Tips for travelling on a restricted diet

Monday, November 6, 2017
When trying to turn over a new leaf and eat healthy, a business trip or a family vacation can be a death sentence to all the effort you have put into your diet.

Travelling can be one of the biggest obstacles to eating a healthy diet for many reasons. Intercontinental differences in diets can be daunting. For example, Asian foods typically contain a lot more soy than your average New Zealand food, America is usually less allergy-friendly in their restaurants than New Zealand restaurants, and French food is typically more centered around bread and pastry. Most of these challenges, as well as other regional differences, can be addressed fairly easily by planning ahead.

If you wait until the last minute to look for places that cater to your specific needs, you are likely to be left disappointed. Plan ahead by finding restaurants, grocery stores, and cafés that supply everything you need to continue on your healthy eating journey.

There are options almost everywhere in the world and which may not look like the packaged gluten-free, dairy-free or soy-free items found here in New Zealand. A health shop that exists in most countries and most corners of the world will be a fruit and veggie stand, preferably selling locally-grown and spray-free produce. Eat local foods that are readily available and in season.

Getting to your destination, or flying, is a whole different type of challenge. I am very impressed with the airlines being able to serve three hot meals to 300 or 400 people during a 14-hour flight. These meals can be catered to your specific needs, sometimes.

If you are flying long-haul with a layover in another country, you will have trouble packing food and planning ahead as customs will likely not allow you to bring it with you. In these cases, you need to have the packaged foods that are safe for you to consume back home. They aren’t as good as fresh food, but they are better than being sick from eating the wrong food during your long-haul flight. No one wants digestive issues when they’re flying and have limited facilities!

If you are caught at a restaurant or café that doesn’t cater to your dietary needs, here is the way to get a meal that will agree with most. Most places will offer a salad. Ask for an olive oil and vinegar (or vinaigrette) dressing on the side, and no croutons or cheese. This will eliminate the biggest issue with salads: the dressing. Dressings are a mystery bag of ingredients and the ingredients list can leave you shocked. It’s simple, but simple will get you through those difficult situations.

Three tips to eat right while travelling:

1. Plan ahead- don't eat reactively

2. Bring safety foods that are packaged and allowed through customs

3. Keep it simple - eat local, seasonally-available foods.


Dr. Carl Bamlet

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