Eating Paleo While Traveling

Article by Fit Life Cafe

Both my husband and I travel for work. Since we follow Paleo nutrition 95% of the time it can get tricky trying to find meals that fit this plan while on the road. Neither of us are willing to compromise our health to poor food choices. Especially me, since clean eating has allowed me to stop taking several medications and has reduced or eliminated symptoms I’ve been struggling with for over a decade.
I’ve found that clean food is my answer and I’m just not willing to compromise that.
But if you’re new to Paleo or have a trip coming up and you’re wondering what to eat, here is a list of items we generally make a point to have on hand when on the road and away from our own kitchen.
  • Canned goods & a can opener – look at the ingredients to be sure it has no added sugar, preservatives, or stabalizers
    •  Pumpkin
    • Coconut milk
    • Vegetables
  • Spices –
    • Cinnamon
    • Cardamom (if we can afford it!)
    • Apple pie spice (to make the pumpkin more exciting – pumpkin pie spice would be the obvious choice but I haven’t found it available without preservatives added)
  • Jerky – homemade is best!
  • Nuts – no peanuts, and no nuts with fancy candy coatings
  • Dried fruit – also make sure these don’t have sugar added
  • Almond flour biscuits – I make these at home ahead of time. They are delicious and I add other chopped nuts, berries, or even dates or coconut flakes to give them extra flavor.
  • Date rolls – chopped  dates with nuts or coconut flakes added, comes out best if you use a food processor
  • Plain dates – sometimes a sweet tooth kicks in and I don’t want to be tempted by non-Paleo desserts so I’ll go back to the room after dinner and munch on 2 or 3 dates. It’s totally satisfying. Don’t overdo it on the dates though. They are a once in a while thing.

 

Last time I went to Las Vegas I had a number of canned goods in my checked bag (they are not allowed in carry-ons). I thought I could put them in my carry-on and the bag could double as a self-defense weapon! … no go. When I opened a can in my hotel I usually only ate half the contents at a time. To keep the leftovers fresh I filled the ice bucket and placed the open cans inside. Then I made sure the lid would fit snuggly to keep the coolness in. I had to change the ice once in the morning and once at night. Other than that it was a snap.
The places I usually travel don’t have grocery stores nearby but when my husband is on the road he can usually find a Whole Foods or other grocery store near his hotel. He makes that a first stop after he checks in and stocks up on fresh veggies, hard boiled eggs, and if he can find it – a rotisserie chicken. On his last trip he filled a garbage can in his room with ice to keep the chicken cool.

Paleo Snacks

Nuts, jerky, and dried berries are great for long plan rides. Airplane and airport food is usually equal to or less than fast food so I try to avoid it. I found that you can also take pieces of fruit and meatballs on an airplane. Although you may get weird looks from TSA security when they discover a ziplock full of meatballs in your backpack. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t care what othesr think and I’m more than willing to stand up and justify things for my health. I usually say, “I have to follow a special diet or I get sick,” about 2 dozen times during any given trip.
It may seem daunting to try and follow Paleo while traveling especially if you need to eat at a restaurant for most meals.
Sit-down restaurants usually are your best bet for good food choices but you have to create your own meal as most menu items will be smothered, soaked, or sprinkled with non-Paleo items. Let’s take fast food out of the equation for a moment (because most fast food that we’re familiar with is LOADED with enough stabilizers and preservatives to embalm an Egyptian).  So don’t let yourself fall for the fast food option if possible. Yes it’s cheap and easy but it will lead to expensive and difficult medical problems if you eat it regularly. Now, back to our restaurant that cooks things mostly from scratch, when looking at a restaurant menu I look for the following:
  • Baked chicken, fish, or any other type of meat that hasn’t been breaded or smothered in cheese or sauces. If there isn’t one then I ask for the meat item WITHOUT the non-paleo treatment.
  • Steamed veggies with no fancy sauces
  • Salad with chicken or other protein on top – I stay with a vinaigrette for dressing

 

Things I avoid like the plague:
  • Grains of any kind – bread, breaded meat, pasta noodles, tortilla chips, corn, quinoa, croutons, etc. I just can’t do grains anymore. They make my mouth and lips feel numb and tingly, my throat swells, and my digestive track doesn’t work right for at least a week after eating them. Sometimes they also give me a migraine. Every once in a great while I’ll bite the bullet for some good sushi but I will still have to deal with the aftereffects on my body. Be careful about “almond- or Pecan-encrusted” meat as well as many restaurants just throw nuts into their grain-based breading mix.
  • Dairy – cheese, creamy stuff, yogurt, animal milk. I am slightly more lenient with dairy because it doesn’t make me feel AS awful as grains but I am still cautious because if I eat a whole serving of dairy anything it makes me feel like I have the flu. Yes – I still have ice cream once in a while but I also feel like crap afterwards.
  • Processed and treated foods (added stabalizers, preservatives, even those that may be “natural” but aren’t necessarily “naturally occurring” in that food item)

 

Sometimes no matter how hard you try you just don’t have any totally Paleo options. That’s okay. As long as you try the best you can and avoid the things that you know will make you feel bad or in the very least – avoid grains. Also – you must be willing to send things back to the kitchen. If you asked for an omelette or a salad with no cheese and out it comes oozing or sprinkled with cheese – SEND IT BACK. Your health is worth it. It’s difficult to control what type of oil your food is cooked in or what type of additives are in the spices used…that’s something I’m willing to compromise on as long as everything else is clean.

 

And I can’t sign off without saying a word or two about … COFFEE!

 

I can’t go a day without a great cup of coffee. Well, I probably could but how much fun would that be? My husband Casey and I travel with a … travel mug (obviously). I never used to but it saves money as most restaurants I eat breakfast at allow me a free refill in my travel mug. At home we make coffee in the French press and we have an espresso machine. We’re kind of spoiled. I love a latte in the morning made with coconut milk. If I am out of coconut milk I’ll use almond milk. These two types of milk are generally NEVER available at the millions of coffee shops around the globe. So unless I put a spoonful of coconut milk out of a can (that I have on ice back in my hotel room) in my travel mug, I just drink coffee black. If I feel like I need something else in it I will allow myself about one tablespoon of real cream if available. I no longer add any type of sweetener (no splenda, stevia, sugar … definitely no nutrasweet, equal, or sweet-n-low  because this stuff’s dangerous for your body!).  Honey might taste good too but I’ve never tried it. I guess if I felt like I really needed to drink a latte with some kind of milk available at the coffee shop I would go for regular cow’s milk. Rice milk is made from rice, which is a grain. Soy milk, and any other soy product, will mess with your hormones – avoid it! I travel with cinnamon and cardamom because these are two things that I love to add to black coffee; they can also take the bitter edge off a less that stellar roast.

So there you have it. Paleo travel tips. I’m always discovering new snack foods to take and things I can substitute to keep myself eating clean while on the road.

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