Hiking with celiac disease is one of the best ways to adventure, without having to worry so much about your food!
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Hiking With Celiac Disease: A Gluten-Free Guide
- Hiking With Celiac Disease: A Gluten-Free Guide
- About This Gluten-Free Hiking Guide
- Why Hiking Is A Great Choice For Celiacs
- How To Find Gluten-Free Food on Hikes
- Gluten-Free Hiking Supplies
- Gluten-Free Hiking Meals
- 3 Amazing Gluten-Free Hiking Experiences
- Final Thoughts: Hiking With Celiac Disease
- Looking for more celiac travel posts?
About This Gluten-Free Hiking Guide
If you're someone that enjoys the outdoors, going for long walks outside in the mountains, and wants to continue doing so with celiac disease, you absolutely can, and quite easily!
In this guide, I'm sharing my top tips for hiking with celiac, meals you can bring, what to pack, and some amazing hiking experiences you can do with celiac. Because I'm a firm believer that celiac disease shouldn't hold you back from experiencing travel and adventure to the fullest.
Why Hiking Is A Great Choice For Celiacs
Hiking is one of the least stressful activities when it comes to celiac disease. Because when you are hiking or backpacking, you're typically packing your own food with you, just like everyone else. That means you're going to fit in with what everyone else is doing, and feel less awkward, AND you can pack whatever the heck you want with you so you're fed and ready for amazing adventures!
Hiking is something my husband and I have greatly enjoyed in the last ten years of living in New England. And having celiac disease has not been a challenge, but rather, something I don't have to worry about very much when we are out on a hike. Because I can always pack my own food, stop at a grocery store if I need to, and I'm able to have control over what I'm eating.
Hiking can be done year-round, and you can customize hikes to your preferences and health needs. Hikes don't have to be up a mountain. They can be anywhere - in your neighborhood, at the beach, at a local park, or even in larger places like the National Parks, many of which have ramps and ADA accessible boardwalks.
Hiking is an activity that allows you to choose your own adventure - how much you are able to push yourself, how far you want to go, and where you'd like to end up. And it's one of those things where celiac disease doesn't have to be the thing holding you back.
How To Find Gluten-Free Food on Hikes
Locating gluten-free food can be tough when you're hiking in more remote areas. I definitely recommend bringing snacks and meals with you, or stopping at a grocery store, or maybe even checking out these celiac-friendly fast food chains for food. But sometimes you just want to get an idea of what's available. One of the best ways to do that when planning a hiking adventure is on an app/website like FindMeGlutenFree.
FindMeGlutenFree can help you get an idea of what gluten-free restaurants, bakeries, and safe menus are available near you. And this app is used around the globe! And with a Premium Subscription, you can filter by most celiac friendly, see what's open now (so you don't drive all the way to a bakery for breakfast and discover it's closed), and what's gluten-free in the direction you're headed. It's like Google Maps, but a gluten-free version. And no Ads!
I've been a FMGF user for over a decade, but I think their Premium version is much more effective. And after a long day of hiking, sometimes you just want to know where you can find a gluten-free cider or maybe a place with a dedicated fryer to refuel. Take $5 off a Premium Subscription with the code THENOMADICFITZ to make your next hiking trip easier.
Gluten-Free Hiking Supplies
I've got a huge list of hiking supplies on my Amazon page here, including backpacks, boots, microspikes, sleepsacks, and other essentials for hiking with celiac disease.
But here are some other items that I'd consider taking with you for hiking with celiac disease specifically:
Small, soft lunchbox: No, I don't mean a huge igloo one, but a small, handheld, freezable & portable lunchbag - almost like a makeup bag. PackItCool are insulated meaning no icepacks required. It's small enough so you can pack it up the night before, leave it in the freezer overnight, and can keep your food cold for a day hike the next day.
Emergency Kit: If the worst should happen and you get glutened, you'll want to be prepared with comfort items to make you feel better. This could be pain medicine, comfortable pants, tea, or anything else you want to have with you. It's also a good idea to have a small First Aid kit while hiking too, with common supplies like bandaids and medication.
Gluten-Free Snacks: While meals will be even more important, snacks are also, top priority. My go to snacks are fresh fruit, protein bars, homemade trail mix, meat/cheese, muffins, or crackers. A list of gluten-free snack products and brands I recommend can be found here.
Water Bottle: We tend to use water bladders when hiking so we don't have to carry a bottle. But I will also pack a bottle with me to have while driving to the trailhead, or to save for after the hike in case I use up my bladder.
Electrolyte Powders: These are a great way to rehydrate, and can be useful if you find yourself sick. I keep them on hand at home and will pack one or two when traveling.
Reusable Utensil Kit: These really come in handy! A sporknife or a small utensil kit is always a smart idea when hiking. I also keep mine in my backpack when flying or traveling.
More supplies for hiking with celiac disease can be found here.
Gluten-Free Hiking Meals
Everyone knows to pack snacks with them for any adventure with celiac disease. But often we forget that meals are even better and will help us stay full longer!
Here are some great gluten-free meals if you're hiking with celiac disease:
Sandwich: If you can't tell from the photos above, We ALWAYS pack sandwiches for hiking because they are so easy! We do peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or sometimes peanut butter and nutella. If we have the means to keep the sandwiches cold, sometimes I'll make turkey sandwiches with lettuce and cheese for extra protein. Wrap them in reusable bags, plastic wrap, or foil and you're good to go.
Cold Pizza: CLUTCH. My go-to for flying with celiac disease as well, but definitely a great meal. I make pizza the night before a hike/travel adventure and bring leftovers cold wrapped in foil.
Pasta Salad (Cold): A cold pasta salad can be another yummy meal, and you can customize it with whatever protein you like.
Wrap: A tortilla or wrap filled with chicken salad is also another one of my go-to meals for traveling. This one also works great for hikes too.
Camping Meals/Freeze Dried Meals: Mountain House makes certified gluten-free freeze-dried meals and all you need to do is add water. Another genius idea for hiking with celiac disease!
More gluten-free meals & product recommendations can be found here.
3 Amazing Gluten-Free Hiking Experiences
If you're an avid hiker looking for inspiration for your hiking bucket list, these are my top 3 recommendations of hiking experiences with celiac disease!
Camino de Santiago, Spain
The Camino de Santiago, or way of St. James, is a series of ancient pilgrimage routes leading to the tomb of St. James in the northwest corner of Spain, ranging around 500 miles in length. My husband Dylan and I walked 2 weeks along the Northern route of the Camino in 2019 from Irun, France, to Santander, Spain - roughly 175 miles.
This trail, like all hiking experiences, forces you to look deep within yourself, to reflect as you walk mile after mile each day, and can show you what you're capable of with celiac disease. Plus, access to grocery stores, small albuerges with kitchens available, and the presence of gluten-free food in Spain make this completely doable on a gluten-free diet.
You can read my full guide to hiking the Camino de Santiago with celiac here.
The Inca Trail, Peru
The Inca Trail trek has recently become one of the most popular excursions in South America. It tends to be a four to five-day walking route (roughly 25 miles) all the way to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Machu Picchu in Peru. We completed this 4 day trek with the guidance of Alpaca Expeditions back in 2019, who can cater to food allergies and dietary restrictions. We had a wonderful experience and I still keep in touch with our hiking buddies from our group, even today (And they live in Australia!)
To learn more about hiking the Inca Trail with Alpaca Expeditions, check out this post.
Annapurna Base Camp, Nepal
Hiking to Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal is probably one of the most epic hiking adventures I've done with celiac disease. This hiking route in the Annapurna Sanctuary of Nepal is a multi-day trek taking you through rhododendron forests, snow capped peaks, and teahouses. We completed this trek with the help of Snow Leopard Trek, our guide, Tek, and our porter, Raj back in 2019, who also helped make sure my food was gluten-free along the trip (I ate a lot of lentils and rice!)
You can learn more about hiking the ABC Trek and Snow Leopard here.
Final Thoughts: Hiking With Celiac Disease
Hiking with celiac disease is one of my favorite ways to get outside, have control over my food, and enjoy nature. I hope this post helps and inspires you to do the same! A celiac diagnosis does not have to hold you back from exploring, adventuring, and creating incredible memories.
Looking for more celiac travel posts?
The 5 strategies you NEED for traveling with celiac disease.
These 10 items are always in my backpack or suitcase when traveling.
What to do if you're traveling with IBS - and how to reduce travel anxiety.
Get my gluten-free travel guides to Boston, New York, Madrid, Buenos Aires (plus many more) here!
Do you enjoy hiking with celiac disease?
What's your favorite place to hike?
Let me know in the comments!
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