Having a Wonderful Gluten Free Life in Japan

I just wanted to offer some link love this week for those of you who are seeking info on either living or travel in Japan while following a gluten free diet.

A fellow JET foodie whose sister has Celiac Disease created a short guide that may be helpful for those who need info on food on the go or those who are traveling through Japan who don’t have access to kitchens.  I would still recommend that you check the ingredients for everything that is listed and use a card that lists your dietary needs when ordering out anywhere (if you do decide to risk it when going to a restaurant).  I know that some of the foods mentioned are usually gluten free, but I have sometimes found that gluten ingredients are added (in the case of mochi).  But the list is good. She also was a darling and linked this blog. <ありがとうね>

Another JET who has Celiac Disease has more info on what to eat and what to look out for here.  He’s written some useful info about what to look out for kanji-wise in the Japanese language.  Since we happen to be blog twins and both on JET, he and I decided to start a help group on Facebook called Gluten Free JET, for anyone on the JET program.  Please join it if you are a JET.

Gluten Free Gaijin has a good write up on why eating food in Japan is so difficult for us.  His research on MSG in Japan is a very important read for anyone who plans to live or travel here.

And I’ve just discovered this awesome Paleo blog called Nom Nom Paleo.  Right now they’re focusing on bento (lunch box) recipes.   I don’t know this person who runs it, but I’m glad they’re out there making these ideas available.

I did want to make a few points clear to those of us with gluten intolerant/CD guts out there searching for info on what is safe to eat in Japan.  I suppose this is a disclaimer for this blog.  Take everything you read on the internet with a grain of salt, or rather…gluten.  Do your own homework and double check everything.  Ultimately, you have to be responsible for what you put into your body and not rely solely on another person’s advice.  Just because they didn’t feel like they were glutened doesn’t mean the item doesn’t have gluten in it.  I’ve come across so much erroneous information online regarding gluten free traveling in Japan.  When a website states that convenience store onigiri (rice balls with fillings) are safe for those traveling who are gluten intolerant/sensitive or who have Celiac Disease, I know that the authors have not done enough research.   I would not recommend convenience stores for anything but juice, water, and fresh fruits or vegetables (if yours sell these), and maybe eggs and dairy if you are able to eat those items. Unfortunately, there is no centralized info from a Japanese nutritionist online and the information you are getting is from individuals who are also just trying to find ways to live over here on their own or they’re traveling through and writing up what they thought was safe to eat.

If there is any advice I’d like to offer you it’s that living in Japan is not an easy place to live if we’re looking for gluten free alternatives to the foods around us.  But eating gluten free isn’t difficult at all if you decide to only eat whole foods.  While I’m not fully immersed in the Paleo world, I do follow a modified paleo diet that includes brown (and sometimes white) rice. Ok, sometimes I also make non-paleo cake (with traditional gluten free flours). But overall I recommend eating vegetables, fruits, meats, fish, nuts and (sometimes) dairy (if you’re not intolerant) as a great way to live a healthy, happy life in Japan (or anywhere).  Plus, you’ll lose weight and you’ll also know what is in everything you’re eating.

Gluten Free Failure

This is an old post from last summer that I’m transferring from my other blog to this blog.  I remembered it recently because I haven’t been feeling well lately.  I had to work at an English camp last week and the other ALTs wanted to go out to eat every day.  I was carpooling with them so I had no other choice but to join them.  I should have been more strict with myself and just brought my own bento, eaten it beforehand, and joined them for coffee or tea.  But it’s been super hot here in Okinawa, nearly 35 degrees everyday, and cooking in this heat isn’t fun.  Still, I have to cook because it’s either that or feel like garbage.  Anyways, I’ve been wishing for a gluten free restaurant to spring up in Okinawa or even somewhere else in Japan.  Or a gluten free tour of Kyoto or Tokyo or even Hokkaido.  In fact, I want to ask my readers for advice on places they’ve eaten at or traveled to in Japan that have catered to their needs.  I think it would be great to get some insight as to how others who are following a gluten free diet are surviving in Japan.  So, if you’re out there and you’re reading this blog, please drop me a comment or send me an email.  I would love to hear from you.

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