Food Bites with Dr. Hyman - Travel Tips

Hazel P asks: What tips do you have for traveling and being away from routine comforts while on the road? Dear Hazel, While on the Blood Sugar Solution or 10-Day Detox Diet programs, you learn the importance of meal planning, shopping, and prepping, and being prepared for last minute hiccups and unexpected events that might detract you from your goal of healthy eating. Now that you have the routine down, you decide to throw yourself a curveball and head out on the road. Maybe you have a business trip or a family vacation coming up. Now what? Regardless of your travel situation, there is always a way to be successful. Follow these tips the next time you head out of town:
  1. PLAN
This four-letter word might be difficult for some people to hear, but don’t let the it weigh you down. Your hard work won’t be sabotaged because you will design an action plan! If you want to be successful and stay on your program while on the road, you have to think ahead and not assume gas stations, airports, and hotels are going to have those raw nuts or grass-fed meats you have grown accustomed to. Think about the potential obstacles you might face and come up with solutions ahead of time – like pack an emergency food pack, research healthy restaurants and markets at your destination, alert friends and family about your new foodie lifestyle. A little planning will go a long way.
  1. DINE OUT WISELY
When traveling, chances are most of your meals will be in restaurants or on the go. Click here for a refresher on tips for eating out at restaurants. Remember, most cities have a Whole Foods Market or their local version of a natural market with a salad bar. This is great for making a gluten- and dairy-free salad that you can munch on in store or on the road. And if natural markets are nowhere to be found, think outside the bun. Subway, Chipotle, Panera Bread, and other common fast food places can easily accommodate your meat and fresh vegetables without the bread, bun, or rice.
  1. GROCERY SHOPPING
Most people assume that if you stay in a hotel you have to purchase all your food from restaurants or snack bars. Not true. Ask the front desk team for the best local market and head out to pick up your favorite fresh fruits and veggies for snacks. Most hotels either have a fridge in the room or you can request one to be added for a small fee. You would be surprised at how willing many hotels are to accommodate your requests - so don’t be shy!
  1. ROAD TRIP MUNCHING
My favorite secret weapon while road tripping is to carry along a cooler in the backseat to stash my favorite emergency kit snacks. Not only can I carry dry goods like nuts and seeds or canned salmon, but also have fresh goodies on hand – such as cabbage, celery, carrots, snap peas, and radishes. All of these tend to hold their fresh crunch, especially in the cooler. Apples, berries, pomegranate, avocadoes and lemons also fare well on the road. Hard-boiled eggs, nut butter, hummus and tahini are special treats when you need to nosh. And if you are feeling like something sweet, always carry a 70% raw, organic dark chocolate bar to prevent you from those candy bars calling your name at the gas station!
  1. AIRPORT NAVIGATION
There is nothing worse than getting stuck in the airport and needing to eat NOW. The best solution is to have your lunch or meal packed in small travel-safe containers. This way you can pass by that Cinnabon or greasy Chinese food without a second thought. If I forget to or can’t pack something, here’s what I do: First, I search the terminal to find a salad bar because fresh food always puts me at ease when flying. Many chain restaurants have salad bars or can prepare one to go if you are in a hurry between flights. If I can’t find a fresh salad, then I look for a coffee vendor – like Starbucks – because they almost always have fresh fruit and a small bag of plain nuts at the cash register. Just a little something to keep my blood sugars balanced until I get to my final stop and can enjoy a healthy meal. My final travel survival must have is a no brainer; it’s water. And lots of it. Staying hydrated with purified water while flying is non-negotiable for all of us.
  1. AVOIDING HOUSE GUEST AWKWARDNESS
You have been triumphantly turning your cheek to conventional dairy, passing by the desserts at family events, and investing in grass fed, wild, local meat, poultry, and eggs. But when you are a houseguest, it dawns on you that your new eating habits may be out of sync with your host or worse, may seem rude. The last thing you want to do is offend anyone but you really don’t want to eat the toast and jam for breakfast or the pasta with peas and cream sauce for dinner. After coming so far, what now? I’ve been in your shoes before and this is what I have to offer: Warn your host in advance! Don’t wait to tell your host that you are following a certain food plan as he or she is serving up the gluten- and dairy-filled feast. There’s nothing more awkward and all your host hears is, “no thank you, your food is not good enough for me.” That’s not good. Because of my work, most of my hosts are keenly aware of my approach to food and eating! But when the situation arises, I simply call my host in advance and check in on my dietary needs. It’s great to engage your host in a conversation about why you are following the program and it’s an opportunity to offer to pitch in with recipe ideas, meal shopping and prep, and even help cover the costs. You might even offer to make a couple of meals and unknowingly convert a few people along the way!
  1. RELY ON YOUR RESILIENCY
So…you gave yourself the pep talk about staying away from the double mocha in the airport, and then your best friend offered some of her salty French fries or the server brought the warm bread basket. And you couldn’t resist. Now what? Take a breath and remember – stuff happens. Regardless of what tripped you up and derailed your best intentions to stay the course on your program, shake it off! Science and common sense tell us that one slight stumble will not interfere with our success on the road to wellness. The key to picking yourself up and dusting your healthy eating chops off is actually all in your mind! Your degree of mental resiliency is a better determinant of your long term success than any other factor. After a splurge and a little too much indulgence, make your very next meal the best possible selection of real, whole foods. Find a safe place and go for this combination to get help you get back on track: Start with at least 2 cups of non-starchy vegetables (about 75 percent of your plate). These are rich in fiber to keep you full; they will restore proper microflora balance; and they are full of phytonutrients to help cool any oxidation and inflammation. If possible, vary the textures on your plate as well. Aim for fresh, raw crunchy vegetables with some steamed, sautéed, roasted, or grilled ones. Research shows that when we are stimulated and entertained by our food through texture, color, flavor, and presentation, we are be more satisfied and less likely to overeat. Next, power up with protein. Baked, grilled, poached or roasted chicken, grass-fed meat, wild seafood, or even a hearty 2- or 3-egg omelet are your best bets. The high biological value of animal-based protein helps to restore normal glucose patterns, and it resets your brain chemistry so you don’t continue on the path of indulgent roadside food. And don’t forget the fat! Healthy fats – such as those found in wild seafood and meat or fresh avocado, coconut, olive oil, tahini, nuts and seeds - are critical during your recovery after a splurge. Many of us have been mislead to think that fat makes us fat. I really hope to impress upon you that 1 to 2 servings of healthy fats are critical to maintaining proper hormonal and neurotransmitter function. Humans tend to eat more and feel less satiated when we limit our healthy fat intake. So, if your goal is to get back on track, then include your favorite healthy fats with every meal. That’s it! I know you can survive life on the road. It just takes a little planning for a successful trip. You have all the tools and the ability to succeed. I’m wishing you ease, success, and safety on your travels. And for more information on ways to join me on your personal health and wellness journey, please click here.
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