I’m Going On A Trip, and I’m Packing A…Food Bag!
If only going away was all fun and enjoyment! When traveling with a restricted diet, it can be very stressful making sure that the food we encounter is safe to actually enjoy and nourish ourselves. Gut healing is hard work that can be easily thrown off course by a vacation, and so preparing ahead of time is critical to be able to relax and eat well.
Here are some tips & tricks my family uses to ensure a smooth, symptom-free trip.
Know what meals you will need to plan ahead for, and then plan ahead.
Will you be stuck at the airport during meal time?
Will you be in the car or on a train in the middle of nowhere?
Will you be in an area where the type of special foods you need are going to be hard to find?
Knowing the answers to these questions can help you figure out ahead what you need to purchase and pack for later. Do you need to rely on only non-perishable, packaged items, or will you be able to take a cold bag or cooler with you?
Get a sense of what to expect at your lodging.
Will you be staying somewhere with a kitchen?
Will there be an accessible refrigerator?
Will you be able to do any food shopping?
Will someone else be shopping ahead, and preparing most or all meals and snacks?
These questions will help you figure out if you need to bring more than just a few items with you. How will you store them safely?
I recommend bringing an assortment of light-weight food storage containers, zip-top bags, rubber bands, bag clips, and other things you might need to store your food once packages are opened.
Now the really exciting part: problem solving.
The solutions to your trip needs are going to be very specific to you. In many cases, you may find that you need to bring at least some food along with you for the trip.
You may need to look ahead at the restaurant and grocery store options at the airport, en route, or in the town you will be staying in, and how you can get to them. Will they have at least some of the foods that you will be able to eat? Are there specialty bakeries or farmers markets or other alternatives that would work for you?
You may need to have a conversation with your hosts about what your needs are and how they can help accommodate you. Perhaps you might ask them what they plan on cooking while you visit, and make suggestions for how to adjust some of the dishes so that you can also enjoy them. Perhaps you might provide recipes or shopping lists ahead, or have a box of fresh groceries or pantry items from a store like Thrive Market or VitaCost shipped ahead of your arrival. Perhaps you might warn them that you will need to be doing your own cooking, and that this is not an affront to their food preparation skills. And perhaps you will be loading up a large cooler of foods that you will need to eat during your entire visit, and plan ahead for your entire trip before you leave.
Always be sure to think ahead about the return trip as well, and what you might need to bring at the start of the trip for the journey back home.
A word on family drama
Sometimes family members get upset or irate when we try to take care of ourselves on their turf by doing things differently, and become offended by our questions, requests, or avoidance of their cooking. I’ve even had clients say that family members would attempt to sneak off limit foods into the cooking intentionally, not believing that the foods were actually a problem.
If you find yourself in conflict on your trip, try to step away, take a deep breath, and remember that this is about your family member not understanding and trying to meet their own needs. But also remember that we need to take care of ourselves first. We can be polite and respectful, and that is what we have control over. We cannot control how they feel about or react to the situation, and this can be hard to experience. But also remember the hard work you have been doing – is it worth setting yourself back?
And just in case there is an unintentional exposure to a food that’s not on your Yes List, consider packing the following:
- GlutenEase or Wheat Rescue digestive enzymes – great for reducing immune system response and allergenic burden (note: this is not intended for taking and then intentionally consuming a problematic food)
- Activated charcoal or bentonite clay for gas, bloating, diarrhea
- Nux vomica 30c for upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea
- Sinuplex or Benadryl to help with food reactions
Happy travels! Where will you be spending time this summer?