You regularly stock up on grass-fed meat and fresh produce. Your pantry is full of healthy snacks, and your fridge is full of seasonal vegetables, fruits and meals you have prepped. Yes, you clearly have this Paleo thing down!
However, all that food and planning can easily go out of the window when you go on holiday. Being away without immediate access to your home and your ever-faithful fridge can make it difficult to stick to your Paleo plan. But it is not impossible. Traveling and maintaining your Paleo diet does not need to be difficult or stressful.
Choose How Paleo (Or Not) You Want To Be
One of the biggest struggles when on vacation is deciding whether you want to eat something non-Paleo during this time. You may feel like you deserve it (and it is vacation after all!). Being very clear in your mind regarding where you may choose to relax the Paleo ‘rules’ is highly important before traveling.
A few possible options:
- Decide on certain non-Paleo foods that you will choose to eat when on this vacation and where and how you will be adherent to your Paleo principles. Figure out what foods you will allow yourself, and decide how much you will eat. Make allowances for that piece of dessert or regional delicacy you is unavailable anywhere else in the world, but still set limits on how often you indulge. This option can be especially helpful when visiting a new country with food that you want to try.
- Schedule a day or 2 at the end of your vacation to eat whatever you choose. This way you may not feel bad for the entire vacation, but you will know that you get a few days to eat indulgent or foreign foods.
- Deciding that you will eat whatever you want on vacation and recommit as soon as you get home.
- Stay strictly Paleo, which will probably mean that you will be cooking many of your meals.
Which option you choose is irrelevant as long as you choose it 100% in your mind so that you can spend your vacation having fun rather than struggling not to eat certain foods.
It is, however, important to understand which foods you are most sensitive to and stay away from those foods. You would not want to risk feeling unwell whilst away and wanting to enjoy your trip
Do Your Research
The best way to experience all the food your holiday has to offer while still maintaining your Paleo principles is to do research ahead of time. This may sound obvious, but spending some time researching the area will be staying in will remove much of the stress around what or where to eat. Are there grocery stores and Paleo or gluten-free friendly restaurants nearby? If you are in control of the vacation, you could even try this before booking the trip so you do not find yourself stranded with no options.
It can be hard to pass up the local cuisine when on holiday, especially if when it is a new and exciting cuisine. As a general rule, when following Paleo guidelines, avoid bread, fried foods, and chips and be wary of the sauces as they may contain sugar and wheat.
A few restaurant suggestions:
- Choose a salad. While this will be nowhere near as filling as a salad you may make for yourself it can be reliable option. Remove any ingredients that do not comply and pay attention to the ingredients in the dressing. You may even choose to order a few side items as extras to boost the meal.
- Get a burger without the bun or ask for a burger with extra vegetables and simply discard the bun. Many restaurants now offer lettuce wrapped burgers too. Pay attention to special sauces and other condiments.
- If you are a fan of Mexican food be assured that much of the food offered can be considered Paleo. Avoid tortillas, chips, and the beans. You can choose dishes like fajitas and tacos, eat the meat and vegetables and discard the rest.
- While rice is technically not part of the Paleo diet, a little will not be terrible for your health. In Asian restaurants, but the sauces that often accompany the food could be. Avoid sushi that has any ‘teriyaki’ sauce, and resist dipping your sushi in the soy sauce, as it often contains both soy and wheat. Sashimi, which is the fish without the rice is your best choice. Steamed vegetables or foods that have been as simply prepared as possible to avoid unwanted ingredients are an option and always ask about the use of MSG.
- A steak house or restaurant serving grilled proteins is an easy option. Ask about the sides and whether breading or flour has been used in the grilling process. Although Italian and many Mediterranean restaurants may appear to be challenging, most have a grilled protein option, a good choice of salads and sides and some decently prepared vegetables – one need only look beyond the bread, pasta, cheese and deserts.
When on vacation, for the most part, concentrate on avoiding the worst foods. You often need to eat out on vacation, so my advice is, if nothing else, to avoid wheat and avoid processed sugars. Other grains, legumes, and even dairy are not quite as problematic for most people, and although seed (crop) oils are terrible, it is virtually impossible to avoid them when eating out.
Even simply avoiding wheat and processed sugar, will leave you feeling better than you otherwise would and able to get back on track faster.
Don’t simply leave things to chance! If you are driving and staying somewhere that has a kitchen, then take as much special cookware, bakeware, and ingredients that will help you.
If you will be doing some cooking on your trip pack up some of your favorite flavorings in snack bags and label them. Smoked sea salt is a great take-a-long, especially if you may be grilling. This saves you from having to buy a bunch of spices upon arrival. Remember to bring along some of your favorite recipes or load your recipe app on your phone so you can make delicious food on your vacation.
Taking along as many shelf-stable, Paleo friendly foods as possible can be a lifesaver when options are few and far between. These convenience foods may not be ones you choose regularly when at home, but they are all reasonably filling and easy to take with you. Purchasing these options at an airport or travel destination can also be more costly.
Foods to pack:
- Homemade jerky
- Tuna with an easy-open lid or zip pouch
- Trail mix
- Coconut butter
- Nut butter
- Hardboiled eggs
- Fruit and nut bars
If you are driving, you could pack a cooler with any homemade snacks, tomatoes, carrots, berries, and crudités such as celery sticks and pepper slices.
Get It Delivered
There are so many great supermarket delivery options available across the continental USA – take advantage of them and have your staples delivered right to your destination. If you have a mini-fridge or even a kitchenette you can stock up on all the foods and snacks you could not or did not bring with you. Most hotel rooms can at least accommodate a mini-fridge request!
Better yet, get your Paleo meals delivered right to you! Pete’s Paleo can deliver meals to your vacation home or hotel room throughout the USA. Order the week prior to your trip and have seasonal, chef-cooked Paleo meals delivered to you, wherever you are. No apron required. And don’t forget to add Pete’s bacon to your order - a true breakfast (or anytime) Paleo indulgence!
Go Easy On Yourself
Despite your best efforts, you might end up straying from your diet, even by accident. Keep in mind that the point of vacation is to relax your mind and enjoy your surroundings!
Listen to your body. Do as much as you can to stick with your plan, but be kind and gracious to yourself if you eat a food or enjoy a meal that you might not normally eat. Even if you slip up on your trip, you know that you will get back into your groove once you return.
No matter how well you eat at home, sticking to a Paleo diet, or even something that resembles a Paleo diet, while on holiday can be difficult. With all the good food to try and goodies that are unavailable where you live, it can be very challenging to eat what you should be eating. Plan ahead by doing your research on the eateries in the area, pack as much Paleo-friendly snacks as possible, and simply do your best. Try not to be too hard on yourself. After all, a holiday should be enjoyed!
Michal Ofer is a wellness and digestion expert and nutrition coach. She is focused on assisting clients to take control of their health and happiness through the sustainable food and lifestyle choices that best support them. Through strengthening the body from the inside out, her clients are able to reach new heights of health, happiness and wellness. Michal obtained her Professional Training and Certificate from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York. She has a further studied through the University of Colorado (Boulder) and Stanford University and is a Certified 21 Day Sugar Detox Coach. Michal has also received a Bachelor’s Degree in Life Sciences and a Master Life Coach Certification. For further information and to connect with Michal visit her website at www.michalofer.com