Whether it be a relaxing cruise, overseas getaway, camping trip, or a short weekend away – holidays are always something to look forward to. How to manage low FODMAPs on holidays? A less exciting prospect… Whatever your holiday of choice includes, there is something that all holidays consist of… food glorious food! For many people with IBS, an upcoming holiday can evoke mixed emotions. There is the stress of symptom flare-ups from eating trigger foods. Then there is the worry of how to avoid FODMAPs whilst away. Add on the anxiety of having to share a toilet with others when your gut is playing up (yikes). Or the common fear of missing out on things because of your IBS. These are all normal emotions to be feeling. However, these fears shouldn’t outweigh the excitement and enjoyment that comes with a holiday. So, we’re here to help you out!
6 tips for managing low FODMAPs on holidays
1. Carry low FODMAP snacks on you
Having snacks on hand is great to keep you going in-between meals, and when you’re feeling peckish and want to avoid reaching for that decadent piece of cake in the café window. Some great low FODMAP snack ideas you can carry on hand include walnuts, almonds (<10), macadamias, rice cakes/corn thins, a suitable snack bar such as ‘Food For Health’ fruit-free bars, carrot/cucumber/capsicum sticks, a banana or a cup of grapes. Try sandwiching 2 rice cakes or corn thins together with peanut butter and wrap in foil so that it stays fresh. If you have access to a fridge stock it with some lactose-free yoghurt and hard cheese to pair with plain rice crackers or veggie sticks.
2. Stick mostly to the basics
Your strategy will be different depending on the types of foods you will be eating on your holiday, but a safe strategy is to bring it back to basics. Meat is a safe choice, so when ordering out go for an option such as steak, chicken breast, lamb, pork, or a meat and veg salad. Order without sauce, or sauce on the side, and ask if the meat has been marinated (as marinades often contain trigger foods like onion, garlic, and honey). Be cautious with what the meal comes with – try load up on salad/veg (limit eating high FODMAP varieties), and if it comes with chips ask if they are gluten-free (as many frozen varieties aren’t). Most places offer gluten-free pizza bases and pasta, however, the sauce will often contain cream/onion/garlic so be cautious of this. Most places are quite accommodating to dietary requirements nowadays, so don’t be afraid to ask questions or make requests!
3. Be cautious of alcohol
Alcohol often appears on holiday, so if you choose to drink, do so mindfully as alcohol itself can irritate the gut. Varieties of alcohol which are low FODMAP include vodka, whiskey, gin, and most wine. Opt for soda water with lime or berries as a mixer, or regular soft drink in moderation (excess sugar can irritate the gut). Beer is generally tolerated in moderate amounts but should be avoided if also coeliac or gluten intolerant. Avoid sticky/dessert wines, rum, and most liqueurs as they are high in fructose. Try drinking a glass of water or soda water in-between alcoholic drinks. This will help avoid over-doing it, and will also help keep you hydrated.
4. Take your own bread/cereal/milk with you
It is a good idea to take some basic pantry items with you, whether you plan to go out for meals or cook them yourself. Take a couple of slices of gluten-free bread in a snap-lock bag with you when going out for breakfast or lunch – most places will happily toast it for you with some poached eggs for breaky, or make your chosen sandwich on it for lunch. Generally, restaurants/cafes will have gluten-free bread, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Whether it is a buffet breakfast or eating at your hotel/tent/cabin, a great breaky option is a low FODMAP cereal with lactose-free yoghurt and berries. Take your own lactose-free milk with you in case shops nearby don’t stock it, and use this for tea/coffee/cereal etc.
5. Have a high protein snack before going out for meals
A high protein snack before going out for meals can help us feel fuller, meaning we are less likely to over-indulge at lunch/dinner. This can reduce the chance of ordering a high FODMAP meal or dessert due to hunger/cravings. Some good high protein snack ideas include 1-2 hard-boiled eggs on 1-2 rice cakes, a tub of lactose-free yoghurt sprinkled with crushed walnuts, a glass of lactose-free milk or a tin of plain tuna in spring water on 2 corn thins.
6. Carry some over the counter medication as a backup
If you do eat something which doesn’t agree with you, don’t be too hard on yourself. You are human and sometimes slip-ups happen. If you have a flare-up of symptoms try to stick to avoiding any FODMAPs to let symptoms settle. Carrying some over-the-counter anti-diarrhoea or anti-cramp medication with you may be a good idea as a backup if symptoms get very bad on your holiday – just ensure you consult with the pharmacist first before purchasing. It’s also a good idea to pack a shelf friendly probiotic too, to help minimise symptoms as well.