Dietary Restrictions: 2006
Eating in Europe is sightseeing for your tastebuds. Deciphering the menu is half the fun! But some travelers have special needs when it comes to food: vegan, diabetic, low-salt, gluten-sensitive, lactose-intolerant, nut and other allergies, etc. Any tips for those with special diet concerns in Europe?
- Please don't post questions here. Use our Travelers Helpline.
Vegan eating on the road
As a vegan for health reasons (no more high cholesterol or high blood pressure now) and a constant traveler, I have found that there is a huge difference in the content of European foods from American foods. When I eat American dairy products, I start having hot flashes (which ended a few years ago). There are just so many hormones in our dairy products. But I have found that if I am simply open and humble, but not too apologetic, at any restaurant in the world, the cooks/chefs are more than willing to help me out. This has opened more "back doors" for me than even my great personality! (That is said tongue-in-cheek.)
Just don't let dietary restrictions stop you from traveling. There is usually a work-around for any situation. At the worst, you might return a few pounds lighter! The best tip I found is learn as much about my condition so I know just what my options are and get on-line and find the veggie restaurant sites. Restaurants the world over are listed.
I just hope you are encouraged to keep traveling!
Las Vegas, NV USA Fri 12/01/2006
Anything with a perscription is allowed. Just make sure you have a perscription sticker on it.
Seattle, WA USA Sat 11/25/2006
Carrying Epi-pen for Allergies
My son is very allergic to peanuts and we are travelling to Europe. Does anyone know if there are restrictions for carrying an epi-pen with us?
Seattle, WA USA Sat 11/25/2006
Europeans live a true organic lifestyle, whereas here in the US, we have every chemical & additive known to man put in our foods & body care items!! I recently began living an organic lifestyle (due to many ailments that I had), & I am happy to report they are now all gone!! I'm 99% confident that is the reason for your differences in Europe vs. here.
Be forewarned though, going "organic" is big business for companies these days (which was the problem to begin with!), so just b/c something SAYS organic doesn't mean it is. The FDA decided NOT to validate any claims that are made when it comes to health & beauty aids. They are supposed to for foods, but if you know anything about the way our gov't works, you'll know that's not very reassuring! If you need any suggestions for products, feel free to e-mail me.
Yardley, PA USA Tue 10/17/2006
I have high blood pressure and type 2 Diabetes. I take medications to control both and test my blood twice a day. When I was in Rome in 2003, I had no food problems- just ate normally. In Ireland this past August (2006), I ate chicken and fish- had a veal burger in Belfast at McHugh's Pub and Grill (excellent) and both were really good. Also, I walked alot and had full Irish breakfasts, very little at lunch and great dinners.
Milwaukee, Wi. USA Fri 10/13/2006
See a good allergist. You may be alergic to the antibiotics or be reacting to hormones that many American cattlemen and dairy farmers give their cows!
USA Sun 09/03/2006
No problems with meat and diary
OMG. I found out while in Switzerland that I am not lactose intolerant. In fact, I never got sick once while there eating everything I usually can't eat in the US. One night I had cheese fondue, cream in my tea and some whipped cream with dessert and no problem ever ! I miss it so much and I started getting sick again as soon as I returned home. I am trying to figure out the difference between here and there. If anyone knows what happened, please let me know !!! (I also have problems with meat and there was also no problem over there and I ate every kind of meat.)
USA Sat 09/02/2006
Food Allergy Translation Cards
Food Allergy Translation Cards are a proven effective tool for traveling with food allergies or other special diets (gluten free cards, vegetarian cards etc.) Through my own first hand allergy experiences while traveling, I've realized the importance of communicating my life threatening allergies at restaurants as well as grocery stores. Allergy Translation allows you to make your own customized credit-card sized dining card in minutes, plus you can print unlimited copies. Take a look before your next trip at www.allergytranslation.com
Kingston, Canada Wed 08/30/2006
Thanks Jeff and Kelly. Those were exactly what I was looking for. Now I just need to find out how to say it in French! I actually went out for Chinese food the other night, here in Seattle. I got a combination meal, only because I wanted to eat a little bit of everything that was on it, and my partner, Sherry, did not want the smae meal I did. I also knew I could take it home for my lunch the next day. I ate my soup, my 4 small pieces of bbq pork and then could only eat a small amount of my black bean chicken. When the server came back (she is also a cook), she asked if I didn't like my food, and if she could make me something else, instead. I had to explain to her about the surgery, so it even happens here in Seattle! People are very surprised, I think, to see someone my size eat so very little.Thanks for your help!
Seattle, WA USA Sat 08/26/2006
Gastric Bypass - explaining it in German
Hi Elizabeth, I have Crohn's disease and have had to explain my digestive problems guite frequently since we moved to southern Germany 2.5 years ago. Germans tend to put descriptions of medical conditions into simple terms. They call a surgery an "O.P." so to explain that you can't eat much due to a recent stomach surgery you could say "Ich kann nicht viel essen weil ich ein Magen O.P. vor kurzem gehapt habe" or if you don't want to spend a long time explaining it to a stranger simply say "Ich habe ein Magen O.P. gehapt". It is true that Germans want to make sure you get enough to eat but you definitly do not have to worry about them being insulted because you do not eat much (especially if you have made an attempt to explain). Viel Spass in Deutschland!
Augsburg, Germany Sat 08/26/2006
Elizabeth- Would simply stating that due to a medical condition, or that under doctors orders, you're not to eat more than a certain amount at one time. Don't know if that'll help, just kicking ideas around.
Plano, Tx USA Thu 08/24/2006
we recently returned from Spain, France, Italy and Germany with our two children, ages 11 and 13. Both our children are allergic to all nuts. We presented "allergy warning" cards in every restaurant and there were many times that we could not eat a particular food. Peanut oil is commonly used to fry. we did not eat street food. the allergy cards were imperative. we tried to read labels as much as possible.
winnipeg, winnip canada Sun 08/20/2006
Kelly..Thanks regarding Gastric Bypass
Hey Kelly...Thanks! I am very worried about insulting anyone by not eating much. I am of German descent, which is one of the reasons I have weight issues to begin with! It is expected that you eat a substantial meal. I had thought about the card trick, however, I just don't know how to explain gastric bypass in German or French. I can speak German, and my partner is taking a French class this fall. Thanks so much!
Seattle, WA USA Thu 08/17/2006
Elizabeth - Gastric Bypass
I guess not too many people think of your situation. If your going to countries where English is widely spoken, I'd say politely explain that due to a previous surgery, you cannot eat a lot of food at once and that you'd like to share a meal. Or, have your requests written out on a card in the local language. This, I would think would be better appreciated (or at least tolerated) than ordering 2 meals and leaving quite a bit of food behind- the waitstaff may take the latter as an insult to the food. Also, beware- many hotels or B&B's with breakfast included serve a mainly carbohydrate breakfast, and if you want to add a protein source, such as eggs or meat, they'll charge you extra. At least that's been my experience.
Plano, Tx USA Wed 08/16/2006
London vegetarian food
For vegetarian food in London my first choice is the World Food Cafe in Neal's Yard (nearest tube: Covent Garden). Here's a description: "World Food Cafe serves Korean meals, Egyptian falafel, salads, guacamole, corn chips, maize and several vegetarian and vegan dishes. They operate a non smoking policy and despite them not serving alcohol, you are welcome to bring your own."
Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia Tue 08/15/2006
water/vegetarianism in london
I am a vegetarian and will be spending the fall in London. Any good ideas on places to eat cheaply?
Also, does anyone know if water fountains are plentiful in the city? Is the water safe to drink?
Denver, CO USA Wed 08/02/2006
Gastric Bypass in Europe
Well, I read the entire forum and not one person asked about Gastric Bypass and travel in Europe! Some Gastric Bypass folks can't eat sugar, but I am not one of them. I get a little bit "off" when I eat sugar, but I don't get "sick" like some others do. I can eat bread, but then I won't be able to eat anything else if I eat a piece of bread! I am going to Europe in December for the first time, and my concern is not the food itself, or what kinds of food, but being able to express to folks that I like the food, despite not being able to eat more than a couple of bites. Also I want to know if servers/restaurants will be ok with my partner and I "sharing" a meal, because it would be a waste to order 2 meals. I just had surgery in May, and still have a lot of weight to lose before the trip. Any feedback would be greatly apprectiated.
Seattle, WA USA Wed 07/26/2006
Natural/Health food in rue Cler
We're going to Paris in November and we'll be staying in an apartment near the rue Cler area Does anyone know of a fabulous health food store located in this area? We'd prefer a large selection!
Seattle, WA USA Sat 07/22/2006
As a vegetarian with food pretty low on the priority list and strapped for cash most days, I ended up eating absolutely nothing but falafal for lunch and dinner for four days in a row. I then proceeded to be violently sick for the next two days, one of which was spent on a plane. Learn from my mistake. I thought Id forego nutrition to pay the entry fee at a museum. Instead, I ended up missing all of Madrid sleeping on a park bench with a blanket wrapped around me like a homeless person
USA Thu 07/13/2006
Kosher food in Italy
Being an Orthodox Jew poses many restrictions on what we can and cannot eat. You really need to be careful when traveling in Italy because there is no Glatt supervision. Italian jews have their own supervision. I recently found out that in Rome we could not eat the meat at any of the kosher restaurants because it did not hold up to the strictest supervisions. You could however eat the chicken, fish and pasta and if you hold by Chalav Yisroel you need to ask before assuming that the cheese on your food is exactly that. I did find a strictly kosher restaurant in Venice called Gam Gam in the Jewish ghetto where the Rabbi checks the Shochet and imports the meat from Milan. In Florence, Ruth's was a great dairy/vegitarian restaurant. They also opened up a Kosher Mc Donalds in the jewish Ghetto of Rome. Again you can eat the chicken, fish and french fries but not the beef items.
Oakhurst, NJ USA Tue 07/04/2006
Responding to May 30 "Fish allergy/ Scandinavia" note. Yes, there are, not tricks, but culinary patterns in Scandinavia that include fish in many dishes: Janssons, the delicious potatoes au gratin, includes Swedish anchovies; the meatballs may contain anchovy juice, etc. Unless you eat no composite foods and stick to meat, vegetables, boiled potatoes, eggs, etc., you would do well to let the waiter or host know of your allergy.
Chatham, NJ USA Mon 07/03/2006
There's a food glossary at http://www.patriciawells.com/glossary/atoz/atoz.htm that gives detailed descriptions of French food items, which might help some with figuring out which French foods to avoid. And if you want to make your own allergy cards, go to a Google home page, click on "language tools" over to the right of the search entry bar, and type out your message, get it translated.
My problem is sea salt. I'm allergic to shellfish, and it seems that sea salt has microscopic shellfish in it (some more than others) which causes a reaction even if I avoid shellfish. And EVERYONE seems to be cooking with sea salt now, aaaargghh. So I have my cards ready, along with my appetite for some yummy French cuisine, sans sel de mer.
Austin, TX USA Thu 06/01/2006
Fish allergy and/or vegetarian in scandinavia
I have a serious fish allergy, and will be traveling in Scandinavia this summer. I took an idea from here and am making up cards in all the appropriate languages to explain my allergy. But does anyone know if there is anything "tricky" I should look out for (in N. America, Worcestershire sauce and Caesar Salad dressing are hidden sources of fish, in some cuisines a fish sauce is used like soy sauce, etc.)?
Vegetarian restaurant recommendations would also be appreciated.
USA Tue 05/30/2006
How to limit weight gain or even loose weight
Walk alot! That will help. I also drink LOTS of water. have a large glass of water before each meal and you will eat less. It also "flushes" your system and makes your digestive track work better. Eat small samples of those wonderful dishes- share with a friend.
USA Tue 04/18/2006
Gluten-Free (Coeliac Disease)
I have coeliac disease and can't eat any gluten (wheat, oats, barley, malt and derivatives). In my travels I have found it very difficult to find appropriate GF breakfast, lunch & snack food. Dinner is usually a breeze. Here are my tips:
1. Pack some food supplies such as: GF breakfast bars, dried fruit & nuts, rice/corn cakes, GF breakfast cereal, GF bread. Fruit, milk, coffee are often provided at hostels for breakfast but no GF bread and hence no energy for the day ahead. This does add to your pack weight but you will be grateful to have it when everyone else is eating and you have to starve.
2. Obtain allergy information cards in different languages (from your local Coeliac society)and use them - embarrassing but better than getting sick. Remember, your travel insurance may not cover coeliac disease. Learn how to communicate your special needs in the foreign language and to express your gratitude for their assistance. Get your travel companion(s) to learn this too because they can help (if you are exhausted or don't speak the language as well).
3. Contact the coeliac society in the countries you are visiting for advice such as where to find GF friendly restaurants and supermarkets that stock GF products. Some coeliac societies also provide specific country-specific travel advice including GF product and company names.
4. Research - know what local dishes are GF. Your guidebook may often have a summary about popular dishes and explain what they are. Learn ingredient names in the foreign language. Use the internet to research further what ingredients constitute that dish. This was the most useful thing I do to survive (and not get sick) when I am travelling.
Brisbane, QLD Australia Tue 03/21/2006
I am isulin resistant and take the same pills that type 2 diabetics do. I go to a local grocery store a pick up a small pack of local crackers to keep with me as well as some hard candies. If my sugar drops ( this is my problem, rather than high sugar) I can snack quickly without having to look for a store. It also gives me a chance to see what's available in the store and scope out potential items for later. I also make sure to eat high quality protien with each meal. That helps avoid spikes and dips in my sugar.
USA Sat 03/11/2006
no milk for me
I am very very lactose intollerant and I am going Italy in a few days. Does anyone have any comments or advice anything would be a great help.
Seattle, wa USA Sun 02/26/2006
Cards are a great idea!!
My husband has a life threatening allergy to mushrooms and it is sometimes hard to get the severity of the matter across to the food server. For example, while traveling in Germany we(in German)made it very clear he could not have mushrooms. His steak still arrived covered in mushrooms and when we said he could not eat it the server said,"but these are WILD mushrooms!" I think having the laminated card with every variation of the food listed might drive home the importance.
San Diego, CA USA Tue 02/21/2006
I am Type 2 diabetic, (on pills, not shots). I'll be in Italy and Amsterdam for 2 weeks in April (first time). I'd appreciate any advice or hints from anyone who has coped with this while travelling abroad. Thanks very much!
USA Sat 02/18/2006
Make your own menu cards
Make your own menu cards using translation capability at http://babelfish.altavista.com/
Albuquerque, NM USA Wed 01/25/2006