A Gluten Free Miracle, Diabetes, Coeliac & Travel

bbq foodA gluten free miracle – guest blog from Georgia.

I have been away for my mum’s birthday – a significant one – and to celebrate, we spent plenty of time lazing around the Versace Hotel Pool in Queensland. This was the perfect timing, as we were both long overdue for a break and I can’t think of anything better than poolside at the elegant Versace.

One of the upsides to where we stayed was that the breakfast was not only included, but had it’s own Gluten Free (GF) buffet table!! One of the worst scenarios I have ever encountered with GF food options was when I was working away and they had no GF options specified on the menu. I did my usual and checked with a waiter/waitress, who checked with the chef, who in this instance came back to me and said our chips are GF. To hear this left me speechless, after saying “YES I’LL HAVE THEM!” It is so rare to come across GF chips, so when an opportunity arises YOU TAKE IT, no questions asked.

We waited, and waited for our meals – mine being the last to come out, I didn’t mind, I was too excited to eat my chips to have a care when my meal came – well half of it. All that was on my plate was a piece of steak with a lettuce leaf. I asked the waitress where my chips were and she said chips weren’t Gluten Free! Now I hate drawing attention to my dietary requirements, I mean hate, but I had to say something. I told her that I was assured they were, after much back and forth. She apologised and brought me some mashed potatoes on a side plate as a replacement.

I ate my food and left, with the expectation that finding GF isn’t always easy and you can be left disappointed, constantly.

But this trip isn’t one of those times, I had my OWN buffet!

Aside from the ‘foodie stuff’ I was just so excited to get away with my mum and do what we do best, shopping & relaxing. This trip was well deserved for my mum, I’m so lucky to have such a close relationship with her, she simply is the best. It is always nice to go away and it is always nice to come back – there truly isn’t anything quite like your own bed although the sheets at the Versace were pretty plush.

Anyway I could go into detail about my week escaped from reality and spent in pure luxury, but I will spare you all the details. What I want to elaborate on is my Gluten Free experience. Whenever I go on holiday or even leave the close quarters of my neighbourhood it’s always a major concern of mine ‘what can I eat gluten free? Sometimes there are foods available on the menu I can have, but the sound of them makes me want to puke. Why should I be deprived of yummy food and spend $10+ on food I’m not even going to like just because it’s Gluten Free.

Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a huge rant on ‘Gluten Free’ in actual fact it is a success story.

For dinner one night we decided to go down and suss out the restaurants near our hotel (2 minute walking distance from our room – not miles this time). We stumbled upon ‘Glass Restaurant’ and the menu looked to die for, so we asked the man standing near the sign if there was anything Gluten Free (as nothing was specified on the menu). With doubt in our minds and tummies we were told that basically anything on the menu can be made Gluten Free – before he could finish his sentence, we were seated, menu in hand inspecting all the possible options we both could have.

We chose the shared Chargrilled Chicken with French fries. The meal was soo good and the service was that fantastic, we went back. The second time we went back I chose the Thai Pork Belly and when the waiter came over we confirmed if the meal I had chosen was Gluten Free – not even a hesitation, just a ‘can be done’ attitude.

After I had finished my meal, I was craving something sweet, but like you people with diabetes will understand – it all depends on what level my blood sugar was. To my relief, it was in the ‘green zone’ as I call it, even though I stress to everyone I meet, I can eat what you eat (aside from it not containing gluten) because I account for everything I eat and administer insulin accordingly. Still when your BGL (blood glucose level) is low enough to have an extra treat – you eat it, full or not, and in this case I was itching to know what on their desert menu I could have.

A staff member came over and we tested him on what I could have. It was the most professional and thorough service I have received- he was honest and went through ‘yes’ or ‘no’. VERY lucky for me, the one I had my eye on was on the ‘yes’ list. My mouth is watering just remembering it. The very helpful staff member was in fact the Manager there and he sat down with us and shared his experience. He told us that he has always known about the Coeliac allergy and catering for Gluten Free and has always, always stressed to his staff the importance of it.

He told us he once had a family come in stressing their daughters nut allergyand he assured them that there was nothing to worry about, yet they were stressed about how important it was. It turns out it had been a year since they were last in Queensland and they had told the restaurant they were at (not the same restaurant) about their daughters allergy. After that experience their daughter had an allergic reaction from the meal and was in a coma for three months. The manager really knew how important listening to people’s requirements is, and has always instilled this message to his staff.

It goes to show the importance of awareness and how dangerous it can be if it is ignored.

It is a matter of if you don’t ask, you don’t get, however in our case we got very lucky and if anyone is in the area I would recommend this restaurant 100%.

Until next time. I’m back to reality for now.