The BEST and WORST places to go if you suffer from a food intolerance

The best and worst holiday destinations for people who suffer from a food intolerance have been revealed by experts.   

Leading biochemist Dr Gill Hart and her team have pinpointed five of the best and five of the worst countries for some of the classic problem food groups – wheat, seafood, dairy, gluten and nuts. 

And she suggests that the choice of destination is the vital ingredient in order to have a reaction-free holiday – and not being poorly by the pool. 

Dr Hart and the nutritional team at food intolerance testing specialist YorkTest Laboratories have pinpointed five of the best and five of the worst countries for some of the classic problem food groups – wheat, seafood, dairy, gluten and nuts

While all nations have tasty treats that won’t turn the stomach, some are better than others for reaction-free diets.

Dr Hart, scientific director at YorkTest, a food intolerance testing specialist, said: ‘Every country has its good and bad points when it comes to their most popular foods and care is always needed for people travelling abroad.

‘When overseas we all like to try something new or dip into a native dish, but it is important that we know what we are consuming.

‘This is especially true for people who have food intolerances and who may tuck into a meal that is not good for them, leading to symptoms such as bloating, fatigue and skin conditions.

‘Britain’s food may not be rated highly by some other nations, but we do have good food labelling.

‘When travelling there are many foods that can trip people up – they need to be alert at all times to what they are eating and drinking.’

Here are the best and worse places to visit if you have a food intolerance… 

BEST

Thailand

Thailand is best for a milk intolerance due to its wide use of coconut milk, research shows

Thailand is best for a milk intolerance due to its wide use of coconut milk, research shows 

Known for its rich mix of superb sandy beaches, temples and high temperatures, Thailand is also ablaze with its share of intolerance-neutral diets.

For people of delicate disposition to dairy – including milk produced by cows and other animals, ice-cream and cheese – the country has advantages.

Coconut milk is widely available and used, rice – which is gluten free – is also a mealtime staple and there are a wide variety of vegetable options.

But be warned: noodles, sometimes made from wheat, are a menu mainstay, as is fish which is a trigger food for many. 

Best for: Milk intolerance  

India

With the world’s biggest population to feed it’s no surprise the sub-continental diet has influences from across this vast nation of an estimated 1.37 billion people.

Famous to those in the West for its curries, India’s dishes are rich in grains, lentils, vegetables and fruit.

Buckwheat, a gluten-free wheat alternative, is popular for making porridge and trendy quinoa is widely available to add to a salad.

Consumption of rice – good for avoiding gluten and important to a balanced, carbohydrates, fibre and vitamin-rich diet – is a staple.

But watch out. Dairy-heavy yogurt is a breakfast favourite and India is also a top 10 globally ranked consumer of seafood.

Indians are also partial to nuts – cashews, peanuts and almonds – in their cooking.

Best for: Gluten intolerance

United States

Attitudes towards cow’s milk substitutes are growing all the time – just check out the menus of coffee joints in New York and Los Angeles - so it's friendly to those who don't have dairy

Attitudes towards cow’s milk substitutes are growing all the time – just check out the menus of coffee joints in New York and Los Angeles – so it’s friendly to those who don’t have dairy

Despite being famed for problems around obesity, Americans are doing some things right. Surprisingly, for anyone au fait with cop shows, they’re not the planet’s biggest munchers of doughnuts, which contain wheat-made flour and eggs.

Like Europe, Australia and Canada, the US has strict food labelling and preparation regulations which creates a low risk of mistaken food intake.

There is also an almost endless variety of cuisines on offer, particularly in the major cities, so you can easily find something to meet your needs.

And attitudes towards cow’s milk substitutes are growing all the time – just check out the menus of coffee joints in New York and Los Angeles.

However, the stars and stripes nation is a mainstay of wheat-based baked goods such as bread, pastries and pies.

Best for: Dairy intolerance

China

China is a real mixed bag, but it’s good outweighs the bad when it comes to intolerance-inducing foods.

Those in the north of the country are especially keen on buckwheat, which is strong on carbohydrates and fibres and an alternative to wheat.

And the nation has a serious appetite for corn, while fish consumption remains moderate.

However, the Chinese do like their wheat-made noodles and they are among the world’s biggest producer of walnuts and peanuts.

Best for: Gluten intolerance

Russia

This surprise package is a top producer and one of the main consumers of oats while breakfast is often hot buckwheat porridge. Both are wheat replacements.

The bread is also often made from buckwheat and many Russians like to boil or bake their food, meaning it isn’t deep fried in oil which could include peanut oil.

On the flipside they are large consumers of barley, which is best avoided for those with a gluten intolerance, while dairy products such as cheese and eggs feature regular in Russian cuisine.

Best for: Wheat intolerance

WORST

Scandinavia

Scandanavian cuisine is seafood-heavy so could trigger a food intolerance if have a problem eating fish

Scandanavian cuisine is seafood-heavy so could trigger a food intolerance if have a problem eating fish

Famous for its bleak ‘noir’ TV thrillers, countries such as Sweden, Norway and Iceland are not unduly scared by their diets – even though they may trigger a food intolerance.

Though plants are a favourite, the cuisine is also seafood-heavy – especially fatty fish such as mackerel, herring and salmon.

These are among the healthiest fish in terms of omega 3 fatty acids and good for the heart, but not for potential food intolerance reactions.

Nuts – which can provoke an intolerance or, in the worst case, can bring about a potentially deadly allergic reaction – and dairy are also popular.

In its favour, the Nordic diet offers up a rich abundance of vegetables such as potatoes and carrots, and fruits including berries. Its people are not high consumers of wheat-based breads.

Worst for: Seafood intolerance

South America

Serious about soccer but not so much food sensitivity, this continent breaks almost every intolerance good grub guideline in the book.

Milk is widely used in hot and cold drinks, including those that are fruit-based and coffee, while dairy desserts are also a firm favourite.

Fruit and vegetables are eaten in great volumes but so too are nuts, seafood and eggs.

However, rice and seeds are also highly consumed and wheat-free quinoa is a staple ingredient.

Worst for: Dairy intolerance

Italy

Experts said Italy was one of the worst countries for tourists with a dairy intolerance as they 'adore dairy products, from the milk they add to their coffee to its use in their delicious ice-creams'

Experts said Italy was one of the worst countries for tourists with a dairy intolerance as they ‘adore dairy products, from the milk they add to their coffee to its use in their delicious ice-creams’

While wrong to pick on a nation for its love of just two wheat-made products, there really is no escaping pasta or pizza in Italy.

Though its famed Mediterranean diet is heralded as one of the healthiest around, Italians consume an estimated 26kg of pasta per person each year – outstripping the US and Germany by three to one.

They also adore dairy products, from the milk they add to their coffee to its use in their delicious ice-creams. Fish is also a big player.

On the plus side, the nation’s diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, tomatoes, and olives – a good nut replacement.

Worst for: Dairy intolerance

UK

The British diet, including fish and chips and fast food, has long been a source of amusement to its continental neighbours. 

But tourists should also be aware of the UK’s love of pizza, devotion to milk in hot drinks and cereals, plus its huge appetite for sandwiches.

All are likely to strike fear into anyone visiting from overseas with a food intolerance, as is the title as the world’s heaviest consumer of Brazil nuts.

In its favour, British supermarkets are among the best in the world and offer a cornucopia of free-from products on their well-stocked shelves.

Worst for: Wheat intolerance

Australia

Australia and the UK were rated the worst for holidaymakers with a wheat intolerance

Australia and the UK were rated the worst for holidaymakers with a wheat intolerance

For a nation that clamps down so hard on letting travellers in carrying any alien foodstuff, the land down under has a lot to answer for in its diet regime.

It’s big on barley – one of the main gluten foods – and is influenced by many of its near Asian neighbours, meaning seafood and peanuts are popular.

Aussies are the world’s 16th largest consumers of wheat, while their appetite for bread and milk is also high.

However, strict food preparation and labelling regulations mean allergy awareness is key and a 2016 study showed one in three adults are avoiding foods such as gluten, dairy or meat.

Worst for: Wheat intolerance


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