India has been number 1 on my travel hit list for years, but somehow I’ve always managed to put it off.
Well, the putting it off has come to an end; I am sitting in a guest house writing this for you from – you guessed it – India.
India is known for many things such as jewelry, the Taj Mahal, Bollywood, the Buddha, yoga, Gandhi, colorful fabrics, spices, and food (to name a few). So you can see why I’ve been so eager to go. But the one major thing that held me back all these years was the single most important lingering question that will forever be part of my life:
How will I manage my food allergies?
What I Found Out
Before coming to India I did a ton of research on the food. I asked people that had been, I read blogs online, looked at traditional Indian recipes, and so on. I did it all and I came to this conclusion:
A lot of the traditional Indian food (for example curry) has ground cashews or peanuts in it. Additionally, ground nut oil is one of the favorites used here.
Now, if I were traveling to India and staying in 4 or 5 star hotels with friendly and accommodating kitchen staffs, I might (keyword being might) eat the food.
But Ariella, what does the level of accommodation have to do with the food you eat?
Great question. It has to do with a few things. 1. At nicer restaurants there is usually at least one fluent English speaker to whom I can describe the severity and seriousness of my food allergy. 2. The staff at nicer restaurants are generally used to their clientele having dietary preferences and demands (i.e. dressing on the side). And 3. There is a higher level of cleanliness in the kitchens of nicer restaurants.
And since my type of traveling is generally more of the cheap, happy-go-lucky backpacker type and I won’t be staying in 5 star hotels with well-trained a kitchen staff, I didn’t – and still don’t – think taking a chance on my health by eating the food was worth it.
Here’s What I Did
I bought a sponge, a travel-sized shampoo container and filled it with dishwasher soap, collapsible tupperware, a collapsible camping pot, a collapsible tea kettle, tuna packets, SunButter packets, Free2be cups, homemade trail mix consisting of seeds and dried fruits, oatmeal, Know Allergies granola bars, Don’t Go Nuts granola bars, Nutrigrain bars, and a sh*t ton of camping meals.
*Disclaimer* Before this trip I had never eaten a camping meal in my life, so the idea of it was repulsing. Now that I’ve had plenty of them I can honestly say they’re pretty freaking delicious.
For me, this was a huge compromise. Not because I wanted to eat the local food (which of course I did and still do), but because bringing all of this stuff meant traveling with more than just my backpack.
But when push comes to shove, my health is always more important. So I bought myself a nice sized duffel and off to India I went.
And let me tell you, I have never felt better. I am one hundred percent certain every time I eat that I won’t have a reaction. I am completely self-sufficient. And I can literally go anywhere and do anything I want with what I can carry.
And the best part is that I can keep going for another month or two before my food runs out.