Apiness Coliving kitchen.

My experience as a celiac at Alpiness Coliving

Being celiac can (sadly) imply social challenges, but not here at Alpiness Coliving. I’ll describe how here everyone is welcoming me like never before!


I’ve decided to talk about what it’s like to be celiac in a coliving environment because I know firsthand how challenging it can be to navigate “food socializing” in such settings. I also know (and understand) that many people with this disease limit themselves from trying new adventures due to the potential risks involved…

So, if you’re celiac or deeply intolerant to certain foods, this post is for you. And come to Alpiness: you’ll feel welcomed like never before!

My journey with celiac disease in brief

So, I haven’t introduced myself yet. I’m Giulia, from Italy – ironically, the land of pasta and pizza, which are packed with gluten, lucky me, right?

And I’ve been volunteering here at Alpiness Coliving for over a month now (Uff, I can’t believe how fast time flies).

Fun fact (even if off-topic): I discovered Alpiness Coliving thanks to Ellie, a friend I met in Mexico who is also friends with Sunny (the writer of this climbing article). Word of mouth and real stories are always key when it comes to choosing super cool places.

Anyway, let’s get back to the main topic: how I discovered I have celiac disease. It was in 2019 after many years of feeling weak and experiencing various symptoms (that I was somewhat ignoring, tbh). I’d love to say that nothing has changed since discovering it, but that would be a huge lie.

As a traveler and food lover, I used to enjoy trying all kinds of exotic foods, but I’ve had to completely reset my habits and adapt to this new disease. Because, let’s face it, celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune condition, not a choice or preference. To explain it simply: when I eat gluten, my immune system attacks my own tissues. Not exactly fun, eh!

Traveling can be tricky when it comes to always finding guaranteed-safe food and restaurants that understand where gluten hides (spoiler: it’s not just in bread; it can also be – just to drop examples – in chocolate or spices). It can also be challenging to cook in a shared kitchen where someone is baking bread, another is preparing a delicious cake, and yet another is wrapping up a wheat-filled burrito… But here at Alpiness, anything is possible, and I couldn’t have found a better place to feel welcomed.

How meals work here at Alpiness coliving

So, before I delve into how I manage to organize my gluten-free meals at Alpiness, let me explain how things work here.

Firstly, Alpiness Coliving is located in Les Haudères, a charming village nestled in the heart of the Swiss Alps. The landscapes are stunning, the air is fresh, and there’s no shortage of cows and sheep around (there are so many they should run the village). While the setting is incredible, it’s not a place where you go out every night. We do have a few nearby restaurants like a pizzeria, raclette spot, and fondue joint that we visit from time to time, but it’s not a daily occurrence.

This introduction sets the stage to mention that every night, from Monday to Friday, we have a family dinner tradition here. For a deeper dive into family dinners at Alpiness, check out the full article.

Here’s a sneak peek: each day, two or three people rotate preparing a delicious dinner for everyone. The idea is simple – each person cooks just once a week, handling everything from groceries to setting the table, cooking, and cleanup. On other nights, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the delicious meals prepared by your fellow colivers.

How I’m welcomed at Family Dinners with delicious gluten-free options

I was ready to participate in family dinners with my own prepared meal, but that’s not the case. Starting with Fabienne and Ben, everyone here is so cool and open to cooking for me as well. I feel blessed, honestly. – Btw, if you’re reading this, chicos, I want to take the opportunity to thank you all, a lot!

Every night, there’s always something for me. Some days, I can eat everything because it’s naturally gluten-free, and the cooking team ensures everything is safe for me – sauces and toppings included. On other dinners, I might not be able to eat everything, but there’s always a tasty option also for me.

Sometimes – quite often actually – they even go the extra mile to prepare something separate just for me. I couldn’t believe Louis and the cooking team made a special lasagna solely for my dietary needs. Have I mentioned how blessed I feel?

I’ll drop just a few examples to make it more visual and gummy.

Fabienne and Ben once prepared several quiches for dinner (which contained gluten), and for me, they made small quiche muffins with a gluten-free base (they were simply a dream!). They prepared mine first and used a different oven from the one used for the gluten-filled quiches. Yup, the kitchen at Alpiness is amazing – and there are two ovens.

Another time, I was part of the cooking team with Julian, and he suggested cooking shakshuka. Music to my ears, considering it’s naturally gluten-free. The only difference for me was the bread: I had my own. That’s it. I made sure he was cutting the bread somewhere far away from the tomato sauce. Note: the shakshuka was a success.

Another example, last but not least. Fondue is amazing, and here I discovered that there are both the traditional cheese fondue and the tomato fondue, which is typical of this area – Valais. The classic one is usually eaten with bread, while the tomato one can be enjoyed with potatoes. This means I can easily eat the tomato fondue with potatoes. To avoid cross-contamination, Austris and the chicos prepared a separate pot where bread was not allowed. To say it was super tasty is an understatement.

P.S. I also added a random pic of a Spritz we had outside on a chill workday because Why not? It simply makes me happy.

Labeling Gluten-Free (GF) spices for easier cooking

A nice idea to make life easier for the chefs at family dinners was to label the spices.

Spices are one of those things you wouldn’t think contain gluten, but they actually can. Sometimes they even contain pure wheat, which has tons of gluten. So, one of the first things I did during my first few days – besides many hikes (thanks, Marcis, for guiding) – was to label the gluten-free spices by writing GF on them.

I believe (and hope) this makes the lives of the family dinner chefs easier. This way, they don’t have to read all the ingredients on the spices; they only need to check for the GF handmade label on top of them.

To clarify: mistakes can happen

All I’ve said may seem like a dream for intolerants or celiacs, and it is. But, to conclude, I want to clarify something I feel is important. Nobody here is a professional chef and mistakes or contamination are definitely possible.

Everyone tries their best, asking and checking, and I’m incredibly grateful for this. They are incredibly careful and caring. But, despite their best efforts, mistakes or lapses in attention can happen. I’ll be fully honest: at the beginning, I was a bit scared because I know I can have bad reactions… but so far, so good. I’m also totally conscious that accidental mistakes could happen at some point, but being part of family dinners is too beautiful to miss them.
I want to conclude by saying the most sincere thank you to all the chicos here who are taking care of me. Just know that I don’t take it for granted at all.


– by Giulia

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