OR, HOW NOT TO HAVE A ROUGH RIDE.
Do you want your trip to be fabulous and Zen, not puking into the sink in your room whilst purging your other end into the toilet? Or worse being laid low for a few days with a variety of energy-sapping and weird symptoms? Either way, if it’s your allergies or just Delhi Belly you can take measures to avoid misery.
My mate just came over from a very long haul on working on a luxury yacht and she came to stay with me for a few days before returning to her family in Cornwall. It was great. Too much gossip too little time, but the long and the short of it was that it reminded me of the trials and tribulations of having food intolerances, allergies or indeed a disease from allowing you to eat certain foods. My pal has both Celiac disease and also dairy intolerance so this makes food a little bit of a much-needed obsession.
She has travelled solo from being a teenager and is as daring as you get and can scuba, run, kickbox, yoga schmoga and do anything sporty that you can think of. She also loves fine wines and a fag or twenty, and between the pair of us, we swear like troupers and laugh wildly at life. In other words, she is larger than life and very beautiful too. Her only problem is her darn problem with the two western staples. Grain and dairy.
Now I am very lucky and can munch my way around the world so it never really has to enter my mind too much, so bar the Gaviscon or Settlers whatever, and activated charcoal if going somewhere slightly dodgy, I am fine. For the solo travellers who are not here’s a quick look at how my mate deals with it.
When she told me that she had emailed the restaurant beforehand it jogged my memory as to her food woes, and I questioned her on how difficult was it to work and travel abroad knowing that one speck of cross-contamination could be catastrophic for her. This is the way it goes.
Alert: If you have any other serious allergies you must consider renting your own apartment on your travels as you can be sure as to what goes in your food. In this post, I’m presuming that anyone with these problems consults properly with theiryour doc and carries any emergency meds you might need. Caution is good then you can relax and enjoy yourself.
Just remember some countries will be much easier food-wise than others and therefore restaurants of those countries typically follow suit. My friend researched three places that she was keen to go to while in London. One was Sri Lankan, one Persian and the other Thai. For the three she emailed them with her details and then upon arrival asked them to show her what on the menu was safe for her and what could be prepared without the demon ingredients. They all were very much in the know about these things which have only been acknowledged in the past couple of decades at eateries. This done she ordered like a mad thing, gone mad, and had a lovely nosh.
Another thing is when there’s an open kitchen go for it. It’s much better they know you are keeping a beady eye on them and you can see there’s no cross-contamination. Sounds paranoid? Well yes, I suppose it does but talking to her about any cock ups, I realised the sensible way she has dealt with it for years. I made a huge vegetable soup while she was here then separated it into two batches so she could flavour her own and I couldn’t be blamed for accidentally chucking something unsuitable in. I also cooked her plain roast organic chicken and roast potatoes but left her with all her other bits. My tea and milk went out the window for a couple of days so I could make us herb and spice teas. It does feel like a tightrope but I thought there’s probably a lot of you have allergies so I should put your mind to rest you can travel solo and not suffer hideous consequences.
Top Tips of what medicines to have in your bumbag at the very least. Be prepared. Each time you go out it’s a potential minefield with foods your body is simply uneasy about how to deal with so considers them toxins. Or of course, you have a medical history of intolerance or allergy to stuff secretly hidden in innocuous-looking stuff and the staff don’t know what’s been slung in. Due diligence isn’t always definitive when abroad. Have on your phone translations of what you need to explain to a restaurant, cafe, bar whatever. Take a screenshot when you have done that. I always had “No coriander!” on mine in Thailand just because I hate it but clearly, if you’re allergic then you need to also write that. In places where they make things fresh, they can easily accommodate this very easily. I showed mine many a time in coriander loving Thailand after I had to leave food uneaten. I pulled faces after to lighten the mood but if you’re allergic be very clear how unwell this could make you.
A LIST OF THINGS TO THINK OF.
- Have this organised while you are packing and your go to medications will always be in the same place and ready at hand.
- However cautious you are if you’re highly allergic to certain foods you know your protocols, you’ll have your emergency kit which always should be with you while you’re out and about.
- For milder allergies antihistamines should be in your bum bag too which will also stop hayfever.
- Activated charcoal tablets are brilliant if you want a preventative from gas and upset tummies when you’re a wee bit unsure of the restaurant. This will effectively remove any toxins and are my new go to.
- Painkillers. As you know you could kick off with a headache or tummy cramps. Don’t be a martyr to the cause!
- Gaviscon or similar to chalk up your gut!
- If you get rashes a cortisoid cream.
- Just prepare you’re own food if it’s a very exotic place where they aren’t really aware of these sort of problems. Especially for a picnic lunch
- While you’re at it have eye drops in your bag too. Sore puffy eyes can come along with allergies and are very valuable to have with you anyway.
SHOPPING FOR FOREIGN FOOD FOR EATING IN.
I suppose like many things with travelling solo you have to be more prepared than if going with somebody or in a group, with other people you can explain your food issues and they can be your back up. (Mind you that didn’t go so well for that poor girl who ate a Pret sandwich and died from anaphylactic shock while travelling with her mate on her hols. She ended up dying on the plane due to her nut allergy, if her mate knew she would have warned her) Alone however like all solo travelling meticulous planning is needed for dodgy stuff. The rest of the time you can be hedonistic and a wild child as much as you like. (Maybe not as wild as me with all my accidents!)
Abroad obviously you will need your translater app on your phone and have certain key phrases saved in screenshots and available at any time. The mantra should be ‘If in doubt, leave it out.’ Beware the street food and the little old restaurant in a village which looks fabulous for many an extra could be chucked in especially in complex flavouring ingredients. I won’t even start on nut allergies because that is a minefield of potential hazards.
OVER AND OUT FROM THE LAND OF CAUTIOUS EATING.
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