Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free and Sugar-Free? 5 Tips on How to Eat When On The Move
By Kyra Inglis
Recently, my mother, my grandmother, and I hit the road for the afternoon, and eventually the subject of where we were going to stop and eat came up. You see, each of us have dietary restrictions. My mother and grandmother both cannot eat dark leafy greens, due to taking blood thinners. I, on the other hand, have few problems with dark leafy greens, but, due to a recent diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Thyroid, I have chosen to eliminate gluten and dairy out of my life.
I try my best to adhere to a Paleolithic Diet, because, it reduces many of the triggers that set off my thyroid. I've had to remove gluten, dairy, legumes, soy, and whole grains from my diet so finding a place to eat, needless to say, is a constant challenge, especially when I'm on the move.
What have I learned from this? That travel restrictions sometimes come in unexpected forms. So are are five tips to help you pick the right foods when you're travelling around.
Look for Options Ahead of Time
Meal planning and preparation have become a big part of my life. In all honesty, I’m starting to hate cooking, where as before, I loved the whole process of it. If I’m going on a trip, I look for the nearest whole foods and gluten free option restaurants that I can find. If I’m forced to dine at a chain restaurant, I familiarise myself with their menus, so that I can get an idea of what my options are. The good thing about chain restaurants is that their websites usually have the nutritional facts as well as food allergens and foods that trigger sensitivities coded. Privately owned restaurants are a different story, however, but most restaurants have substitutes available these days.
Be Willing to Give a Little Wiggle Room
I have a slight confession to make. Am I to the point where I am STRICTLY PALEO? Absolutely not. I love bread. And burgers. Here’s the thing about the Paleo Diet. I have issues with gluten, but not necessarily all grains. This is the distinction about being Paleo that many don’t understand. Just because it says gluten free, does not mean it’s Paleo or AIP Diet friendly. Rice is gluten free but it's also a grain, which is one of the things you can’t have.
But, if I’m on a weekend excursion that I have not pre-planned (because the open road was just calling my name like a siren), and I find a burger joint that offers gluten free buns made with rice flour and potato starch, am I going to turn that down? NOT A CHANCE. There are quiet a few items on the “do not eat” paleo list, that do not trigger issues with my thyroid. I don't go out of my way to eat them but life's about balance, right?
Packing snacks is a no brainer. I commute two hours a day, two and from work. Gone are the days where I can just stop and put gas in the car and grab something from the station. Some of my new favourite snacks come from Paleo subscription snack boxes that are delivered monthly to my door. These services are a godsend as they take the time and research out of the equation and introduced me to new flavours. I also make my own trail mix, and keep at least two mini bags in my purse at all times to avoid the inevitable cravings throughout the day.
Hit a Farmers Market or Grocery Store
Farmers Markets, Green Grocers, Whole Food stores; these are the places that make eating out so much easier when you have a food restrictions. Green grocers and whole food stores especially, since many feature a salad bar that you can usually get to go. Load up on veggies and fruits, and pickled items, weigh and pay and you’re off.
What makes these three a desirable options is that usually, the items are organically grown, the agriculture is sustainable, and the shelf life is shorter because there are no hidden fillers (Soy, I’m talking about you), or preservatives. Again, in the case of those who have food allergies, (apparently strawberry allergies are extremely common) you want to make sure the fruits and veggies are washed thoroughly, and read the descriptions carefully. Better yet, talk to the local farmer or grocer about the items! That’s what getting out and traveling is all about.
Travelling with a slow cooker is the future; you heard it hear first! I will admit I have not done this yet, but it makes total sense. A small crockpot filled with finds from the the farmers market provides an easy way to cook a simple, healthy and nutritious meal, and you have total control over what goes in. My only advice, check with the hotel before plugging your crockpot in, and make sure to put your “Do Not Disturb” sign up so that housekeeping won’t come in and throw out your delicious dinner.
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