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?