As a coeliac, leaving the house for the day isn’t as easy as just making sure you’ve got your lippy, purse and keys. Whether it’s a day out of just off to work there are certain things you will need in your bag to survive the day ahead.
Many a time I have skipped out the front door with a beautiful little handbag perfectly coordinated to my outfit. Only to find as the day goes on, I am weak with hunger, tired and cranky, wishing I’d thought on to pack some snacks, as there is no where I can get anything gluten free to eat.
It took a while to realize that if I don’t take food for myself, I won’t get to eat all day. Usually wherever you go there is a shop or cafe to grab a bite to eat. This is not the case when you follow a strict gluten free diet. For me it is even worse because the chances of finding food that’s gluten free, grain free, dairy free, soy free, yeast free and egg free, in regular shops and cafes is basically zero!
Nowadays there are certain items I have in my handbag at all times. Here are the things I have in my coeliac handbag survival kit.
Firstly I make sure I have a bag that is big enough to hold all the things I am going to need. Preferably it will have some kind of structure, and compartments so I can easily get to items as I need them, and keep my water bottle upright, no one likes leakage. Back before I was diagnosed, the most important thing would be that it matched my outfit. Ha! now it has to be big enough for all my gluten free booty, but still preferably stylish.
The most important items are food. I’m always prepared for the fact I won’t be able to have anything to eat. So I pack a few different items to keep me going. If I’m at work I will prepare a meal to take for my lunch, but if I’m just out and about, I pack a few bits to see me through.
Nuts, seeds and dried fruit are my go to gluten free handbag essentials. They are light weight, this is very important, us ladies already have enough to carry. Nuts are tasty and filling, as well as being a healthy snack, full of fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. I love walnuts, pecans and almonds the best.
To satisfy my savory cravings, I have these veg crisps by Tyrells They are gluten free and really hit the spot when you need something to munch on. As I don’t eat potatoes these are a great alternative to regular crisps. I always have these on me as I find it’s the savory handbag stuff that’s hardest to find.
For a sweet treat I carry a nakd bar or two! I have a genuine love for these bars. These are a real life saver. Although there are lots of similar types of bars on the market, if you look closely most of them contain rice, soy, oats, or milk. The ones that don’t, have been manufactured or packaged in factory that handles gluten, soy, or milk arrgggghhh! I can trust the nakd bars and they come in a great choice of flavours and taste amazing.
It is common for people to coeliac disease to also be dairy intolerant, which I am and I also can’t have Soy, which is the main dairy free option in coffee shops, so I carry these little pots with me. Now I can get a tea or coffee when I’m out and not have to drink it black. There are lots of soy versions about but I managed to find these in a health food shop which are soy free yey!
It’s not just about food. I always carry my own water, as I know my bottle is safe from any gluten contamination, and I’m not wasting money or adding to the plastic waste in our oceans. It’s important to stay hydrated as I have really dry skin, eyes and lips.
I make sure I have a lip balm with me, as dry coeliac lips are the worst. This one by Lanolips can also be used on sore patches of skin too, so doubles up as a treatment on my dermatitis herpetiformis (a skin condition associated with coeliac disease) when it flares up. You can find out more about gluten free skincare in my blog post here.
Wet wipes are another coeliac handbag survival kit essential. If you end up in a place surrounded by gluten eating crumb dropping people, you can wipe and cleanse things. I can get a little OCD with this, but better safe than sorry.
I have got these Andrex washlets because they were on offer at 20p. I do love a good bargain. They are also good if I have any tummy troubles and there’s no loo roll. I can use these and they are flushable, a total winner.
Last but not least, painkillers. Always handy as you never know when you might get contaminated by gluten and feel rough. Headache, sore eyes, muscle and joint pain are some of my symptoms so I’m always prepared in case gluten strikes.
As I mention in my about about page, It feels like food rules my life and it does, but by making the effort to pack my bag with things I need for the day, I get some control.
I don’t have to go without, or have to eat the only item on offer, even if I don’t fancy it. I give myself choice. I get to eat things I like and it makes my day much better. Getting a sore shoulder from carrying a stuffed bag, is definitely worth it, for the feeling of empowerment I get over my disease.