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The Fun Of Gluten Side Effects, Lactose Intolerance & IBS On Flights

IBS. Lactose intolerance. Gluten side effects. I never imagined these things existed so long ago in the 90’s. But now, it’s a battle I prep for well in advance every time I plan a trip. Of the three socially debilitating conditions I am lactose intolerant and thinking about cutting gluten out of 75% of my diet just to see what happens. I remember back in 2014 on my first ever trip to Ireland the flight there would be long. After a lay over in New York City of which I had a proper Irish lunch with a Guinness somewhere downtown to start off my journey to the Emerald Isle I got on the plane for the final leg of the flight to Shannon Airport. On that flight there were maybe less than 20 people. The stewardess came by and said I could lay across the seats or sit wherever I wanted because there were so many open seats. I took her up on it. I thought it was great. And it was a good thing too because by then my gas just kicked in. Thinking back it was probably from the lunch I had in New York. Needless to say the whole flight there was root’n-toot’n. Thank goodness it was a small flight.

Before flying anywhere I watch what I eat and drink. I time it just right the day before I board a plane. Sometimes two days before. No lactose. No legumes. No carbonation. No red meats. And now no spicy foods. Ugh. It seems I’m only left with water and Jolly Ranchers.
The meals on the flight have gotten a little better since. There are options of main courses if you don’t want to eat something prepared with milk. But then there are the side dishes to contend with of which I always find one or two things I shouldn’t eat because of the ingredients. It’s tough for me when flying.
There’s guaranteed to be seats shoulder to shoulder unless I get first class. And I never fly first class because I’m cheap that way. So now the dread always loom near when I get to an airport. If I’m hungry or thirsty I make sure not to drink any coffee or eat rich foods before I board. I even avoid fruits such as apples and pears. Being constantly mindful of the wrong kinds of food can get frustrating but in the end it helps immensely.
By the time I reach my destination it’s game on. Avoid crowded places. I’m aware of where I’m at. I let my guard down for a while to enjoy some fish’n chips. Possibly have a stout beer to wash it all down. Or if I’m in Tokyo I’ll have a large bowl of yakisoba or ramen. I’m never 110% perfect about my diet. I will have a cup of ice cream once in a great while or put down a rock’n bowl of hearty rich stew when I crave it. Nothings holding me back. No sir. Not even the slithering vibrating sea of people on the Ginza strip or Shibuya or the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. I’m outside. There are many smells. Some scents wisp into your nostrils and then it’s gone and some linger longer than you want it to. At any rate I made to the city where I’ll be staying. Doing more sightseeing. Definitely eating more foods I shouldn’t be consuming. It’s all good because I’m not 35,000ft up in a flying metal tube.

Posted by
4330 posts

It’s tough! I recently flew with my child on Lufthansa, who needs to avoid gluten. We requested gluten free meals and it was so weird - he ended up with such strange combinations of foods (much of which was kind of inedible). While my normal meal would have been gluten free if you avoided the roll.

Posted by
28 posts

@ TexasTravelMom

My wife does not do gluten either. We both watch what the airline serves us and I agree sometimes what they have is unpalatable. It’s funny, often times I’m just good on water, tea or a small black coffee no cream, some crackers or cookies. And that will get me through the flight into the airport food courts or a restaurant upon landing.

Posted by
15675 posts

I'm someone who suffered with digestive issues for years.

Have you been officially tested for lactose and glucose? Have you tried cutting the following items out of your diet to see if your symptoms improve:

--frusctose--found in fruits and sweeteners;

--artificial sweeteners



--nuts and seeds

--high fat foods

It's different for everyone. The reason I mention the real and fake sugars is because lactose is a sugar. (Anything ending in "ose" is a sugar.) And if you have trouble with one, you could have trouble with others. Try eliminating one of these for a week or so and see how you feel when it's reintroduced.

Posted by
111 posts

Good quality, PROVEN probiotics (Florastor or Align) can help tremendously when taken daily.

Posted by
2912 posts

I understand your struggle. My digestive tract is actually better in Europe. Our French RS tour guide a couple years ago said she hears that often. Maybe because of no GMO foods; who knows.

On planes I order vegan meals to avoid dairy. Awful, so I bring breakfast bars and PayDay candy bars to get by. On tours I avoid coffee because it makes me pee a lot; coffee without soy milk and lots of sugar is undrinkable anyway. Vegan gelato or sorbetto only, limited wine and goat, sheep or buffalo cheese only, no cow. Then there’s the worst — I’m allergic to chocolate. But hey, if it makes you sick don’t eat it. There’s always something eat.

Thanks for the reminder about probiotics. I used to take them but quit when they didn’t make a difference. Maybe it’s time to try them again.