How to survive a trip to Italy on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)

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Italy and all things Italian are a huge passion of mine. Hence, why I decided to study Italian in University. When I studied abroad in Genoa as part of my degree, I fell in love with the place even more. The culture, the people, the coffee and the FOOD in general.

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If you told me a few years ago that I would go to Italy and not eat pasta, rice, pizza and ice-cream, I would not have believed you. Being on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) is one thing. Being on SCD and visiting Italy is a whole different story.

Before we went, I really thought I would cheat on the diet for the first time in two years. I thought it would just be too difficult to be looking at family devouring delicious pizzas and pastas and not cheat.

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Rather than be dreading my holiday with my family, I decided to be proactive before I went. I started to do a bit of research into local dishes served in Venice that I could eat. Contrary to popular belief, Italian food is much more than carbs! Fresh seafood and vegetables grace every menu in every restaurant and I was actually spoilt for choice.

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I always made sure to tell the waiter that I could not have gluten and milk. For the first time, I tried various seafood dishes that I had never tried before. I even had to ask the names of lots of them. The great thing about eating out in Italy is that the salads are delicious yet simple. No fancy dressings thrown over them. The olive oil and balsamic vinegar is on the table for you to dress your salad yourself, just how you like it.

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On one of our first nights, we discovered a beautiful restaurant called “Il Pescatore”, where we had the most delicious seafood I had ever tasted. We treated ourselves on the final night of our holiday to a restaurant on the water front near the Rialto bridge. There, I had the most delicious steak of my life with a mouth-watering balsamic glaze on top. In reality, the balsamic glaze was probably not fully SCD legal but it was the one questionable thing I had for the entire holiday so I didn’t worry about it too much.

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As always, for our days out I had a bag full of snacks with me. Our luggage was full to the brim going, packed with sandwich buns, almost chocolate brownies and thyme and sea salt crackers. In Italy, I was easily able to pick up fresh fruit and vegetables to snack on. I definitely over-dosed on the delicious olives! I froze ripe bananas there and made delicious ice-cream with the hand-held blender that I also brought from Ireland.

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We had a fantastic holiday filled with beautiful family memories, fun days out and delicious food. I learned that I could enjoy even an Italian holiday eating fully SCD without any regrets. In a way, not being able to eat pasta, pizza and ice-cream forced me to eat all the other tasty food that Italy has to offer. SCD continues to surprise even two years later!

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