Travelling as a FODMAP Friendly Vegan
11 Sep 2015

Travelling as a FODMAP Friendly Vegan

Holidays are events most people look forward to – exotic locations, no work, time spent with loved ones, enjoying the cultures and cuisines of foreign lands. However, to those following a low FODMAP vegan diet, travelling can be an extremely anxiety-provoking experience due to a number of factors including the fear of unknown foods, the limited availability and knowledge of how takeout food is prepared and options available, language barriers and the lack of routine. It’s easy to become even more restrictive in your diet in an attempt to avoid potential trigger foods, and fail to enjoy your “time out”. Also, I’m sure you’ve heard of the mind-gut connection and anxiety is definitely your worst nemesis when it comes to digestive health, with numerous studies demonstrating just how detrimental an anxious mental state can be on nutrient absorption, and overall gut health. Who wants to feel anxious when they’re meant to be chillaxing?!

Before you allow your IBS symptoms and concerns to control your life, take a moment to read through some quick tips for how you can plan ahead to get the most of your holiday, symptom free. Some travel necessities to pack with you wherever you go (these don’t require refrigeration and can help to settle an upset tummy, or make great snacks if you find yourself in a situation where there are no vegan low FODMAP snacks available):

  • Organic herbal tea bags (peppermint etc.)
  • Rice cakes & gluten-free muesli (just avoid the dried fruit varieties)
  • Natural almond or peanut butter packets
  • Sun or freeze dried banana chips
  • Spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, turmeric (to add to your plain yet safe dishes if you’re out and about)
  • Wheat-free oatmeal, quinoa, or amaranth flakes (in ziplock bags so you can prepare these if your hotel/accommodation doesn’t offer FODMAP friendly breakfast options – everywhere will have at least a kettle)
  • Low FODMAP nuts & seeds (e.g., peanuts, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds – see in my Kitchen for more ideas)
  • Ziplock bags & measuring cups (in case you need to portion out your snacks/meals when you’re exploring during the day)
  • Homemade granola bars, cookies or snacks that don’t require refrigeration
  • Cooler bags
  • Plastic cutlery
  • Protein/smoothie shaker cups
  • Thermos & travel flasks
  • Water bottles (hydration is SO important, as you don’t realize just how much you walk when you’re on holidays)

I hate saying this, but also pack for the worse. Remember that supplements can be a God-send if you’ve eaten an offending food (those pesky garlic and onion powders seem to be everywhere!). So, stock up on digestive enzymes, Ibeurogast, slippery elm powder, glutamine, and even some vegan, low-FODMAP protein powders. While I usually advocate getting your nutrients through whole foods, travelling (especially when travelling to developing nations when the risk of bacterial contamination from local foods is high) is the exception. It is up to you whether or not you chose to experiment with new foods. If you do (you little risk taker you!) then my advice would be order smaller portions and stick to foods you know to be safe for the rest of your meals throughout the day, to avoid pushing your FODMAP load. You might also want to ensure your accommodation has at least a few kitchen facilities, so that you can prepare your own meals if feeling particularly sick.

When eating out (this is the hard one, as you have to trust in others to prepare your foods according to your special dietary requirements), use the word “allergies” rather than “intolerances” as this will overcome any language barriers and people are much less likely to think you are being fussy. I recommended downloading Monash’s Low FODMAP application prior to your holiday, as the food guide will be a lifesaver. Google and Zomato will also be your best friends, so plan ahead by seeing if there are any local restaurants or snack bars that are vegan and FODMAP friendly. Japanese and Italian cuisines tend to be clean and “safe”. Some options to order when eating out include:

  • Steamed veggies & salads (always ask for dressing & seasoning on the side)
  • Gluten-free sandwiches & snacks
  • Sides of steamed rice
  • Rice noodle dishes
  • Vegan sushi & rice paper rolls (cucumber, avocado – usually the amounts are miniscule)
  • Nut & seed bars (provided they don’t contain artificial sweeteners or high quantities of dried fruit)
  • Tofu & tempeh stir fries (ask for no sauce or sauce on the side – just watch our for onion and garlic powders with these)
  • FODMAP friendly fruit salads
  • Pastas & gluten-free vegan pizzas (ensure any sauces or dressing have no onion or garlic powders)
  • Coconut yoghurts
  • Sorbets – make sure they are natural and have no added sweetners
  • Low FODMAP juices & smoothies

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for variations. You are NOT being fussy, so don’t feel guilty or embarrassed about requesting certain modifications. You have a condition, and you should never have to apologise for that, much in the same way that someone with diabetes or a mental disorder shouldn’t have to make excuses. If you don’t want to interrupt the festivities during a night out, see if you can talk to the chef or kitchen prior.

On my last all-inclusive holiday at a gorgeous health retreat, I asked the chef if she could just leave out some high FODMAP nuts and onion in the soup she was preparing for everyone else, so she simply set a portion aside for me beforehand. She even threw in some lovely crunchy low FODMAP pepitas so I “wasn’t missing out” (bless!)

Try to continue following a low FODMAP diet while you are on holiday so that you can enjoy your well deserved break without the pain and constant trips to the toilets. With a little preparation and planning you can get the most from your adventure while still maintaining digestive peace.

Have a great time and remember to take lots of snaps!  🙂



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