Travelling with food intolerances
The tourism industry is well equipped to cater for people with food allergies, and airlines and hotels routinely give customers warnings about any potentially problematic products being served.
However, while hospitality businesses have been able to observe allergic reactions and learn from them as a result, responses to food intolerances* are harder to spot and, thus, more difficult to account for in the 21st century.
Allergic reactions typically develop within two hours of consumption, but the effects of a food intolerance may not be apparent for up to 72 hours after the problem food was eaten. This means that customers who experience intolerance to food have often left the hotel, flight or restaurant by the time the signs begin to show.
If you are heading abroad and you’re concerned about food safety, our tips for travelling with food intolerances will help you to prepare.
How to spot food intolerances
Many people experience the symptoms of food intolerance while travelling but fail to recognise the cause of the problem. You might have asked yourself why you’re so bloated on holiday or wondered why you only suffer IBS type symptoms in foreign countries. The answer to both questions could be that you have an intolerance to foods you’re only eating, or eating more of, when you’re on holiday or travelling.
The most common symptoms of food intolerance include bloating, stomach ache, IBS and headaches, but intolerance to certain foods might just leave you feeling a bit under the weather or in a low mood. In some cases, it is thought that food intolerance could also cause joint pain, eczema, tiredness and can even contribute to weight gain.
Whether you have an intolerance or not, the following tips will give you some simple steps on avoiding getting sick while travelling when it comes to food-related illness.
Tips for travelling with food intolerances
- If you’ve experienced an adverse reaction to food while travelling, take some snacking supplies with you, which you know don’t cause you a problem
- While we all want to sample cultural food when visiting new places, we can take back control of our own diet by making our own meals whilst away. Visit local supermarkets and choose self-catering options over restaurants so that you know what you’re eating
- Staying hydrated is an essential but often overlooked part of healthy living while travelling abroad. Read up on whether tap water is safe to drink in the country you’re travelling to and buy bottled water if necessary. Also, look out for hydrating foods with high water content, such as watermelon, to help you stay topped up when you’re on the move
- Food safety and clean eating are far easier to achieve when you arm yourself with knowledge. Learn some key phrases about how to ask for food and research the local cuisine before you travel
- Plan ahead. If you’re concerned about food intolerance, call the hotel you’re staying at in advance and give them the opportunity to help you with your food and travel plans
While many of us know how to eat healthy in Europe due to fewer differences in national cuisines, it is worth researching the staple foods of countries in other continents. For example, in Asia and Africa, the diet does not revolve around wheat as it does in Europe, which could be beneficial if you are gluten intolerant, while Mediterranean countries use a lot of olive oil in their food preparation.
Wherever you’re going, a bit of research into the local cuisine will stand you in good stead for eating and drinking safely abroad.
If you’ve experienced any of the symptoms of food intolerance and want to know more, you can read some of our case studies. They cover real-life stories of people who have experienced problems such as bloating, skin problems and abdominal pains as a result of food intolerance.
We have resources to help you delve deeper into key issues around food intolerance:
Common digestive problems – 75% of YorkTest customers are suffering from a digestive problem when they find us. Find out how we were able to help them.
Weight gain – Having an intolerance to a certain food can contribute to an increase in weight. Find out how by studying our guide.
How intolerances develop – So how do you become intolerant to food in the first place and how do you find out which ingredient is the culprit? Allow us to explain.
Help and support
Our friendly experts are available to speak to you about food intolerance* on 0800 074 6185. You can also get in touch via email, live chat or request a call back from our team.