Airplane Food and Refried Beans

We’ve arrived in Switzerland! Currently, my family and I are living in a temporary apartment until we find a permanent home. For the next few days, we’re enjoying some time playing tourist in our new city before having to focus more on our moving logistics.

Successfully Avoiding Airplane Food

For our two flights to Zurich, my husband called the airline and found out they could not accommodate our son’s milk and egg allergies, as well as his likely peanut allergy (a blood test indicates a positive results, but we still need a skin test). While we probably overreacted, we were concerned about how to keep our 1-year old son away from the airplane food. The best the airline could do was a non-dairy, vegetarian meal (no guarantee on eggs or peanuts not being ingredients or non-exposure to these ingredients).

To prepare for the flight, we avoided the plane food, and I bagged up some allergy-friendly grapes, crackers, dried-fruit cookies, homemade biscuits and a sunflower nut butter sandwich. It ended up being heavy on the starches, but we somehow managed to keep our little guy fed and happy. We also carried two EpiPens with us, as well as some children’s Benadryl (an antihistamine) in case of a milder reaction. FARE has info about airline travel that’s helpful, but I would have been even more nervous for our flights (although maybe more prepared), had I read it in advance.

Rediscovering Refried Pinto Beans

Yesterday, I was excited to find refried beans at the grocery store. Canned black beans were a staple at our house in the U.S. because my son loves them, and they’re quick to prepare. I usually don’t buy refried pinto beans, but we had them for dinner last night. I used leftover rice to make a quick side dish with chicken and steamed veggies. Then, I mixed it all together, and my son ate three servings. Yahoo! I enjoy cooking for both my kids, but I get a deep satisfaction when I make something my food-allergic son absolutely loves.

During our stroll downtown in our new city today, we saw lots of delicious bakeries, cheese shops and chocolateries, but we avoided them all. We ended up with dried mango from the grocery store, which the whole family could enjoy. I’ll have to make time with my oldest son and check out some of these other shops. For now, we’ll just have to leave his baby brother at home. I don’t want to put him unnecessarily at risk of a reaction. Hopefully we can find at least one local shop or restaurant that can provide him with some allergy-friendly options. To be determined…

My son is nearly 14 months old, and I know many of you have been living with food allergies for years. If you have any advice or suggestions for traveling with food allergies, please leave a comment below.

Updated December 8, 2013.


4 thoughts on “Airplane Food and Refried Beans

  1. Marla says:

    My son has anaphylactic allergies to dairy and sesame. I haven’t read the FAAN travel tips, but to be honest, I think the last food I would give my child is airplane food. I don’t know where it is made, how it is made, or the cross contamination potential. I always bring food with me. I have found that if you have children, you can bring drinks in your carry on (there is a limit, but I’m not sure what it is), and I always have a separate bag filled to the rim with sticker books and tupperware. Pancakes, muffins, fruit, and sandwiches are travel staples for me. But my biggest tip is actually kind of random. Wear a BIG smile wherever you go. Through security, I always flash a smile and ask how everyone is, I make an effort to be polite, and am very accommodating when it comes to the time when my bags are checked (which is about 50% of the time). I always travel with 4 epipens (my son’s dairy allergy is a 2 epipen allergy- one doesn’t work on him), and lots of benadryl. I have never had to carry a doctor’s note- they all seem to know what the epipens are- but I do explain that my child has life threatening food allergies if asked. When I get on the plane, I am extra generous with the smiles, jokes, charm, and thank yous. I find that a little really does go a long way.

    • dairyfreeswitzerland says:

      Marla, Thanks so much for your thoughtful advice! Yes, a smile can go a long way. It helps set the mood for the kids too, doesn’t it? Glad to hear you’ve had such positive experiences traveling. It takes extra planning, but it’s not impossible. I really appreciate the opportunity to learn from your experiences.

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