Over the past few months, I’ve done a lot of traveling; both in a car and in a plane. It’s difficult enough traveling with a breast pump (I don’t even want to get into that, I have so much to gripe about) but traveling while also following a lower FODMAPs diet can be close to impossible. Here are some tips for success.
- Pack your own food (specifically, snacks) as best you can. Obviously packing full meals will only be possible if you’re traveling by car, and even then it’s not fun to pack full meals because part of the enjoyment of traveling is eating new foods (right?!). You can almost always find lower FODMAPs menu options at restaurants; see a list of snacks and menu options below.
- Call ahead or research online to make sure you know the foods that are being served where you are going. Get an idea of how they can modify your food to be low FODMAPs. For example, I went to several conferences and made sure I could get all of my sauces and dressings served on the side. If pasta was being served I asked if I could have gluten-free. If they couldn’t do that I made sure the gluten-free option was substantial enough to keep me full. One place I went told me the gluten-free option was salad and an apple (uhh, apples aren’t low FODMAPs, and that’s just not enough food!) I asked if I could have an orange instead and I made sure to bring some oil and vinegar packets for the salad. I also inquired about yogurt, which they had, and it happened to be safe (Chobani). If you are going on vacation, call ahead or look at menus ahead of time to get an idea of some good places to eat.
- Download the app before you leave (if you haven’t already!). With the app, most answers are right there at your service.
- Bring BEANO— just sayin’. You may be stuck eating some FODMAPs (specifically Oligosaccharides, which are found in beans and cruciferous veggies like broccoli). Why not reduce your symptoms a bit by taking a Beano? If you have SIBO this might not help much, but if you are like me and simply get bloated and gassy after eating these FODMAPs, Beano can help you keep friends on your trips.
From www.Beano.com. No, this was not a paid endorsement!
- Remember your staple foods that are almost always available while traveling; oatmeal, fruit, and eggs! Seriously, have you ever noticed that? They are always my back-up plan. Here is a breakfast I had at a conference I attended recently. Can’t see it? Let me help; Plain yogurt topped with 2 T (roughly) granola (not gluten-free, but I can handle a little wheat in my diet), and berries, with a side of fruit (pineapple, cantaloupe, berries) and two hard-boiled eggs.
- Nature Valley crunchy granola bars (avoid the one with honey), and Nature Valley Roasted Nut Crunch Bars
- Go Macro bars (especially the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip flavor) — read ingredients, some other varieties have FODMAPs
- KIND Peanut Butter Whole Grain Clusters
- Baggies with popcorn, Terra Chips, or Food Should Taste Good(most varieties are safe)
- Oil and vinegar packets for dressing
- Packets of peanut butter or a container of PB2(PB2 is powdered peanut butter. I like to bring it to mix with plain yogurt in order to add flavor and more protein)
- Baggies with Mary’s Gone Crackers (most varieties are safe), Snyder’s GF pretzels, plain or lightly salted rice cakes
- Bags of plain instant oatmeal (in case you don’t like the continental breakfast or the only oatmeal they provide is flavored and possibly unsafe)
- Little bags of chia, or an entire bag of chia (to add to your oatmeal or yogurt that you find in the airport or continental breakfast)
- See my low FODMAPs kitchen essentials list, which might be helpful if you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen
Know What to Get at the Airport or Restaurants
- Starbucks: Oatmeal (without all the toppings, sorry, just add plain sugar and some soy milk if you want), frothed/steamed soy milk or almond milk, fruit cup (all fruit in those cups are safe!), coffee, lattes, yum yum.
- McDonald’s: Oatmeal (see above), scrambled eggs
- Most places have salads. ALWAYS order dressing on the side. You can ask for oil and vinegar (the only real low FODMAPs dressing at most restaurants) or use your oil and vinegar packets that you brought with you (if you did). You could also just use a very slight amount of whatever dressing they provide.
- Fresh fruit or fruit salads (just avoid FODMAP fruits like blackberry, apple, peaches, pears, and plums). Most fruit salads have pineapple, cantaloupe, strawberries, and grapes, all are safe.
- Breakfast all day: Most airports have a “Breakfast all day” location. You can get eggs and bacon (not the healthiest, but you know….)
- Chinese: Brown rice, chicken or beef, and veggies without the brown sauce (just say no sauce or sauce on the side)
- Burgers/American: Order a burger without the bun, and fries if you want to splurge. You could also get half the bun, as most people can handle 1-slice of wheat bread (if they have GF bread that would be best).
- Snacks: Airports have Nature Valley bars, waters, fresh fruit like apples, oranges, and bananas, and yogurts like Chobani (be careful of some yogurts that have “Fructose” as an ingredient. Chobaniisn’t one of them).
I also found these the last time I was at the airport; Slim Chips (the sea salt would be the safest flavor). They were tasty!
Another tip is to not fret too much. When traveling it’s almost impossible to avoid FODMAPs. Just expect that you will be having some and have a plan for what will happen if you have any symptoms. Hopefully by the time you are traveling you will have a good sense of what causes you the worst symptoms (ie: don’t travel during the elimination phase, if you are doing one, and don’t travel before you’ve really got the diet down fairly well and know which ones cause you the worst symptoms), and you can avoid those foods/ingredients. For me, I typically try my hardest to avoid two things; garlic and onion. Those are what give me the worst side effects. Because it’s impossible to avoid these completely, without just getting salads all day, I try to stay active, stay hydrated, and eat yogurt while I’m traveling. Why? This keeps my gut moving and my bowels going strong, rather than backing me up and making me “Mrs. Bloated and Gassy” —-not a good person to be on vacation. It really does help to try to stick to your regular routine as much as you can, within reason.
What are some of your travel tips for the low FODMAPer??