I had just returned from a three-week vacation in Spain, France, and Italy. The shopping was fantastic, the climate was frigid, the cities were breathtaking, and the cuisine. Well, the food was challenging. Dining out at home with dietary restrictions (or several restrictions) may be difficult enough; eating in a foreign city with a menu in a different language? More than just difficult.
Fortunately, I had already visited France and knew (roughly) what to anticipate, and my partner spoke Spanish and Italian. The more I travel, the more I learn about dining abroad with dietary restrictions, and I thought I would share some of my best advice with you. Some are quite apparent yet really vital, while others I have learned from my own experiences.
1. Acquire Useful Phrases
You must be able to explain your demands to every waiter or chef you encounter throughout your trip. Learning important terms such as “which foods are gluten-free” Or ‘does this contain eggs?’ in the right language(s) will guarantee that you are understood abroad.
Taking the effort to learn their language, rather than presuming they understand English, is also a sign of respect. In certain areas, such as France, it is crucial to demonstrate that you have made an effort to acquire the local language, yet in others, no one will speak English at all. Possessing translation software is advantageous in instances when communication is difficult. I have never encountered a circumstance in which I was unable to express my desires.
2. Investigate the Local Cuisine
It is quite helpful to know what to anticipate upon arrival. If you have a dairy allergy, it will be simpler to locate dairy-free meals in nations such as Spain and Italy (which utilize oil rather than butter as a cooking base) and in the majority of Asian countries.
Countries such as France might be problematic since they like butter! Gluten is prevalent in Europe, where bread is offered at every meal. In regions of Asia where rice is more widespread, this may be somewhat simpler. While they should not determine where you vacation, it is helpful to have an idea of the food you’ll appreciate and the possibilities available to you. Don’t forget to have custom fry boxes at wholesale prices to preserve your food.
3. Recognize (or Identify) Particular Stores Meeting Your Needs
There are developing shops around Europe that cater to certain dietary needs. These treats are an excellent way to give your body a rest or indulge. There are specific gluten-free bakeries and cafés in Paris, allergen-aware dairy ice cream parlors in Italy, etc.
It has taken some time for these enterprises to emerging, but they are now, which is excellent news for us. We discovered a beautiful shop in Sicily that featured a variety of properly labelled dairy, egg, and gluten-free “gelato sticks.” We checked (in Italian) that everything was dairy-free orally, then examined the labels and placed our purchase.
The gelato was wonderful, and the whole procedure was uncomplicated. Possessing knowledge about these establishments may be quite uplifting, and they are ideal for repeat visits.
4. Keep an open mind on your body and reactions.
You have to count on anything. This is an intriguing topic. I’ll use myself as an example to demonstrate how your body may respond differently abroad. In Australia, even a tiny quantity of dairy may cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, and nerve problems that linger for hours.
Also, in Italy, much dairy may cause clouded eyesight, while a small amount causes a severe rash on my stomach. In Paris, I could have a salmon dish drenched in butter without being bloated or with my tongue hurting.
However, after a few days of butter-heavy meals, a morning croissant might induce four hours of anxiety. It might be difficult to foresee how your body will respond to outside stimuli, so have an open mind. Your responses may be more or less intense (preferably less), and the actual symptoms may be very different from what you’re used to.
5. Observe What Impacts Your Body
If you spend at least a week in a place, you may begin to grasp what your body can and cannot handle there. Especially if the responses vary from what you normally feel at home, it is essential to monitor your body’s behavior.
In Spain and France, butter in moderation was OK, but cheese and custard were not. I could tolerate a little amount of butter in meals, pastries, and cakes, but dairy in a more solid form did not agree with me. Understanding these distinctions may increase your alternatives or make you feel more at ease.
6. Take any medications (natural or not) that assist you in meeting your needs.
It is always a good idea to be prepared, so if you have any drugs or techniques that help you manage mild to moderate allergic responses, bring them along. They may be as easy as a package of Lacteeze if you can’t resist that éclair and have only minor responses, or even green tea, which helps with bloating, in my experience. Anti-nausea pills might be essential if you are out for a special dinner or travelling a long distance from your lodging. Particularly if your responses originate in your stomach, there are a number of ways to mitigate their effect.
7. Occasionally, your alternatives will be subpar.
Sometimes it will be impossible to locate something tasty that is also safe to consume. Particularly in tight areas, such as airports, you may have limited alternatives. Is this the third prosciutto-filled panini I’ve had in the last two days? Yes. Does it annoy you a bit? Yes. Can I request that they add lettuce, carrots, and tomatoes to make the dish more appealing? Yes. Creative thinking may be useful, but sometimes you simply have to buck up. I will admit that I did not always have the finest attitude in these circumstances, and it was my partner who came up with inventive solutions to offer me more alternatives. Praise God for his patience!
8. Confirm that your airline can accommodate your dietary needs.
This is crucial since you DO NOT want to experience hunger or an allergic response during a 24-hour international flight. Today, most airlines are excellent at this. I have met a large airline that was not reliable, and I will not travel with them again. Request that your travel agency note your needs and ensure that they are being met when you check-in.
Becoming a member of the airline and registering your meal preferences is another approach to guarantee that you will get food that you can consume. Meals should be carefully labelled so that you know exactly what you are consuming. Note that some airlines refer to a vegan meal as vegetarian,’ so do not assume there is a non-vegan choice. Verify this with your travel agency or directly with the airline.
9. Ensure that your travelling companion is aware of your dietary restrictions.
Traveling may be difficult. Having dietary limitations might make travel more difficult. It is essential that you’re travelling companions understand your dietary restrictions, their severity, and the repercussions of consuming food containing a trigger.
People who do not suffer from allergies or intolerances may not “get it,” but do your best to clarify the situation before leaving. The last thing you want is for them to roll their eyes when you reject yet another restaurant due to a lack of viable alternatives. You do want them to make every effort to be patient and understanding.
10. Lease a Residence
This vacation, we booked a Paris flat via Airbnb, and it was a wonderful experience. However, we didn’t cook all that often; a kitchen-equipped apartment gives you the option of making meals while travelling. This allows you a great deal more control over what you consume and provides an opportunity to give your body a rest. It is also less expensive than dining out, which is always a plus!
Despite my dietary limitations, dining is one of my favorite trip activities. I appreciate trying new foods, doing things I can’t do in Australia, and savoring the great vegetables available.
There are few things more satisfying than eating something extraordinary for the first time. With food intolerance, it is more than feasible to enjoy delicious cuisine abroad, and there is no need to lose out on some amazing experiences. Remain optimistic, enjoy yourself, and try new things.