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….









Top 10 Foods I wish I could easily buy at the Grocery Store

Top 10 Foods I wish I could easily buy at the Grocery Store

I’ve been on the FODMAP diet for over a year now, with amazing results, and I think that one of the few things that is still a thorn in my side is the list of foods I wish I could easily buy at the grocery store.

I shop at two places on a regular basis – a nation-wide mainstream grocery store and a local, natural foods grocery store.

The national chain store is getting better at providing foods for those of us with more selective dietary needs.  There is a ‘gluten free’ section, sitting beside a ‘dairy alternative’ area.  I’ve been able to hunt and peck a few safe prepared products from the main shelves of the store as well, so as a result I do the majority of my shopping here for me and my family.

However, I’m very grateful for having a local natural foods store a short drive a way.  I keep a list on fridge of the things I buy there regularly, and circle the items as I run out of them during the week.  As soon as I’m out of 2 or 3 things, I’m off!

These are things I regularly purchase at my local natural foods store

As wonderful as it is to have access to both styles of selection, there are some things that I really miss.

Here are the Top 10 foods I wish I could easily buy at the grocery store:

  1. Salad dressing – I make some very good ones from scratch, but it would be nice just to pick up a FODMAP free dressing at the store, or be able to tell my mom that it’s the one I can have.  As a bonus, I would like it to do double duty as a marinade for chicken, pork or fish (no, I don’t ask for much from my condiments, do I?)
  2. Barbeque sauce – I have attempted a few recipes for FODMAP free barbeque sauces, but I haven’t come up with a really good one yet.
  3. Canned soup – this winter, when The Family was laid low with colds and flu, I would have paid dearly for a prepared soup that was guaranteed FODMAP free.  Too many have dairy, or use the nebular ‘seasonings’ in their ingredient list.  If I can’t breathe with a head cold, the last thing I want is to be running to the bathroom because I accidentally ingested garlic or onion!
  4. A bigger selection of dairy alternatives.  I am completely off dairy milk and try to  limit my intake of goat and soy products.  I miss my old recipes that called for mozzarella or cream cheese or ice cream and that sort of thing.  Something like ice cream often has egg product added to it, and eggs give me a terrible reaction… so I just stay away now.
  5. Chocolate bar – I never really used to be tempted by the selection of chocolate bars by the checkout stands, but that was when I could eat any of them without having a gut reaction.  Now that I can’t have any, I really want one!!  There are more organic options now, but I find that plain dark chocolate is too… chocolately?  (how is that possible?).  And they often have bits of fruit or nuts that are verboten on the FODMAP list.  I could risk it, but I don’t think a small treat should punish you THAT badly.
  6. Gum.  I really miss gum.  I’ve tried the natural options and they just aren’t a good substitute for a minty chew.  One stuck so badly to my fillings that it took me a week of intensive brushing and flossing just to get it all out of my mouth!
  7. Chinese Sauces.  Yes, I know I could make something from scratch.  But sometimes I’m lazy and just want to sauté some chicken and broccoli and throw on a prepared sauce and call it dinner.
  8. East Indian Sauces.  Ditto.
  9. Italian Sauces.  Ditto.
  10. Watermelon.  Apples.  Peaches. Pears.  Apples (yes, it needs to be in there twice)

So, perhaps my list isn’t the most ultra-health conscious list out there and I’m sure the marathon running, wheatgrass drinking folks out there will tell me I’m better off without these items.  But I miss them, and being able to tell my mom (or friends or other family members) that a product easily available is fine for me to have would be a real bonus.  The constant label-reading is exhausting, and I won’t ask my family and friends to start doing it for me.

What do you miss?