How I Travelled Overseas with 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.