Traveling with Food Allergies

Sloane Miller Health Guide
  • Whether it was Freedent gum in my grandmother's purse or my hypoglycemic mother and her Keebler peanut butter cracker sandwiches, I learned to travel with snacks early on in life. My first intercontinental flight as a pre-teen included a fully stocked picnic basket.


    As a young adult, I brought peanut butter through Italy and France and soynut butter through California. Even when in my home city, I always have some organic dried fruit in my purse; they're very helpful during a long car ride or a long opera. [Così Fan Tutte, anyone?]


    As a person with food allergies and a touch of hypoglycemia historically, it can be a difficult to know where my next safe meal will come from.

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    Actually, it can feel downright impossible to eat away from home. Even when I find something supposedly "safe" there's the lingering doubt, the underlying fear, the anxiety that what I believe may be safe may reveal unknown dangers and a potential trip to the hospital. Peanut butter in chili is a classic example: a silent potential killer for the peanut allergic and never listed on the menu as a chili ingredient.


    So, my family's example of traveling with something to nosh on encouraged me to always travel with food, safe foods that won't spoil. Some of my current favorites: Organic dried fruits [raisins, peaches, apricots and apples]; fresh fruit like apples, oranges and bananas; organic tinned or boxed legumes; organic string cheese; organic rice crackers; and organic rice milk.


    Before the days of coffee makers in hotel rooms, I used to bring a travel heating coil to make hot water for tea. I'd bring lots of tea bags, instant miso soup, even instant hot coco.


    Recently I've made a new discovery. Granola. I had always thought granola was a labor-intensive foodstuff. However, when I read this recent recipe in the New York Times, it clicked: this is simple stuff. I'm allergic to nuts and don't eat seeds often so I've adapted the recipe to suit my needs, omitting the nuts and seeds. I just use oats and maple syrup. It's shelf stable for ages once cooled, it packs easily in a Ziploc, and it's great for a quick breakfast in the hotel room with milk or a dairy substitute. I even eat it straight as an in-between meal snack. Oats are quite filling so it holds me for a while. (If you have celiac disease and do not eat oats, granola is easily adaptable: try quinoa flakes, millet or rice flakes.)


    If you have food allergies, do you pack snacks?

Published On: November 14, 2007