Eat out but be assertive

In some ways it is becoming harder to manage food away from home. More food is already marinaded or the chips are already coated with a beer batter. More salads include rocket and other bitter lettuces. There is more recognition of the need for wheat-free foods but those foods are more highly flavoured. It is harder where you have to eat food provided away from home for more than a couple of days. It can be done by being assertive when ordering your meals. You do have to be clear about exactly what you want, and do not want!


Food on cruises have also changed since 2010. Food for some groups have improved. Overall there is more care in the provision of Asian, Japanese, coeliac and vegetarian foods. On a recent trip staff provided gluten-free bread toasted, and a very enjoyable plain gluten free muffin. However there is more spice on almost all food. Roasts and all protein foods are all seasoned, but meat provided cold and sliced thin was not. Mashed potato was reliable as was plain rice, but some cruise lines do not provide plain hot potato chips which can be very useful. Some hot veggies: bok choy, green peas in pods and beautiful carrots were provided both fresh and in salad. Plain lettuce which was good quality was always available.

Desserts are dependent on how slack you can go on your diet. Fairly mild choices included coconut slices, creme caramel, flummaries, and plain ice cream. Look for just-ripe bananas which are only available occasionally. Pears are provided but need storing to use when ripe enough.

Choices for soups can be good. Enough Soups were low in herbs and spices with great clam chowder, plain chicken and vegetable, and cream of vegetable options. After a few days the small amounts of herbs when just eating the inside of roasted meats added up to my staying awake for hours, vivid dreams, or waking at two or three am knowing that if the gut wakes too, sleep will not come back, and headaches threaten. These occurrences show why we know our diet choices at home are right for us, when none of these symptoms occur on our usual food.

My new recommendation is to ask to talk to someone before the cruise or the serving staff on your first day about “a plain diet” where someone notes what foods are plain and lets you know or sets some aside. Staff on two occasions separately cooked plain salmon and steak to perfection, but I felt it may have been better to discuss how best to handle my needs at the beginning. Separately I can decide how much dairy and wheat my gut frequency can manage before it interferes with excursions.

This is all in the context of sensible use of antihistamines, uncoloured muscle relaxants (the 2 mg Valium is white). Also learn how much Lomotil you will use if you have IBS, (including incorporating the time when the gut does its “catch-up”), and occasional Panadol. It is interesting that having 2 Panadol shows that the gut is not comfortable, by how effective taking them is in helping sleep to return where the gut has not woken. I wish you well in being assertive in deciding what you will test, and in talking to staff about how to plan food where you are eating away from home for over a few days.