If you’ve been on a low residue or low fiber diet long-term, you might be pretty frustrated by the limitations of your menu. As someone who has spent a total of three years on a low residue diet, I understand. But I also know that you can enjoy local food specialties even on this diet. Try as much of the local food as possible with these low residue diet tips for travel in Ireland.
Stay in a B&B and go nuts at breakfast (but don’t eat nuts). The breakfast spread at most B&Bs in Ireland is extensive with a main course cooked to order. It’s easy to pick and choose what you can or can’t eat. The Full Irish breakfast consists of eggs, bacon, black pudding, white pudding, sausage, potatoes, and stewed tomatoes. While you can’t call it healthy, most of it is very low fiber, so if you can tolerate that much fat in one meal – go for it! Most B&Bs will also make you a partial version of the Full Irish, just pick the things in it that you would like to eat and say please. Some B&Bs offer additional hot options like scrambled eggs and smoked salmon (my go-to breakfast on the Emerald Isle), oatmeal, or French toast.
While you’re waiting for the hot portion of your breakfast, help yourself to the buffet. A typical B&B buffet includes yogurt, fruit (often bananas, yay!), cereal like Corn Flakes, granola, a selection of breads and jams, and individually packaged crackers. Be careful of the orange juice, it usually has pulp (I make my husband try it first and then choose my morning drink).
Yogurt, a banana, scrambled eggs, and smoked salmon always serve me well through a morning of sightseeing, keeping me full and comfortable until a late lunch.
Bananas, bananas, bananas – they’re everywhere, easy to carry in your purse or backpack, easy to digest, healthy, and delicious. Perfect.
But if you’d like to try some more local treats, stop at a coffee shop, there are often homemade baked goods. I’ve enjoyed many a mid-afternoon scone with jam (just be careful, scones often have raisins in them).
If junk food is calling you, I suggest raiding the candy and potato chips at the store for things that you don’t see at home like Aero bars or Prawn-flavored potato chips.
It’s best not to get too adventurous in this category. The snacks aren’t that different from what we have in the United States, so it will be more fun to take food risks at meal times. Bring your favorite snacks from home or hit up the grocery store and choose items similar to what you’d have at home.
Lunch and Dinner
I eat almost exclusively picnics and pub grub in Ireland. The food is always delicious and it is easy to find things that I can eat.
Picnics are easy because all you have to do is go to the grocery store and pick what you can eat, just like at home. Ireland is brimming with gorgeous spots to eat outside. And yes, you can see enough sun to make picnics fun.
At lunch in pubs, even my usually soup-despising husband orders soup and loves it. Most pubs and cafes serve only homemade soup. There’s usually an option filled with meat or seafood and a vegetarian option. The vegetable soups I’ve enjoyed are usually vegetable puree soups filled with root veggies like carrots and sweet potatoes. On the west coast, I love to try the seafood chowder; it is usually cream based, but that doesn’t bother me. If it bothers you, ask about the ingredients. (Remember, everyone speaks English!) Soups are usually served with bread so be sure to ask for white bread as the standard Irish brown bread is high in fiber.
At dinner, soup is again an option, but this is the time that I like to really explore the pub menu. If I accidentally eat something I shouldn’t, then it’s the end of the day so I can deal with the consequences in the comfort of my B&B without missing out on too much fun. Happily, almost every pub menu includes fish options, which almost never bothers my belly. There is almost always the standard fish and chips but I generally look for a baked or broiled option with sides like mashed potatoes, roasted root vegetables, or other well-cooked veggies. If something comes with a salad, just explain your restrictions to your server and ask for a substitute, it’s not a big deal. For a splurge, a steak or a steak sandwich is a wonderful option. Turkey sandwiches, burgers, and chicken entrees are also standards on your typical pub menu.
In Ireland, I never feel any more limited by my diet than I do at home. In some ways I feel as though I have more freedom because I’m reminded of things that I could cook at home under my restrictions, but have forgotten and don’t cook. Plus, many of the “you-have-to-eat-this-in-Ireland” foods you’ll hear about are already low residue. Win!
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. I’m just a traveler with Crohn’s who hopes to share some helpful thoughts on what has helped me travel.
For general tips on traveling with IBD anywhere, check out this awesome resource from CCFA: http://www.ccfa.org/resources/traveling-with-ibd.html
What are your food tips for Ireland? Have you traveled there while on the low residue diet?