Catering for your special diet is easy in a motorhome
Travelling with special diets is not always easy and even if your only special dietary requirement is to eat healthily, when staying in hotels or relying on restaurants it is virtually impossible to retain control over what you eat and drink and what you pay for it.
If you are vegetarian, have food allergies, a restricted diet or are diabetic, just getting your hands on food you can eat at the right time of the day can be a holiday-ruining marathon of epic proportions!
By hiring a motorhome for your trip you can avoid the culinary pitfalls that every other means of travel & accommodation will expose you to.
Having a fully functioning, self-contained kitchen with a fridge wherever you go means that you can cater for any special diet you may have and eat cheaply and healthily at the times that suit you.
The fresh ingredients available across France in the many markets and supermarkets are a real inspiration so you’re bound to find new and exciting ways to accommodate your diet here.
The added advantage of being able to buy everything at supermarket prices from basic raw ingredients to sophisticated wines means you can afford to use the best of everything and take a break from your everyday diet without breaking the bank or eating things you should avoid.
Don’t imagine that you have turned into a galley slave for the duration of your trip though, here are a few tips to help you avoid doing all the cooking and enjoy successful dining in French restaurants with special dietary needs.
Lots of restaurants prepare their food from scratch but not always while you wait. At short notice they may not be able to accommodate you but if you give them a little warning by booking your table ahead of the meal in question, you are much more likely to get what you want.
Try and call in to the restaurant earlier in the day or the day before you dine and discuss your needs. If you just arrive and don’t tell the staff what you need before being seated, they will be expecting you to choose from the options on their menu (and at that stage may only be able to make very minor adjustments to the dishes). Your needs will be totally unexpected and they are much less likely to be able to accommodate them. If you call in before and ask if they can cook something without a certain ingredient they usually can and are keen to agree to do so in order to secure your booking.
If you are vegetarian you will need to explain exactly what you do and do not eat. Many French chefs think that vegetarians eat everything apart from red meat and it is fine to use chicken stock to make vegetable soup! Vegetarianism is still rare in France so it is not well understood. Rather than spend your meal fuming over their mistakes, take the time to explain what you want. Look up the words for things you do and do not eat and if you cannot string the sentence around the words to communicate, take photos of the relevant foods with a big tick or cross beside them (this really does work!).
Unless you spot something you can eat on their menu before going in, avoid formula restaurants that are obviously part of a big chain as they are very unlikely to alter their menu choices for you.
Whilst there is a great deal of very rich food in French cuisine, there is also a vast array of fantastic traditional dishes that are really healthy. If your aim is to avoid fat and cholesterol, head for Provençal or Mediterranean style restaurants which tend to use fresh, vibrant coloured vegetables and fish and offer dishes made with olive oil instead of cream and butter.
In addition to restaurants that can accommodate you there are other options to avoid making everything you eat yourself. Many bakers will even bake you a gluten free loaf with a little notice and the “Traiteurs” (Delicatessens who make their own - ready to eat- meals) will know exactly what the ingredients in each of their dishes are so can often sell you something suitable ready to heat and eat.
If you don’t manage to discuss your needs ahead of time and risk running out of options, you can always keep a good stock of emergency supplies in your motorhome to avoid your evenings turning into total dining disasters.
Finally, if your idea of a special diet is to make sure every meal consists of the sublime but utterly bad for you gourmet food that France has to offer, that is really easy to do here too!