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Traveling with food allergies

Planning is the key to avoiding getting sick while traveling with food allergies. While you may be able to let up a bit, you can never entirely let go unless you want to spend some of your vacation time sick with symptoms brought on by eating the wrong foods.

Hopefully, you wonít have to learn the hard way as I did when I chose to ignore my dairy allergy on a vacation to the coast and ordered clam chowder. I spent the better part of a weekend sick in bed with severe digestive distress. The experience taught me that no matter how big your river of denial is, your food allergies donít take a vacation. Continued vigilance, even while traveling, is just part of the package if you suffer from food allergies.

The best approach is to have a plan for eating away from home. Donít assume that everything will work out. It may seem like a pain but in the long run youíll thank yourself. Have in mind what to look for on menus that will work for your dietary restrictions. You might want to consider phoning restaurants ahead of time to check out their menus and find out if they are amenable to making substitutions. I have found most restaurant staffs are helpful as long as you explain your circumstances rather than have them think you are a picky eater.

If allergic to dairy, ask if your food can be prepared without butter or creamy sauces. Look for potatoes or rice if you are allergic to wheat. Asian restaurants are often a good choice if you are allergic to wheat as most meals come with rice. Be sure to have them leave off the soy sauce which contains wheat as an ingredient. Meals served at Mexican restaurants usually come with rice and can be another option for those with wheat allergies but remember to ask for corn tortillas instead of flour.

You will need a back-up plan for eating out if your travel plans take you to places where there are few restaurants. I have always been appreciative of servers who will go back to the kitchen to check on ingredients or even rummage around for something you can eat. One time, my husband and I were bike touring and found ourselves in a mountain community with only one restaurant that was open for lunch. Baked potatoes were on the menu but not served until after 5 p.m. Our server went to the kitchen and popped a potato in the microwave for me. I rewarded her efforts with a generous tip.

Sometimes you can find yourself in a town where the restaurant staff is not agreeable or they donít have anything in their kitchen that will work for you. Having a food stash with you will come in handy in situations like that. Food items that can easily be packed include: fruit, either fresh, dried or canned; fresh vegetables; allergen-free cereals, breads, crackers or rice cakes; canned or packaged meats or fish; allergen-free energy bars; or meal replacement powder. These food items make great snacks, light meals or can be used to supplement whatís available at the restaurant where youíre eating.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Sheree Welshimer. All rights reserved.
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