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Celiac Disease and LOB

Discussion in 'General Travel and Vacation Discussions' started by Boncel, Aug 5, 2019.

  1. Boncel

    Boncel Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Switzerland
    25
    2
    3
    So I haven't really seen anything regarding this issue on the boards. I have done a search and come up with nothing. My girlfriend has celiac disease (gluten allergie, and not that trendy, "I want to be gluten free"... trust me, if she could eat gluten laden food, she would love it), and I haven't seen anything regarding LOB being able to accommodate such things. I am in the process of booking a live a board and have asked for the requests. Has any one else had experience with this? Should we be taking food with us on the LOB to be save? If any one has had experience on this, I would love to hear about it.
     
  2. outofofficebrb

    outofofficebrb HARRO HUNNAYYY

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: San Francisco, California
    2,417
    1,623
    113
    I was recently on liveaboards with people who were allergic to gluten as well as other people who had specific food allergies to dairy. They were served a different plate at each meal specific for them, which was especially important when it was a buffet style eating arrangement rather than a plated arrangement which I have experienced both on different boats before.

    This specific person that was allergic to gluten ended up eating meat, vegetables, some of the soup, and seafood along with rice for the entire trip. This was in Indonesia on a midrange to budget boat. I did not ask them how trusting they were of their allergy being communicated to the boat crew and how thoroughly executed it was but by how he was doing the entire 11 days of the trip, it looked like they did a good job. :) You usually fill out an info sheet prior to departing for the trip and where it asks you what allergies you have, be very thorough and explicit, including what will happen if you do ingest gluten, so that they understand the gravity of the matter.

    The crew on liveaboard are usually local crew and their English might be limited, though there are a few crew, especially your dining/hospitality host or your dive guide/cruise director, who might be able to be your translator but it will vary.I'm not sure where your liveaboard is, but if it in a country where you do not speak the language, you can bring something in their local language to show the crew. You can bring a printout along just to double check everyone is still on the same page. Just pick the language you need below.

    Gluten Free Restaurant Cards for Celiacs / Coeliacs
     
  3. Boncel

    Boncel Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Switzerland
    25
    2
    3
    Awesome. We are planning a LOB in Thailand and I don't speak the language, so I am a little worried. We are booking it through liveaboard.com. So I am hoping they can clear up any issues for us, but again, they aren't the company so I would really like to contact the company directly. I will probably do so before I complete the booking. Any others with this type of experience in Thailand? I know that Asian countries use soy sauce in their dishes, and I was not aware that soy sauce contains gluten, the fear is that they don't realize and the LOB is ruined for her.
     
  4. outofofficebrb

    outofofficebrb HARRO HUNNAYYY

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: San Francisco, California
    2,417
    1,623
    113
    Usually, when you book through an agency, they are your point of contact with the liveaboard operator. I know this is strange, but I have reached out to an operator directly after booking through an agency before, and it was received as strange, and they wanted to know why I was reaching out to them directly. I don't know if it was a curiosity thing, or if they thought it was inappropriate. My friend was thinking of booking on the same boat that I was already confirmed on and wanted to know how long the beds were in a particular cabin because it ends at a wall and he is tall. I figured it would be easier to just reach out to the operator for the answer. Given how serious this is, of course, I would still make the efforts.

    If you are going to Thailand, I think it would be worthwhile to take a look at all the ingredients that are commonly found in their cooking such as sauces and seasonings. If there is something that is alarming, I would try to include that specific item in the allergy section of your paperwork, and also get a translation card that includes that particular item on it. I have been to Thailand a few times before and I think the biggest issue here IS going to be the sauces, and not so much the actual food itself. I'm not sure if bringing your own sauces would work, but it could be an idea, so that they can cook her the same items but with "safe" ingredients. Though, is cross-contamination an issue? As in, if a wok is used to cook something with gluten in it then not washed and something is cooked for her, will it be a problem?
     
  5. Damselfish

    Damselfish Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boston
    8,902
    1,437
    113
    I’m familiar as my MIL had celiac. I think you’ll find many boats will work hard to accommodate someone and it will be fine, but you really need to be in touch with the boat/company directly and be comfortable with what they say. And you may get some that tell you they can’t deal well with this, so probably best to do it before booking.

    I don’t know how I’d feel about a LOB that wouldn’t communicate with you about a food allergy because you didn’t book directly. Probably not good.

    It doesn’t hurt to bring some things along that may be more difficult to get in some places.

    Going to Asian countries where a lot is rice based is helpful but no guarantee. Even tamari is tricky. Most think of this as a wheat/gluten free substitute for soy sauce, but I’ve read lots of labels and sometimes it has wheat too.
     
    outofofficebrb likes this.
  6. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid idling in neutral buoyancy

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Atlanta, USA
    8,542
    4,997
    113
    There are two main salty condiments in east Asian cuisine: soy sauce and fish sauce. Thailand is more of a fish sauce country than a soy sauce country. That said, there are all kinds of condiments, sauces, and flavorings, and it's possible something has an ingredient with gluten in it that most of us who aren't accustomed to avoiding gluten wouldn't think to look out for.
     
    Damselfish, Doc and outofofficebrb like this.
  7. Wookie

    Wookie Orange Man Bad Staff Member ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    20,591
    26,948
    113
    I’d be shocked if any reputable liveaboard in the world didn’t take care of your GF’s gluten allergy just fine. I would also be shocked if any reputable liveaboard in the world would be upset about you contacting their office directly, just to make sure.

    Having been on the other side (I operated a liveaboard with a reputation for 20 years) I would never ever trust a booking agent to get almost anything right including your name or passport number if required.

    Booking agents are notoriously terrible at the details.
     
    Doc, PACKRMAN and Damselfish like this.
  8. dlofting

    dlofting DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
    424
    333
    63
    My daughter eats gluten and lactose free because of moderate intolerances.....she doesn't have celiac disease. It is much easier to recognize lactose in dishes, and make substitutions, than it is gluten. However, if I do make a mistake, it will only cause symptoms that, while discomforting, are not a threat to her health. I would be concerned about the degree of your girlfriend's intolerance and the consequences of a slip up. I'm sure most liveaboard chef's will try to accommodate you, but if they don't have a lot of experience with gluten free cooking, there may be problems.
     
  9. CJS

    CJS Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Sydney
    97
    32
    18
    Our daughter is not celiac but gets sick if she eats gluten. We have been on a liveaboard in the Anderman Sea twice. We actually took our own gluten free soy Sauce and gluten free bread. The kitchen used our soy sauce instead of their regular one for everyone.

    The challenge was that the guy in the shop who said 'we can cater no worries' didn't seem to have spoken to the two Thai women cooking on the boat, so we had to try and communicate it all to them via English speaking crew. That bit was a bit stressful, especially the firs time!

    Having said that, our daughter never had a problem the whole trip. Most Thai food doesn't involve gluten, so if they are using traditional ingredients it is pretty safe.

    I guess my overall point is, I would contact the boat direct and I would be asking some pretty specific questions and checking that this was all actually getting communicated to the person who would do the actual cooking.
     
    Esprise Me and Damselfish like this.

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