Travel can sometimes feel like the kiss of death to clean eating. Half of the time I feel like it runs on break-up rules: it takes half as long for you to recover from your love affair with afternoon cocktails, perfectly baked sourdough, and ice cream than you were on your trip. One night binger – you’re good in about 12 hours; extend that baby out a week, and you could be looking at 3-4 days till the old digestion is working smoothly again. Is this the curse of clean eating?! Yes. No. And it totally depends… As humans we like clarification. We like clear-cut rules to stand by and to follow, but when is life ever clear cut and definitive? I would go with a resounding: NEVER. Traveling while Paleo doesn’t have to feel like you are on an on-again, off-again relationship with your soul mate, but sometimes allowing the opportunity for a little distance isn’t a bad thing. Here are 5 tricks of the trade I use when out on the road.
Eating Paleo on the Road
1. Pick Your Battles
What battles you pick can depend on several things, for starters: the intent of the trip, your own sensitivity to reactive foods like gluten & dairy, and just how much you love bread and butter when out to dinner. All of those questions are unique to YOU, not to your Paleo counter-part, nor your non-Paleo counterpart, but you alone. If you are extremely sensitive to gluten, one venture into the world of flour could be disastrous, but if you’re not and a brownie feels right to you deep down in your heart: go for it!
2. Export Snacks from Home
The front pocket of my rolly-bag, yep, that is my jerky pocket. Before I head out on a trip I always make sure I’m stocked up on non-perishable goods of the Paleo variety. I’ve found that breakfast can be particularly tricky, especially if it is “included” with your room – aka: here’s a box of cereal and fat free yogurt. I like to have at all time a protein, carbohydrate, & fat source available so that I can either create a meal from scratch or supplement what’s presented to me. Some great options here are…
Protein: jerky, sardines, wild caught canned tuna or salmon, Epic Bars or Tanka Bites.
Carbohydrates: apples, bananas, oranges, plantain chips, dried dates/figs.
Fat: nut butter packets, raw nuts, travel size bottles of extra virgin olive oil or ghee.
Dark chocolate: it gets it’s own category, because I almost always crave sweet things when traveling. I find it clutch to have a solid option to have in my back pocket so I’m not tempted to go overboard on other options that will result in my feeling decidedly sub-awesome.
Try not to venture out to your special dinner starving as that will equal you hoovering multiple pieces of bread without batting an eye. I always eat a protein & fat rich snack before heading out on the town.
4. Pick the Right Places to Eat
Make yourself the restaurant expert of the trip or check out menus beforehand so you know what’s coming your way. Use the good old google to find some solid options. Handy search terms are, “farm to table,” “gluten free,” or “organic.” Some of my go-to places are: pubs = burgers without buns; Mexican = fajitas with no rice, beans, or tortillas (or go for corn tortillas if you aren’t reactive to corn); Sushi = seaweed salad & sashimi or sushi (depending on how you react to rice), or black cod. I always try to be open, honest, and super friendly with my server and they almost always help me to find what’s going to be the best option for me.
5. One Splurge Meal out of Three
Instead of going all in or all out (because when does that ever work) I tend to choose one meal a day that I will let to be a splurge. This helps me to stay on track for the rest of the day and I almost always end up eating cleaner over-all throughout my trip when I stick to this approach. It keeps your splurges special and your body better equipped to handle them. Eating clean throughout the day (solid protein, unrefined carbohydrates, and quality fats) will also keep your energy stable so that you can actually do what you want to do, be it stay clear-headed for an important meeting or kick that trek to a water fall in the pants.
Traveling shouldn’t be terrifying nor should it derail your health and fitness goals. Truth: traveling while eating clean takes some work and planning ahead – especially if you travel constantly for work – but once you get the hang of it, it’ll become intuitive as packing an extra pair of socks just in case.
What are some tricks of the trade all of you have found while on the road?! Post your brilliant ideas and suggestions in the comments.
Keep your eyes out later this month for Part 2 of this series: How to Stay Active while on the Road.
Maddie Berky is a certified Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She also coaches at CrossFit Verve in Denver, CO. You can find her at her blog, paleogirlinthecity.com, on instagram at @paleogirlinthecity, or on facebook at facebook.com/paleogirlinthecity.