Hope you've got your wellies ready? It's festival time! And you know what that means? Food, drink and festival loos! I know that sounds like a Fodmapper's nightmare but don't panic! A little planning will get you a long way. And with that in mind, here's my ...
Low FODMAP Festival Survival Guide
First choose your Festival
If you have tickets for Glastonbury this weekend then it's probably too late to talk to you about choosing your festival. But for those of you who haven't - this is where a successful festival experience starts! Choosing the festival that's right for you can mean you have an event to look forward to, rather than one you'll dread. This is important, not only because you want to enjoy yourself, but because many people find their IBS is triggered by stress. If the mere thought of a huge festival and thousands of people worries you, then that's not the event for you. Luckily, there are plenty of festivals out there (from rock, jazz, folk, medieval festivals, literary and food festivals - to name but a few) so you're not short of options. So start by choosing one that you will enjoy.
Location, location, location.
When you're thinking about your event, you might also want to think about the location. Big events in far off places are all well and good when you're feeling well. But when you're not, do you really want to be stuck miles from home in a muddy field? Only you know how well controlled (or not) your symptoms are, and how ready you are for the festival loo experience. (We get to that a bit more in a minute). If you're not feeling great (yet) you may want to look for an event happening near to home. You'll be able to relax knowing that you can easily nip off if you do need to beat a hasty retreat.
Once you've decided on your event you might want to start thinking about what you're going to eat. Festivals can be great places to discover new foods and it's likely that there will at least be gluten free and vegetarian options available, but they may not be completely FODMAP friendly. Be prepared to ask whether the food contains onions, garlic, soya etc. This is where food festivals come into their own. The sellers take pride in knowing about the ingredients and in talking to you about the different food on offer. Don't worry about being seen as a fussy eater. At a food festival everyone is a fussy eater. That's kind of the point.
Of course if you're camping you can take a stove, some pans and all the ingredients you'd use at home. You could even make cooking for your friends part of your festival experience. Be sure to remember to pack some wheat free cereals and a carton of long-life lactose free milk for breakfasts. Rice cakes, peanut butter and bananas are another great festival stand by.
If you're just going for the day, why not take a picnic? Make some gluten-free sandwiches to take with you. Cucumber sarnies with the crusts cut off are so British, and so summery. A tub of salad, some carrot sticks to nibble on, nuts, plain crisps and a selection of cheeses should keep even the hungriest Festival goers happy. Or take a mini barbecue and rustle up some vegetable kebabs and grilled halloumi. Yum!
Let's face it, festivals are a chance to let your hair down and most people like to enjoy a drink or two (or more) as part of the event. Unfortunately alcohol is a gut irritant and can trigger symptoms for a lot of people. But this doesn't mean you have to avoid alcohol altogether. One glass of wine or one can of beer should be OK - especially if consumed with food.
You should also be aware that coffee, strong tea and certain fruit juices can also trigger symptoms so make sure you have a bottle of water to hand.
This has got to be the one thing that makes even the most hardened festival-goer cringe. Festival loos are never the most pleasant (I pity the people who have to clean them) but for Fodmappers they have to be the scariest thing about a Festival. If it's not the long queues then it's the inevitable lack of toilet paper when you get there. But I'm sure you don't need me to remind you to pop some toilet paper into your bag. That's just a normal day out, right?
But if you're going to Glastonbury, you might be in for a pleasant surprise. They now have a range of different loos including provision for people with disabilities. In fact, they are so proud of them that the loos even get their own page on the Glastonbury Festival website. Who would have guessed?
As for the queue, you may just have to forego etiquette and nip to the front. Needs must.
Remember that a festival is a great opportunity to meet up with friends, enjoy some fantastic entertainment and most of all, have some fun. So relax (remember that bit about stress?) and have a great time.
'Til next time Fodmappers - Stay fabulous!