Friday, September 28, 2012

A Day Away From Home- traveling with dietary restrictions

One of my biggest fears when starting the Candida Diet was how to travel and still be able to eat the limited food options that fit my dietary restrictions.  (Note: this post refers only to day trips and traveling to places where you are able to bring your own food.  I have no idea how you would travel to a hotel in a distant city and still be able to eat clean.  If anyone knows or has done this, please share!)  We had several events plan during the first month of my diet including a Friday night wedding and an airshow which would last the entire day.  I knew I would probably not be able to eat anything offered at either event, so at first it seemed like my only two options were to cheat on the diet or to go hungry.

The wedding was at a fancy venue from six PM until after ten PM, so I needed to have something to eat but I didn't want to cart in anything that even remotely looked like a cooler.  (It definitely would not have gone with my outfit!)   The airshow was an all day event three hours from my home, so going hungry wasn't really a viable option for me and the only food they had available was concession stand food ranging from corn dogs to funnel cakes.  The healthiest option there appeared to be the Supreme Nachos (lettuce, tomatoes, ground beef... soaking in grease) but even my husband who has a steel-coated stomach said they made him feel sick.

So I knew I had to find another option besides cheating or going hungry and I found a few different ways to adjust.  The key element in eating away from home comes down to two words:  PLAN AHEAD.  For me one of the most important things was getting a letter from my doctor stating my dietary restrictions.  The airshow required that I had it and it came in handy at the reception as well.

 For the Friday wedding I went out and bought a cute little cooler that no one even realized was a cooler, they just thought it was my purse.  It is a Fit & Fresh brand cooler that I purchased at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and you can find it online at or look up "Fit & Fresh" on  They have lots of styles and patterns to choose from so it's easy to find one to fit your fashion needs.  Thirty-One Gifts also has quite a few options, look under Thermals on their website

At the reception, one of the first things I did was to find the person in charge and let him or her know of my situation.  I let him know that I had a letter from my doctor explaining my restrictions and that I had brought a small cooler with food that I had prepared at home.  I politely asked if it would be okay for me to eat my food there at the venue.  The maitre-d was so impressed by all my prep work and the fact that his kitchen staff wouldn't have to read labels on every single item they brought out that he actually thanked me!  He made sure the closing captain (main server) knew what was going on and instructed all the rest of the servers to "leave you alone to eat your food in peace!"   I took out my food, ate it, and the party went on.  It was a great reception and I am so glad I was able to celebrate that special time with my friends without feeling left out or making a big scene.

The airshow was the following day and we left our house at six AM and got home some time after ten PM.  I emailed the public relations contact listed on the airshow's website and explained my dietary restrictions and he requested that I obtain a letter from my doctor and pack my food in a soft-sided cooler.  I had prepped all of my food for both the reception and the airshow on Thursday night and I had it all stacked up in the fridge and ready to go.  I actually ended up having too much food and I was able to share some of my healthy food with my husband who was craving some nutrition after his Supreme(ly gross) Nachos.

After the airshow, my family and I went to a restaurant in town that I had researched the week before.  I knew they had at least two things on the menu that I would be able to eat and the Lake Superior fresh caught white fish with wild rice medley was amazing!  I did have a little bit of a cheat with the cranberries in the wild rice, but I am learning to let the small things slide.  (This doesn't mean I'm going to be counting M&Ms or Dip & Dots as "small things," but a little bit of accidental fruit here or a little bit of carrots there just might keep me sane during the next three months.)  Again, the key here was planning ahead- we knew which restaurant would be able to accommodate my food restrictions, we knew how to get there, and we all had delicious, healthy food for dinner.

"So what exactly could you pack to eat?"  This question really gave me a hard time- the food had to be ready to eat (and not need to be heated up), easy to make, easy to consume (not requiring a plate, fork, knife, and spoon), and able to stay fresh in a cooler for several hours.  My only experience with food like that was PB&J sandwiches and Luncheables, until I discovered Applegate Farms turkey deli meat at Trader Joe's!  My menu for the Friday reception was: deli turkey roll-ups with fresh avocado spread and mixed greens, celery & snow pea pods with almond butter, and home made almond cookies for dessert.  For Saturday I added a few things to the Friday menu:  plain yogurt with cinnamon and walnuts for breakfast, homemade power bars, homemade chicken noodle soup in a thermos, and plain raw almonds.  Let's just say I didn't go hungry that day!

I can't stress this enough, the key to a successful "day away from home" is planning ahead.  I have to find time to plan the menu, purchase the food,  prep the food before hand, figure out the best way to get it there and who I need to talk to to make sure that it's okay to bring it.  It is a lot of work, but for me it has been totally worth it to be able to spend time with my family and friends.  I'm not going to lie, I am REALLY looking forward to easing up on the diet and being able to have fruit and healthy gluten free deli tortilla wraps and hopefully someday soon adding eggs back in to my diet, but until my body heals this is where I am at and I have to make plans to get through it.  Please let me know if you have any ideas, easily portable meal items, or tips on how to travel with a restricted diet.  Being on a restricted diet is not easy, but sharing the road with someone who understands makes the journey just a little bit easier.

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!"  Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10

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