I’m severely allergic to gluten and still have a delicate dairy allergy, and regardless that I’m a frequent traveler, it’s not all the time apparent to me which dishes have both (or each!) after I’m in a new place and consuming unfamiliar meals.
Dr. Alyson Pidich, the medical director of the Ash Center, in New York City, and a meals allergy specialist, is allergic to shellfish and, like me, is aware of firsthand that even so-called “safe” meals can have hint allergens that may make you in poor health.
So what’s a meals allergy sufferer and world traveler to do? Here are a few of Dr. Pidich’s ideas, all of which she retains high of thoughts for her personal travels.
Carry a meals allergy card in a number of languages
Have a card useful that lists your meals allergic reactions within the language or languages spoken at your vacation spot. You can create your personal playing cards with easy notecards or sturdy paper, or get them organized from Allergy Translation, which prices $eight to create one card by means of its app or web site. (You can print as many copies of every card as you need when you place an order.)
Make certain that your playing cards clearly checklist which meals you may’t eat, somewhat than simply stating what you’re allergic to. For instance, my allergy playing cards don’t simply say that I’m allergic to gluten and dairy, they are saying that wheat and wheat-based merchandise resembling soy and something containing milk, together with yogurt, are off-limits.
Similarly, Dr. Pidich’s playing cards say that she will’t eat clams, shrimp and lobster. She realized the laborious approach how necessary it’s to be tremendous particular on her playing cards: her allergy card when she traveled to Tulum, Mexico a few years in the past merely stated in Spanish that she was allergic to shellfish, however she was served a dish with shrimp and ended up with hives throughout her physique.
Order with an abundance of warning
This could sound apparent, however in a great situation, you all the time journey with meals allergy playing cards and the individuals serving you perceive what you’re not allowed to eat.
But say you overlook your playing cards, or suppose “oh, this looks fine” as a result of your set off meals aren’t on the ingredient checklist. Dr. Pidich stated that you simply nonetheless shouldn’t assume that what you’re consuming is protected. Certain meals and drinks, particularly, together with sauces, salad dressings, soups and cocktails cover frequent allergens resembling wheat, nuts, dairy and shellfish.
Restaurant cooks typically use flour to thicken sauces, for instance, whereas soups can have shellfish broth, and salad dressings are blended with soy sauce or nut oils. Ask any vegetarian or vegan what it’s like to be surprised when their salad dressing has cheese in it or the vegetable soup has been prepared with chicken broth, and you’ll understand what it’s like. In short, even if you think you’re being cautious, be extra cautious.
Travel with a food stash
There’s nothing worse than going hungry on your trip because you can’t find enough safe food to eat. Dr. Pidich highly recommended packing plenty of snacks and a few meal replacement options on your trip, if you can.
Consider nonperishable snacks that are carry-on safe, like powdered protein shakes (go for pea protein powder if you can because it’s easy to digest and the least allergenic, compared with other, usually whey-based, powdered proteins), low-sodium jerky, low-sodium powdered soups that can be rehydrated with hot water, roasted chickpeas, nuts (as long as you’re not allergic to nuts!), and dried fruits or crunchy vegetables.
Consider a hotel room or a Airbnb with a kitchen
Having access to a kitchen means you can prepare some meals for yourself. This also cuts down on the stress of not being able to find allergy-safe food to eat.
Take your allergy card with you when you go food shopping so that the people working at the supermarket or farmers’ market can you steer you clear of anything you’re allergic to, and make sure to follow our general tips to stay healthy while traveling.
Don’t forget your allergy medicine (but carry it legally)
Even if your food allergy isn’t severe, you shouldn’t leave home without your allergy medicine. Sure, you’ll want it just in case you have an uncomfortable reaction like hives or itching, but you shouldn’t assume you can buy what you need locally, depending on where you go.
In most common destinations you can, but Dr. Pidich said that it’s better to pack some in your carry-on that you already know and have used. If you have a travel companion, have them carry an extra dose or two of the medicine in case you lose yours. The same goes for an Epi-Pen, if you use one. Finally, make sure you familiarize yourself with your destination’s rules and regulations about prescription (and nonprescription) medication, so you’ll make it through customs with your medicine.
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