Have you ever fallen in love while hovering over a toilet, sick, and embarrassed? I have.....

First let me back up a little and give you a little background info. I have had issues with food as far back as I can remember. I was that girl that was always assumed to have an eating disorder or be on a starvation diet. So many things I ate made me sick and I had no idea why. I went to my allergist and he found a few things but even when I gave up the foods I was allergic to I’d still get sick. I was told it was just psychological but I knew there was something wrong. The only thing I could think of was to start researching. After a long journey of finding out exactly what to ask for and what to tell the doctor I finally got my diagnosis of Celiac Disease. At the time I thought Celiac Disease meant I was doomed to a life of celery. I thought I would never be able to eat like a normal person again.

Suffering from Celiac Disease can be a problem for most but can you image what it means for someone who travels?  …yes I’m a flight attendant!  I’ve been sick all over the world.  I could complete a degree course specialising in airport wash rooms….

As any technologically savvy person would do, I jumped online to find ways to be normal. I created a budget for all the “special” gluten free food I would have to buy and started downloading gluten free recipes. On my journey to creating a gluten free food haven I found gluten free books, gluten free cards and gluten free websites that were helpful all together but there was no single good resource. I found these sites:


They all have good info but are not convenient for anyone who travels.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t carry a laptop everywhere with me. I found a few smart phone gluten free apps that were helpful, but there was always information lacking. There is the Gluten Free Registry app, which I had high hopes for, but it had major problems with connecting to its restaurant database.  Looking at the feedback on iTunes others have had issues too. When it did connect I found the database was ok for the USA the very poor for the UK and Europe. 

Then a friend recommended the GLUTOWN App. I loved the name so I thought I would try the GLUTOWN App is totally free to download. I remember thinking that there must be a catch. NOTHING is free!! ...BUT IT IS TOTALLY FREE!!.…

…I was immediately impressed.  How can these guys create such a wonderful app and give it away for free?  GLUTOWN App lite has SOS cards that allow me to find medical help in countries where I don’t speak the language. It also helps me inform the waiters and order food in other languages. GLUTOWN App has a page which lists really useful links for coeliacs including the gluten free restaurant search websites I listed above.  What else can a girl ask for? …Let me answer that! 

The GLUTOWN app developers have a clear three part vision.  The first is to host the largest gluten free restaurant database in the world.  In that respect I think they have already achieved their objective. They have joined forces with like minded organizations worldwide and already have the USA, UK, ITALY and AUSTRALIA pretty much covered. 

when the GLUTOWN app opens it automatically displays a list of gluten free restaurants close to you.  Yes that’s right, restaurants close to the exact spot you are standing!!  No more fumbling with the keyboard trying to search website search engines.  You can set the proximity from 1 to 9 miles and when in Rome you can quite literally do like the Romans and change the display from miles to kilometers.

The second part of the vision is to make the app available for the all Apple, Android and blackberry smart phones and pads.  The android & Blackberry versions should be out in a few months.

The third part of the GLUTOWN App vision will astonish you.  What is it?  Well, the third part of the vision is to make the GLUTOWN App redundant.  Yes, the ultimate goal is to close down the GLUTOWN App database because it is no longer relevant.  Why?  Because the hope is that one day the majority of restaurants will serve Gluten free food.  One day you may need an app to find food “with” Gluten…..

Clearly it costs money to put something like the GLUTOWN App together, make it affordable and keep it up to date.  To help fund the GLUTOWN App achieve its objective, there is an in app option to make a donation of $4.99 or more if you have deep pockets.  If $4.99 is too much for you, you can support the GLUTOWN App another way.  The app also displays ads so you can help by checking them out every now and then.

Me?  I do both.  In case I didn’t make it clear, I HAVE THE CELIAC DISEASE!  $4.99 per year and checking out an advert that may help elevate my problem is the very least I can do.  It’s a no brainer!  What a cheap and easy way to help myself and future generations of celiac disease sufferers’ world wide lead a normal gluten free life.

…….Now, I sure my little rant about GLUTOWN was of interest but I’m sure you are wondering about how all this all led to love.

Well, some time ago I had an unscheduled 2 day delay in Rome.  That evening I clicked on my GLUTOWN App to find an interesting eatery.  I found what turned out to be a beautiful family run restaurant in La Pisana.  Using the apps restaurant card I quickly explained my eating requirements and within minutes had ordered and gulping down a lovely Barolo.  A guy had seen me using the app and come over to ask me about it.  It turned out he was a fellow New Yorker on a business trip and had a friend who was a celiac.  To cut a very long story short we exchanged numbers and started dating. A few months later we decided to go to Atlantic City to attend a convention. We got into the city late checked into our hotel and rushed out to find something to eat.  In the rush I had left my iPhone in our hotel room.  We chose to a little café near our hotel. I ordered an appetizer and asked if it was gluten free. The waiter assured me it was and I was starving! I ate my food and quickly realized something was wrong. Thank goodness we were near the hotel. I quickly found my room key, left my purse, jacket, and date at the café and ran for the safety of my hotel room. When my date got to the room, he asked if I was okay. I answered with a groan. He knew from my reaction the food was not gluten free.  So he gave the waiter a piece of his mind before gathering my things and leaving. He wet a rag with cold water and wiped my forehead and sat in the bathroom with me until I could go to bed.

…I woke up the next day in love.  I am happy to say we are now planning our wedding and using the GLUTOWN App to find quality, tasty, gluten free food for the wedding reception. Celiac disease is not a dinnertime death sentence. You just have to find the help and support what works for you and your lifestyle.

Well, that's all from me. Thank you for your time

Lisa Hawkins


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