This is a guest post by Louise Hendon from Paleo Flourish Magazine.
I LOVE travelling, and I’m currently writing this sitting outside basking in the morning sunshine at a great café in Lisbon, Portugal.
However, traveling and Paleo (or any diet for that matter) tend not to mix so well. In fact, during the first few years of my Paleo journey, holidays and traveling derailed my diet more than anything else. I would get persuaded by the argument that I could eat a slice of cake or try this pizza because “I was on holiday.” But then it seemed that the holiday wouldn’t end and I would keep eating all that junk after I got home too. It often took weeks and sometimes months for me to get back on track again.
A few years in, I started noticing this pattern and took steps to change the habit.
I started to be more conscious of what I ate on holiday and mentally preparing myself to not start binge eating for 2 months afterward. I thought at first that this would make my holidays less enjoyable, but it turned out to be the complete opposite – I had more energy to visit sights and hang out with friends, my mood was happier, and best of all, I didn’t feel bloated the whole time traveling.
So, in this post, I’m going to share with you my top 3 tips for ensuring your holiday doesn’t derail your Paleo diet.
- Prepare yourself mentally before traveling
Most of the battle is in your head. It’s amazing what we can do if we put our mind to it. So, before you go on holiday, make a conscious decision that you will get back on track when you get home.
And if you plan to eat badly on holiday, then tell yourself that it’s only for that period and that you will get back to eating Paleo as soon as you get home. If you already know what time you will be getting home, then plan what you’ll be eating that first meal back. You know you’ll be tired, so make sure it’s something simple. Perhaps it’s something in the freezer you can reheat or maybe it’s going out to a close-by restaurant where you can get a steak with a salad.
- Keep healthy snacks handy
When you’re traveling, it’s often tough to find healthy food on the road. Airports, train stations, and rest stops (or motorway service areas) serve you notoriously bad food (while making you pay more money for the bad food). So, prepare some healthy Paleo snacks before you leave.
Personally, I usually pack a few Epic bars, some dark chocolate (check out Dean’s post about the benefits of dark chocolate), and some jerky. Coconut butter is another great option, but I have had trouble getting that onto a plane in my carry-on luggage before and hard boiled eggs (while cheap and convenient) can be a bit smelly in a car or plane, so beware.
- Research restaurants and menus in advance
When I’m on holiday, I end up eating out a lot more than when I’m at home. Even if I stay at an Airbnb or Timeshare with a kitchenette, I will still want to try the local cuisine.
Before you start looking at restaurants and menus though, figure out what foods really make you feel bad. For example, if you’re celiac, then you probably want to avoid gluten. If you’re lactose intolerant, then you’ll want to avoid dairy. If you know onions and cabbages make you bloated, then don’t order those.
Once you’ve figured out the foods that make you feel really bad, you’ll know what to avoid at all costs.
Then start looking up local restaurants and reviews and pick out ones to try that have food that you know you can eat without feeling crappy. Within most parts of the US, Asia, Australia, and Europe, I haven’t had much of a problem. I’ll usually eat some rice and potatoes at restaurants as I don’t have blood sugar issues and a lot of restaurants in the US, Australia, and Europe label dishes as gluten-free (I even found a gluten-free bakery in Chiang Mai, Thailand!). The only place where I’ve had serious trouble finding food to eat was Rajasthan in India where their diet consisted pretty much exclusively of grains and dairy! Granted it was a lot of gluten-free grains and raw dairy outside of the towns…but it was still tough on my digestive system to cope with that! Needless to say I didn’t feel good that trip!
In Japan, I would eat sushi. In Thailand, I would order pad see ew or pineapple rice. In Myanmar, I tried their famous tea leaf salads, and in Lisbon, well, it’s as if they eat a Paleo diet naturally here with their famous sardines and salted cod (bacalhau) grilled and doused with olive oil and garlic!
It does take a bit of extra work researching restaurants and what to order in advance, but you’ll end up feeling better and eating better tasting food (and avoiding the tourist traps).
I hope these tips help you enjoy your holiday and come back home feeling refreshed and happy.