Travelling to New York City

Travelling to New York City!

The Husband and I are celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary this year, and decided to treat ourselves to our first trip to NYC.  As always, I’m nervous about travelling with IBS, but I’m determined to not let it hold me hostage (see Manifesto #3; I will be free ).  Travelling to New York City was The Husbands idea, but I was pretty confident that I could make it work, now that I have a few travel strategies in place.

Packing and preparing for our trip was a bit of an ordeal….  What clothes should I bring?  What will we want to see and do?  Our friends and family jumped in with many helpful suggestions – unfortunately MOST of these suggestions centered around restaurants.  At first I didn’t mind, but after being told of the millionth pastry shop that we simply ‘must try’, I had a little snit and mild panic attack.  My wonderful, supportive, patient husband sat me down – and helped me see that we were going to NYC to:

A) celebrate our anniversary, and

B) SEE (not eat) New York City.

So with my priorities straightened out, I packed my negligee and supplies for ‘camping’ in a hotel.  My hotel kitchen kit holds granola bars (FODMAP Free), an empty lunch kit, plastic cutlery, a few Ziploc baggies, napkins, some dish soap, and for my first few hours in a new city, some rice cakes, organic peanut butter, travel sized almond milk and tea bags.  OK here’s the thing:  I know we are staying in a nice hotel in the middle of civilization, but I never assume that I can quickly get my hands on the basics.  And I’m not a good person if I can’t have a cup of tea (with milk) and a small breakfast FIRST THING in the morning.What I need to prep the basics in my hotel room.

WE had a fabulous time!  Our hotel was new and bright, we were located close to Times Square and found the city to be overwhelmingly awesome – so much to see and do and the people we met were very friendly (thanks to the complete stranger that helped us figure out the subway!).

Our first morning we were able to find a well-stocked grocery store – The Food Emporium – where I could load up on peanuts, rice crackers, safe deli meat, fruit and more.  We stocked our little hotel room fridge and I was good to go!

'ours' was located on 810 Eighth Ave.

My breakfasts were peanut butter on rice cakes with a strong cup of tea.  Lunches were mostly granola bars, bananas, nuts – but I did order a lovely salad with grilled chicken (just olive oil for dressing) at Le Pain Quotidien in Central Park one afternoon.  I had planned on being a bit more daring for dinners, but honestly, we were so exhausted from hiking around Manhattan all day that we both enjoyed a coffee-table picnic in the hotel room, catching whatever movie was on in the evening.  Munching on sliced turkey, sharing grapes and sipping a bottle of wine was a surprisingly romantic dinner!

All natural ingredients - safe to eat on a low FODMAP diet.
All natural ingredients – safe to eat on a low FODMAP diet.

 

We did try out an Irish Pub for dinner once (we stopped in  earlier that day, asking if they had baked potatoes available on the menu – only later did I realize the humour of doubting an Irish Pub would serve potatoes).  I brought a (pop-top) tin of tuna, ordered a baked potatoe, green salad and olive oil on the side – no, it’s not fancy, but it keeps my tummy happy!

Thanks to my cautious eating, I felt awesome the entire trip – we did so much sightseeing and covered a lot of territory.  When I asked The Husband if he really was ok with not eating out at fancy New York restaurants he looked at me like I was daft: “Do you know how much money we’re saving?!”.

Just being a regular tourist!
Just being a regular tourist!

So, travelling to New York City can be done if you have IBS!   Here’s what worked for me:

  • Bringing my emergency kit purse with a change of clothes – this is especially comforting on the flight.  I didn’t need it, but feeling in control keeps the tummy calm.
  • Making sure our hotel had a bar fridge
  • Bringing my ‘hotel kitchen’ kit
  • finding a grocery store close to the hotel
  • I did try to google ‘NYC FODMAP friendly restaurants’ but didn’t get much that was helpful
  • Maintaining the perspective that I’m travelling to see and do.  Not eat.
  • Having a plan for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, and not relying on spur of the moment choices.

It was a wonderful way to celebrate our anniversary and a big treat for us to see this magnificent city.  I couldn’t have asked for a better anniversary gift….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eating out with IBS

I’ve got a dinner invitation that I’m not sure I can refuse… it’s a family thing, and everyone thinks they are being kind to me – so I don’t have to cook.  It’s hard to tell family that eating out with IBS and food intolerances is a LOT of work.

However, I am determined to rejoin the greater world, despite having IBS, AND, I’m feeling much more confident after our road trip experience this summer.  So I’m going to do my best to make this dinner out work for me.

My first step is to go online and check out the websites of a few restaurants.  I went with larger chain restaurants, because they seem to be much more aware of food allergies, and will sometimes be so organized they provide nutrition and ingredient listings online.  I checked out three:  Joey’s, Moxie’s, and Earl’s.

I discovered that Earl’s didn’t seem to have a printable allergy/nutrition listing online (that I could find).  Moxie’s has a guide available and it very clearly lists out many of the common allergen ingredients in their food (including the common FODMAP foods).  Almost everything on the menu has either dairy, gluten, onions and garlic, though.  Joey’s didn’t have any of this information on line, but they did have the option of emailing the restaurant with a special request.

I have decided to go with Moxie’s because their on-line information is the most comprehensive (although, you do have to do some digging).  Their website shows the phone number of each restaurant, so my second step is to call them.  I managed to get the manager and he was terrific to chat with.  He assured me that they take food allergies special requests very seriously, and I found this to be comforting.

Moxie's on line allergen information is well laid-out.
Moxie’s on line allergen information is well laid-out.

We’ve booked the restaurant, and now I just need to make sure I eat gently in the days leading up to the outing.  I want my stomach to be calm, and I want my nerves to be collected when we walk into that restaurant!  I think I’ve messed myself up in the past by letting my anxiety get to me, so I’ll work to trust in my plan. (step 3!).

My fourth and final step for preparation will be to print off my chef’s card to bring along with me. I’ll make sure to speak up confidently (but cheerfully!) to our waiter and ask for their help.

I plan on giving this to my server each time we go out to a restaurant!
I plan on giving this to my server each time we go out to a restaurant!

I’ll prepare The Husband by letting him know that he might be on tasting duty if I have any suspicions about what gets served to me.  I will also repeat my usual 30-minute wait request:  I like to sit about 30 minutes after a meal (that I haven’t prepared myself) to see if I have an immediate reaction.  My reaction to dairy is this fast, and I don’t want to be I the car when a case of diarrhea hits.

As for the egg and other FODMAP unfriendly ingredients, I’ll just have to wit to the following day to see if I had success in eating out with IBS at this particular restaurant.  Wish me luck!

 

Prepping for Travel with IBS

It’s been a while since I’ve chatted about how my health is… since going on the FODMAP diet a few months ago I’ve had an amazing stretch of good general health and predictable bowel movements (to us with IBS this is VERY important).

Recently, though, it feels like my symptoms are returning.  Not alarmingly, but still enough to cause me concern.  At this point in following the FODMAP diet I should be challenging my gut with various foods to see what my tolerance levels are.  But…. without even doing this, I seem to be having a few more trips to the bathroom that I’d like. I figure that I’m either not following the FODMAP diet closely enough (allowing hidden ingredients to slip in), or my physical system is changing yet again.  Oh joy.

This is particularly troubling because I have a big road trip planned this summer.  A loooong family road trip across the prairies.  The thought of travelling really makes me nervous and if my gut is unpredictable before we start out… I can only imagine the adventures we’ll have!

I suppose this means I need to get busy and do some big prepping for travel with my IBS.  I’ll look into what might be causing my gut it’s current annoyance, and figure out what I need to do for this trip.  What food do I/can I bring?  What can I buy on the road?  How will I handle restaurants?  It’s obvious I need to be incredibly prepared for this trip.

The Husband has already been very supportive and has tried to make sure that all the hotels we will be staying in will have an in-room fridge and microwave.  Now I just need to do a bit of meal planning, making sure I get the nutrition I need while we are on the road.  We’ve already decided to bring a cooler along, and stock it with my groceries.  I’ve done a little shopping for travel-sized safe foods (dairy and egg free, and FODMAP friendly), and found small tetra packs of almond milk.

 almond milk tetra

This should at least get me through breakfast – a cup of tea with almond milk, a rice cake with peanut butter and a banana.  Nutritious and easy!

It’s the other meals that will require some bigger prepping for travel.  Planning and creativity!

The old saying is ‘hope for the best and prepare for the worst’, so I suppose I should prepare for the very real possibility that I will eat something that disagrees with my gut.  If it decides to rebel, I’m sure it will do so on a day we are on the highway, with no restroom in sight.

I definitely need a plan for this!  Stay tuned to hear how I do my prepping for travel with IBS….