Second to ‘how do I transition my kids to a gluten-free and dairy-free diet’, we are most often asked for tips on eating Paleo on the go. It is what inspired us to write our e-book Paleo to Go, where you can find tips, tools and recipes for all those times in life where you are eating outside of the house (at school, at work, and while en route).
Our e-book provides a lot of eating tips for getting from here to there, but what happens when you will be away from home for an extended length of time? How do you keep up with your Paleo lifestyle when in a new to you location? How can you enjoy your travels without worrying about food?
Here today to answer all these questions and more, is the travel savvy Louise Hendon, co-founder of Paleo Flourish Magazine. Utilize the many amazing tips below as you prepare for those 2016 travels!
This is a guest post by Louise Hendon, co-founder of Paleo Flourish Magazine.
In some ways, travel is in my genes. I had already lived on 3 continents by the time I was 21, and even while I was studying and then working in New York City, my husband and I would take our maximum allowed vacation time and travel somewhere. Sometimes we traveled within the US – like when we bought the JetBlue pass and flew to Austin, Durham, Napa, and Las Vegas to eat good food (one place per weekend for 4 consecutive weekends). Other times we went somewhere more exotic – like Malawi (in southeastern Africa) or Madrid.
Then a few years ago, we quit our jobs and started a series “slow travel trips” where we would visit a country and stay there for several months. Japan and Scotland are some of my favorite countries that I’ve “lived” in over the past few years. And currently we’re enjoying a few months in Thailand.
While we travel, we try to stick to Paleo as much as possible (although some places like northern India have proven tough!). I’ve amassed a lot of knowledge over the years on traveling and sticking to a Paleo diet, so I hope the following 5 tips will help you on your next vacation. And to help you remember the tips, here’s an handy graphic you can pin:
Tip #1: Choose How Strict (Or Not) You Want To
One of the biggest struggles is trying to decide whether you want to cheat and eat something non-Paleo on vacation. You feel like you deserve it (and it’s vacation!). Personally, I’ve found that being very clear in your head what you’re going to be strict about and what you’ll relax on is highly important before traveling. It could also help you to decrease decision fatigue.
So, here are 4 options for you to choose from:
A. Decide that you’ll just eat whatever on vacation and restart as soon as you get back home.
B. Schedule 2 days at the end of your vacation to eat junk food. This means you won’t feel bad for the entire vacation, but you’ll know that you get a few days to eat other foods.
C. Decide on certain foods that you’ll eat on vacation like white rice or rice noodles, dairy, non-gluten grains or pseudo-grains like millet and quinoa, processed sugars in sauces, seed oils, beans, etc. But also decide on what you’ll stay strict on (see Tip #2). This option can be especially helpful if you’re visiting a new country with food that you want to try.
D. Stay strict Paleo, which will generally mean that you will need to cook many of your meals. It doesn’t matter which option you pick as long as you choose it 100% in your mind so that you can spend your vacation having fun rather than struggling not to eat pizza.
Personally, I started off with option A when I first started Paleo, but I found it hard to get back on Paleo after returning home from vacation. So, then I tried to option D but found it discouraging not to be able to enjoy many local foods when traveling abroad. So now, after knowing what my body can handle and what it can’t, I mostly do option C although I still try to stay places with a kitchen so that I can cook my own meals.
Tip #2: Know What You Are Most Sensitive To And Stay Away From Those Foods
It’s taken me some time to get to know my body well, but I now know that I don’t handle gluten or dairy well even in fairly small amounts. I also don’t do well with spicy foods or overeating! So knowing those limitations, I ask at restaurants for gluten-free and dairy-free wherever I go, and when I travel to a non-English speaking country, I learn the words in that language and I learn about the local cuisine to ensure what I order fits those criteria. Taking a cooking class and food tour really helps!
Jodi Ettenberg, a celiac travel writer is coming out with a series of translation cards to help travelers order food in foreign countries, and I can’t wait for them to come out. Until then, I suggest downloading the Google Translate App and looking up some crucial phrases ahead of time.
(As an aside, Jodi also taught me that sometimes street food is the healthiest option as you can watch them cook your food and tell them to omit ingredients that you don’t want to eat.)
Tip #3: Prepare Lots of Paleo Snacks For the Flight/Drive
This is an obvious tip, but I felt like it had to be said. One of the toughest places to find Paleo foods is at the airport or at rest stops, so I plan ahead and make sure I’m well stocked with snacks. Some of my favorite travel snacks are dark chocolate, Epic Bars, egg muffins, and Steve’s Paleo Goods (see Paleo Parents’ review of their snacks here). I’ve listed some more snack ideas here.
Another option for your travel days is to fast, and this is something my husband does when we take long flights.
Tip #4: Research The Location Ahead Of Time
Paleo has gotten pretty popular over the past few years, and in countries like the US, Australia, England, and even Thailand you’ll find some restaurants and meal delivery services that specifically cater to a Paleo lifestyle. I have a friend in Bangkok who gets Paleo meals delivered to her door! And if Paleo restaurants don’t come up in your search, then look for gluten-free places. Gluten-free has become so popular that I’ve even found almond-flour gluten-free brownies at a rest stop café in a remote area of Ireland as well as in Chiang Mai, Thailand! And in the US, even chain restaurants have started labeling their menus with GF (and sometimes low-carb or Paleo) options.
When you research ahead of time, you can also get a sense of where to shop and what supplies you can buy there. For example, when I travel in the US, I look up whether there’s a Whole Foods Market or other health store in the neighborhood. I also look into whether it’s easy to buy essentials like coconut oil or whether I need to bring my own.
Tip #5: Rent An Apartment With A Kitchen
With the growth of Airbnb, it’s easy to find a vacation apartment with a kitchen. This is especially helpful if you are planning to stay in a place for more than week. I’ve also found that timeshares often come with a kitchenette. If you travel a lot and want to ensure you can cook in your hotel room, then look into investing in a Thermomix (they’re a handy steamer/blender/heater all-in-one device that you can carry onto a plane, but they are quite pricy). I have a relative that takes her Thermomix on vacation with her and loves it.
Unfortunately, since I only travel with carry-on luggage, my Thermomix has to stay at home.
I hope these tips help you enjoy your vacations more as well as stay healthy while you travel. And if you ever have any questions about traveling and sticking to Paleo, feel free to email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://paleoparents.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/louise-profile.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Louise is on a lifelong journey to heal her body. She refused to try Paleo for a long time, but once she finally did, she never went back. She’s cured her heartburn, IBS, and exhaustion problems and is constantly looking out for more ways to improve her health. Louise is the co-founder of Paleo Flourish Magazine, and she writes about recipes and all things health. Connect with Louise: Facebook | Blog | Twitter[/author_info] [/author]