I can probably think of more than 5 reasons my food intolerances have stopped me from travelling to be honest! But I hope that by sharing my biggest gripes, it might make everyone (including me) feel a little less like we’re the only ones.
It’s sad, but I did let my dietary requirements stop me from seeing the world for many years. Not only am I gluten free, but I also avoid garlic, onion, legumes and certain veg… as you can imagine, eating out is an absolute nightmare.
So what happens when I eat out in a different country?! Now that’s always been a scary thought to me.
It doesn’t really matter how far away from home I am either – it could be 200 miles or 2000 miles. If I’m not eating at home, the same old worries and anxieties never fail to creep back in.
So here’s 5 reasons my food intolerances stopped me from travelling for many years.
1. I dreaded leaving the safety of eating at home.
If you don’t mind cooking from scratch, then your own home is probably the best place to eat on Earth. You know exactly what’s in everything and it’s 100% safe because well… you made it!
So for me, leaving my house to eat out is a bit of a big deal, let alone leaving the country…
A lot of the time, you really just can’t be sure what is (or isn’t) in your food and throwing in a language barrier definitely doesn’t help matters.
That element of the unknown just isn’t a risk I’m ever willing to take and I’m ok with that. It might make my life more awkward, but I promised myself to never risk my own health just because I’m hungry and I plan on sticking to it.
I guess the reality of the situation is this: leaving my nice, cosy comfort zone when it comes to food has and always will be an incredibly scary thing to me.
2. I couldn’t enjoy myself because I just constantly worried about food.
Before food intolerances took over my life, we’d base our holiday around seeing the sights/tourist attractions and let everything in between fall into place – including where to eat.
But if I did that these days, I think I’d spend 80% of the entire holiday being stressed out. I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t just hope to bump into safe places to eat.
I’d find myself in a new city, surrounded by such beautiful buildings, busy people and historical monuments… but all I was thinking about was food. All I could think was ‘where will I eat next?’
And it wasn’t without reason. Mark will tell you how many restaurants we’d have to go to before we eventually found somewhere safe to eat – it would sometimes take an hour or more.
By that point, we were both hangry to the point of not caring and that’s not fun. My only other option was to eat something like a piece of fruit. And that’s not exactly much of a meal on holiday, is it?
3. My boyfriend could eat nearly anywhere, but I couldn’t.
My boyfriend Mark is lactose intolerant (and he does avoid garlic and onion too) but as he can eat gluten, he’s able to eat soooo much more than I can when we’re on holiday.
It’s not that I’m jealous about it, it’s just that it’s so incredibly hard to find somewhere we can both eat. As the person with the most awkward dietary requirements, I just felt like I was spoiling our trip the whole time.
There were places Mark was really looking forward to going, but then it turned out that I couldn’t eat anything there. Obviously he’s not just going to abandon me because of a decent plate of food… which I really appreciate! BUT…
Even though he said it was fine and he didn’t care, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I was spoiling things for him the whole time.
4. My list of food intolerances is waaaaay too long to be practical.
As I have multiple food intolerances, even places that cater well for gluten free aren’t automatically a safe place for me to eat.
I rely on staff being really clued up on what is and isn’t in food as well as being helpful enough to actually care/spend time explaining everything to me.
(It’s rare, but I can recommend you a few places in London that are very caring like that!)
But around sights and in touristy areas, these types of places just don’t generally exist. Plus, not everywhere in the world is as clued up as the UK is when it comes to declaring allergens in food.
Walking into a restaurant or cafe at random is definitely a losing game for me, so again, I just have to rely on heavy planning or I basically can’t go on holiday.
5. I didn’t want to spend a single second of my holiday in pain.
This may sound negative, but why would I want to spend even one second of my holiday in pain or discomfort from eating foods that don’t agree with me?
I’ve travelled half way across the world, paid probably a month’s wage to be here… sitting in a hotel, drinking peppermint tea, with shooting pains and a hot water bottle.
I could have just done that at home for free!
It’s sad really, that I let just the simple thought of being in pain put me off from even trying at all. That’s probably the worst thing and actually – it’s incredibly negative, I know.
But I just hope some of you guys understand a little about what I mean.
Thanks for reading the 5 reasons my food intolerances stopped me from travelling. I didn’t want this to be a negative post, just pointing out all the reasons that eating out on holiday is so stressful.
But in this post, I absolutely wanted to highlight how food intolerances control so much more than just your diet. The knock on effects of not being able to eat this or that, actually manipulate you in many ways.
Thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom as I recently created this post: 5 tips you need to know before travelling with food allergies or intolerances. I’ve done it and it is possible!
If one thing’s for sure, it’s that you definitely shouldn’t let any stress or anxiety around food stop you from seeing the world. By following those 5 tips, I’ve really regained a lot of confidence when it comes to eating out on holiday. I really hope it helps you to do the same too.
Thanks for reading and happy travels,