Many people are sensitive to the gluten found in many processed foods. In fact, about one in 50 people in the U.S. have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance. It’s also common for people to be sensitive to gluten after eating certain foods like pasta or bread because of the proteins they contain. It can be difficult to navigate traveling with this sensitivity. Illinois is a gorgeous state that offers much more than just the skyscrapers in Chicago. Luckily, there are many hotels and restaurants across Illinois that are safe and gluten-free friendly. Whether you’re visiting family and friends, sightseeing, or attending an event, here’s everything you need to know about traveling as a celiac in Illinois:
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Where to Eat
There are many great restaurants that are gluten-free friendly and healthy in Illinois. Many chains like Panera and Chipotle have gluten-free options, and many independent restaurants offer gluten-free menus and options. If you’re staying close to the Chicago area, you’re in luck. Large cities are the easiest place to find inclusive menus. Do a quick search on Google Maps in your area and you should be able to find lots of options like gluten-free ice cream, granola bars, and snacks.
There are several safe and gluten-free hotels in Illinois. If you aren’t sure where to stay, look for hotels that offer gluten-free options or call the hotel’s front desk to ask if they can accommodate your dietary needs. If you’re visiting a city, you can often find gluten-free options at restaurants or cafes in the downtown area. You can also often find gluten-free options on daily special menus or by asking room service to bring something gluten-free. Some hotels may also have gluten-free options. If you’re visiting a hotel, ask the front desk if they can help you find a safe place to eat.
Most grocery stores will have gluten-free options. While many grocery stores have a few gluten-free products, they may not be well marked or organized. If you’re looking for specific products, you may want to call the store’s customer service to see if they can help you find what you need. Some stores also have a gluten-free aisle so you can find everything more easily. For big-box stores, like Walmart and Target, you may want to call the customer service department to see if they have a dedicated gluten-free aisle. Many stores have gluten-free items that can be found in the customer service section of the aisle.
As a celiac, you understand the importance of your physical health. Luckily, there are lots of gluten-free friendly gyms in Illinois, like Fitness 19. Gyms like this make sure that you are in a safe environment while you get some exercise during your travels. Other gyms may not have dedicated gluten-free options, but they may have staff or members that can help you choose a gluten-free meal or snack. Before you go to the gym, find out if they have any gluten-free or celiac friendly events listed online. If you don’t see anything, ask the front desk if they can add something. You can also try joining a group fitness class to meet other celiacs.