Travel: Italy with a Tomato Allergy

One of the things I was most worried about before our holiday was the eating part. The last time I accidentally exposed myself to a little bit of tomato resulted in the scariest 10 minutes of my life. And yet here I am going to a country where tomatoes are pretty much the favourite ingredient. Oops.

 photo Food in Venice 4_zpsi3upwtc8.jpgIn the end, it wasn’t too bad. Realistically my choices were limited, I’m not going to lie. I had a lot of ‘fried fish’ – a mix of prawns, calamari, and other seafood – which I’m not complaining about. I wasn’t particularly inspired by most white pizza options (cheese on bread – no thank you!), and carbonara was a safe bet.

 photo Pizza in Rome 4_zpscsmv3wdu.jpg photo Pizza in Rome 5_zpsxvci5uc0.jpgIn terms of what I ate, I found more local restaurants were actually easier in terms of they had more options – but it was more difficult to get across my allergy. I did manage to learn the Italian phrase I needed, but even then I wouldn’t have felt comfortable ordering something I was uncertain about! On our final night in Rome we found the most lovely Pizzeria, wonderfully decorated, friendly service, cheap wine and a whole menu of tomato free pizzas (plus more ‘normal’ ones!). I ended up choosing a mozzarella pizza with anchovy cream, radicchio and parmesan – and it was stunning.

 photo VenicePasta2_zpslyvdv34m.jpgI’ve had a lot of practise of eating out with allergies, and unfortunately it’s not all good. It says a lot that I felt more comfortable eating out in Italy than I do in the UK – clearly the new legislation isn’t going enough! My tips are;

  • Don’t be too adventurous. I tend to stick to meals I can tell are safe for me. Fine in Italy, in the UK unexpected garnishes can often cause an issue.
  • Inform and ask. Always, always, always inform a restaurant of your allergy even when picking ‘safe’ foods. This might end up getting you a special dish too – my favourite meal in Italy was a specially cooked Seafood Pasta. So good.
  • Take allergy meds. I never go anywhere without strong antihistamines – unfortunately doctors don’t take my allergy seriously so until I end up in hospital I don’t have an epipen.
  • Avoid exercise. You are more likely to have an allergic reaction if you consume the allergen before or after exercise – no idea why, but it makes sense!
  • Know your symptoms. For me, the first sign of a reaction (small or severe) is my chest going blotchy. Completely unattractive, but its great to have a warning sign!

 photo VenicePasta1_zpsrfsihdib.jpgIt’s not easy having an allergy or a food intolerance, so when Vital Footprint along with EatJoy sent me over their detailed document on exactly that I couldn’t help but share. So here it is, the Food Intolerance Guide (With Illustrations).

 photo Food Intolerance Guide_zpsxg812cys.pngIn essence, it offers a discussion about the differences between allergies, intolerances and gastrointestinal diseases. It talks about what causes intolerances, common ‘problem’ foods, and how to ease (and possibly eliminate) symptoms. It’s a highly useful document, so I definitely recommend giving it a read!

Do you suffer from an allergy or food intolerance? What are your tips for avoiding being affected? 

  • It’s really annoying when allergies/intolerances ruin holidays or meals out! I’m really pleased to hear that you overcame your allergy, though it can put a damper on things…

    I suffer from a tomato allergy aswell (amongst others; cocoa(!) vinegar, fish, rice, and intolerances to wheat, gluten, lactose and fructose) so it’s really difficult to be able to enjoy meals. I was going to go vegan but my consultant advised me not to go down that route as I wasn’t getting much protein anyways.

    When I go out I tend to stick to chicken and veggies (I don’t like other meats too much), however there have been occasions of cross-contamination, which has put me off! My first sign is tingling lips/swelling and a small lump in my throat which progresses if I don’t reach my antihistamines promptly! I also take long term antihistamines which do help slightly. I’m still undergoing tests, so hopefully I can get it figured.

    The document you’ve been provided with is really helpful, because when I mention to people that I avoid certain ingredients, they always seem to think I’m dieting (despite being underweight!) People definitely need to understand this topic and be less judgemental about individuals with intolerances and allergies.


    • ninegrandstudent

      I’m glad I don’t suffer from the list you do! I’m slightly lactose intolerant but generally just ignore that whilst eating out! I’ve not been referred for tests at all, it’s so frustrating not being taken seriously! x

  • I did wonder how you’d find the food in Italy with your tomato allergy! I’m glad everything was okay, it all looks delicious 🙂 I’m allergic to strawberries and all types of melon, and while avoiding it is usually fairly straightforward, I have to be careful when it comes to desserts, which are often garnished with strawberry slices. I’ve never been given an epipen either, so I have to be careful xx


    • ninegrandstudent

      I hate garnishes – definitely a worry with my allergy too! x

  • Ahhh yum!! Pizza and pasta, my absolute favourites! x

    • ninegrandstudent

      Aha, just wish I could indulge in all of the options! x

  • Eating out with an allergy or intolerance can be so frustrating! I can’t eat dairy, which is so hard to avoid- especially in Europe! Luckily there’s normally at least one dish without cheese or cream on the menu, even if it’s not the most exciting choice! My friend is vegan and can’t eat dairy which is super difficult as most of the time veggie options involve cheese of some kind as most restaurants aren’t very adventurous. x

    • ninegrandstudent

      Definitely, it can be scary too as I find so many places don’t really understand… x