We love to experience cultures through their unique cuisine, be it Italian spaghetti or Japanese sushi. However, if you have food allergies, this opportunity also presents some challenges. According to Kim Koeller, the founder of the health education company GlutenFree Passport, approximately 78 million Americans have food allergies, have food intolerance, or are following gluten-free diets. Fortunately, such dietary restrictions don’t have to keep people from feasting on the culture.
So don’t let them keep you from exploring the world. Research, communication, and preparation will help you worry less and enjoy your travels more.
Learning about your destination is essential because it will allow you to have a richer travel experience. Before traveling, investigate the local cuisine and how it is typically prepared. Are there unique local ingredients you need to be aware of? Find out what these ingredients are and which dishes you should definitely avoid. Fortunately, much of this information is available online.
If you are traveling where a foreign language is spoken, research how to say the ingredients that you are allergic to. You may also want to write them down as your pronunciation may interfere with your communicating as effectively as you would like. You’ll also need to learn to ask the right questions. The right question won’t always be “Is this dish gluten-free?” You might need to ask something more specific, like “Is the chicken flour-dusted?” Many websites, like www.brokerfish.com, offer free foreign language printables that describe specific allergies. Let friends and family know about your food allergy ahead of time. Talk to the people who may be hosting you or traveling with you. If a meal will be served on your flight, don’t forget to call your airline so that you will have something to eat on the plane.
Traveling with food allergies is totally doable, but it does take a little more planning. For example, bring some snacks that you know you can eat. Many common allergies like gluten or peanuts are very common ingredients in so many foods. Keep nutritious foods like protein bars in your suitcase, and even a few in a purse or carrying bag, so that you never have to go hungry.
Traveling with food allergies can be challenging, but don’t let it keep you from enjoying your travels. In fact, since certain places are more accommodating of food allergies than others, it may be that eating on your trip proves easier than eating at home.