If you are on a low FODMAP diet or have gut issues, then thinking about travelling within your home country or overseas might feel stressful or overwhelming or make you want to cry. These feelings are normal. Today we’re bringing you lots of low FODMAP travel tips to make things easier.
Hosting the chat session is Alana Scott, Founder of A Little Bit Yummy, and she is joined by Emily Clarke, research dietitian from the Monash University FODMAP team. Both presenters have IBS, have gone through the low FODMAP diet process, and travelled with dietary restrictions.
This article will cover the following:
- Monash FODMAP chat session with Emily Clarke from the Monash FODMAP Team
- Do food intolerances get better when people travel?
- Can you pause the low FODMAP diet when you go on holiday?
- Travel Tips from Emily
- Favourite Foods To Take When Travelling
- Low FODMAP Tips When Travelling Overseas
- Low FODMAP Tips when Visiting Friends and Family
- Tips for Choosing Airplane Meals
- Extra Resources and Final Thoughts
Watch The Video
Low FODMAP Travel Tips Chat Notes
Host: Alana Scott from A Little Bit Yummy
Monash University FODMAP Dietitian: Emily Clarke
Do food intolerances get better when people travel?
The answer is it depends on the individual. Many people find their food intolerances disappear or reduce when they are on holiday. This change in tolerance levels could be due to being less stressed, eating different foods, or getting more exercise as they explore the local area. So go into your trip with an open mind and hopefully you’ll be able to enjoy a wider range of foods as you travel.
Can you pause the low FODMAP diet while you go on holiday?
You can pause the low FODMAP diet when you travel.
If the FODMAP diet is helping, then you can continue it on holiday if you want to. However, managing a strict low FODMAP diet when travelling is challenging, so many people choose to relax their diet while they are away. Just remember that eating high FODMAP foods doesn’t cause damage to your intestines, even though the FODMAPs can trigger unpleasant symptoms for some people. This means if you relax your diet, you aren’t causing any harm – you just need to be prepared to manage symptoms.
During your travel can be an excellent time to try some high FODMAP foods you weren’t quite ready to reintroduce at home. You might find that you don’t get symptoms when you eat them and can enjoy more variety.
If you pause the low FODMAP diet while you are away, you don’t need to restart from the beginning when you get home. Instead, let any gut symptoms settle and continue with the FODMAP diet process.
Low FODMAP Travel Tips From Emily
When it comes to travel and food intolerances, you learn along the way what works for you and what doesn’t. When I started travelling early in my FODMAP journey, I tried to be strict to control my gut symptoms. Now when I travel, I like exploring foods that might not have worked for me in the past.
I always have medications to help in case I experience symptoms so I can still enjoy the moment. I pack anti-diarrhoea medication (e.g. Imodium) and antispasmodic medication in my bag. Talk to your doctor about what medication is right for you and make sure you buy it before you go (sometimes it can be hard to tell what you’re buying when overseas).
Other Travel Tips That Help:
- Stay hydrated.
- Put the Google Translate app on your phone if you are travelling somewhere that speaks a different language. This app can translate ingredient labels in the supermarket and can help you when you are trying to order food.
- Book accommodation with kitchen facilities so you can cook food suitable for your needs.
- If you have space in your bag, take some low FODMAP sauces, spice mixes, and snacks that you can use for quick meals (make sure you declare these when you go through customs).
- Don’t take things too seriously. Travelling with gut issues can lead to some great travel stories – like Alana attempting to mime chicken breast when trying to order chicken at a Spanish-speaking fresh food market.
Do you have favourite foods you like to take when travelling?
Taking a few foods with you can make travelling so much easier. Here are some of our favourite low FODMAP options:
- Snack bars/granola bars/muesli bars – check the Monash University FODMAP Diet app for suitable options.
- Low FODMAP nuts like pecans, walnuts, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, peanuts and small serves of almonds.
- Peanut butter – you can put it on everything from rice cakes to low FODMAP bread.
- Your favourite low FODMAP bread or cereal.
- Rice cakes or corn thins.
- Low FODMAP fruit.
- Plain popcorn.
- Your favourite tea or hot chocolate powder.
If you have space in your bags when travelling locally, consider packing your low FODMAP milk, stock powder, or favourite spice mix, especially if you think you or your hosts will be doing some cooking.
Low FODMAP Tips When Travelling Overseas
- Reach out to local low FODMAP groups for product recommendations.
- Contact local FODMAP-trained dietitians and see if they can give you a quick list of suitable foods. The Monash FODMAP Trained Dietitians Directory can be a helpful resource.
- Look at foods that are readily available before you go. For example, rice is easy to find in most countries – if you get stuck, order cooked rice, plain protein (beef, chicken fish, eggs, lamb etc), and some low FODMAP veggies to make a filling meal.
- Do a couple of reintroduction challenges before you go to see if you can bring back onion/garlic/dairy/wheat. Eating out becomes more manageable if you can tolerate any of these foods.
Low FODMAP Tips when Visiting Friends and Family
Make sure you get prepared in advance:
- Talk to your hosts before you go. Don’t turn up and then tell them you can’t eat certain foods – this is stressful for them and doesn’t give them time to understand why you need to avoid certain foods.
- Give them a short list of foods that you need to avoid. Think about your top five to ten foods that trigger symptoms.
- Talk to them about what might be on the menu and how you can help adapt the meals.
- Give them recipes and tips to make it easy. For example, tell them your favourite low FODMAP stock/broth brand and give them a few of your favourite recipes (there are lots on monashfodmap.com or alittlebityummy.com).
- Offer to cook one of the nights while you are staying.
- Do your research. If you are eating out, look up some online restaurant menus before you go so you can make suggestions on places suitable for you.
- Place an online grocery order and get it delivered to their house with some of the staple foods you need during your stay. Think about bread, cereal, milk, snacks and drinks.
Tips for Choosing Airplane Meals
Navigating airplane meals when you have food intolerances is tricky, and whether or not there will be a low FODMAP option depends on the airline.
Here are our tips:
- Talk to the airline and see if there is an onion and garlic free meal option.
- Contact the customer service team if you can’t choose your dietary preferences when booking.
- Remember that airline meals are small, so if the dish has high FODMAP ingredients, the amounts will often be within low FODMAP limits.
- Pack snacks in your carry-on bag or a sandwich if it is a long-haul flight as backup food.
- Eat before you get on the plane – you can often find low FODMAP options in the airport.
You can also pack a full lunchbox of food to take on the plane with you. Here are some of Alana’s go-to food choices that work well:
- Homemade fritters. Try curry quinoa fritters, carrot fritters, or cheesy broccoli fritters.
- Low FODMAP vegetable sticks and dip. Think carrot and cucumber sticks and a homemade low FODMAP dip like low FODMAP hummus, 5 minute beetroot dip, or pumpkin dip.
- Piece of low FODMAP fruit. Check the Monash University FODMAP Diet App for ideas.
- Rice crackers and cheese
- If you aren’t going through customs between flights, take a reheatable meal and offer to pay an airport cafe to heat it.
- Keep yourself safe by keeping perishable food chilled. You usually can’t take ice packs through security (Alana had an experience where one airport thought it was a bomb threat!). Instead, once you are through security, fill a ziplock bag with ice from the food court, then seal it with another ziplock bag to create a makeshift ice pack.
- Make sure you declare any food in your bags as you go through customs when you reach your destination.
Extra Resources & Final Thoughts
If you want to support the FODMAP work that Monash University is doing, then please download the Monash University FODMAP Diet App from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
We hope you’ve found this FODMAP chat session on low FODMAP travel tips helpful and that you are feeling more confident about your next trip. We look forward to chatting with you again soon.