Traveling with food allergies

Traveling with food allergies

We just got back from vacation.

I always consider traveling with little kids to be something akin to a work trip. Their needs must be met before we, as parents, can relax, and sometimes being away from home makes it all that much harder. Especially when your kids have food allergies. I think by now we’ve figured out a pretty good process for making sure the kids are well fed while traveling, but it does take a bit of prep work in the beginning.

Here’s what works for us:

Prep meals ahead of time

When we are traveling, my husband and I don’t always stick to our specific diet, but the kids have to. So we prepare their meals ahead of time. We are lucky enough to have an amazing babysitter who is also an amazing cook. She will help put the meals together a few days before we leave. We pack everything in aluminum pans that we stack in a cooler bag for the trip. For a week away, I usually do two to three chicken and beef meals with two vegetable sides. This lasts us the whole week, since it’s usually only the kids eating it. I keep meals very simple for these trips and pack known favorites for the kids so that I am not spending time convincing them to try something new when all we want to do is be outside exploring and swimming.

I also supplement some lunches with Applegate HotDogs. They are casein, dairy, gluten, and sugar free and have no added nitrates or chemical preservatives. I usually try to keep the hot dogs I serve to a minimum overall, but they are great for vacations and for when we are visiting someone for the day and need a quick meal for the kids.

Buy your fruits and veggies the day you arrive

For snacking purposes at your hotel or rental house, keep an array of fruits and veggies handy. I buy mine at a local store the day I arrive. Of course, go organic as often as possible (though sometimes I have to let go of this if it’s just not possible in certain locations). I usually buy bananas, green apples, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries when we get there, depending on what my kids are into a the time. Fruits are considered “treats” because their sugar levels can help increase yeast in the gut, so I make sure the kids eat their regular meals first and only use fruits as snacks.

Pack any convenience foods you allow

For us that means Lara Bars. We usually pick the Cashew, Lemon, and Blueberry flavors, as their ingredients are the simplest.  We also pack fruit leathers and honey cookies from WellBees. I cannot recommend the WellBees site enough for SCD friendly foods. I’m so thankful a neighbor clued in me into their offerings. Between the Lara Bars and the treats from WellBees, I always have some convenience food to hand to the kids when we are on the plane or when we are out and about and I don’t have access to a kitchen or fridge.

Research restaurants

In that chance that you can find a restaurant whose menu that works for you, I say go for it. It’s vacation, after all. For my children, who are able to have eggs, that means any place that make scrambled eggs without milk. I will often bring any fruits,veggies, or convenience snacks with me to complement their meal. This year, because my son’s stomach has been healing so well, we even treated ourselves to a dinner at a restaurant that makes gluten-free pizza. You can order it without the cheese on top. Obviously the kids loved it. Why we don’t do this often: because gluten-free pizza is generally made with rice products and other starches – all things we still stay away from for optimum gut healing. However, the kids handled this infraction well after being on the diet so long, and I made sure to give them Nux Vomica afterwards. I hope, of course, the day will come when we can do this more often as a special treat.

Chill out and enjoy yourself

I can say from experience – enjoy yourself whenever you get the chance. We’ve had some difficult vacations in the past, at times when my son was not doing as well as he is now. There were transition issues, behavioral issues, worries about being away from therapy for any length of time. We are lucky enough not to have those worries as much anymore. Our son doesn’t regress when we are away. He maintains his language and socialization skills and actually improved during this most recent time away, due to good generalization skills. Trust me when I say, I am fully aware how awesome that is. As stressful as it can be to have such diet restrictions, I look at his progress physically, mentally, and emotionally and feel we are on the right path.

I’ll admit, it’s not easy traveling when your kids have food allergies. But I want them to have the experiences that I had growing up. No matter what work it involves, it feels worth it.

All in all, it was really nice to be away from school, home and a schedule for awhile. I’m always exhausted when I come home from a trip with the kids, but I hope these are memories that they will always look back on fondly. I will too, once forgot how tired I am, haha!

Bean swimming

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