Food Allergies and the Backcountry

I have some pretty weird food allergies – carrots and watermelon (actually I’m pretty sure all melons – I don’t really care for them anyway, but I do have a reaction whenever they are mixed into fruit salad.)  I just avoid these foods at all costs, especially carrots as they make my throat swell up if I eat enough of them.  You never realize how much a particular ingredient is used until you become allergic and have to check EVERYTHING.  Carrots are used as a filler in A LOT of different foods – so I just check the ingredients of anything new I try.  Try being a vegetarian and going to salad bars, then seeing they use pre packaged mixes that already have carrots in them.  They are in a lot of vegetarian foods, some drinks listed as FRUIT juice, and they even use carrots in some energy gels – I’m telling you they show up in the weirdest places!

Well we were treated to lunch yesterday where I work – they catered in spaghetti.  I was thinking AWESOME!  Something I can eat!  Well I was almost done with my lunch and my tongue and throat started itching like crazy – I say “Are there carrots in this??”  My coworkers, very aware of my allergies, started smearing their food around on their plates and sure enough we started finding really finely cut up bits of carrots among the chunks of tomatoes and onions .  UGH – luckily I work at a doctors office with a group of AMAZING nurses who sprung into action getting me Benadryl, water, and kept an eye on me for a while.  I wasn’t sure how severe I was going to react as I had no idea how many carrots I actually ate.  My throat didn’t swell up, but I got incredibly itchy.  I just kept thinking stay as calm as possible because getting upset only makes it worse.  After about an hour and a half, the itching subsided a lot, but the Benadryl started making me sleepy so I was able to go home and sleep it off – which is why I’m wide awake now.  I was really glad I didn’t ride my bike to work – that would have been HORRIBLE to have to ride home having an allergic reaction and sleepy from Benadryl.  My cat, Willow, has NOT left my side since I got home – she always knows when I’m not feeling well!  🙂

So WHAT does this have to do with anything?  I’ll tell you – in 2017 I am hoping to hike some of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.  I will be taking a guided tour where they provide all the food for you.  I have always been worried about trips like this as my allergy is so rare and most people don’t realize how many foods have carrots in them.  So I did a little research – I mean I am not the only person on earth who has a food allergy or sensitivity that has wanted to take a guided trip right?  I found the FAQ section on the REI travel website with this:

What’s the food like?

On hotel- and inn-based trips we dine in local restaurants and have the pleasure of experiencing a variety of local cuisine. We eat equally well on our camping trips, which feature an abundance of fresh, delicious food. On our high-altitude climbing trips we use a combination of fresh and freeze-dried food. All water used for cooking and drinking is purified by filter or it is boiled. Of course, we can accommodate special dietary requests (vegetarian, food allergies, etc.) For a list of which meals are included on your trip, please refer to the specific trip itinerary.

WAHOO!  Machu Picchu here I come!   🙂   I was sooo relieved to see this!  I was worried about taking a long trip where I have no control over the food I am being served.  I always feel bad when people have to go out of their way to make sure there are no carrots in things and I worry what would happen if I had a reaction while backpacking?  They have carrots in a lot of different freeze dried foods – especially the vegetarian versions.  I always carry Benadryl with me while in the backcountry just in case – but never had to use it and of course I wouldn’t bring meals that have carrots with me anyway!  🙂

So HOPEFULLY this will not happen again for a LONG time or EVER, but just goes to show – anything can happen – those pesky carrots!  🙂

Are you unlucky enough to have a food allergy or sensitivity?  How have you dealt with it while traveling/backpacking/camping?

10 thoughts on “Food Allergies and the Backcountry

  1. I am allergic to dairy and onions (yes, even including chives). Like carrots, dairy and onions go into foods you wouldn’t think they belong. Until you have allergies, you don’t realize that. So true. I am planning a guided hiking tour in Alaska next summer so I had the same concerns as you. But they also have no problem accommodating my food allergies thankfully. 🙂 With increase in food allergies in recent years, I think most of big tour companies are equipped to handle this real issue. Good for you that it all worked out! Machu Picchu. Yeah!! 👍

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  2. Wow, that will be an incredible trip! Food allergies seem so random sometimes, my mom all of a sudden developed a seafood allergy. I forgot about it once and made her a shrimp dinner…she didn’t get to eat a single bite 😦

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  3. I’ve discovered a handful of sensitivities the last year that cause symptoms from intense elevated heart rate, to nasty hives on my armpits. Some of them I know for sure, but some I don’t so I play science every time I eat something. HA.

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  4. Yikes. The carrot allergy in particular would seem to be really troublesome. I’ve never gone on a guided trip (yet) but I’m vegan and so I always prepare all my own meals wherever I go; on the few group trips I just bring my own stove. So glad they’ll accommodate you on the trip to Machu Picchu – I’m sure it’ll be the trip of a lifetime!

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  5. I don’t have food allergies, but I do tend to be rather picky about food. Thankfully, I’m someone who functions well on not much to eat, so I tend to just eat what I like in a meal, then deal with a little hunger as necessary.

    That said, I think I am notorious for having my own supply of food wherever I go, so perhaps I’m not someone who functions well on not much to eat, but someone who just manages to constantly eat no matter what and just doesn’t realize it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha- I am picky as well- people tell me I have the diet of a little kid- lol! It worries me still but the trip is gonna be too awesome to pass up- now I just have to hope for nice weather! Thanks so much for stopping by and reading! 🙂


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