Have you ever wondered how to travel through Israel with food allergies? Me too! However, just last month I had a chance to do just that!
For me, traveling to Israel has been a lifelong dream and one I intend on fulfilling again. But, how do I travel through Israel with food allergies?
This is the question I’m going to answer for you as I share with you my tips and tricks for an amazing trip.
I have a Masters in Theology, and Biblical Studies is a deep passion of mine so, when my mother and I found out our local church was taking a trip to Israel-we were the first to sign up. I just couldn’t let food allergies stand in the way of this opportunity.
IS THE FOOD CLEARLY MARKED?
I asked all the basic questions to those who had been before, “Is the food clearly marked?” And, for the most part, people said “YES!” This is because, Israel is not a third world country, in many ways, it is very similar to America. That being said there is one major problem with the food labels…they’re in HEBREW.
I’ll admit to you, I’m not quite sure why I didn’t think that through. I will say, unlike America, most foods in Israel are made very pure with natural ingredients meaning there are not a ton of cheap fillers which can certainly be a disaster when it comes to food allergies. But, you’ll have to be able to read in Hebrew if you intend on figuring that out.
There are easier ways, however, keep reading!
HOW IS THE FOOD COOKED?
This natural way of cooking food makes it a bit easier to spot allergens such as dairy or eggs because they’re fairly visible to the naked eye. As far as Celiac Disease goes, there is A LOT of bread in this country but if you avoid that-there’s just about every kind of chicken and beef you can imagine and most of which are safe to eat.
I would certainly advise bringing a few snacks such as protein bars and such in your suitcase, you won’t find many of those in Israel or at least you might struggle reading the labels. The city of Jerusalem was best for finding markets and such that are similar in style to NYC, a small grocery with a few staple items.
I did not find true “allergy friendly” items such as Sunbutter or any other trusted brands there but I did find lunchmeat, crackers and things of that nature.
WHAT DOES IT REALLY LOOK LIKE?
That. It looks like that. Ok, so there’s a lot of chicken and beef but you have to ask for it and look for it otherwise, you’re getting fish. AND, the fish will have a head and it will have eyes and you will never be the same.
Can you tell I don’t eat fish?
For the most part, they bake the fish, the fish in the picture, however, was fried which is an obvious problem.
HOW DO THEY KNOW I HAVE ALLERGIES?
The best investment you will make is in a food allergy travel card. This card will guide you as you travel through Israel with food allergies. You can have it made in any language you need and simply take it with you and hand it to the wait staff and/or the chef.
Most people do speak English in Israel however, it is broken and translating things that are vital such as food allergies can be difficult. The travel card will make your life SO much easier.
As you can see, there are tons of markets with fruit and vegetable stands galore. You can also buy your own live chicken for dinner if you’d like but I’m going to assume that’s not going to happen.
The biggest struggle will be in the restaurants which is where the food card comes in handy. Also, just a side tip, make sure you are going to a reputable restaurant and be careful of all the spices-our stomachs cannot handle all that goodness at once.
WHAT ABOUT THE HOTEL?
Glad you asked.
Let’s think “first world” country here, there are resorts and plenty of four star (and five star) hotels available. I would strongly suggest you land in one of these that come complete with a restaurant and actual chef. The best hotel we stayed at was in Jerusalem at the Inbal Hotel. The chef walked me through the entire buffet making clear all the allergy friendly foods and then he personally made me a “safe” dessert option.
The key is RESEARCH before you go. Call around to restaurants and hotels and be sure to bring a few safe snacks in your bag every single day. This trip was worth it and I will do it again but it didn’t come without a few struggles.
Because we traveled with a group, the lunches were actually booked and prepared before we arrived. That meant, there were a few days where I skipped lunch altogether because there just were no safe options. That’s where the protein bars stashed in my bag came in handy.
Fruits abound in Israel and those dates above were my favorites. If you’re in a pinch, you will have access to fruits and vegetables through the street venders and markets.
Israel will forever be one of the greatest places I have ever visited, it was literally life changing. If you have food allergies, you can travel through Israel simply research and prepare. Then, get ready for a trip of a lifetime!