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  • Writer's pictureSally Marchini, APD BND

My Gluten Free Mediterranean holiday in Malta

Having just returned from my first visit to Malta and Greece I wanted to write you a blog on my eating experiences over the three weeks, but there is just too much to cover!!!

So, I'll start with my first week which I spent on the beautiful Mediterranean Sea island country of Malta where of course the Mediterranean diet is easily accessible.

We read about the massive health benefits of the Mediterranean diet all over the place and, remembering that I need to eat a strictly gluten free Mediterranean diet for my combination of diabetes and coeliac disease (the reason I studied to become a dietitian), Malta was a great place to start.

Fresh seafood featured heavily here, so I ate my fair share of baby fresh sardines and octopus which gave me a great supply of protein and omega-3s as well as other nutrients.

Heaps of vegetable and legume dishes and salads, vegetable-based dips, tasting plates and pasta dishes were my go tos. My tastebuds were very happy, and I did not go hungry.

And they served a bottle of extra virgin olive oil on every dinner table - I loved that and took advantage of it. Very delicious, and with so many health benefits.

Most, but not all, places were able to provide gluten free bread too if needed, but I did choose to carry some gluten free crackers with me just in case which were handy on occasions. A few times quinoa was an option, so I also got some whole grains in.

The Maltese people are quite fluent in English which also made a big difference to my confidence eating out. I do recommend that you take a packet of GluteGuard with you as it's not available in the pharmacies there (or in Greece) yet, and if you're not confident about possible cross contamination safety then it can really help relieve anxiety if you're prone to symptoms. Not all gluten free items are identified on most of the menus, so you will need to use your common sense as to what is likely to be gluten free and ask questions accordingly.

Most of the larger supermarkets carry a wide variety of gluten free products. This one was in the city I was staying in. The breads and crackers were amazing compared with ours. Of course, being European with the 20ppm allowable gluten (compared with our 3ppm) and wheat free oats being acceptable, this also expands their product availability.

If you're following a gluten-free diet long-term, especially if you're trying to conceive/start a family, then it's worth checking in with me to see if you're getting all the nutrients you need. A couple of weeks on holiday can still provide you with some delicious and nutritious meals, but it may not give you all the nutrients that you need for best health.

Accredited Practising Dietitian and Certified Fertility Dietitian, Sally Marchini of Marchini Nutrition, has type 1 diabetes and coeliac disease herself and is passionate about supporting others with these and other chronic conditions. You can follow her on her Instagram account @Marchini.Nutrition, Facebook page Marchini Nutrition, and in her closed support group Be Well Gluten Free.

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