Low FODMAP on holiday: 7 tips
I often hear from starting fodmappers that they are a bit worried about going on holiday now that they follow the low FODMAP diet and I can totally understand that.
You are going to a foreign country where you don’t know exactly what kind of food they serve and what options there are in the supermarket.
You go on holiday to enjoy and relax and the last thing you want is to worry about what you can and can’t eat. And even more important: getting lots of stomach issues during your holiday.
Over the years, I have made quite some trips while I was eating low FODMAP and I want to share my most important tips for eating low FODMAP on holiday with you.
1. Do research in advance
If you are going on holiday, it is smart to do some research about the place where you are going beforehand.
I often Google for restaurants already before I leave with search terms, such as “city name + gluten-free restaurant”.
Like this, I already get an idea of what kind of things are possible on the place where I am going. I also google on “gluten-free eating”, “gluten-free restaurants” or FODMAP with the place names around my location to see if I can find blogs from people who share their experiences and tips.
Sometimes you can also find handy apps. When I was on holiday in Italy, I got the advice from a follower to download the app “Mangiare senza glutine”.
In this app, you can find gluten-free restaurants and stores in Italy. So handy! Thanks to this app, I found a pizza restaurant in Sicily where I could eat gluten-free pizza and a wonderful little gluten-free bakery.
Without the app, I would never have been able to find those places.
I have also written a few blogs with tips for locations that I have visited:
- Eating low FODMAP in Italy – Lake Garda
- Eating low FODMAP in Italy – Cinque terre
- Eating low FODMAP in Italy – Bologna
- Eating low FODMAP in Morocco
- Eating low FODMAP in London
- Eating low FODMAP in Croatia – Krk
2. Make a list with translations
When you go out for dinner, it is very convenient if you can explain what your most important intolerances are. I always make sure that I write the translations of my intolerances down.
Often you can get really far with just English, but sometimes it is handy if you can repeat your intolerances in the local language.
For example: I noticed in Italy that some waiters look at me with glossy eyes when I say “gluten-free”, but as soon as I say “senza glutine” they understand what I mean.
By telling them your intolerances in their own language, you can make sure that they understand you correctly.
This is the list that I always translate for myself: gluten-free, lactose-free, without onion, without garlic. Through Google Translate, you can easily find the right translation. I have written down a few translations for you below:
- Dutch: glutenvrij, lactosevrij, zonder ui, zonder knoflook
- German: glutenfrei, laktosefrei, ohne Zwiebel, ohne Knoblauch
- Italian: senza glutine, senza lattosio, senza cipolla, senza aglio
- Spanish: sin gluten, sin lactosa, sin cebolla, sin ajo
- French: sans gluten, sans lactose, sans oignon, sans ail
- Turkish: glütensiz, laktozsuz, soğansız, sarımsaksız
- Croatian: bez glutena, bez laktoze, bez luka, bez češnjaka
(I am in the Netherlands, so I have written down translations for common holiday destinations in Europe)
Note: the low FODMAP diet is not a gluten-free diet. You could also decide to tell the restaurant that you cannot have wheat. I have noticed, however, that most restaurants get a bit confused when I say that I have to eat wheat-free and that gluten-free is understood better in general.
That is why I choose to say that I have to eat gluten-free. It is a bit more restrictive than necessary maybe, but in my experience it is the easiest solution.
3. Try to eat enough fruit and vegetables
I notice that I am tempted to focus a lot on eating yummy treats when I am on holidays and forget to eat enough fruit and vegetables.
My symptoms immediately get worse when I do this. Too much fat, sugar and heavy meals have a huge impact on my IBS symptoms and these are also known IBS triggers.
Therefore it is good to try to keep eating enough fruit and vegetables when you are on holiday. Of course, you can enjoy treats, but those two can go hand in hand. I notice a big difference in my symptoms when I alternate treats with healthy meals and enough fruit and vegetables.
4. Low FODMAP on holiday: keep moving
Moving regularly is also important when you have IBS. I personally notice that I get more stomach problems when I am sitting all day or just lay on the beach all day.
Therefore, I try to keep moving when I am on holiday, but usually this is not a problem. I often walk a lot more when I am on holiday than when I am at home. We try to alternate beach days with active days where we go sightseeing, walking or go for a hike in the mountains.
Like this, moving is something I don’t even have to think about it. If you like it, you can also do sports when you are on holiday. I really like bringing my running gear with me on holiday, so I can explore my holiday destination while running.
I often discover new places like that and that is a lot of fun.
5. Bring FODMAP supplements and medicines
There are several different FODMAP supplements for sale that can make life a lot easier. These supplements are pills that you can take to help your body digest different FODMAPs better.
With one supplement, you can for example eat something that contains onion or garlic without it causing issues. If you don’t know these supplements yet, I would advise you to read my blog about FODMAP supplements first.
In the blog, I explain exactly how the supplements work.
These are the supplements that I like to use, from the brand Intoleran:
- Lactase pills – for breaking down lactose (dairy products)
- Fibractase pills – for breaking down galactans and fructans (beans, garlic, wheat and onion)
- Fructase pills – for breaking down fructose (several kinds of fruits and sweeteners)
- Quatrase pills – a combination supplement for lactase, galactans, fructans and fructose.
This blogpost contains affiliate links. Read more about what affiliate links are and why I use them.
Next to that, it might be smart to bring some medication that can help you if you get a lot of stomach problems. I always bring Loperamide for diarrhoea. From other fodmappers, I heard that they often bring peppermint oil or pills on holiday too.
For me peppermint doesn’t do anything to soothe my stomach, but other people have positive experiences with it. If peppermint works for you, it can be smart to bring!
6. Bring an emergency food kit
If you are afraid that you won’t be able to find any food that you can eat on your destination, it might be smart to bring an emergency food kit.
Such as gluten-free pasta, noodles, crackers, rice cakes, cookies or snack bars. Make sure that you check the guidelines about taking food with you if you are going to fly. In Europe, I have never had any issues with bringing dry foods with me in my luggage.
When travelling in Europe, I have never had issues with finding gluten-free or lactose-free products in the supermarkets. In small supermarkets they often don’t offer a lot, but in larger supermarkets I have always been able to find some things.
Below I have listed a few supermarkets where I have found gluten-free and lactose-free products abroad in Europe. There are probably way more options, but these are the supermarkets that I visited:
- Germany: Rewe, Lidl, DM (pharmacy). At DM they also sell lactase pills and pills for fructans and galactans very cheaply.
- Italy: Spar, Conad and Lidl
- France: Carrefour
- Croatia: Konzum
- Turkey: Carrefour (I still found the offer in Turkey quite limited last time I was there)
- Slovenia: Spar, Tus, Lidl and DM (especially Spar has a crazy big gluten-free and lactose-free product range)
- Morocco: Carrefour
- England: Tesco and ASDA
If you have any good tips for other countries, please let me know in the comments below, then I will add your suggestions to the blog! We can help each other to get as much valuable information as possible 🙂
7. Think about what accommodation to pick
I personally really like to have the possibility to cook my own meals or at least to have a fridge when I am on holiday. So I can buy some food in the supermarket and prepare some of my meals myself. If I have to eat in a restaurant for every meal of the day during a longer period of time, I really notice that in my symptoms.
The chance is simply too big that I will eat something that is not low FODMAP and that causes symptoms. When you eat out every day, you usually also eat too many fat foods and larger portions and that can also cause problems.
Therefore, we often choose to book an apartment through Airbnb or Booking. Having an apartment and the possibility to make my own breakfast every day and cook dinner and lunch sometimes really gives me a lot of peace on holiday.
I like having control over my symptoms and by cooking some of the meals that I eat myself, I more control and therefore a happier stomach.
These were my tips for eating low FODMAP on holiday! What do you do to get ready for your holiday? Do you still have some handy tips for a low FODMAP holiday?