Traveling with Dietary Restrictions

I have made three multi-day trips out of town since the later part of May.  My daughter and I went to visit my son in Denver.  I went with a church group to Lake Junaluska, NC, and my husband and I went to Hilton Head Island, SC.   My husband and I are also taking a two-week trip to Alaska at the end of August, so I will have a lot of time away from home over the summer season.

Most of my nutrition clients and newsletter readers have some sort of dietary restriction they are following for health reasons.  While eliminating any food can a challenge when you are cooking at home, it is even more difficult when traveling. I eliminated gluten and soy from my diet over ten years ago, so I have a lot of practice in eating a restricted diet. For those of you who may have had less experience, or who are still having problems, I have several tips to offer.

Take healthy and safe food with you. 

The first secret to traveling with dietary restrictions is to have food with you, even if you are going only a few hours away from home. You can’t guarantee when you will arrive at your location or if you will immediately be able to find a grocery store or a safe restaurant, so be prepared with food you bring.  If you are traveling by car you may be able to pack a cooler and include such things as fresh raw fruit and vegetables, boiled eggs, cheese or yoghurt.  If you can’t take a cooler because you are flying or for some other reason, you still can take some non-perishable healthy foods such as nuts or seeds.  Lara Bars, Epic meat bars, Rx Bars and Primal Kitchen bars are a few healthy snacks that contain only real food ingredients.  Pick a few safe food items to take with you to eat for those times when you can’t find a safe meal to eat. I avoid most dairy due to a whey protein allergy, but love coffee with cream so I also take some powdered coconut milk creamer in individual packets with me.

Make food that travels well.

I made gluten-free blueberry muffins and took them to both Lake Junaluska and Hilton Head.  They are full of healthy fat and protein and can be a complete breakfast in a pinch.  We own the condo at Hilton Head, so I almost bring food when we go.  For both the Hilton Head and Lake Junaluska trips I pre-made large salads that included lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers and radishes.  I also brought some homemade salad dressing and just added some protein (hard boiled eggs or sardines) for fast, healthy nutritious lunches each day.

Stay in a place with a refrigerator and some type of cooking facility.

 We stayed in a hotel with a mini refrigerator and a microwave in Denver and in houses with full cooking facilities in both Lake Junaluska and Hilton Head.  When you have a kitchen, or even just a microwave, you can prepare some of your meals in hour room. I also went to the grocery store and got eggs, almond-milk yoghurt and fruit, so had some combination of these each morning for a quick and nutritious breakfast.

Choose a hotel with a hot breakfast. 

Many inns, hotels, and B&Bs include a breakfast meal as part of the room rate.  For our trip to Denver I chose a hotel that had an extensive hot breakfast bar. I ate freshly made omelets, bacon and fruit each morning.  This filling breakfast meant I could even skip lunch when needed.

The internet is your friend. 

I have installed an app on my phone called Find Me Gluten Free.  This app lists restaurants that have gluten-free menu items.  You can search by location, read reviews from users and go to the websites for restaurants.  I also look up restaurants by name using my web browser and review menus in advance. We went out for dinner most nights in Lake Junaluska.  That was my first time visiting there, so I was not familiar with the area.  I looked up restaurants and found quite a few possibilities that could meet my dietary restrictions.  The group I was with was quite willing to eat at one of the restaurants I suggested and we enjoyed them all.

What tips have you found for traveling while maintaining a restricted diet?  Please comment below.  Check out my recipe page for many items you can make and take on trips.

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