Tips for Traveling on the Low FODMAP Diet

Jul 11, 2016 | Resource, Travel

Hi there! Following my last post on tips for eating out, today we’re talking about traveling on the low FODMAP diet. (If you haven’t read the eating out post, I encourage you to read it first – this one builds on the stuff I said there.)

Summer — and therefore travel season — are in full swing! We just got back from a vacation to King’s Canyon, Sequoia, and Yosemite National Parks, and traffic has been unusually wonderful this week because everyone is gone on vacations. I absolutely love traveling and seeing new places, but it can be stressful. Especially on the low FODMAP diet. The “OH MY GOD I’M SO HUNGRY BUT WHERE ON EARTH CAN I EAT” problem is real. And sometimes leads to emergency eating something that is high in FODMAPs. And the last thing anyone wants on vacation is to feel like crap but not be at home in their own bed.

I’ve learned through lots of trial and error what to do, not do, and to keep in mind while traveling. Here are some of my top tips – feel free to add anything in the comments that you do!

How to travel on the low FODMAP diet

While having fun and not feeling like crap.

Eat on a regular schedule (or try to at least). Easier said than done, I know. But I find that my body feels so much better if I eat at the same time every day. (This is also a good policy to follow for life in general.) So when we’re making plans for the day, I make sure there’s space for lunch around noon and dinner around 7. Then I’m proactive about finding a place for lunch (even if nobody else wants lunch yet). And sometimes it means that even if we’re having a blast doing something, if it’s getting close to 5 we need to stop for at least a second and make sure we have dinner figured out. I realize this makes me sound like a super-planner, which I promise I’m not. (And honestly, it’s usually Marc that stops us to think about dinner because he knows I’ll be grumpy soon…) I’ve just learned the hard (and painful) way that if I don’t do this I’ll end up miserable.

Bring snacks. This helps with point #1 — if I know we’re not going to have dinner until later, I’ll eat something to keep my stomach from freaking out and eating itself (also to keep myself from getting hangry and murdering everyone else…). It’s also super stressful / annoying to find low FODMAP snacks, especially in an unfamiliar place, so this is why I bring my own. I like to make these granola bars — I double the recipe but keep the oats at 1 cup and add 1/2 cup of protein powder. I also sometimes bring a loaf of Udi’s gluten free bread, depending on where we’re going (and how much room I have in my bag). And I always bring homemade granola, because I wake up hungry and grumpy and need to eat food ASAP.

Plan your meals ahead of time. This is similar to #1 but I’m talking about doing research here. If I’m traveling by myself or just with Marc I do this less because we both know what I can and can’t eat. But traveling with other people gets complicated, so this comes in handy then. If someone else suggests a restaurant, I’ll ask for the name so I can look up the menu and make sure it’s something I can eat. Or if we’re all deciding on a place Marc or I will usually take the lead so we can pick an ideal place. (Reference this list for my go-to dishes and cuisines!)

Cook for yourself whenever possible. This completely eliminates the stress of “where can I eat?” With the rise of Airbnb and the like, it’s super easy now to find affordable places that have kitchens. I like to do this especially on longer trips so that I’m not eating out every. single. day. which can get old (and painful) after awhile. Even if you don’t have a kitchen where you’re staying, most hotels have a mini-fridge where you can store lunch meat, cheese, fresh fruit, etc. If you’re visiting friends or family for more than just a few days, suggest cooking a meal at their place.

Drink lots of water – especially on the plane! This goes for everyone, but especially for people with digestive issues. Water just keeps your body functioning better. I drink a lot normally, and try to drink even more when I travel. I’ve taken to buying smart water to take on the plane — I used to think the electrolyte thing was a gimmick, but it really does help me stay hydrated.

Avoid eating on planes. Ugh, sometimes this just can’t be helped, I know. But I try not to if I don’t have to — I don’t know if it’s just sitting for so long or what but I always feel gross after eating on planes. (Even if it’s my own food!) And obviously, don’t eat the airline pretzels or cookies.

Relax whenever possible and get plenty of sleep. Traveling is stressful, sure, but it’s also fun! And since digestive symptoms can be triggered by stress, it really is important to relax. Remind yourself occasionally that everything will be ok. Remember to take time for yourself periodically. And try to get enough sleep, although that one might always be a futile effort.

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