A Dutch family visiting from the Netherlands (who stayed a little longer than planned due to COVID-19 travel restrictions) wanted to share their daughter Lize's journey with coeliac disease, and their impressions of life in New Zealand. We wish them a safe onward journey as they continue their adventures.
My name is Lize and I was diagnosed with coeliac disease in October 2019 when I was almost 9 years old.
When I was 7 years old we went to an attraction park with my class in the Netherlands, and I was the only one in our group that was not allowed in any of the cool rides because I was too little. We did not think much about it, my mommy is also tiny.
At a certain point, when I was aged 8, I did not like my food anymore. Especially bread, which I had loved all my life, I just did not want to eat it anymore. At that point my family was planning a world trip, which I thought was really cool. But my parents were very worried, because I had lost all my appetite. Then one day they told me I had to get a blood-test done. The results were very clear, I was gluten intolerant.
This happened about a month and a half before we were supposed to leave on our world trip. My parents considered cancelling the whole thing, but luckily the pediatrician convinced them otherwise. She said “The best thing you can do for her right now, is show her what is possible - and on the upside, you’ll be together all the time to get used to the new gluten free way of living.”
And so we did. We left mid December 2019, started our trip in Cuba. There they don’t have much of anything in stores, let alone gluten free products. So we took a whole suitcase full of GF bread and snacks just for me. From there we went to Costa Rica, and I remember being very excited when we went into the first supermarket and they had a entire section dedicated to GF products. Then we traveled via the US to New Zealand. And I think that you guys here in NZ have the best, most delicious gluten free food. Mostly we take lunch wherever we go and my mommy cooks dinner in our accommodation. But we have also been out to dinner in restaurants, once in the US and once in New Zealand (after Covid-19) and it was great each time.
Since we left home I have gained 6 kilos and have a lot more energy. I wasn’t really feeling bad before the diagnosis, but then I did not know I could feel this good.
We were supposed to also hit Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia on this trip. The latter two we were expecting to be a bit more challenging on my gluten free diet. Because of COVID-19 those will not happen, at least not on this trip…. I am still planning to go there one day, because now I know coeliac decease does not have to stop you from exploring the world.
Photo is of Day 1 in Costa Rica, after one month in Cuba Lize is super excited to see a grocery store with an entire gluten free section.
The story has been written by Lize Hollander and translated by her Mother.