By Stephanie Rackley of the Healthy Chew
Traveling with a food allergy can be very challenging, especially if you’re traveling in and out of rural cities and along routes with only average gas stations to choose from. If you are a picky eater or someone who has food allergies, it can cause a major stress on your schedule thinking, ‘where is my next meal coming from?’
Thankfully, I have been there and done that so many times now that I have been inducted into the minor leagues for traveling foodies. I know what works, what doesn’t and I have plenty of tips and suggestions for you when you plan your next trip. Whether it be for only a weekend or longer, these tips can benefit you.
I came back home from my two week + excursion through the better part of the Southwest only a couple of days ago. My trip started by flying to Las Vegas with my Husband, Justin. We spent a couple of days in the city and celebrated our wedding anniversary one evening at Giada’s Restaurant inside the Cromwell Hotel.
After Vegas, I continued to travel onward towards Phoenix, Arizona to visit my brother Brandon who was graduating with his Masters of Science in Analytics (Yes, he got the brains). From Phoenix, we traveled together to see Sedona, Flagstaff, The Grand Canyon, and many other sights in between. The days were long but filled with exciting adventure. How could anybody think about eating when there was so much to see and do?
What to Leave Behind
When packing for several days, even several weeks at a time it’s all about how economical you can be. You start thinking about what you really need versus what you want. Being a girl, I am notorious for overpacking things because I have the mind set of “what if I need this and that.”
One of my motto's in life is: “I’d rather waste a great outfit on a day without opportunities than waste an opportunity because I didn’t have the right outfit.” In other words, I want to take all the opportunities I am given and I like to be prepared with whatever life throws at me.
However, in order to pack the right foods to keep you going strong, you might have to sacrifice some room in your suitcase and carry on bag. If you’re driving to your destination, you have the luxury of more space and you may want to pack a cooler.
Leave behind the extra shoes, the ones you think you might wear once. These take up space, space that could house 5 protein bars and 2 bags of granola.
Leave behind the million bottles of spray. Hair spray, dry shampoo spray, smell great spray etc. Find alternatives to bring and pack them into smaller bottles.
These are simple ideas to get you thinking about how to pack smarter and lighter. But now that you have free space, start by filling it with non-perishable foods, vitamins and water to keep you feeling great during your entire trip!
My Top Tips For Traveling
Bring a Water Bottle– Traveling around leaves little time for conveniences you took for granted back at home. You may not always have time to run down to the local grocery store to purchase a water bottle when you finally get where you’re going. Bringing a water bottle allows you to refill it multiple times a day, giving you a constant reminder about the necessity of hydration.
WHY– water can increase your metabolism, flush toxins and bacteria from your system, reduce the chance of headaches and fatigue, and can shrink your hunger level.
Skip Those Sweets– I know when you’re on vacation, dessert is almost a necessity. Limit the amount of sweets you eat and you’re likely to feel better throughout the day. When stopping at a gas station to load the car with gas, don’t get pressured into buying the whole candy aisle inside. If you’re hungry, buy a piece of fruit or nuts instead.
WHY– sweets have plenty of sugar to go around. They give you a burst of energy but bring you down fast. If you want something that has lasting energy that will power you through your long days and fun adventures, skip the sweets.
Yes to Snacks!- Snacks are so easy to pack with you in the suitcase, it’s a simple effort but a huge reward when you’re on the road. I bring fruit that doesn’t perish easily like whole apples and oranges, even dried fruit like raisins, figs, apricots, peaches, & cranberries. I also stock up with fruit bars, granola, trail mix, & almond butter.
WHY– Snacks prevent you from having low blood sugar, irritability and hangry emotions (I know we all get them). When traveling with other people, it’s likely that they won’t stop when only person is hungry. I bring snacks in my purse at all times so that I don’t drag the group down when I am getting hungry. Snacks are a quick fix to brain fog and fatigue.
Bring Your Vitamins– When I am on the road, I bring vitamins with me. I feel better when I take them, just knowing that I take them. Even finding a multivitamin or pre-natal vitamin that works for you and bringing it along for the journey will increase your vitamin consumption.
WHY– When traveling, we don’t normally eat the way we should. We don’t even eat the way our bodies are used to, so naturally our vitamin and nutrient consumption decreases a little bit each day. To off set the poor traveling diet, start taking the vitamins a week or two before you head off towards your destination. Continue to take the vitamins throughout your travels and resume normal eating when you get back home.
Emergen-C– These little packages of saving grace may just save you from sickness while traveling. They are small in size and density, just pack 5-6 in your suitcase but don’t forget where you put them when you start to feel sick.
WHY– When our bodies are going, going, going for a long time, it eventually catches up to us. Although vacation is meant to be a stress free time, traveling around in airports and hotels can be stressful on the body and immune system. The last thing you want on your hard earned vacation is to be so sick you cannot enjoy it.
Reach For More Greens– When you’re on the road, try to maximize your vegetable intake and keep count of how many you have in a day. We often tend to forget about the greens when we go out to restaurants because we like to “splurge” and “treat ourselves,” because we are on vacation right? The only problem is, our bodies do not take a vacation from needing proper nutrition. Stick to AT LEAST ONE green vegetable a day. examples include spinach, kale, almond butter and celery, avocado (I know it’s a fruit), asparagus, broccoli, peas, green juice, and salad greens.
WHY– Greens are loaded with calcium, protein, Vitamin D, Vitamin K, Folic Acid, Vitamin A & E. Even if you are not eating a foolproof diet while traveling, the greens you do eat will help prevent feelings of sluggishness and fatigue.
Remember The Fruit– traveling with fruit is pretty easy, if you choose the right kinds. Apples, oranges, clementines, pears, nectarines, peaches, even dried fruit counts and is the easiest of all.
WHY– fruit has lots of fiber and natural sugars to keep your metabolism going, keeping your body happy and full. When you’re constantly traveling and on the go, it may be normal that you can’t GO… try some fruit, especially pieces that you consume with the peel (apples, peaches, plums).
Leave Behind the Fried Foods– When you’re at a restaurant, look at the different options. Fried foods will always be at the bottom of the list for healthy options, try grilled or baked options instead.
WHY– Fried foods have a high glycemic load that quickly turns into sugar, creating fast energy for you. Unfortunately it also means that you crash just as fast and the extra sugars turn into fat storage for the body.
I Hoard Food (in my suitcase)
Yes, yes I do hoard food, and I think anybody who knows me can vouch for this statement. But what’s funny is that people who snicker at me in the beginning, befriend me in a day or two because they realize the brilliance of it all. Below is a list of every food item I packed for my two-week excursion. Of course, I couldn’t pack enough food to last me for that long, but I definitely packed enough snacks and whole foods to give me lasting energy for each day. I brought along a cooler, which gave me more options and possibilities for foods that could perish. During my 2-week excursion, I only ate at restaurants at a maximum of once a day. I also stocked up periodically when we would stop at a grocery store or Whole Foods.
Packaged oatmeal in a cup by Kathleen’s, I would easily find hot water to mix with it (good source of whole grains & fiber)
Fruit bars by Larabar (good source of fiber & fruit)
Apples (good source of fiber & fruit)
I usually bought bananas at coffee shops
Mid Morning Snacks:
Pistachios (Good source of potassium, fat & protein)
Dried fruit such as figs, peaches, plums & cranberries (good source of potassium & fiber)
Fruit & nut bars by Thunderbird
Cold broccoli salad with bacon, cranberries, onions and almonds (good source of fiber, veggies & nuts)
Cold whole wheat pasta with veggies (good source of grains & veggies)
Cold chicken salad with veggies (good source of protein and veggies)
Occasionally eat out at a restaurant
Mid Afternoon snacks:
Loose Granola (good source of whole grains) I would find some almond milk or yogurt to mix with it.
Trail mix (good source of protein & fat)
Almond (or peanut) butter (good source of protein)
Gluten free almond crackers by Blue Diamond
Veggies & Hummus (good source of fiber, protein etc)
Most of the time this was when I ate out at a restaurant
Traveling with food allergies can be challenging at times and I hope most of y’all don’t have to go to the extent that I do. However, If you do have allergies I hope this list gets your mind thinking about the possibilities and ultimately the ability to travel and experience life.