While you’re reading this, Bryan and I are (hopefully, if all goes well) getting ready to leave for the airport to board our flight to London. We’re finally taking a proper honeymoon (because 4 exhausted, cold and rainy days in Puerto Rico certainly did not cut it) – if, that is, you can still call it a honeymoon 7 months after the fact. I say we can, especially since we poetically (and inadvertently) departed on precisely our 7-month anniversary. Anyway, as I was saying, I’ll soon be dragging myself, bleary-eyed, off of the plane (I can’t sleep well on planes – well, typically, I can’t really sleep well anywhere) and ready to hit the
shopping streets of London hard. But first, I need to stave off the ravenous-yet-nauseous feeling caused by the exhaustion, tiny seats/muscle aches and poor excuses for meals that characterize a transcontinental flight these days. Good thing I brought snacks.
Traveling abroad while following a restricted diet is always a challenge, especially in countries where bread and gluten are prominent. Last time (in Chile), I not only did not come prepared, but made it my mission to fulfill a self-imposed 3 empanadas per day quota. It was, in retrospect, such a bad idea and no wonder I felt horrible for the majority of the trip.
So this time, despite our itinerary that includes Bread Mecca (Paris, to the rest of you), I’m determined to be more realistic about what my body can handle. I did my research, planned ahead and even brought a few things to tide me over. In the next several posts, I’ll be sharing some of my strategies for having a smooth travel experience while following an elimination diet, and that starts with plane food. An exhausted body is generally an unforgiving one, so I loaded up my carry on with low sugar, gluten free, unprocessed snacks that will, hopefully be gentle on my sleep-deprived and jetlagged system. Here’s what I brought:
1. Hard Boiled Eggs
Pro: Portable, easy to eat, extremely nutritious and filling
Con: Because they are probably considered a fresh food, border patrol in will undoubtedly make me chuck any leftovers before clearing customs when we land. So, potentially wasteful.
2. Trail Mix or Mixed Nuts
Pro: Delicious, portable, does not need to be refrigerated
Con: Trail mix tends to be very high in sugar, so not always the most satiating, especially when you’re sedentary.
3. Protein Bars, balls or PB cups, if you want to mix it up
Pro: Tasty, cheap, and made to my personal specifications. Can’t go wrong!
Con: Except when they fall apart or get smushed in my bag. Hopefully that won’t happen, but homemade stuff tends to be a little less durable than packaged bars.
4. Chopped veggies
Pro: Refreshing, crunchy, filling, satisfying
Con: Same as #1.
Pro: Delicious (to the point of addictive), hearty and filling
Con: Not always the best finger food once all the clusters are eaten
6. Gut-Friendly Gummies
Pro: Simple, low-sugar, and supports your digestive system (because, let’s face it, travel is stressful on your whole body!)
Con: They need to be refrigerated. Many American hotel chains provide mini fridges, but I’m not sure about European chains. Just to be safe, it’s probably best to eat them all on the plane!
7. Chia Seeds
Pro: Cheap, lightweight, easy to pack, and will make a great breakfast. Though I’ve mentioned before that I don’t love chia pudding, but in a pinch like on the road where bread is the only other option, call me a chia pudding fan.
Con: I’m taking a gamble with these because they will probably be confiscated at customs (they’re technically plant matter), but so it goes. If I were traveling domestically, these would be the perfect food!
8. Nut Butters (I have Justin’s single serve almond butter pouches in my suitcase)
Pro: Inexpensive, hard to find in Europe (or at least it used to be), easy and filling meal replacement, and extremely versatile.
Con: Heavy, and needs to be checked. It’s considered a liquid/gel substance, so you won’t be able to get it through US airport security. So that means it is going to need to be sealed and packed really, really well to avoid accidentally breaking and leaking all over the contents of your suitcase, which is why I invested in the sealed individual packets. Admittedly, they are a bit of a splurge, but can you imagine the alternative? Opening your suitcase to find that all of your possessions are soaked with nut butter and oil? Ick. As much as I love a good excuse to buy a whole new wardrobe in Europe, I don’t want Almond Butter Suitcase. If you don’t want to get the pricey packets, minimize the risk of Nut Butter Suitcase by packing a new, sealed plastic (not glass) jar, double bagging it in sturdy freezer ziploc backs, and nest it in the center of your suitcase, so it is as cushioned and immobilized by soft clothes as possible. I’ve successfully used this method to pack perishable/breakable things many times. It works.
9. Protein powder (especially if it’s chocolate flavor)
Pro: Nutritious and portable; no concern about security (liquids and gels, etc) or mess (not going to leak or explode in my bag)
Con: I don’t really want to drink protein powder in water, so I am going to have to find ways to incorporate it. If I can find some plain yogurt, I’ll be good to go, since I also packed a blender bottle (it was only $7 on Amazon, so I thought it was a good investment). Plus, I can also add it to my chia pudding for breakfast.
10. Superfood Powder*
Pro: Same as protein powder, but for veggies! Depending on where you’ll be going, you might find that the food options are somewhat lacking in the veggies/nutrient department. Having some of this on hand will balance the effects of the “vacation diet”. It’s incredibly easy to stir into any beverage, including water, and I also have that blender bottle** in my suitcase so that I can make a smoothie on the go with superfood powder, protein powder, nut butter, and almond milk, if I can find it, or water.
Con: None, as long as you are used to the taste. For the uninitiated, it can take some getting used to. 🙂
Bonus! 11) Frozen juice or smoothies*
Pro: Filling, nutritious, WAY better for you than most airport or airline food, and hydrating (plane air is extremely dry, so it’s very easy to get dehydrated, especially on longer trip)
Con: If you pack it in a checked bag, it could defrost and spoil, or sweat and make everything in your suitcase a bit moist. On the other hand, there is always the chance that the TSA might confiscate it if you try to take it in your carry on and it is not 100% completely solid.
So, that’s my snack arsenal! I think that should get me there and back without starving, don’t you? 🙂
Stay tuned over the next two weeks for some more information and tips for traveling on an elimination diet in Europe. You can also follow me on Instagram for more trip updates!
Your turn: What are your favorite tricks for eating well on the road (or in the air)?
*thanks to my friend and partner in malfunctioning digestive systems, Katie, for these tips!
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