Sticking to any diet while you’re on the road can be difficult, but sticking to the Paleo diet can feel like an impossible task. When it’s late at night, all the local restaurants are closed and your only dining option is a nearby service station, what can you do? These simple tips will help you to stay Paleo while travelling.
Pack Your Own Meals
Even if you are planning on eating out, it’s a good idea to pack some snacks for emergencies. One thing that many fitness fans do is pack granola bars. However, these bars are little better than traditional sweets. They are usually made of refined grains and have added sugar, sweeteners and preservatives. They may look virtuous, but looks can be deceiving. There are a handful of smaller brands that make fruit and nut bars that are relatively Paleo diet friendly, but these bars are typically high in fruit sugars so they are not an ideal go-to snack.
Instead of eating pre-packaged snack bars, why not carry some preserved meats with you instead? Drying meats is a truly Paleo form of preservation — one that has been used for thousands of years. Jerky is a good source of protein, and if you choose it carefully you can get some great-tasting Paleo-friendly jerky for affordable prices. Check the ingredients list, though, because many supermarket brands are loaded with nitrates and other additives. Even the ones that are not are often high in salt, so may not be suitable for everyone.
Meats aren’t the only things that travel well. Nuts are another good option for people who want to stay Paleo while travelling. Nuts store well and are easy to eat with your fingers. Buy nuts in bulk and pack them into small bags to eat when you get peckish. Nuts are very calorie-dense, but they are good sources of protein. For variety, make up your own bags of trail mix.
If you’re just out on a day trip and don’t need food that will stay fresh forever, bag up some hard-boiled eggs. They’ll remain edible for a few hours if they’re kept at room temperature, and they’re filling, nutritious and a good low-salt option for people who don’t want to eat jerky.
Consider adding canned olives, packs of nut butter, a few sachets of salt and pepper and some bottles of water to your “grab and go” list. This way you will always have something on hand to enjoy when you get hungry.
While nuts, jerky, olives and eggs are all great finger snacks, you can’t simply swear off going to restaurants forever. Eating out at restaurants is an important part of socializing, so you should try to familiarise yourself with the restaurants in the area you are heading to so that you can find one that you know will serve at least one or two Paleo-friendly dishes.
If you own a smartphone, then installing the Paleo Go Go app will help you to find some good restaurants that you can eat out at, and it will give you some food recommendations. Yelp and Foursquare can be helpful, too, if you take the time to read the user reviews. Keep a mental list of menu options that you know are Paleo so that you don’t have to stress too much about picking a meal when you are tired.
If you can’t see any good options in those apps, don’t forget that a lot of restaurants will let you customize your order. You can build your own salad, or go to a buffet and simply choose the most Paleo-friendly options. If you go to a sit-down restaurant, order a meat dish that is grilled, roasted, steamed or poached. Depending on how flexible you are with your diet, you could opt for a side of rice or a baked potato instead of fries. Ask for dressings on the side, too, since you can never be confident what is in a processed dressing.
Long Trips Away
If you are travelling for a longer period, then you should try to find a way to cook your own food so you don’t have to worry about finding suitable restaurants every night. Long-stay apartments are a good choice, since they usually have kitchenettes attached to them. Some hotels offer basic cooking facilities, but you can’t expect to be whipping up gourmet, cooked-from-scratch meals if all you have is a microwave and a kettle.
If you are staying in someone’s home, then you should tackle the issue of your diet before you visit so that you don’t arrive to a lovingly cooked meal that includes a huge list of foods that you cannot eat. Expect to have to answer some questions about your diet, however, and to encounter some people who disapprove or express concern over your choices. People fear things that they do not understand, and you will need to reassure them that you have done a lot of research and that you have chosen the diet for the right reasons.
You Can Compromise in an Emergency
If you are hungry and know that you won’t be able to eat “real food” for a long time, and you can’t find any good Paleo options, it is all right to compromise. Note that compromising does not mean completely giving up on your diet. Just because you eat some starches or dairy products, it does not mean that you have an excuse to go and eat some sweets or a sandwich made with white bread
Try to learn what foods you tolerate well, and use those as emergency foods. Some people are fine with potatoes but don’t handle milk well. Others find that cheese is all right but bloat at the sight of rice. Your diet choices are a personal thing.
Sticking to the Paleo diet takes some planning, but it is possible to enjoy the Paleo lifestyle on the road. Once you figure out what works for you, the benefits will quickly become apparent. You will have more energy, feel less jetlagged and enjoy your journeys a lot more.