How I Travelled Overseas with Histamine Intolerance

June 4, 2014  |  Blog, Histamine Intolerance

I have been a little missing from this blog as I have been on holidays but I have so much to share with you.

Those of you with histamine intolerance will know that travel can be a big deal. I have put it off for some time not wanting to tempt fate. So here are some of the successful things that I did that have helped me to travel safe and well.

1  Mindset

Holiday’s can bring out the denial in me. So I knew I needed to plan my holiday starting with addressing my denial head on.

I wanted it to be a holiday (and food is an important part of any holiday) but also I knew that I was not going to have a holiday from histamine intolerance (so I needed to be realistic and accept that the frozen chocolate sundae at Serendipity was never going to happen).

After much resistance, and even more denial, I resolved to not change what I eat, but to try and find ways to make it fun. After all travelling is supposed to be fun and being sick is not fun.

Chelsea Market NYC

2  Destination

The reason I came to America was for a conference but the reason I actually came was because it was America. I knew that I could navigate the food isle and menu here. American cuisine is similar to Australian cuisine and we both speak english (well sort of).

3  Airline Food

My histamine intolerance symptoms can be affected by air-cabin pressure and temperature. I knew that adding airline food to this mix would tip my body over the edge so I took my own meals.

This was just as well as the airline meals hit every high histamine button – eggs, chocolate, spinach, tomato, and lots of sauce to cover the fact it had been reheated.

I called the airline in advance and asked them what food I could take onboard the plane. They told me that I could take on any food but not liquids but would need to dump any remaining food prior to clearing customs in America. I thought a frozen smoothie might make it but airport security decided otherwise.

4  Accommodation

I booked accommodation with a full kitchen. I decided it would be fun to experience living as a local and it really was such a fun part of the trip. In New York I booked someone’s whole actual apartment on airbnb which had amazing views AND had a full kitchen.

Elsewhere I booked apartment style hotels with a full kitchen. Oddly, this was more economical than staying in a hotel. I think it is one of the best kept secrets to travel.

5  Food

I shopped mostly at farmers markets as I do at home. In New York I shopped at the Union Square farmers market which did not have a huge variety but what they did have was really good quality.

This was fun because not only did I get to see the produce grown in that area but I got to try a lot of food that I had never seen or tried before and also speak to the farmers themselves. They told me how to best cook things.

I tried things like fiddleheads, ramps, and nettles which I had never seen let alone tried. The fiddleheads were delicious and tasted like asparagus. The ramps were like a cross between garlic and a spring onion. The nettles are one of the anti-histamine super-stars so they made it into a tea.

I saw tomatoes in every colour, cherries in every colour, berries in every colour, around 30 or so different sprouted vegetables, and found a herb farmer who foraged and had the most delicious lemon balm and nettle tea. Yes they were fruit and vegetables but they were fun!

Ramps and Fiddleheads at Union Square Market

6  Eating Out

When I ate out I planned it. I did my research and asked for recommendations.

The key was choosing dishes I was familiar with rather than exotic. Knowing how something is cooked, I believe, helps me to navigating a menu, and ask for simple modifications if necessary, without boring everyone senseless with histamine intolerance.

What I have found works well for me is to simply ask the server to tell me about the dish I am intending to order, which will usually involve a fairly detailed description of how it is served, and then simply confirm that it does not include any typical problematic ingredients.

I mostly ate at “raw food” “paleo” and “farm to table” restaurants. I did this because I am highly intolerant to pesticides, chemicals, and processed foods so this automatically removed that issue.

I also chose foods that were steamed, poached, grilled or roasted. I mostly chose chicken or lamb. I asked for any sauces or dressings on the side. This solved most problems.

The food I ate was not necessarily exciting (except to me because I did not get sick!) but the places I ate were trendy and buzzing.

I ate at Hu’s Kitchen, where I had some delicious roasted chicken and seasonal vegetables. I also ate at Bare Burger, where I had a clean lamb burger wrapped in lettuce leaves. Both had fairly simple food, at reasonable prices, but the quality of the ingredients was impeccable.

Lunch at Hu's Kitchen

7  Breakfast

Don’t laugh – but I took my nutri-bullit with me – and it did the job. As I have gradually been forced to pull out just about anything that could resemble an American (or Australian) breakfast dish I have increasingly moved towards smoothies. I like them and they like me.

8  Picinics

I also have a stainless steel lunch box, thermos, folding cutlery set, and small “school lunch box” cooler bag. It meant that if I wanted to have a picnic I could have a picnic. Central Park anyone?

It also meant I did not really need to worry about snacks. If I got hungry I just ate. Also if I found something good when out, I just got a second serve, or better still a doggie bag because American serves can be huge.

If you have been to New York and have some restaurant suggestions then please let me know in the comments section below. I am still here for another week and I would love to try some of your suggestions and I am sure that others would like to as well.  I would also like to hear any of your travel suggestions as I have a renewed interest in travel having found that I can travel safe and sound.

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