I just had another very successful trip in terms of eating low-carb. I was attending a ten-day conference in the US staying in dorms with a bunch of other educators. Breakfast and lunch were being provided while dinner was left up to us. On the registration form I noted that I had severe food allergies and ate low-carb to help manage Type 1 diabetes, but planned to bring all my own food as I wasn’t sure they would be able to accommodate six food allergies with two being very sensitive to cross-contamination. I had planned to bring lowish-carb granola bars, some homemade almond flour bread, homemade almond flour crackers, nut butter, and tuna fish and to go shopping for the rest when I arrived. However, a couple of days before leaving we got an e-mail saying that we weren’t allowed to bring nuts or fish due to severe food allergies. We also got the menu, and it was all carbohydrates and included the food I’m most severely allergic to on several days. I freaked out a bit as it meant my entire menu was now out. So I e-mailed them asking if I could be accommodated for breakfast and lunch, and indicated that probably the lowest-risk and best foods for me to eat would be bacon and hardboiled eggs for breakfast (since they don’t touch anything else) and salad for lunch. I was put in touch with the kitchen staff to make those arrangements. There was one close call with sandwich meat containing “modified food starch” (which I avoid because there’s a risk it could be the allergen I have an anaphylactic allergy to), but luckily they caught that and asked me about it before giving it to me.
So every day I ate two hardboiled eggs and several strips of bacon for breakfast and a salad with veggies, chicken, and an egg for lunch. On the second day there I got someone to drive me to a store and picked up hardboiled eggs, lettuce, cucumbers, avocadoes, and salad dressing, and had a salad every night. I also ate some small apples during the day (that each had about 10 grams of carbs—yay for portable pocket-sized scale!) and on a few days had some (non-low-carb but nut-free) granola and granola bars that I’d brought. (Incidentally, in hanging out in allergy Facebook groups, I’m alarmed at how many of the allergy-friendly bars, snacks, recipes, and so on list sugar as the first or second ingredient!) My blood sugar was not perfect—it ranged from 2.2 mmol/L to 14.4 mmol/L—but overall it was about the same control I have when I’m at home
The hardest part of my trip came on the way home when various flights got delayed for over 12 hours. When I was waiting in US airports I found a lot of low-carb options: kale chips (which I bought), “moon cheese”, beef jerky, and nuts at Starbucks, and nuts, low-carb protein bars, beef jerky, Skinny Pop popcorn, and Epic bars at a store. I was excited to find the Epic bars as I’ve never seen them in Canada and am reluctant to order an entire case without trying them, so I bought two. Then I read the ingredients and discovered both bars had “lactic acid” listed, another of those ingredients that could be derived from something I have an anaphylactic allergy to. On the Epic website all I could find was that their lactic acid is derived from vegetables, which didn’t help. If I didn’t eat the bars then I wouldn’t be able to bring them through customs, and I wasn’t about to take a chance and eat one before getting on a plane, so I returned them and thankfully the lady at the checkout was understanding about the allergy explanation.
When I was waiting in Canadian airports, for some reason there were no low-carb options. Nuts was about it, and I don’t like eating nuts before getting on a plane due to people flying with severe allergies, so this is the point I broke and ate some higher-carb food. But, despite this, I covered it all with extra insulin and my blood sugar didn’t seem to spike (hard to tell for sure, because by this point I’d run out of test strips and my month-old Dexcom sensor was sputtering).
All in all, this was a hard trip food-wise (especially the last bit) but a good learning experience. My next “trip” will be a two-month stay in a dorm while I complete an internship, so I’ve got some things I’m planning to purchase and some other ideas for foods that don’t require a lot of cooking that I’m going to try out. Overall, this is all a lot more work for me, but it’s worth it to not worry about blood sugar going crazy or allergic reactions while travelling.