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The Challenges of Being Gluten-Free on the Camino

Embarking on the Camino de Santiago is a journey filled with physical exertion, spiritual exploration, and cultural immersion. For many pilgrims, it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience that tests their endurance, resilience, and adaptability. But what happens when dietary restrictions add an extra layer of complexity to the pilgrimage?

As someone with an intolerance to wheat (though it's easier to say "gluten-free"), I've navigated the challenges of following a gluten-free diet on not just one, but three Camino routes.

Here's what I've learned along the way:

My Camino Journeys

My first Camino adventure took me along the renowned Camino Francés, where I embarked on the pilgrimage while adhering to a gluten and dairy-free diet. It was undeniably challenging, especially since many food products along the route contained milk.

Despite the difficulties, I managed to find ways to adapt, often relying on larger supermarkets in towns for a wider selection of suitable food options. While I did lose more weight than I anticipated, the abundance of services along the Camino Francés made it easier to manage my dietary restrictions.

Subsequent pilgrimages along the Camino Primitivo and Camino Via de la Plata saw me navigating the trails with a gluten-free diet.

Although the challenges were still present, I found myself better equipped to handle them, drawing from my previous experiences and refining my strategies along the way.

Top Tips for Gluten-Free Pilgrims

  1. Cook Your Own Meals: Whenever cooking facilities were available, I made it a priority to prepare my own meals. Even if all I had was a microwave, I got creative with gluten-free ingredients to whip up simple yet satisfying dishes.

  2. Scout Supermarkets for Gluten-Free Options: Supermarkets along the Camino can be hit or miss when it comes to gluten-free offerings. Look for the "SIN Gluten" (without gluten) section for suitable products, and stock up whenever you have the chance.

  3. Pack Portable Snacks: Fruit and nuts became my go-to snacks on the Camino. Whether it was an apple, pear, or a handful of nuts, these nutritious treats kept me energised between meals.

  4. Carry Your Own Oats: Bringing along my own oats allowed me to enjoy a hearty breakfast each morning. I'd mix them with water and add toppings like peanut butter, Nutella, dried fruits, seeds, and nuts for extra flavour and sustenance.

  5. Plan Ahead with Google Maps: Researching supermarket locations and opening hours in advance proved invaluable. By saving the information on my phone and creating a Camino list, I could easily access it whenever needed.

  6. Embrace High-Protein Snacks: Baby Bel hard cheese, tuna in glass jars, and boiled eggs became staples of my gluten-free Camino diet. These protein-rich options kept me feeling full and satisfied throughout the day.

  7. Indulge in Moderation: While I strived to maintain a balanced diet, I also allowed myself to indulge in occasional treats like crisps, and chocolate. These comfort foods provided much-needed electrolytes and a morale boost during challenging stretches of the journey.

Walking the Camino with Dietary Needs

Walking the Camino with dietary restrictions is undeniably challenging, but it's not impossible. With careful planning, resourcefulness, and a willingness to adapt, gluten-free pilgrims can navigate the culinary landscape of the Camino while savouring the richness of the pilgrimage experience.

So, if you're considering embarking on your own Camino journey, rest assured that dietary needs shouldn't deter you. 

With a bit of research and preparation, you can enjoy the adventure of a lifetime while nourishing both body and soul along the way. 

Buen Camino!


Food Shopping - Advice and Tips

For walking the Camino, you'll want to consider the weight and portability of your items.


  • Tuna (in glass jars is best)

  • Hard-boiled eggs

  • Hummus


  • Bananas (will bruise really easy - but you can also use to make pancakes - just mash a banana and mix with an egg)

  • Apples & pears

  • Oranges (easy to peel)

  • Dried fruits (like mango &pineapple) - this can be super addictive and i eat this supper quickly. If you have a sweet tooth you might want to try apricots.


  • Baby tomatoes - I find they carry quite well.

  • Lettuce - good for sandwich and I will also eat it like an apple if need be.

Nuts and Seeds:

  • Trail mix (with peanuts, cashews, and dried fruits)

  • Chia seeds (in small baggies)

  • Sunflower seeds


  • Baby Bel Cheese - come covered in red wax and seems to hold up pretty well, while carried in a pack.


  • GF bread - make sandwiches in advance

  • GF wraps - good for making wraps - e.g. salad, cheese & tomato

  • Rice crackers (I will eat plain, or add peanut butter, chocolate spread, or Philadelphia and tomatoes)


  • Gummy sweets - I love them!

  • Peanut butter - it's a struggle to find individual saches, so I just carry the jar

  • Nutella - so good on pancakes or straight out of the jar.

  • Chocolate - so good. Buy all the chocolate.

  • Snickers - full of nuts and super tasty

  • Crisps (I buy the large bags, pop them open and fit them in my pack. I normally buy 2 packs at a time. They last well and the salt really helps after a long day walking).


  • Olive oil (in mini packets or small containers if you can find it)

  • Honey (in small squeeze bottles or packets)

Per ounce, these fatty foods are packed with the most calories.

  •   Olive Oil -250-

  •   Coconut Oil -244-

  •   Coconut Milk Powder -225-

  •   Walnuts -185-

  •   Hemp Seeds -180-

  •   Peanuts -166-

  •   Almonds -165-

  •   Dark Chocolate -158-


What I cook on the Camino

Microwave only

  • Vegetables - cut up and cover with cling film if they have it. Broccoli, peas, carrots etc.

  • Rice in packets - add tuna to the meal for protein.

  • Scrambled eggs - whisk up the eggs and blast for 30 secs - take out and stir, keep doing this until cooked

  • Porridge - add water to oats and cook in microwave

  • Hot drinks (most albergues don't have a kettle)

  • Baked beans with cheese


  • GF pasta - pasta & pesto, pasta & olive oil. Add in tuna and seeds

  • Pancakes - 1 banana and 1 egg mixed together. Have blueberries, and raspberries on top, drizzled with honey and grated dark chocolate.

  • Messy Omelette- cook the veg, add eggs and cheese, keep cooking and eat.

I also carry a plastic tub with me as this is useful for storing and carrying food. E.g. to put my sandwiches in, or fruits such as blueberries and strawberries. If I cook pasta and have left over, I can eat that the following morning for breakfast or have it for lunch.


Are you looking to dive deeper into the Camino experience?

Join me on my journey through the picturesque landscapes of the Camino de Santiago with my vlogs! From the iconic Camino Francés to the rugged beauty of the Camino Primitivo, each vlog captures the essence of pilgrimage, showcasing the breathtaking scenery, cultural encounters, and personal reflections along the way.

Experience the camaraderie of fellow pilgrims, marvel at stunning vistas, and immerse yourself in the rich history and spirituality of the Camino. Whether you're planning your own pilgrimage or simply seeking inspiration, these vlogs offer a firsthand glimpse into the transformative power of the Camino.

Don't miss out on the adventure – subscribe to my YouTube channel and join me on the journey of a lifetime.

Buen Camino!



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