Main » February 2005

February 23, 2005

Trip'n Abroad: Traveling with IBS

Is there anything worse than traveling with IBS? Perhaps traveling abroad with IBS. My spur of the moment trip to England was the toughest test of my courage and handle on IBS anxiety. I never travel without my family; how will others understand my funky diet or need for multiple bathroom stops? But at 26, I felt as though I was missing out on a huge part of life just because of my fears. I learned a lot this trip and realized that, even though its a tough task, there is 'nothing to fear but fear itself'. Ok, so I'm sort of overlooking the two days of severe stomach pains, hunting for a bathroom, eating horrible foods... but at least I did it! and realized that, even with obstacles, everything will be fine in the end.
For those of you who are planning to travel there, several pieces of advice (totally based on my experience and may not be applicable outside of London):
- ALWAYS request the vegetarian-no-dairy opion on the plane and bring along sourdough bread to satiate your cravings for buttery in-flight crackers
- Think cheap. The local mini-mart will have more IBS friendly "to-go" options than more expensive eateries. Fancy restaurants are a guarantee for heaps of butter and oil. I found delicious no-mayo chicken and hummus sandwiches at Sansibury. Remember, vegetarian cheese does not mean dairy-free.
- The best and most plentiful deal: smoked salmon sandwiches. If on regular bread, ask for no butter otherwise you'll get an inch thick of it. They also offer it very cheap at bagel stands in all the major tube stations.
- Mid range priced options are Chinese (the best in the world outside of Hong Kong, just be very wary of the MSG) and Indian (a nice collection near Warren Tube as well as Picadilly Circus). Do not assume that food is prepared the same just because it's the same name. I ordered a chicken ramen and the chicken was heavily fried instead of grilled.
- Don't even think about eating at a pub. Your attempts to ask for accomodations to the meal will not be met nicely. Though other establishments may humor your requests. I asked for egg whites at a Hastings hotel restaurant. The waiter looked at me like I was an alien but very kindly asked me to explain the dish. Then returned to ask if milk was to be added to the dish (I said no). The side of egg whites were cooked and delivered by the chef herself who was inquisitive on whether or not she made it correctly.
- Expect to bring an extra jacket everywhere. Smoking, as in all foreign countries, is common indoors. Smoke does a number for IBS sufferers, so plan to take several breaks outside.
- Do not assume that you will have quick assess to a bathroom. The Westminster Abbey didn't have one and I had run around looking for the very well hidden public one. Regardless of the time of year, you will hit lines at all the major tourist spots. I spent 15 min (twice) in line waiting for the bathroom at the British museum. So if you feel an attack coming on, I suggest camping out at a hotel bar or cafe until it settles.

Posted by Christine at 1:13 PM

February 11, 2005

New Strategy

Completely fed up with no taste, feeling or zest in my food diet, I came up with a new strategy. Perhaps this strategy is rather naive or downright illogical, but after this long with IBS, I figured it can't hurt. I'm 'training' my body to deal with those horrendeous foods I can't have.
You know that whole thing about not eating red meat? If you don't eat it for so long, then the enzymes used to digest it are totally out of commission. Perhaps this is a complete myth, a folklore coming from Chicago or some other below freezing city, but it sounded logical in my meat deprived world.
Maybe, just maybe this same theory is applicable to all other foods. So the last two months I've allowed myself to eat a bag of chips every so often. Lots of pork potstickers and some pumpkin pie (my fav!).
To my surprise, its been working... to a point. I've been getting sick more often, but its not as severe and it usually passes after a few hours. I wonder if this works on anyone else. Otherwise, I'll have to take another crack at Zelnorm (ie. spawn of the devil).

Posted by Christine at 8:00 PM | Comments (7)