Road Trippin’ with IBS

So I have almost recovered from my weekend trip to Raleigh. This was my first time traveling since my IBS diagnosis and starting the Gluten-free Experiment. I’ve become very, very dependent on my stomach-placating routine and I was pretty nervous about managing my dietary needs in the South. I waited as long as humanely possible to make travel arrangements, but ultimately, I didn’t want to miss out on the annual reunion with some of my favorite people in the world, so…Raleigh.

The trip was amazing, but it was also educational in terms of living with IBS. And by that I mean there were more than a few missteps over the three days. Lessons learned:

1. Plan ahead to change your routine. Based on my medicine/supplement schedule, I determined that the best time for me to spend four to five hours in the car was later afternoon, so we planned to head out around 3 pm. On a Friday. Of a holiday weekend. You see where this is going yet?

ImagePre-roadtrip, we decided to get lunch. I assumed that finding vegan, gluten-free food would be waaaay easier in DC than at a rest stop in Virginia, so we stopped by Commissary in Logan Circle. Commissary is one of the Eatwell DC restaurants, which usually have a few clearly labeled vegan items on their menu, so I figured this was an easy choice. Unfortunately, the combination of vegan and gf was too much for Commissary. At left is a scoop of hummus and some sliced cucumber. The other vegan and gf item on their menu is edamame. Disappointing, especially when you realize this is the reason that we sat in traffic for three and a half hours…

So by 7 pm, we were only in Richmond. We stopped for french fries and salad at the slowest Wendy’s in America, and made it to Raleigh by about 10 pm. In hindsight, staying on schedule was not. worth. it. 

2. Have a little space. So this trip is usually a giant sleepover – last year we all stayed at one apartment in Chicago. Nine people, one bathroom. The thought of this still stresses me out. This time, I booked a hotel room that was about a five-minute drive from our host’s house. I probably would have been okay without it, but I was a lot less anxious knowing that if I woke up feeling sick, I could take care of myself before I went to meet up with everyone.

3. Trust your friends. No one thinks that I’m as weird or gross as I do, apparently. In fact, there was an eighteen-pack of gluten-free cider chilling in the fridge when I arrived. 

4. Don’t trust restaurants. I hate being that person in restaurants, but you have to ask what’s in things. Case in point: Saturday night we went to The Pit. I can’t say anything bad about The Pit because it was amazing and they had bbq tofu on the menu and they gave us three free desserts. Except that the tofu wasn’t actually tofu. I think it was Gardein, but I knew from the texture there had to be at least a little gluten in it. Too bad it was delicious and I ate it anyway, because I am an idio

4b. Pack snacks. I half-assed the snack planning this time. In the future, I will be way more thoughtful about making sure I have things I can eat on hand.

5. Drink water. I have hated long car trips my entire life because I always feel guilty asking for a restroom stop. My strategy since the beginning of time has been to just not drink anything for two hours before we leave until we arrive at our destination. So after a seven-hour drive on Friday and a five-hour drive on Sunday, I was more than a little dehydrated. In fact, I still don’t quite feel right. 

Image6. Celebrate the victories. These are my vegan, gluten-free nachos at Busboys and Poets on Sunday night. The driving was over, the rental car had been returned, and I really needed to eat a lot of something that I knew wouldn’t hurt me. That’s Katie and her pesto lasagna in the background. It was an epic gluten-fest on her side of the table.

I have a lot more travel coming up in the next two months (Oakland, Lawrence, Baltimore and NYC before the end of November) so I will have plenty of opportunities to get better at managing my life.


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