Thursday, August 22

On the Road: Tips for Traveling on a Whole30

This week I traveled to Atlanta which was the second time during the August Whole30 I have been out of town. Luckily I didn't have a bunch of cake and cocktails in front of me like Jessie did when she was gone, but I certainly had the temptations and logistical hurdles to overcome.

While on the road I learned some valuable lessons; so here you have it, my top five most important tips for traveling on a Whole30.


OK, you knew this one was coming. It's pretty obvious, but will make life so much easier when you're hungry and in need of a Whole30-approved food or snack. I leveraged some of Jessie's same travel kit ideas but added in my own "Brian flare." I brought: raw cashews, raw macadamia nuts, Justin's Almond Butter packets, Thunderbird bars, and a home-made mix of: dried mangos, banana chips and coconut flakes (all un-sweetened, of course).

The almond butter packets were clutch. I smeared them on the Thunderbird bars, or over a banana if I needed a snack. The nuts were filling and the dried fruit/coconut provided for a sweeter taste.

Don't be shy

I mentioned this in our Whole30 Journal on Day 10, but I want to expand on it here. At one point during my Atlanta trip I went out to eat for brunch. Here's how the conversation with the server went...

Me: "What do you cook your eggs in?"
Waitress: "What do you mean?"
Me: "Like, what do you put the eggs in when you cook them?"
Waitress: "A pan." 
Me: "Fair enough. But do you cook them in any type of oil?"
Waitress: "Ah, yes... vegetable oil."
Me: "OK, bummer, I'm allergic, so can you just poach them?"

A few themes in this conversation. First, I am a liar. I am not allergic to vegetable oil. (Although I might as well be considering how horrible that stuff is for you. The high concentration of omega-6 fatty acids scorched in high-heat is like dumping oxidative damage into your body. Not cool.) Liar may be a little much, but a small fib seemed to cut to the chase. In this occasion, I probably didn't have to fib, but there may be times when it's your best option to avoid a long dissertation on why you choose to eat a certain way.

Another theme: don't be afraid to ask! You have a right to know how your food is prepared. I realize it may seem like you're putting the server out, but just apologize in advance, be polite and everything is fine. It truly doesn't take much more effort to ask and the pay-off of eating healthier makes it worth it.

Lastly, and I'll make this short, but isn't it a telling tale of our society that the very people who are selling and serving your food don't know what's in it? Yikes.

Embrace the suck

Eating while on the go sucks even if your'e not on a diet or trying to eat healthy. I can't remember the last time I went out of town and had a healthy, satisfying meal at the airport or at a hotel. Sometimes unhealthy eating while away from home is perfectly acceptable and OK. I've heard it said before: "You don't go on vacation to lose weight or save money." True, and ultimately you get to decide what's worth it and what's not. But for those who have deemed the Terminal A pizza with mystery meat 'not worth it', this post is more for you.

Between the up's and down's of actually flying on the plane to the food I grab on the go, my stomach never feels that great. I knew this Atlanta trip wouldn't be any different, even though I was eating Whole30-compliant. Mentally preparing myself for a weird stomach vibe helped me get through it. Embrace the suck, know that it's not permanent, really not that bad, and that a nice home-cooked meal awaits you upon your return.

If there's a will, there's a way

There might be a time where it will simply come down to just making it work. The effort might seem ridiculous in the moment, but will pay dividends in hindsight. Whether that's calling a cab to take you to a grocery store, or ordering delivery to your location that suits your needs, the bottom line here is that if there's a will, there's a way.

I ran into a situation in Atlanta where I was stuck in a meeting I couldn't leave. I started to get hungry and didn't have my snacks handy. I ended up having to wait it out for much longer than I would have liked to.

Luckily, the Whole30 helps your metabolism to start burning fat for energy as opposed to carbohydrate. And as I've mentioned before, we all have virtually an endless supply of fat cells to invest in that energy, no matter how lean you are. You see, your body was designed to make it long periods of time with no food, whether it's in the form of famine or a stomach virus that prohibits eating, if we couldn't burn our own fat stores, we wouldn't make it very long.

I remembered this fact, sucked it up, and made it through... only to find out that the catered meal that evening was an Asian cuisine: rice, stir-fried vegetables (soy), sweet and sour chicken and egg rolls -- none of which were Whole30-approved. I forced a smile, embraced the suck, and sketched off to the hotel restaurant where I had salmon, green beans and cherry tomatoes. 

If there's a will, I'm telling you... there's a way!

Utilize existing resources

Finally, utilize existing resources. Whole9 has a great document on preparing for out of town Whole30 eating. They've also got tons of forums where you can chat with people who have been-there-done-that. Tap into friends and family who have done a Whole30 before, or if you really want to, send me an e-mail! I'd be happy to help.

Although the title of this post says otherwise, I truly believe these lessons aren't exclusively reserved for folks on stricter eating regimens or Whole30 programs. These principles can be applied to healthy eating in general while on the road.

Hope this helps!

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