Eating on an extremely restricted diet is challenging enough during a regular week. The food preparation required, as well as the additional planning is enough to drive me crazy. Add the travel on top of it and I mainly just feel like I need to run away (on one hand it’s exercise), have a drink (not allowed!), or go take a nap (encouraged).
Making beef jerky the night before my trip, instead of packing and going to bed, wasn’t ideal but I was really glad I did when I had a delay between flights and needed a snack. My current trip is a girl’s trip in Austin though, so my expectations are very different staying at a house with my friends versus at a hotel for work, but my guidelines still remain the same.
Here are my tips for managing a detox, or other types of restricted diet while traveling:
- Plan ahead. Seriously. This come easier to other people than it does to me, but if I can figure it out, then anyone can. Know what my food options will be at any point in time goes a long way to making life easier when I’m actually living it, or in the middle of doing fun things. No one likes it when I forget to eat or can’t find food so I try not to do that, for myself as well as the people around me.
- Preparation. It’s not sexy or even fun, but preparation is actually getting food ready. It’s one thing to list off the snacks I would/could need for a long day of traveling, it’s another to suck it up, get my ass to the store, and actually make whatever it is I’m going to take with me. In the case of my trip to Austin, I made beef jerky (in my oven), cinnamon coconut chips, and bought plantain chips and a few apples. Done. Sometimes I travel with food like it’s 1855, “What I got is my jerky, dried apples, and these here coconut things.” You have to picture the horses and the old-timey preparation for a long trek, only replace the horses with Uber and Southwest Airlines, and the food pack with my laptop bag. Okay, getting back on track…
- Research. Any time I’m going out, I always, always, always look at the menu online first. I do this even when I’m not doing a crazy restricted diet. My own day-to-day dietary limitations usually force it so I can find options, or call ahead to see how flexible they can be with working around gluten-dairy-egg-soy free diets. There isn’t anything worse than feeling sick after eating and not knowing what I ate. I can usually pinpoint it, but it’s easier if I don’t have to at all.Luckily my friends are amazing and helped pre-select, and gave choices of restaurants for me to find options that fit my needs. When left to my own devices, I had us eating farm-to-table, actually at a farm. It was awesome though and the chef worked with every single one of my requirements. I do take full responsibility for drinking the wine that night though.
- Appreciate. My friends all go out of their way to help make sure I always know what they’re bringing to potlucks, to ensuring there are options for me when I’m going to their houses, or if we’re going out to eat. And in general, they’re just awesome. The number of people who send me links to restaurants to make there is something I can eat continues to amaze me. It’s nice to know friends, family, and co-workers are looking out for me.
- Bold. Don’t be afraid to talk to servers, restaurant managers, etc. Make sure to be very clear about your allergies. I’ve seen people roll their eyes at me being gluten-free but now most places (in larger cities) take food allergies extremely seriously and frequently restaurant managers have come out to talk to me to reassure me they’re on it. Usually the staff ends up making a bigger deal of it at the table than I prefer, but I truly appreciate the effort to get it right.
- Enjoy Yourself. You’ve done the work, now enjoy your time with friends, family, or even exploring by yourself.
While having a physical reaction if I eat things I shouldn’t, isn’t fun, or comfortable, it’s hard to be on a complete elimination diet 100% perfectly and still travel. If something gets through in spite of my vigilance, I try to take a deep breath, take note of any reaction I had, and make different choices the next time. When I start to be really hard on myself, I have to step back and remember that I’m doing the best I can and learning as I go along. Making note of all that I am doing is important too.