08-29-2018 12:24 PM - edited 10-26-2018 12:40 PM
Local Guides Spotlight is a Connect series that celebrates members of our community who are making a positive impact.
Local Guide Diana Duangnet (@DDuangnet) was sick for 20 years (yes, you read that right!) before a doctor finally figured out what was wrong. Diana was diagnosed with Celiac disease, a condition that causes an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.
“I was so relieved they finally figured out what was causing all my stomach ailments, but terrified of the strict new diet I had to adhere to the rest of my life,” she said. “My first thought was I couldn't have pizza anymore (totally false), but as someone who traveled extensively for work and pleasure, I was concerned about being able to eat gluten-free during my travels.”
She had to learn what foods and drinks typically contain gluten, which isn’t as easy as it sounds. Gluten can be found in breads, cakes, and other wheat-based products, but it’s also in unexpected places such as soy sauce and deli meats.
“The biggest challenge today is dining out,” Diana said. “It takes more planning and research when dining with dietary restrictions, however it’s fun discovering new places I can safely eat at. I make it a point to go to 100% gluten-free restaurants and meet the owners and chefs of the establishments. I love hearing their stories while enjoying their delicious gluten-free food.”
To help others like her, Diana often shares reviews and photos of meals at restaurants she visits on Google Maps. She also created the blog Travel Far Gluten Free.
We recently caught up with Diana to learn more about what it’s like to be a gluten-free Local Guide and discover some of her favorite restaurants.
When did you join Local Guides? What inspired you to sign up?
I joined in 2016. At first I did it for the cool perks, but quickly discovered how fun it was to write reviews and add photos to Maps while helping the community. When I noticed the lack of gluten-free information on Maps, I made sure to include it in my reviews. That’s what kept me contributing; wanting to support people with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
What has your experience as a Local Guide been like so far?
I love being a Local Guide. It’s wonderful being able to add gluten-free information to Maps and support the gluten-free community. I’ve also received great feedback from restaurant and café owners after I add photos because it helps drive traffic to their business. It’s a win-win for everyone.
I also love being able to connect with incredible Local Guides from around the world at the Summit in San Francisco. I look forward to making new friends at Connect Live 2018 and reuniting with LG Summit 2017 friends.
Why do you think it’s important to share gluten-free information on Google Maps?
There are people, just like me, who are looking for safe, delicious gluten-free food. Dietary restrictions and food allergies can be a difficult thing to navigate and I want my information to highlight where someone with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance can dine at. I’ve also gotten into the habit of sharing vegetarian and vegan information in my reviews for those who follow those diets. Since being on this strict diet, I’ve become much more aware of other dietary restrictions.
What is your favorite way to contribute on Google Maps?
I love taking food photos. I also try to take photos of the menu, especially showing menus that note gluten-free, vegetarian, and/or vegan options. I also love writing reviews and noting my favorite menu items and how they handle, or don’t handle, food allergies and dietary restrictions. I want to make sure everyone can safely eat.
What are some of your favorite restaurants with great gluten-free options?
There are so many places I love! Here’s the link to my list of favorite places. My top three favorite restaurants at the moment are Honest Burgers (London, UK), Senza Gluten (New York City, USA), and Poke Poku (Las Vegas, NV).
Anything else you’d like to add?
Having dietary restrictions does not mean the end of traveling and enjoying food. It’s the chance to explore and uncover new food choices and having an adventure while discovering new possibilities.
We hope you enjoyed getting to know Local Guide @DDuangnet better! What info do you love to include in your reviews? Tell us in the comments below.