Staying on track
Let me first start by saying that I am a little more flexible when I am traveling. I think part of the fun of travel is to discover and to try out various different cuisines and yes, that involves eating whatever you find. I love street food in Asia and pretty sure they include some form of non-paleo foods in there. But for me that is ok. As long as I know I can go back to my normal way of eating it’s fine to eat differently when traveling.
Having said that; I know that if I eat too much sugary foods my digestion will complain loudly. I can get severe cramps in my stomach when I’ve eaten too much ice cream in combination with sandwiches or other gluten things.
It becomes a different story if the reactions to food are more severe for you. So how do you make sure you don’t eat anything that doesn’t agree with you or that you simply do not want to eat?
Over the last couple of years eating gluten free has become far more popular so that means it has become slightly easier to eat gluten free on the road. However, it greatly depends on which country you’re visiting. While you’re probably ok in Europe, USA or the like, if you’re traveling to some remote area in China, you’re bound to run into problems. On the other hand I love the foods in Asia. They have so much delicious fresh recipes with loads of vegetables, fresh sea food and such. So even if they have never heard of gluten free, you might be ok here.
The same goes for dairy or sugar. So how do you make sure those items are not in your food?
- First of all it makes sense to do some research before leaving for your destination. If you are severely celiac you have to make sure that traveling to the area of your choice is safe to begin with. Check with the hotel you’re staying if they have options and bring your own emergency food if possible. Things like nuts or jerky or something similar will probably keep well.
- Stay on the safe side when ordering meals; grilled chicken and a salad should – in theory at least – be pretty safe. Ask for the dressing on the side.
- It helps to have a document in the local language that tells about your specific needs.
- Do NOT tell a restaurant that you’re celiac if you’re not! This is an important factor. I’ve heard chef’s complain that customers would say they’re gluten intolerant only to dive into the cookie for dessert. If you choose not to eat something, that is your choice. Saying you’re allergic to something if you’re not will make life a whole lot more difficult for the real celiac. So don’t go there. That’s just not ok. Same goes for lactose intolerance. Don’t say you are just to avoid discussion.
- I just go with the flow when I’m traveling. I will avoid bread, pasta, noodles and the like unless I really, really want to.
- For snacks or to keep you from going so hungry you dive into the first croissant shop you see, you can keep a supply of the before mentioned emergency snacks handy.
- Fruits and vegetables are of course always a good choice. Countries like Asia are brimming with beautiful produce that you can all eat.
Don’t expect to be 100% compliant
Don’t get nervous if you accidentally ate something non-paleo. It won’t kill you and it’s ok. Stressing out about it is definitely not worth it. If you aim for that famous 80% you’re good. You can be perfect again once you’re home. If you really cannot find any restaurant or stall that sells anything worth eating, you can hop into a super market and buy some products there. It would be hard to find a super market anywhere in the world that does not have nuts or some form of fruit or veg.
- Nuts, beef jerky, boiled eggs (if you can find some in the hotel breakfast just take some extra with you)
- Fruit and nut bars
- Fresh fruit and vegetables
All in all, just remember that traveling is also supposed to be fun (assuming it is not work related of course) and while it is always a good idea to pay attention to what you eat, don’t let it ruin the fun. Aim to be as good as humanly possible and enjoy the moment that you can’t or won’t.
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