Traveling is hard for me - finding places that are gluten free, dairy free, and corn free is HARD! But I really enjoy travel soooo I figure out how to make it work with my food restrictions. I really have to prep myself for any sort of trip I take. Things I have to do while planning and before I leave -
Pack snacks - lots of them.
This could include meat sticks, nut butter packets, tuna pouches, pre-cut veggies, lunch meat, or pre-made meals in a small cooler if i know i will have a refrigerator where I will be staying.
I google gluten free/ vegan places to eat near where i will be staying. Depending on the city this can be difficult.
PRO TIP: I have found that vegan places tend to have a really good grip on food sensitivities and know how important proper food handling is!
Tell people you will be traveling with or who you will be meeting with about your food restrictions. This helps everyone plan ahead!
Go to the grocery store when you arrive at your location. If you cant travel with certain types of foods grab them when you land!
Book yourself a place that allows yourself to cook your own meals. Like an Airbnb or VRBO.
Traveling to countries that don't speak English is a whole other ballgame. You will have to do a lot more research when it comes to where to eat and what to eat.
I write down my food allergies in the language of the country I am visiting.
I try to stay at a place that would allow me to cook at least one meal a day. So i would pack lots of non perishables and try to find other things at a local market or grocery store.
I try to be flexible and gracious.
Most people are very willing to help if they can understand my needs.
I also understand that I will not be able to eat at every restaurant and that's ok. This is where you need to be flexible and eat one of the snacks I packed and just roll with it.
My #1 Rule I always follow: It’s better to be safe than sorry. If I think I will get sick from the food I would rather pass on the food and be hungry than get sick and be out for the count the rest of the trip.
I have done my fair share of elimination diets. They are hard and emotional but there really is no substitute when it comes to figuring out what works for your body. No food sensitivity test will give you 100% accurate results. Unlike a spit test, urine test, or blood test listening to your body giving you subtle or not so subtle clues that a food or food group doesn’t work for you.
Here is how I guide my clients while doing an elimination diet. Remember - its not forever.
Find your “why” for why you want to do an elimination diet
Write this down - put it somewhere you can see it every day to keep you motivated!
Make this “why” real - if you want to eliminate gluten have tangible, measurable reasons for doing so.
Example of what NOT to do - I want to eliminate gluten so I can lose weight.
Example of a tangible goal - I want to eliminate gluten so I can stop having migraines 2-3 times a week.
2. Keep a food and mood Journal
While trying to stick with your goals, keeping a food and mood journal will help you track your progress.
You will be able to see how you are improving and where you still could use improvement.
3. Focus on what you can have not what you cant have
This one is so important. While eliminating a whole food group(s) can be extremely difficult, you need to focus on all of the other delish foods you can have.
For example, going gluten free could be daunting if you aren't armed with the correct tools and knowledge to get you started!
4. Keep elimination approved snacks or prepped food on hand
This one should be self explanatory. Not everywhere you go will be elimination diet friendly! When in a pinch have a snack handy. I cannot tell you how many times purse snacks or a container of prepped food in my fridge has saved me!
BUT Don’t live on snacks - live on nutrient dense, whole foods. Always.
5. Baby Steps!!!
Walk before you run peeps!! If you know yourself and you need to ease yourself into an elimination diet vs cutting everything cold turkey - DO IT!!
If you need an “accountabilibuddy” to do it with you or to cheer your on - DO IT!!
This is about you and your “Why” - figure out what will work for you and roll with it! #youdoyou
Don’t beat yourself up if you slip up. This is hard work! If it wasn’t - everyone would be doing it! Accept the fault and move on.
Prepping food is a lifesaver for people who are busy, on a budget, don’t like doing dishes, or are on a healing protocol. So basically everyone can benefit from meal prepping.
There are so many ways to meal prep some people prep full meals (batch cooking) or you could just prep components and mix and match meals. There are benefits to both.
If you prep a couple of meals on a Sunday or Monday you should have enough food for the week or you can always prep 2x per week to allow for a bit more variety. Time spent prepping for me is usually an 90 min to 2 hours per week. As you get better at prepping you should be able to get down to this depending on how much food you need to prep! Less dishes during the week is always a win for me!
Ways to prep and eat full meals:
First, if you batch cook big meals you make one recipe and eat it multiple times. Some people like this option better because you can rotate through different yummy recipes vs just components to build your own meal. This is also nice if you are burned out on a specific meals - keeps things interesting every week.
Batch cook eat the meals throughout the week (examples):
- Salads in jars
- Beef with broccoli
- Big batch of chili
- The recipe options are endless for this option
Pre-make things them freeze for the right time to reheat (examples):
- Breakfast burritos
Ways to prep components:
I like this option but I have but I have also been doing this for years. I like the simplicity of the components to build a meal into something else. This approach lets you add spices and sauces to allow for what you are feeling right then. Spices make everything!
Always have ready to eat proteins
- I like to always have some sort of cooked ground meat, usually turkey in the fridge ready to eat. This meat stays for a few days in the fridge and I don’t have to worry about it.
- All cuts of beef are another good option for prep. Steak, ground, roast, etc.
- Chicken can get dry but if you don’t mind that then go for it
- Pork - can get dry depending on the cut but another good option
Fish - this one is hard. I don’t like prepping fish i don’t think it reheats well the next day. And I think it smells FUNKY, fast. I spring for the canned fish like tuna and salmon vs fresh when I am considering it for prep.
Always have veggies on hand - they don’t need to be cooked!
- Rule of thumb always stock up on veggies when you are at the store. Some veggies that can be eaten raw in a pinch!
- Veggies like carrots, broccoli, brussel sprouts, onions, etc are great prepped but can be eaten raw too.
- Veggies like leafy greens, herbs, etc. that don’t need to be cooked are easy to just toss on a plate. Be sure to get “pre- washed” greens!
- If you are cooking up your veggies I have found roasting them is the easiest, least time consuming way. Chop up your veggies, drizzle avocado oil, sprinkle sea salt on top then put in an oven @400 degrees until the veggies are soft.
Keeping carbohydrates on hand. This one is easy!
- I really only prep a couple types of cabs potatoes (sweet and white) and rice/ rice pasta.
- Potatoes I bake those like a do the veggies I just mentioned above.
- For rice I most times make it fresh because I personally don’t like stale rice.
- Rice pasta I will make a big pot of pasta and eat it through the week with a meat sauce or something else. Other simple carbs you can keep on hand - FRUIT!
- You can cut the larger fruits up and store in the fridge for a least a few days. Other fruits already come in natures packaging!
- There are tons of different carbohydrate options - feel free to get creative here. These foods are just what work for me.
Fats to prep
- You can’t really prep fats there are a couple of things you can make but most of the fats will come from sauces or salad dressings, cooking oils, avocados, nuts and nut butters, coconut milk, fat from fattier cuts of meat, full fat dairy etc.
How long can you keep meal prepped food in the fridge / freezer?
- I would not keep prepped food in the fridge for longer than a week. If you think you are getting close to the end of its life definitely smell it before you reheat. No need to get sick from spoiled food. Nobody has time for that.
- As far as frozen foods go I would 6 months - 1 year would be fine in proper storage containers that wouldn’t allow for freezer burn.
The bottom line:
I know some people who don’t meal prep because they don’t like eating the same foods over and over again. That's 100% fine. Or they end up wasting ½ the food they prepped because they made too much. Prepping food is not for everyone and it takes some practice to get better at it. For me, the benefits outweigh the potential repetitiveness of prepping once eating multiple times. Less dishes, less time, less wanting to order takeout.
Find what works for you and roll with it!
I have always loved grocery shopping. I have no idea why, but it's my happy place. Park me at Whole Foods and I would be content for an afternoon. Funny thing is, most people despise the grocery store. They see it as another errand to check off on their list. I never understood that but turns out people just don’t know what to buy!
I have found most people that are in two camps:
1. They don’t know how to cook / hate cooking so they eat tv dinners, convenience foods, or takeout for 90% of their meals
2. They try to plan every meal they will eat that week with a new recipe they found on Pinterest that has 8 bajillion ingredients
Neither of these are a recipe for success.
“So what do you buy at the grocery store,” I surprisingly get this question a LOT.
My answer is simple - real food. I don’t buy a lot of things in boxes or that are pre-made. I buy ingredients that become other things.
What most people don’t see is that making food from scratch can be faster than zapping something in the microwave! It's about education and actually doing it that's the hard part for people to grapple with.
Here is how you can navigate the store:
Eggs / Dairy
Aisles for specialty items
Now we can navigate these four areas further:
What is the first department you walk into when you enter a store? Produce I spend most of my time here.
I try to buy a variety of vegetables that will work for many different meals. Personally, I buy onions, carrots, broccoli, and beets everytime I go to the store because I know I will eat them.
Things like lettuce and mixed greens are good, BUT will you eat them or will they turn into mush in your crisper drawer? TIP: Be REAL with yourself - don't buy food you won’t eat. I try to avoid buying the tub of mixed greens in the winter because I know I don't crave salads when its cold.
Personally, I don't eat a lot of fruit. I don't crave it. I might buy some apples or something from time to time but i would rather eat a slice of gluten-free cake than fruit anyday. Again though, if you will eat the fruit then buy it. If it will rot on your counter than skip it.
After I leave the produce section, I make my way back to the meat and seafood section. I try to get a mixed bag of proteins. My hard and fast rule: meat quality over everything else. I will spend more for good meat → Happy Animals = Better Meat.
- Chicken - I will only buy the best quality chicken. Organic and free range / pasture-raised only. If I can't find that, I will pass. Meat quality is nowhere to skimp.
- Beef/ Buffalo: Grass Fed - GRASS FINISHED beef. There is a difference.
- Ground Turkey - Again, birds are generally treated poorly - I try to buy the best quality I can find. Organic and free range. Lately I have been buying my poultry online for the best quality! You don't have to do that, I’m a nut :)
- Lamb - A great protein source if you can find a good quality lamb. I personally don't buy this because I can never cook it well.
- Pork- Please find “pastured” pork. High-quality pork is hard to find in your typical grocery store. I typically skip it and buy online.
- Game type meats - venison, elk, deer, etc. If you can find these - check the sourcing. Most people won’t find these in their typical grocery store.
- Fish - Always wild-caught, never tilapia.
EGGS & DAIRY
- Pastured eggs are KING. They are readily available in most grocery stores. Or even better, get them from your neighbor that has chickens!
- Ghee is something you can find in most places as well. Usually it’s in a jar in the baking aisle, but you may find it near the butter. It’s a casein-free butter. Ghee is great for those how possibly can’t do regular butter since all the milk solids have been removed leaving just the fat. Some people that sre very sensitive to dairy, like me, still cannot tolerate it. Which is a huge bummer!
I personally don’t eat dairy, but if you do, make sure the milk, butter, and cheese is full-fat and from grass-fed cows or animals that are eating their native diet. I drink almond milk or coconut milk. There are so many non-dairy alternatives for most dairy products these days.
Have you noticed we haven't gone down any aisles yet? All about the perimeter, baby!
HERBS & SPICES
These can really bog you down if you are following a lot of recipes you find online. Plus they're not cheap!!!!
Things I always try to keep on hand:
- High quality sea salt
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
These can literally go on any meal and you will be good.
Other spices are good - you will accumulate more as you go but don’t go buy 17 spices all at once - it’s overkill.
I go down the aisles for a few specialty items such as:
- Oils and Vinegar
- Tomato sauce (this is such a time saver)
- Frozen veggies
- Sparkling water
- Almond / Coconut flour
To sum up, My rules for food shopping:
Buy things that can mix and match
Recipe? Unless you are making something that requires very precise measurements then just #wingit on amounts
Protein, fat, veggies, and sometimes carbs at EVERY MEAL (refer to rule#1)
Buy foods you will eat, but also, be adventurous once in a while.