In honor of Celiac Awareness Month, we interviewed Christina Kantzavelos of BuenQamino, a gluten-free and autoimmune travel and lifestyle blog.
Read on to learn Christina’s tips for eating gluten-free while traveling, her favorite celiac-friendly places, and more!
Tell us a little about yourself and your website BuenQamino.
Hello! My name is Christina Kantzavelos, and I’m the owner of BuenQamino, a gluten-free and autoimmune travel and lifestyle blog. I started BuenQamino after completing the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile pilgrimage across northern Spain. ‘Buen Camino,’ which translates to wishing someone a good path, is commonly said to pilgrims along the Camino.
The website serves as a resource for those with celiac disease, autoimmune disease, and food restrictions.
When were you diagnosed with celiac disease? What led to your diagnosis?
I was diagnosed in 2012. It had been years of not knowing what was going on with my body. It was doctor visit after doctor visit, and multiple failed protocols, until I saw a naturopath who took one look at me, and knew almost immediately. I was experiencing various GI issues, migraines, acne, anxiety, mouth sores, and more. It unfortunately didn’t stop at gluten, as I later had to also ditch casein, alcohol, refined sugars, and a few high histamine foods due to other health concerns. However, changing my diet was life-changing, and continues to be.
What tips do you have for adhering to a gluten-free diet while traveling?
The biggest tip is to prepare. Doing research ahead of time, to know what food you can eat, which restaurants you can visit, and what you will need to pack in order to supplement yourself while you’re away will save you a lot of time later on. Doing so will actually allow you to enjoy your trip, rather than stress about it. I like to look at other gluten-free travel blogs, associations in the cities or countries I’m visiting, or use free apps, like Find Me Gluten-Free to plan.
Visit www.buenqamino.com to download our free Traveling with Gluten-Free Guide.
Which of the places you’ve visited are especially celiac-friendly?
I was surprised by how celiac-friendly Argentina (sin T.A.C.C.) and Italy (senza gluten) are. They really go the extra mile to ensure your safety, all while keeping your taste buds in mind. In addition, Reykjavik, Iceland is great, as are most the bigger cities in the USA and Canada.
What are some of your favorite gluten-free meals/recipes?
I mostly cook at home, and absolutely love using fresh and organic whole foods, which are naturally gluten-free (vegetables, fruits, gluten-free grains, meats, seafood, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices). I think we often forget that we have at least 25 flour substitutions to work with (i.e. cassava, rice, coconut, buckwheat, almond, garbanzo, etc.). I enjoy making anything from tacos, to stir frys, BREAD SRSLY french toast, to almond cakes and cookies.
What advice do you have for others recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease?
You are not alone, and it’s not the end of the world. You are about to feel so much better, which will supercede anything glutenous you can summon in your mind. And even if you do summon something, know that there is likely a great tasting substitution for it. Tapping into the gluten-free online community is a wonderful place to start. It's full of info, tips, recipes, resource, guides, support and much more. I haven’t let being gluten-free restrict me from enjoying my life, and neither should you.