Guide to gluten free travel

Feasting in foreign lands is one of travel’s great pleasures. But if you follow a gluten-free diet, the prospect of indecipherable menus and unknown cuisines is enough to send you rummaging for an emergency snack bar (trust us, every gluten-free traveller has one).

The gluten-free diet eliminates wheat, barley and rye, the building blocks of most pastas and breads (and the secret ingredients in countless sauces and soups). Some people voluntarily follow the diet but others have no choice, like sufferers of coeliac (or celiac) disease. With good preparation and a steely eye on the menu, there is no destination you can’t devour – though if your health is on the line, always use resources like language cards to ensure your needs are understood. Here’s how to be a gluten-free glutton in eight very different countries.

Sushi, sashimi, rice dishes galore… you could be forgiven for picturing Japan as a dream destination for coeliacs. In reality, it’s extremely challenging. Blame the post-WWII influx of wheat to Japan, which established ramen noodles as a staple food and sprinkled flour into every sauce. Kindly chefs will do their darndest to feed you (especially if you’re armed with a language card) but facing unfamiliar dietary constraints, they are likely to make a mistake. Donburi bowls in which sashimi is laid across rice are often a safe and delicious option, while chewy mochi (rice-flour dumplings) make moreish desserts (or breakfasts, or bedtime snacks, we don’t judge). Tokyo has a minuscule range of gluten-free eateries, including rice-flour bakery Comehiro.

Dig in: we hope you like protein – sashimi is usually a safe bet (and an excellent conclusion to touring Tsukiji Fish Market).
Watch out: most soy sauces contain wheat, so make sure your ‘safe’ sashimi doesn’t arrive pre-splattered with the stuff.