes there are options like take away that you just can’t eat. I will say though it is getting much easier with more and more options poping up, plus you learn to plan ahead.

    I’m slowly coming to terms with the feeling of claustrophobia as I was diagnosed last year. But for years before had issues with dairy and other foods. In all honesty we all learn to be prepared for certain situations but there are always news ones that pop up we dont anticipate. It won’t always be smooth sailing but we can only learn from it and make ourselves stronger as a result.

  7. You asked the question… Have you ever gone to lengths you didn

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