Finding out I was gluten intolerant was one of the worst moments of my culinary life. As an Italian, you can probably imagine how much gluten and wheat was in my everyday diet. The cherry on top was also finding out I had to stick to a low-fodmap diet (IBS is a real kicker).
With so many new restrictions to get used to in my diet, it took a while before I was comfortable with eating out again, let alone eating out in an unfamiliar place.
I’m lucky enough not to have Coeliac disease, so if gluten creeps into my diet, it’s generally not a huge deal. The problem however, is wheat. It’s a high-fodmap food and something I struggle to digest.
So, how do you manage to stick to your diet and travel? Well, it’s not easy…
Practice makes perfect
Before you start travelling, try eating out at home. Get familiar with menus, what cuisines are generally safe and what aren’t. I won’t walk in to an Italian restaurant because I know that even if they have gluten free options available, they’re probably not going to be able to eliminate garlic and onion from their sauces. I once had a waitress tell me, “we can’t take the garlic out of the sauce but there’s only a small amount, you’ll be fine.” Little did she know that my stomach recoils at the mere sound of the word “garlic.”
I find that a safe bet is Asian cuisine. Rice noodles are a life saver! Often Thai sauces aren’t so garlic and onion dependant so these can be excluded. Mexican is another great option if they have a gluten-free tortilla or tacos available.
Pack where possible
If you can, pack your own food, especially snacks. Domestic travel really makes this one easy. You’d think snacking on fruits and vegetables would be a safe option, but no. There are safe produce and not so safe produce. Apples for example are a hard “no-go” in my diet, so I rely more on bananas.
Sometimes it’s just best to do some shopping and cook and prepare your own meals. It’s better to be safe than sorry and no one enjoys a holiday from their bathroom toilet! The only hard part is shopping in a foreign supermarket where the ingredients on packaging are written in a language you don’t understand. Stick to the meat and three veg rule to avoid any hidden nasties or ask for help.
Pack your meds
Depending on what type of IBS you have, your doctor has probably recommended some form of laxative or opposite to help you when your diet won’t. These will come in handy and help to reduce any stress you can cause yourself by not being prepared. Don’t forget to bring your probiotics too! Gut bacteria shouldn’t have to suffer just because you’re on holiday.
How do you travel with your food intolerances? Share your tips with me in the comments below!