Remember how I said I forgot my wallet when I left for the airport on Monday? Want to hear what I didn’t forget? Here goes: two apples, a banana, four packets of almond butter, a snack baggie of raisins, a bag of Paleonola, a pack of Epic Hunt and Harvest trail mix/jerky, a bag of Seven Sundays gluten free muesli, a bag of pecans, and a handful of Lara Bars. I basically brought the snack aisle of the best grocery store ever in my carry-on. Why did I do that? Well, I had some extra time left over from not packing my wallet, for starters. But also I know that finding decent snacks (that won’t make me nauseous) can be tough at the airport, and I’m going to a conference where I won’t have a say in what’s served for lunch, and having a stash of food that I like and that makes me feel good is going to make this trip much more enjoyable. On that note, here are my top three tips for traveling (or eating out at home) if you’re following a Paleo or Whole 30 diet.
1. Always have an emergency snack nearby. You don’t need to pack every snack ever if you’re not interested in bringing 5 pounds of food with you, but keep a Lara Bar or a package of jerky or a piece of fruit in your purse (or car, or office) so you know you have something handy if you find yourself starving and without decent food options. I always leave a snack in the center console of my car, and most of my bags have a Lara Bar stashed in them. When you’re on the road, most gas stations or convenience stores will at least have a basket of bananas at the checkout—I always buy those when I see them, and stash it away for later if I’m not hungry right away.
2. Look for fish, chicken, or steak options on a restaurant menu, and if those don’t work then look to the salad section. The thing about most restaurant salads is they’re going to have either cheese or croutons, and you can order without those things but then you’re losing some of the calories that would otherwise keep you full. Some restaurants have great salads that will hold you over for more than an hour, but especially if you’re traveling it’s hard to know what you’re getting. If you can find a protein that looks good, you can usually get some sort of vegetable next to it (or a side salad, or at least some kind of potato if nothing else will work). In a pinch, you can get a burger without a bun at nearly every restaurant in America.
3. Eat a big breakfast. Breakfast is the easiest meal to eat out, in my opinion, because you’re basically set so long as you skip the cheese and toast. Omelets are great, big, and filling, breakfast potatoes give me heart eyes, and don’t even get me started on bacon. If I know I’m going to be eating out the rest of the day, or I’m not sure that I’m going to have food options, I’ll try to eat a really big and hearty breakfast so that it doesn’t matter as much if I need to eat lighter for lunch or dinner. One note, though—you can usually get good vegetables in your breakfast, but you usually need to try. Be mindful of looking for an omelet or a scramble with some veggies in it.
I don’t eat strictly paleo when I travel (or ever, really, but especially on the road I eat gluten-free grains like rice or oats). I do still avoid dairy, because that upsets my stomach, and even when I’m eating carefully while traveling my stomach gets upset by all the oils and hidden ingredients in restaurant food. Just like at home, you have to do the best you can and let the rest go, but feeling bloated and nauseous and yucky is even worse when you’re away, so I do focus on eating as well as I can. That said, if there's something awesome and regional that's worth trying when I travel, I absolutely eat it. For me, the calculus is mainly based on how sick it's going to make me--if it's not going to upset my stomach, I'll try it without question. If it's dairy, I'll probably eat it. If it's gluten...I'll probably eat a bite or two and hope that it's fine. Most things aren't worth the pain and nausea that gluten inflicts on me, but I'm never going to go to France and not eat pain au chocolat. I'm just not. Eat the things that you really want to eat, and try to make good choices in other parts of the day that will balance it out and not leave you feeling like a busted can of biscuits when you're supposed to be enjoying your trip.
Anyone have great travel or restaurant tips that I missed?