With so many parents choosing, or needing to feed their children within certain dietary parameters, Healthy Kids Travel have designed HKT Travel Cards (c) for your travelling convenience!
Feel free to download the relevant card, and print it out, to help you on your travels.
They come with love, and the following thoughts...
Dietary Requirements On the Move.
One of the joys of travelling is the opportunity to visit countries with cultures very different from our own.
Particularly for children, visiting new countries can be an eye-opening and memorable experience for them, as they are exposed to different dress, music, customs, animals, and food!
Being able to sample many new and different kinds of food, prepared traditionally, is always exciting.
Chosen or necessary dietary preferences are more prevalent now than ever, especially in Western and developed countries.
Whether it be avoidance of dairy, nuts, gluten, or something else, the increasing prevalence of food intolerances or allergies makes dietary restrictions a reality for many families.
Yet often these food restrictions are less well-understood in many countries, for some of which access to any kind of food at all may often be limited for large numbers of people.
As travellers we need to remain aware that specific dietary requests may just be inconceivable in some places.
So while on the move, how do we navigate the daily process of sourcing food that is suitable for our children, and ourselves, while also being culturally sensitive?
One of the best ways to approach this is to do thorough research on the country you are intending to travel to before arriving.
Often guidebooks and websites will devote significant attention to the kinds of food available in a country, and prevailing attitudes to food that may exist there.
Being vegan or vegetarian for example, can be more difficult in some countries than in others. By researching vegan and vegetarian friendly options before arriving, we can save a lot of trouble when it comes to being able to eat as we choose.
Other dietary restrictions can be a little more difficult. “Gluten-free” is a concept that is not yet well-understood in many countries, and even asking for this may not always guarantee that the meal is actually free of gluten. Being prepared with back-up packaged foods is always sensible (particularly for children), in case suitable food is unavailable.
Another thing to consider is that popular areas in (often developing) countries sometimes have restaurants that are more aware of Western dietary requirements, particularly in the heavily touristed regions. These may well provide gluten and dairy-free options, as well as vegan and vegetarian food.
Sometimes while travelling, we are fortunate enough to experience genuine local hospitality, and may be invited to an individual's or family's home for a personal meal.
Dietary restrictions can be somewhat of a minefield in these situations, as refusing food that has been prepared specifically for you can be seen as ungracious and insulting.
Sensitively explaining to the host beforehand if you or your family have any particular requirements can save a lot of embarrassment later on!
I personally find that in these situations, connecting with my feelings of gratitude for the meal being prepared for us, overrides any discomfort that intolerences can bring.
A lovely idea is to choose one food a day that really connects our children with the culinary aspect of the country they are in, and for the rest of the day, eat within their normal framework, so as not to overload their systems.
For example, in Italy, a Gelato one day, and Pasta the next. As opposed to Pizza for lunch, Gelato in the afternoon, and Pasta for dinner!
This is of course, up to the parent to determine what may or may not be suitable according to their child’s nutritional needs.
After having researched and implemented backup alternatives, being relaxed in our approach food on the move (and in general!) is important.
If you do choose to step out of your children’s normal nutritional paradigm, do it in a relaxed, calm fashion, focusing on the joy of the experience.
Try not to over emphasise any dance around dietary parameters, and keep focus on the other cultural aspects of your travels too.
As with most things with travel, by being warm and polite with the people we meet, flexible in each situation, and open to new ways of seeing things, we will create the optimum environment for Healthy Kids Travel.
We would LOVE to hear your ideas on this most interesting topic below! You can download your HKT Travel Cards HERE.
Happy, Healthy Travels!