Sometimes it can be challenging to travel when you have food allergies. This is the first blog in Traveling with Food Allergies Series. I hope this can inspire you to travel and help you leave your food fears at home.
I have an autoimmune disorder called atopic dermatitis aka eczema. I was able to reverse it using diet and lifestyle. Part of this is consistently avoid what I call FREDG foods. This stands for fried foods, refined sugar, eggs, dairy and gluten. These food avoidances make eating while traveling a bit challenging. Don’t fear, though, I have figured it all out!
If you live in a country that has Whole Foods then you are in luck. My biggest tip is to stay in a hotel or AirBnB within minutes of a health food store with a good “bar” food. That means that there are typically sections of health food stores with hot food or salad making stations. I typically get the same things when I eat at places like this.
Items I look for:
Cooked white basmati rice (found in pressure cookers near the hot bar in Whole Foods)
No salt added, wild caught sardines, salmon, or low mercury tuna found in the canned meat section
Make my own salad with chickpeas, carrots, cabbage, greens, celery, and/or beets
Rice cakes (Lundberg brand)
Naked Beet Chips by Rhythm Superfoods
Siete tortillas or chips
Free range chicken breast by Urban Remedy (San Diego, CA)
Roasted sweet potatoes or butternut squash (cooked in olive oil not canola oil)
Another of my biggest tips is to go on google or HappyCow.com and look for raw vegan restaurants in the area you are in. The majority of raw vegan restaurants are gluten free & refined sugar free. You can count on them being dairy free and egg free for sure.
My boyfriend and I flew into Ft Lauderdale (1 hour North of Miami) because we took a cheap airline called Allegiant. We took the Brightline Train into downtown Miami from there which is a beautiful, affordable means of transportation. Instead of renting a car we used Uber and Lyft to get around. We stayed in Biscayne Park but traveled into the main attractions of Miami like Downtown, Coconut Grove, and Miami Beach. We mostly ate at Whole Foods, Choices Cafe, and occasionally sushi restaurants.
I stayed in Biscayne Park in a little AirBnB which is located in North Miami. There is a Whole Foods less than 10 minutes away by car. I don’t recommend walking this area. Some neighborhoods are safe but others can make you feel uneasy. There are a couple of beaches within 15-20 minutes of that area. What I wish I did differently was stay in an AirBnb in Coconut Grove (South of Downtown Miami).
Where I ate:
I took this trip with my boyfriend and we found Choices Cafe in Coconut Grove to be our holy grail. We became obsessed with the gluten free pancakes with cashew cheese and blueberries. (Seriously order those!) If you have an intolerance to soy then I recommend chatting with the very friendly staff there about this allergy because I know that the cashew cheese probably contains soy. We were also able to order a bowl (featured below) which had black beans, avocado, cashew cheese, tahini sauce, plantains, and greens. The staff here is incredible and really helpful! Keep in mind that this is a vegan restaurant so your choices of sweetener will be agave or maple syrup. Sorry, no honey this time. The majority of the time we only felt safe making our own food. This is why our AirBnB was great because we had a full kitchen. My boyfriend always brings his steamer on trips so we can throw our dinner in there, steam for 20 minutes, and eat!
There is also a Fresh Market not a far walk away. We wish that we stayed in Coconut Grove to be closer to these stores. Not only that but you can take the train from there into downtown which has a Whole Foods.
I ended up making the mistake of eating at a sushi restaurant on one of the main roads in Downtown Miami. I say it was a mistake because I am usually a good judge of restaurants. I can usually tell if they have clean ingredients and seem willing to help out with allergies. I had ordered a roll without tempura flakes (gluten & fried) and expressed my allergy to gluten. Without knowing I ended up eating two pieces of that roll which I realized, horrified. that it still had tempura flakes in it. We ended up getting our meal for free after expressing that the roll was wrong and included an ingredient that I was allergic to. While the restaurant was kind enough to do this, it still scared me that someone with celiac could have came there and eaten and had a serious issue after eating there.
Good luck with your travels, friends!