This summer I had the incredible opportunity to intern with two international organizations. I spent two months traveling around various European countries for both work and play. Majority of my time was spent in Italy, Hungary, and the United Kingdom. God clearly arranged my summer to be exactly what it need to be and I learned countless things about myself, Him, and the world we all live in.
I was nervous about how this travel would effect my health and the diet (no gluten, dairy and sugar) I need to maintain my health. I would later found out that I would have access to a kitchen because I was unexpectedly blessed to stay with people associated with the organizations.
With that in mind, I figured it was time to write this much over due blog post. So here it is: What did I learn about traveling in Europe for two months and following my diet restrictions?
First of all, I learned that you have to advocate for yourself. Even if your body can handle the occasional leniency with your diet, two months is too long and it will catch up to you. It is important to be up front about the foods you do not eat. This was hard for me because I did not want to be a burden on my various hosts. However, when I was honest right away and explained a just little bit of the background of my food restrictions, I found my hosts to be welcoming and accommodating.
It is also important to have snack food available. You never know when a train is going to run late or when you are going to miss a bus or when you are going to have the urge do something off the itinerary. If you plan to go out for a couple hours, throw something light or snacky into your bag and then hit the road. Having food on you will also help alleviate the temptation to eat something that wouldn’t be beneficial for your body.
Be open to eating and trying local foods. When you need to get fresh food quick, look for local place near you. Corner shops are much more common in Europe than the United States. You do not need to always find a Tesco or any other larger chain store to meet your immediate needs.
Lastly, be smart if and when you are going to “cheat”. I didn’t vary from my diet at all those two months. Looking back on it, I wish actually had. I wish I had one bite of Italian pasta, one bite of roti, and one bite of this amazing Hungarian paprika dish. I am not advocating for you to eat a whole plate of pasta if you are gluten-free (especially if you have celiac). I’m saying that if you are going to try a traditional meal, portion control is key. Do not go crazy and eat a lot. Have self-control and listen your body to know if it can handle it or not.
I hope this helps if you are planning on traveling internationally anytime soon!