A typical sunset from docks near the West End of Roatan Island—each night brought us a gift in breathtaking sunsets.

Having just returned from Roatan Island, Honduras, for a family vacation, I want to share with you my success as a chef, consumer of local cuisine, and Crohn’s disease patient.

Basic cooking well for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (commonly referred to as IBS), Crohn’s disease, and/or ulcerative colitis (not to mention Celiac disease), can be challenging in general but especially so when on the road.

Being able to know your body’s tolerance for certain food is key to planning your diet, and traveling makes it hard to do that. Prior to your trip, and in general, it is a good idea to keep a food journal.

No one diet is completely right for everyone with IBS, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Keeping a food journal will help you find out which foods cause problems for you. Then you can avoid those foods and choose others that supply the same nutrients, especially while traveling. Some people with IBS may have problems digesting legumes, fiber-rich foods, raw salads, spices, additives, preservatives, fried foods, and there may be others, such as seeds in berries (especially fresh fruit with seeds).

For those individuals who either are still having significant symptoms or have very sensitive digestion, steaming or cooking most foods, even fruits, can help significantly. By steaming or cooking most foods, it reduces the live enzyme content of the food and makes it significantly easier on your digestion. Make sure to chew foods well and eat slowly. For some, taking 2 teaspoons of organic apple cider vinegar in a little bit of water be-fore meals can aid digestion. When I packed for our trip, I included flax seed since I often get constipated when I travel (I kept it frozen, and we rented a place with our own kitchen which was helpful for me to store my own food). I also packed my vitamins and some portable Jarrow probiotics. which do not need to be refrigerated.

Eating healthily and happily involves an investment of time and creativity. Preparation helps make the diet transition go smoothly. There are many techniques to create fast, easy, and healthy meals, even when you travel. For example, we cooked our own dinners a few times, and included some of my favorite comfort foods like beans and rice, along with local plantains and broccoli. A recent article attests to the benefits of these foods, which are also easy to find on the road.

Most mornings, I made a green drink to start the day right, with a good serving of oatmeal and bananas (I have always been able to find oatmeal when I travel, but just in case, I packed a few packets of instant Kashi oatmeal as a back-up plan, though it is too sweet for me). To create healthy meals while on the road, Jessica Black and I recommend you use techniques such as steaming, sautéing, puréeing, chopping small, blending, grinding, and many others. If there is a health food store near you or a restaurant that serves healthy meals, go there often at first, especially as you adjust to a new climate and location.

I ordered fresh fish, rice and streamed vegetables for practically every meal! In the morning, I had oatmeal with bananas and honey, and often at snack, I boiled a few eggs to keep in the fridge. Lunch was mostly corn tortillas with beans and rice: All these foods were “tried and true” in my diet—with a proven track record for wellness in my case (remember how helpful the food journal is!).

In addition, I kept my morning yoga routine and seated meditation—this vacation allowed me to do that on my own private beach, which was a great way to begin the day with sun salutations.

Gone are the days of partying and drinking wild concoctions of Island Rum and pina coladas! I did enjoy a light beer made in Honduras, without any problems. I drank tons of water on the trip, especially helpful when flying on airplanes which tend to dehydrate travelers in general.

Getting lots of restorative sleep was easy—being by the ocean tends to lull one into sleep effortlessly.

All-in-all, travel is something us Crohnnies, and uc patients, as well as those with IBS can manage with careful planning and knowledge of the food and culture as well.

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