Travelling with IBS

I’ve just had the best weekend in Amsterdam. I wanted to go to Floriade, a horticultural expo which only runs once every ten years. It was stunning, and I combined it with a family sightseeing weekend. It was my first trip back to Holland since a three-day school excursion to Belgium, Luxemburg and the Netherlands. I couldn’t remember much of that first visit and was blown away by the architecture, the canals and the general atmosphere.

My tummy, however, had a terrible time. I wrote this not to garner pity but to explain what it is like to have IBS and to remind others who suffer that they are not alone. I tried hard to avoid high FODMAP foods, which I know trigger symptoms. I did well in avoiding dairy and gluten-free foods, but garlic and onion was all but impossible. I could have had a five to ten-minute conversation in each restaurant to grill them about the ingredients, but frankly, that takes away the pleasure of eating out.

So, each time I had a meal, I became bloated and looked like I was six months pregnant. I was in a lot of pain at times and then began the process of dispelling the wind. I’ll be honest, that was not pleasant for my family or me, especially when you are staying in a small apartment.

I don’t eat any high FODMAP foods at home, so I don’t have to worry too much when I dine out. Eating all my meals in restaurants for three days was just too much.

It was not all doom and gloom. I did have some wins!

I came across a breakfast café which did boiled eggs and ordered two with no bread, much to the bemusement of our waitress. The Dutch do not hold back their emotions, and her face told me she thought I was very weird!

I also found the best gluten-free bagel EVER in Bagels and Beans, a recommendation from Becky Excell, who also recommended Piqniq. Again, fantastic gluten-free bread, and I even got a gluten-free, dairy-free ‘snickers bar’. After watching my husband and daughter devour crepes, stroopwafel, ice cream, pastries, and more, this was very welcome.

Perfect for IBS sufferers!

Cafe Piazza had a great gluten-free menu, and I ate the most delicious lamb chops with pistachio and mustard crust. I ballooned up after the meal (maybe there was wheat or garlic in the crust?) but not too badly.

At Floriade, I found a food truck which did Poke bowls and enjoyed sticky rice with a range of low FODMAP veggies (I asked for no beans) and raw salmon. There was even pickled ginger to add on top. This made me so happy!

Oh, and at the airport, I picked up Stroopwafel Liqueur, my favourite tipple. Fizzy is not my friend, but I drink this caramel liqueur with hazelnut milk. Divine!

This weekend has really made me think about where I go on holiday. I either need to be able to cook some of my meals or go somewhere I know will have good options. Anywhere that serves salads or fish/meat with potatoes and vegetables is a winner. In the meantime, I need to get back to the NERVA hypnotherapy app. I have never got past two weeks, but they have shortened the daily sessions to 15 minutes (previously, they were 20), so maybe I can retrain my brain to not send signals to react to these foods? That would be amazing. If anyone else has any IBS top tips or ideas of great places to travel where the food is IBS friendly, please let me know!

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