Following the FODMAP diet is easy at home, where you can cook what you like, and at favorite local restaurants, which you know serve safe food or can accommodate your diet. But what happens when you travel farther away from home?
Understandably, many IBS sufferers worry about travelling because maintaining a healthy diet becomes much more challenging. However, with the right preparation, it is possible to travel almost anywhere and still maintain your FODMAP diet.
Here are our five top strategies for travelling well on the FODMAP diet:
1. Choose an Accommodation With a Kitchen
When can cook your own food, you reduce your risk considerably. Since hotels don't normally provide self-catering facilities, this used to be tricky. Thankfully, websites like Airbnb.com are now hugely popular, allowing you to rent a home or apartment from a local and providing you access to a kitchen.
You can rent either the full house/apartment or just a spare room. Staying with a host family can be both rewarding and helpful, as they will be able to point you in the direction of restaurants and shops that provide safe foods.
2. Research Local Foods in Advance
We often take for granted that we can access foods from all over the world in our local supermarkets, but that isn't always the case abroad. You're likely to encounter fruit, vegetables and other foods that you've never heard of before, and you may not have access to staples you rely on.
Of course, trying new foods is one of the delights of travel -- unless you have IBS, in which case it can be a lottery. Prepare in advance, research local foods and determine what you can eat and what you should avoid.
3. Create a Food Card in the Local Language
If you're travelling abroad, the language barrier may be a problem. Presented with unfamiliar brands and packaging, shopping for low FODMAP food becomes an exercise in guesswork and detective skills. Some foods are obvious, but many are not, and reading the ingredients list is impossible if you don't speak the local language.
Create a food card with separate sections for foods you need to avoid and foods you might want to buy in the supermarket. Have it translated before you leave and then you'll have a handy reference that will be equally useful when shopping in a supermarket and when speaking with restaurant staff while dining out. Get a low FODMAP travel card and translations in 14 languages here.
4. Take Food With You
You might be surprised to find out that you can often take quite a lot of FODMAP food abroad with you. There are restrictions, particularly for your hand luggage, but you can often take tins and packets in your hold luggage without issue.
We recommend you take a few staples with you on every trip. Here are a few suggestions:
- Nellino's Low FODMAP Pomodoro Pasta Sauce - for an easy, safe meal.
- Low FODMAP Certified seasonings, organic or non-organic, garlic substitutes such as garlic oil, asafoetida, garlic substitute seasonings. These are perfect for your own cooking.
- Low FODMAP Protein Vegan Bar, Low FODMAP Certified Granola Snack Packs - delicious snacks while you're on the go. Find more low FODMAP snacks here.
- Low FODMAP Certified Salad Dressings - portable safe salad dressings.
Always check the laws for the countries you are travelling to and from and declare foods at Customs.
5. Start Small and Build Confidence
Travelling on the low FODMAP diet isn't always easy, but it is possible. However, if you lack confidence, it isn't necessarily the best idea to jump in at the deep end. Instead, start by booking a short trip away for just a night or two.
As you build up your confidence, you'll find you become more and more comfortable being away from home and your larder, relying on your knowledge and confidence to help you eat the right foods.
Had a travelling success or a helpful tip for other readers? We'd love to hear from you -- let us know in the comments section below.