How to be gluten-free in China

Finishing up the Masters in Acupuncture and Oriental medicine degree this month, my colleagues and I got to watch doctors at the hospitals use tongue and pulse and western methods of diagnosis (labs and imaging) to treat patients using a combination of drugs and Chinese herbs.  Many of these doctors saw over 20 patients in one hour.  The education we received in Chengdu and Shanghai was invaluable.  But by the time we started shadowing the gastroenterologist, many of us had already suffered from bouts of the runs several times over.  Chinese cuisine heavily relies on wheat-based soy sauce.  Celiac’s disease and gluten intolerance are still very new concepts in both Western medical practitioners and TCM (traditional Chinese Medicine) practitioners.  Hmm…maybe one reason why there was a line out the door at the gastroenterologist’s office.

How do you stay gluten-free in China?  Pray.  Pray that you don’t get anything with a ton of MSG or soy sauce and that there’s a clean bathroom nearby.  Let’s just say, it’s really difficult for those who suffer from gluten intolerance or Celiac’s disease to eat out.  However, there are lots of options and different ways to play it safe. Continue reading