How Do I Survive For a Gluten-Free Week in Honduras?

celiac disease in honduras
is there a test for gluten sensitivityDude note: The holidays are all about giving. So I thought I’d take the 14 days after Thanksgiving and answer 14 emails I’ve received from my fellow celiacs asking for guidance. And I’d like this to be a communal effort. My advice, shocking as this may be to hear (sarcasm), may not always be the best advice. So please chime in and lend your voice.

Day 2 of 14

Let’s jump right into the email…

Hi Gluten Dude. Just to start out, your website has probably been the most helpful to me since I was diagnosed two years ago. So THANK YOU!

I am traveling to Honduras in Feb. and needless to say freaking out about how I am going to eat and not get sick. I also have issues with dairy. I am staying at a 5-star hotel but needless to say it’s Honduras and there is not a mini-fridge or microwave in room. I spoke with their in-house reservations about it and they asked for an email with what my needs are. Hoping to at least get a microwave in the room.

I already know I need to pack my own food as much as possible. I don’t use a lot of prepackaged food though (usually do lean meats/veggies) and don’t know what you might suggest that is good and would help me survive for a week. There is a coffee maker so I can make myself hot water for GF oatmeal etc.

Any other ideas?

Hmmm…while I know less than nothing about Honduras, I’ve got a couple of thoughts here.

1) Whether you like it or not, I’d suggest bringing some prepackaged food. Better safe than sorry. Load up on items that travel well.

2) Keep a friendly email conversation going with the hotel. Tell them how excited you are about your stay, but that you are anxious because of your celiac disease. If they seem responsive to your needs, work with them to make it easier for everybody involved.

3) Ask to be put in touch with the head chef at the hotel. If it’s a 5-star hotel, I’d like to think that means a 5-star chef as well. He or she should not only be up for the challenge of keeping you safe, but will take pleasure in providing you meals for the week.

4) Really try to get a fridge and a microwave in the room. If they don’t have them at the hotel, see if you can rent them for the week and have them delivered to your room.

5) If you’ll be eating at restaurants outside the hotel, do your due diligence. Call the restaurants ahead of time, speak with the manager, and see if they can accommodate you. If not, find a Plan B for that evening, even if it means not eating at the restaurant, but still enjoying the people you are with.

6) See if there is a grocery store in the area you’ll be staying. Then you can always load up on items once you arrive.

7) Don’t freak out! You are going on vacation. Part of the fun of vacation is looking forward to it. You’ve got plenty of time to prepare. Breathe. Your vacation is going to be awesome.

Happy Travels.

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7 thoughts on “How Do I Survive For a Gluten-Free Week in Honduras?”

  1. I have a brother in Honduras and spent a week there in May. I took some food that I knew I couldn’t get there, but also shopped when I got there. I don’t know where you are going, but in the capital city of Tegucigalpa, there is a grocery story near the American Embassy called Mas o Menos that has a lot of American food. I got all of my fresh food there. It was easier for me this time because I was staying with my brother and could fix meals there, but I have stayed in hotels in the past. They understand the word “gluten.” If you are staying in a five-star hotel, there will be English speakers there to help you. Don’t hesitate to ask for what you need. Gluten Dude – you can give this person my email if you want.

  2. A few suggestions:
    –print out a summary of your dietary limitations in Spanish to bring with you to show waiters and chefs. Bring bring multiple copies and even consider laminating them (or just cover it in clear tape so it’s protected). You can also buy translation cards for certain dietary restrictions on the Internet.
    –If you don’t speak Spanish, make your own mini “dictionary” of key words so you can navigate a menu more easily. For example, write down the translations for breaded, grilled, fried, cheese, yogurt, etc. When you’re looking at a menu in Spanish, it can help you figure out which items to avoid.
    –Do your research! You would be surprised at how many other people have blogged about eating gluten free in Hondorus. Find the names of some local allergy-friendly restaurants before you go or even dishes that are typically gluten free.
    –Bring plenty of calorie dense foods with you that you can easily eat regardless of whether you have a microwave or refrigerator: Kind bars, Think Thin bars, Lara bars, nuts, dried fruit, beef jerky, small packets of peanut butter, etc.
    –Find a local market where you can buy bananas, nuts, dried fruit, etc. after you are there.
    –depending on where you are going, remember that you may also need to avoid drinking the local tap water and even foods washed in it (liked raw lettuce in salads).
    –the simplest dishes are often gluten free friendly, like beans and rice or bananas. Also, even in countries like Hondorus, you can find packaged foods like plain potato chips and candy bars. No, it’s certainly not healthy, but it can fill a hungry belly in a pinch!
    –bring plenty of medicine (Advil, Imodium, Pepto, etc.) with you, just in case you do get glutened.
    –remember that a smile and “thank you!!” can go a long way! Folks are more likely to help you if you are friendly and grateful.
    Good luck and have fun!

  3. While I’ve never traveled to Honduras I have traveled to Mexico 25+ times and have to “make it work”. MANY nicer hotels south of the US border are offering options for those with food sensitivities, etc. Great suggestions above. You said 5 star but you didn’t say if this an all inclusive hotel. Regardless, many of the guests are on the go, heading to excursions, the beach, etc, so the hotels usually provide quick take~aways for those guests.. Boiled eggs and fresh fruit are always safe options on the morning buffet lines. Most hotels have individual yogurt cups as well. Most plain roasted meats and kabobs are safe as well. Baked potatoes. Don’t count on the corn tortillas being safe. Some people make them with a little bit of flour and chances are they’re also made on the same machine or fried in the same oil as flour tortillas. I always take lots of gluten free jerky and a box of cookies (cuz no one wants to have to miss out on sweet treats on vaca!). When I get there I buy fresh fruit I can peel, pickles, pringles. I also pack miso soup packets, instant oatmeal, instant mashed potatoes and anything else light that I can get in my suitcase and make with hot water from the coffee maker. At that level of hotel, you won’t have to have the added worry of water used by the kitchen to prepare your food (they have fresh, potable water trucked in for food prep and ice for your drinks) HOWEVER the water to your room may not be safe to consume. Use bottled water ONLY for making your meals and brushing your teeth and don’t rinse your toothbrush in the tap! That’s a bit off topic, but you don’t need the added stress of non potable water while dealing with food concerns. Here’s another tip along those lines… You see the locals squeezing lime on everything and in their beer in Latin America? That’s not because it tastes good (although it does!). Lime will help kill undesirable microbes that might find their way into your gut that could cause you intestinal distress. So squeeze it on everything.. fish, rice, veggies, drinks etc. It won’t do anything for the gluten but, again, it helps keep the tummy healthy on your trip. Healthy doses of acidophilus pre trip and during will also help.

    I agree with seeing about renting a fridge elsewhere if the hotel can’t provide one for you. The local grocery stores down there generally have them to rent. We’ve done that several times at all inclusives as well as small hotels and it’s not been an issue.

    I hope the hotel can accommodate you well, but be prepared to take matters into your own hands. Have a great time!

  4. My first trip out of the country with celiac was to the Dominican Republic, and I did not get glutened! You can do this. I was staying at an all-inclusive resort, I joined the hotel’s loyalty program (Melia) and then called and spoke to a customer service person with the loyalty program, she connected me with the general manager of the property. They took it very seriously. They recommended we stay in the upgraded area with restaurant service, as they could not guarantee the all-inclusive buffets would be safe (made sense). The first night in the restaurant, we were introduced to the chef and gave him and our waiter the spanish dining cards you can print off from the internet explaining gluten-free . We also tipped our waiter heavily. He was our waiter for the entire 5 days and took excellent care of us. We did eat one night in the specialty steakhouse and when I made the reservation, they already had a note that I was gluten free and printed out a special gluten free menu for me. The Dominican food was generally safe, grilled fish and meat, rice and peas, veggies. Breakfast was probably the hardest meal, they had yogurt and fruit and I brought my own gluten free granola. We had a mini-fridge in the room, the concierge got me extra yogurts, pre-wrapped cheese sticks, and juices to keep in it. I brought a ton of safe food, but only used the granola, gf crackers (with my cheese sticks) and a few kind bars when we didn’t feel like leaving the beach to find a snack. Good luck, you can do it!

  5. I spent a week in Honduras in 2012. I stayed at a small hotel near San Pedro Sula. I packed a lot of protein bars (about 1/3 of my suitcase). Even if I couldn’t eat the whole meal there was always amazing fresh fruit available. Most of the tortillas there are made of corn but make sure to check (maize=corn, trigo=wheat). I’d recommend reading up on Honduran food recipes so you have a general idea of what you can and can’t have, most of it is naturally gf but many hotels tend to cater to tourists by serving gluten-filled American. When I travel I always bring Pepto and Imodium just in case I get glutened or travel sickness.
    Honduras is a beautiful country. I hope you have an amazing time there!

  6. Invest in a food dehydrator (Nesco, ~$50) and make some stews, etc. to take with you. Should check on the rules about bringing any meat products in so they may have to be vegetarian. They taste great and you can supplement your stews, etc. with fresh fruits and veggies. Highly recommend “Another Fork in the Road” written for backpacking meals. All recipes use real ingredients and all I’ve tried have been very tasty. Ate this way for two weeks on a trail and my friend commented on how delish the food was. Will be doing this myself for future non-backpacking trips.

  7. Hello!
    I have never been more than 10 minute walk from the dockside on the Island of Rotan; however, the best advice I have ever got about travelling GF from a fellow celaic—–GO DIRECTLY TO THE CONCIERGE AND GET A LETTER WRITTEN IN THE LOCAL LANGUAGE EXPLAINING YOUR DIETARY NEEDS. In your 5 star resort, they can arrange for you to meet the chef and explain again. Maybe even a kitchen tour if you ask nicely! But they do appreciate all the advance warning you can give ie email so they are expecting you.

    Carry this letter with you everywhere! I have heard this strategy pay off handsomely with special food and on the resort and no problems off the resort. No gluten incidents noted.

    🙂

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Who I am. And who I'm not.

Who I am. And who I'm not.

I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didn’t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, I’ve done my job.

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