My Gluten free Candida diet adventures in Rome (Italy!)
The trick when navigating Rome on the Candida diet (or when travelling anywhere really) is to be prepared.
Before leaving I had bought a bunch of protein bars (available at Sainsbury’s and Archie Browns health food shop, and I’m pretty sure near you too!), a couple of organic green apples (skip this early on during the diet, too high in fruit sugar) and I had taken a whole box with green tea and ginger tea bags as well as Lazpacho/ Pau d’arco tea bags with me to push any viral activity back into remission and as a little pick me up that was healthier than coffee!)
Grain free snacks are the way forward!
Paleo bars are my favourite (I have only this past month plucked up the courage to try pre-made snack bars, so that’s a new thing for me!). They do contain a little bit of dried fruit like cherries or dates (so these are also a no-go in the beginning of the candida diet) but other than that they are gluten free, free from unhealthy fillers and mostly contain just nuts and seeds and very helpful at keeping your energy levels up on a long travel day where you might not have access to healthy food on the way. A definite god send for people who have their Candida levels fairly well under control already.
(For people in the beginning Candida diet stages pure Carob bars are lower in carbs, and I had good success with those in the past.)
I also baked my own yeast free gluten free bread for the journey, took some sliced ramiro pepper with me, a bottle of mineral water and had activated some mixed spiced seeds to nibble on.
So we arrived at Fumicino airport in Rome tired after a 5 am start + with a stinking cold… naturally that required extra sustenance to keep us going until our connecting bus arrived. The pic shows the ‘His & Her’s airport snacks: Him – Cappuccino ice cream; Her – a salad! (It took all my willpower not to eat any of the croissants that were on offer everywhere!)
Book an Air B&B Apartment so you can cook Candida diet friendly gluten free meals
The secret to a happy tummy in Rome/ on holiday even when you have Candida is not to stay in a hotel but to book an air b&b apartment where you can cook yourself.
The fridge also comes in handy to safely store the boat load of meds & vitamins that a recovering Candida sufferer inevitably is carrying around with herself!
The Italians as lovely as they are haven’t got a clue how to make a healthy breakfast — I only saw sweet wheat pastries, cheesy baguettes, cereal and tiny strong coffees or orange juice on offer. Nope, that won’t cut the mustard (as the funny folk in England say!)
How to secure a gluten free breakfast in Rome (or anywhere abroad!)
Key to making this apartment thing work on the Candida diet is to arrive with some core healthy ingredients in your luggage to set your vacation off to a successful start.
If you arrive without healthy foods, and you are forced to go outside in the scorching heat to find a health food shop in a foreign country… and chances are you are already starving… that’s not a recipe for happiness!
So what you want to do, and I’ve successfully tested this multiple times when travelling now — you take a small carton of rice milk with you and half a pack of buckwheat or gluten free oats, some desiccated coconut and chia seeds (+ cinnamon if that agrees with you) and Vanilla stevia drops (or a stevia sachet) for sweetening. Together with the green tea from home that allows you to refuel before embarking on a local groceries hunt.
This is what our groceries shop looked like by the way:
For him – milk, ham, oats, multi grain bread, butter, eggs, cheese. For her (me) – rice milk, gluten free oats, eggs, ruccola, basil, quinoa wraps = breaky + lunch sorted, yay!
Another ‘His & Her’s moment: pasta (him) & quinoa (her/ moi) with fresh veg & herb sauce, yum
(If you are still in the beginning stages of the Candida diet where all grains are off limits then my friend you either take some Paleo wraps/ homemade Paleo pancakes with you, or you get up early and buy some organic eggs and vegetables to make a fine omelette (where there is a will there’s a way!)
And another His & Her’s moment, boy was that delicious (we threw some Prosciutto in to make it more filling, his has multi grain bread and tons of cheese – hers has the ‘damage in disguise’ wraps! I later found some 100% gluten free wraps too in Rome, so I know they exist!
More His & Hers Meals on Vacation!
We bought a jar of gluten free & dairy free green pesto that we had with pasta/ wraps and also mixed into the chicken stir fry – very yum and economical.
Last but not least what could have been the ultimate Roman culinary ‘His & Hers’s moment: Pizza! I chickened out after my Quinoa wraps scare and slight bloating symptoms though (more on that further below, keep reading! — I swallowed my envy and opted for chicken & veg stir fry while watching Johnny devour his proper Italian pizza (he said it was quite doughy though, hah!)
Awesome Gluten Free Pizza, Pasta & Pastry Places
I had bookmarked two highly popular (according to the 4-5 star google reviews) gluten free places to try (we didn’t get a chance to in the end though unfortunately — there are only so many hours in the day/ of two days in Rome, not to forget that we were both ill so jetting through the city via rammed underground wasn’t very appealing!)
These are the two promising looking gluten free eateries though in case you get a chance to go to Rome:
- Mama Eat menu for Celiacs (tasty gluten free pasta dishes as well as pizza!)
- Napoleoni Gluten free for gluten free pastries.
Gelato (ice cream)!!!
Really good (and not too sweet) ice cream is easy to get in Rome – one such place is fittingly called ‘Wonderful Ice cream’ on the via Nationale which is very central to the main attractions in Rome.
You guessed it, you had better stayed off it as a Candida diet novice to avoid the fruit sugar. But in all other cases one scoop of berry or lemon ice cream weighs in fairly low on the sugar scale, and is fine to eat. I didn’t see any gluten free waffle cones, so I generally opted for eating mine out of a cardboard tub — not as nice, but far less sugar and no gluten related tummy upsets or Candida flare ups!
Always pop into a local health food shop
There is an epic shop in Rome that is filled with organic health food ingredients. It’s huuuge, more like a warehouse. I felt like a kid in a toy shop. I could have spent all my money there on new goodies that I hadn’t tried. I even found my favourite coffee substitute, Yannoh there (hence my little dance of joy!)
Unfortunately I only found this shop on our last day in Rome. But if you ever go, have a look for ‘Naturasi’, it’s worth visiting!
Just look at the insane choice of pasta (some of them gluten free!), same with cereal….
How to cut down on carbs on vacation
You can of course cut sugar and gluten out of your diet easily by cooking vegetable & eggs or vegetable & meat/ fish combos.
But being in Italy surrounded by pizza and pasta it’s only natural to want to have a little bit of carbs. That’s why I opted for wraps (that was my downfall as it turned out — there was a bakery counter with fresh bread though, one bread looked ok (might have been Spelt, Teff or Rye, but since I didn’t have a dictionary with me the ‘Quinoa label’ on the wraps was more appealing to me.)
… and that’s where it started to go royally wrong.
Since I had no idea what the Italian label said, apart from ‘Quinoa’ in big writing at the top I figured they would be perfectly safe for me to eat as wheat sensitive person. But after two days of stuffing myself with these delicious quick to make wraps I was starting to feel bloated and my mood was affected too which are always warning signs of a gluten contamination for me, and I knew something was off. On closer inspection I found out that the presumably mega healthy wraps were mainly refined wheat flour with the addition of Quinoa — aaaaaargh! That would explain why they were so darn tasty and pliable!
A little lesson in Italian nutrition info
As it turns out it says on the label: Without animal fats, without yeast, without dairy, without eggs — that fooled me… I mistook the ‘yeast’ for ‘wheat’ — duh! (Note to self, take a mini Italian – English dictionary with you next time you go on holiday…)
It should have said senza grano (wheat free) or senza glutine (gluten free).
After that I didn’t even attempt to eat a ‘proper pizza’ in Rome sadly.
But I did eat some yummy (gluten free) pasta!
- A little food prep goes a long way — take some core Candida diet friendly snacks and breaky ingredients with you for peace of mind.
- Scope out the best gluten free or vegan restaurants on Google maps — in a city there are bound to be amazing healthy alternatives to ‘traditional wheat based’ pasta, pizza and pastries.
- Visit a local health food shop and supermarket and stock up on delicious wholesome foods + organic veggies and a few food essentials.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself – you’re on vacation after all – enjoy some of the foods like a refreshing ice cream or some fresh fruit if at all possible. Happiness goes a long way towards becoming healthier…
Have you had some memorable dieting adventures on vacation? Feel free to share them with us in the comments below, and don’t forget to join my newsletter below to get my updates by email once every 1-2 weeks.