This guest post by Lynn Gold delivers some great tips on how to eat "Paleo In The Wild". Lynn is a full time higher education professional with a passion for food and blogging, we think you'll learn some great tips for eating Paleo on the go. Enjoy!
Eating paleo in my day-to-day life is a carefully planned balancing act. I know how long my weekly meal prep takes. I know how many bags of vegetables I have to buy to make it through the week. I plan out all of my meals to account for the right balance of protein, vegetables, fats, and healthy sugars.
As someone who very strongly self-identifies as Type A, I like being in control. With so many things in my day that are out of my control, it’s nice to at least be able to have a handle on my paleo food. In my office I’m definitely known as “that girl”, and it’s a running joke to see what I’ll bring each day for lunch.
So, how do those habits translate when you are in a scenario with far less control? When you’re in “the wild” of the world, being more dependent on foods you can find than foods you can make. And, how can you possibly begin to make paleo choices when you don’t speak the language? What can you do to make sure you stay paleo when traveling?
I had an amazing vacation in Spain for two weeks in March, visiting Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia. I did a bit of research before leaving, but mostly into tourist sites I wanted to visit. I didn’t look much into food options, figuring that I would just use the same strategies I use when eating out in the U.S. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was easy to maintain living paleo, even while abroad.
Before Your Trip
Learn key words in the native language. This is a huge tip from me. Before visiting Spain, I spoke maybe 10 words of Spanish (most of which was gathered from eating at Mexican restaurants!). I knew that to remain paleo, I would need to have a baseline understanding of which words meant ingredients I couldn’t have. For Spanish, that meant a crash course in paleo buzzwords: harina de trigo (wheat flour), sin gluten (gluten free), soja (soy), leche (milk), azucar (sugar), masa (corn), arroz (rice), queso (cheese). Even with my super limited knowledge of Spanish, having that list helped more than I can explain.
Pack some snacks. Having the proper snacks is key to success. I knew that I wanted a blend of options for the trip. Some sweet, some savory, some full of healthy fats, some full of protein. I stocked my backpack with a ton of gluten free and Paleo options. My snack stash helped make sure I was never hungry, gave me some reliable options to turn to, and helped save money also. Pick a blend of snacks you’re familiar with, plus add some new options to try out too – it’s vacation after all!
Register your dietary requirements with your airline. This was the first trip I’ve taken since adopting a paleo lifestyle. Given that one flight each way was over 10 hours, I knew there would be several meals served. In order to avoid an issue on the plane, and to make sure I had something to eat, I submitted my restrictions online. The flight attendants knew about my requests, confirmed them when I got onboard, and my meals were served with no issues. Plus, doing this got me some really awesome fresh foods, when the normal offerings weren’t even close to being as good.
Carefully choose your accommodations. Are you wanting to cook during your trip? Do you need access to a refrigerator? Will you want to have separate space away from others you’re traveling with? We opted for AirBNB housing in several of the places we stayed. We wanted to be able to cook some meals, have separate living and sleeping areas, and needed access to a refrigerator. Evaluate your preferences so you can pick somewhere that’s a fit to your lifestyle.
Meal prep and load your freezer. I made sure our freezer was packed full of meals and vegetables for our first week back. Paleo is tricky in that you can’t just run out and get something, and there aren’t a lot of packaged options. By filling the freezer, it allowed us to have paleo options for when we got back, without feeling like I had to get back into the kitchen first thing.
Stay hydrated. Airplanes are super dry and they suck all the water out of you. Make sure to drink lots of water. It can be tempting to indulge in cocktails, wine, and beer while flying, but all that does is dehydrate you more. Regular water or sparkling water is the best option. You’ll feel better when you land if you’ve had enough to drink.
Sleep if you’re tired. I’ve heard lots of tips about when you’re supposed to sleep while traveling abroad. Some say to sleep on your home time zone. Some say to sleep on your destination’s time zone. Some say not to sleep at all so you’ll be tired when you get there. My tip is a no brainer: sleep if you’re tired. Being a zombie isn’t good for anyone.
Move around. Planes are definitely not spacious areas for tons of moving activities. However, getting up and moving around will help keep your blood flowing. Once you land, walk around the airport rather than just sitting in a lounge or at the gate. I managed to hit my 10,000 a day step goal even on travel days because I walked around during layovers.
During Your Vacation
Cook. This was a no-brainer for us. Cooking helped on this trip on several levels. First off, it allowed our budget to go much further. We loaded up on proteins and veggies in each city. From a simple grocery order in each city, we were able to serve ourselves at least one quality meal per day. Secondly, it allowed us greater control over what we ate. We chose super fresh fish, green veggies, and local fruit. If cooking is an option on your trip, I highly recommend it.
Load up on vegetables when they are available. One of the first things I noticed on restaurant menus was that vegetables were limited and expensive. Not wanting to spend tons of money on vegetables at every meal, we made it a point to heavily load up on vegetables at one meal per day. That meal would be made in our accommodations, or out at a restaurant, but it included a hefty serving of green stuff.
Relax, sleep, unplug. Our daily lives are stressful enough. Use the time on your vacation to clear your mind, recharge your batteries, and forget about your normal life. It can be super tempting to check your emails and feel the pressure to stay connected. Don’t do it. Your mental health will thank you.
Exercise. The first thing we bought for this trip were comfortable shoes. We knew that we wouldn’t be in the gym at all for 2 full weeks, but we didn’t want to let ourselves off the hook totally. Each day, we walked 10-20 miles. Being on foot kept us in shape, and it also allowed us to explore the cities a ton.
Be realistic. You aren’t (likely) going to be perfectly paleo on your trip. And, if you were, you’d likely miss out on a lot of things that make taking a vacation fun. Know that your lifestyle on a vacation will be different than it is at home, and that’s okay. Give yourself permission to stay out late, try local food, and experience the world around you.
Traveling abroad while paleo does not have to be complex or stressful. By thinking through your trip and taking some steps to set yourself up for success, you can have a paleo vacation abroad easily.
Too much reading...
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