By Marina Iacovou (PhD Candidate and Accredited Practising Dietitian)
If you are lucky enough to go on holidays or perhaps have been travelling for work, you have no doubt encountered some difficulties with following your low FODMAP diet. Understanding your own level of sensitivity to different FODMAP foods can be helpful, so you’ll find it easier to travel when you have been on a low FODMAP diet for some time, having undertaken challenges and tolerance testing and determined your individual level of restriction. Ideally you will know your worst triggers and which FODMAP foods you can get away with in small amounts on occasion.
When travelling on a relatively short flight, it may be best to eat well before you fly and then you can fuel up again once you land. But of course, that’s not always possible. I find taking some packaged nuts with you on a short flight or trip, which are both nutritious and filling, will keep you from feeling hungry. This may include mixed nuts, peanuts, or macadamia nuts.
If, however, you are on a long flight, some extra pre-planning may be in order. Contact your airline and see what sort of requests you can make. You may have asked for a gluten free meal before in an attempt to get a suitable meal – this can often be a big mistake, particularly on a plane when they will serve you an omelette with onion in it, plus an apple and a glass of juice. Sometimes you are better off with wheat, rather than what is served as ‘gluten-free’. Instead, ask the airline to make a note of your most troublesome foods, e.g. apples, garlic, and onion, and ask for these to be excluded from your meal.
Something to keep in mind - airline food is well-balanced, and although there may be many other foods that you prefer to avoid, they do not tend to serve large amounts of one food. Therefore, the amount of some high FODMAP foods provided may be low FODMAP. For example, there may only be 2 or 3 florets of broccoli, 2 slices of beetroot, and minimal amounts of butternut pumpkin – all of which are still low FODMAP.
Wherever you are travelling and whatever mode of transport you use, the Monash University low FODMAP app will be your best friend. This is definitely the case when travelling to a country where the traditional cuisine is different to where you live. And remember, the app is expanding and has many international foods being added to it on a regular basis.
While travelling you may want to visit local markets and buy fresh produce to cook your own meals, so that you can then manage your FODMAP intake more effectively. This is particularly helpful if you book self-contained accommodation or something with a small kitchenette.
When eating out, here are a few tips:
- Learn to say ‘no onion’ or similar phrases in the national language depending on your worst trigger foods
- Beware of meals on the menu that contain dips or sauces, as this is often where garlic and onion hide – ask for them to be on the side
- Choose protein based meals (fish, red meats, or poultry) that are grilled with vegetables or salad on the side
- Ask for your meal to be served with potato or rice rather than breads or pasta
- You may want to avoid curries and mixed dishes that you can’t ask to be changed OR depending on your sensitivity, you may like to have a small amount as a sharing plate with someone else (if not travelling alone)
- Do your research! Look up eateries close by to where your accommodation is, where your travels will take you, or where you will be sightseeing. This is where the magic of Google can give you valuable information. Scan the menus and see if any meet your needs.
Stress can be a trigger for IBS symptoms in some people, but often people feel more relaxed on holidays. This is why some people are able to tolerate foods while on a holiday or in a different country, that would otherwise be problematic.
If you use any additional therapeutic strategies whether it is herbal remedies or medications to manage your symptoms, besides making changes to your diet, make sure you have an adequate supply with you. Remember to pack these in your carry-on luggage (not in your suitcase) when flying.
If you have any other tips or suggestions that you would like to share with us and all our followers, we would love to hear about them.
Travel safe and enjoy!
Here are a couple of previous posts about dining out Greek Cuisine and Asian Style which can guide you anywhere you are.