How To Deal With Food Intolerances When Abroad


Food allergy and food intolerance are different things. Food allergy is the immediate potentially life threatening reaction to foods such as peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, milk and/or eggs. Having a food allergy and travelling abroad can present particular hazards; for example some people with food allergies (often peanut) report symptoms when flying due to foods being consumed in such a confined space. Some airlines no longer serve peanut snacks, and some will remove them if a request is made in advance.

Food intolerance is different to allergy in that reactions are delayed and are not potentially life-threatening. Some foods are easier to avoid than others, and so if you know that you are intolerant to certain fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, nuts or seeds then avoidance is still possible when you are away. More complex foods such as wheat, gluten, yeast, eggs and animal milks are harder to avoid. Here are a few tips:-

  • Try and eat a good meal before you leave so you are well stocked up and prepared for the journey
  • Take some suitable supplies in case the flights are delayed or you can’t find a suitable restaurant
  • Think about going self-catering so you have options to cook for yourself as well as eating out
  • Make sure you know the translation of keywords and take a list with you. Translation cards containing useful phrases in most languages are also available from the charity Allergy UK
  • Check out the types of local foods where you are going, then you will have better knowledge of what you may come up against when you get there
  • Always stay hydrated, good general advice anyway for any holiday
  • Overall be prepared; there is nothing worse than hunting around for food in a foreign country when you’re hungry

Of course it very much depends upon where you are travelling to as to how easy or how difficult it can be to deal with food intolerance. Some countries you might be surprised that it is easier. In Asia and Africa the diet is much less wheat based.  In many Asian countries they eat very little dairy and many more green vegetables. In the Mediterranean countries the diet is more olive oil based than dairy based.   In sunnier climes eat the local fruits and enjoy the fact the tomatoes and oranges haven’t clocked up the air miles to get to our supermarkets and grocers.
Eating is obviously an important part of any holiday (many would argue the most important part …) and by doing a bit of preparation before you go this could ensure you have an easier, stress free time.
To find out more about food intolerance testing feel free to give us a call to speak to one of our experts on 0800 130 0580 or request a free call back here. Alternatively, feel free to take our FirstStep Test.