Coeliac disease is a chronic autoimmune condition affecting roughly one in every hundred people in the UK. It’s passed on genetically – through both sides of the family, in my case – and can be triggered from birth or later on, due to internal and environmental factors. Having dealt with symptoms and complications throughout my life, I was diagnosed in the summer of 2015. I’ve written about that experience on the Student Minds blog.
Travelling as a coeliac can be complicated. I’m particularly prone to flare ups whilst abroad, when a lot of time is spent on the move and gluten contamination is hard to avoid. Before my diagnosis, I suffered from exhaustion in Ecuador, sickness in New York, a migraine in Paris and stomach pains in Copenhagen. Oh, the glamour. I’m fairly good at managing my condition now, but flare ups can happen as a result of tiredness or stress, regardless of whether or not I have accidentally consumed gluten. Still, I don’t want that to stop me from exploring new places.
In April, I visited Amsterdam with my Mum, who also has coeliac disease. Over four days, we took in the history and culture, admired the architecture and, miraculously, neither of us got “glutened”. Before the trip, we did plenty of research into coeliac-friendly places to eat – I even made a colour-coded map to prevent us from getting lost and hangry. Read on for some highlights.
Places to go
Van Gogh Museum
Home to many works by Van Gogh, Degas, Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Rodin and more, but worth visiting for Sunflowers alone.
Anne Frank House
I was really moved here. It took me back to studying Anne’s diary, writing on Holocaust museum narratives and doing my dissertation on British women’s responses to the Jewish refugee crisis, 1933-45. You can research something for three years, but there’s nothing quite like being in the place where it happened.
A beautiful building full of beautiful art.
This was a 10 minute walk from our hotel (which I recommend for the great location and helpful staff) and we passed through it on most days. It was especially lovely on the Sunday afternoon, full of people exercising or relaxing in the sunshine.
We took a boat tour through the canals and out to the open water near the central station. It was great to see the city from a different perspective and learn more about its heritage.
Places to eat
Nestled in a neighbourhood that feels like an up-and-coming Notting Hill, this part café, part ethical clothing shop is amazing. It has great gluten free and vegan options (I had the red curry, coconut and lentil soup) and a relaxed atmosphere. As I mentioned over on Instagram at the time, I’d quite like to move in.
This was the least anxious I have felt in a restaurant since being diagnosed as coeliac. Gluten free versions of all of their dishes were available and, when I asked if our pasta would be cooked in separate water, the waiter said “Of course”. Delicious food, generously portioned.
When heavy showers hit on our second day, we stumbled across this tea room and restaurant. Mum had scrambled eggs on gluten free toast and I had the fancy looking salad below.
Juice & Salad
This place does what its names suggests. On our last day, I had a salad of romaine, green lentils, red pepper, avocado and coriander – simple but so good.
This retail chain, similar to Whole Foods, was a life-saver. There was a branch around the corner from our hotel where we could stock up on snacks. (I refrained from taking a photo.)
I really recommend all of the above, whether you’re coeliac or not. If you are coeliac and heading to Amsterdam, this blog has more good tips and suggestions.