Eating Healthy While Traveling

by Liz Caskey on October 23, 2012

This year I have been a bit of a road warrior. In fact, when I departed on a recent business trip to the US, I calculated that I had actually been home (in Santiago, Chile) about 4.5 months the entire year. Not a bad thing. I totally thrive off of being on the move, experiencing different cultures, exploring new spots/chefs/restaurants/experiences for our business. However, this last business trip was very different.

In mid-September, I made some major alterations to my diet. For a long time, I was constantly dealing with digestive annoyances like bloating, rosacea, water retention, and overall aches and pains. Like many of us, I took it as a given and part of the human experience. While my diet was already healthy, I sensed something was not doing me good. There had to be some level of inflammation causing these issues. I finally decided I was through with putting up with anything less than feeling amazingly healthy every single day.

I went to Dr. Silva, a neurologist/M.D. and homeopath who truly believes that food is our best medicine. While conceptually, I couldn’t have agreed more, during the hour consultation after a non-invasive scan to measure inflammation in the body, it became clear that I had to eat differently. I was a little skeptical at his detailed recommendations but decided to have a little faith and follow them without questioning. Overnight my diet became mostly fresh food. It’s actually easier to list what I can eat, then what I can’t. Abundant fruits, vegetables, salads. Alkaline foods like avocado, coconut oil, seaweed. Other wholesome foods like beans (especially adzuki and mung), non-gluten grains (amaranth, millet, buckwheat, quinoa, brown rice), and small amounts of fish and free range eggs in a vegetable tortilla. My breakfast went from cereal and almond milk to spirulina capsules with fresh grapefruit juice and a big bowl of seasonal fruit. Coffee? Tchau. Instead, I drink copious amounts of rooibos herbal tea with a touch of stevia.

The immediate results were inspiring. I dropped 5 pounds of water weight in the first week and actually was eating more fresh food than ever so I was never hungry. My sleep improved, my rosacea disappeared, and my energy levels soared. A miracle? Nope, just eating alkaline food. More than a diet change, it was a lifestyle change. A way of becoming my best self and supporting my health. We truly are what we eat.

Ten days into this, I had to leave on my business trip. Trips, especially ones focusing on food and wine, can be total eating landmines. How would I survive? I had stuck to my guns. It wasn’t hard. It took some voluntad, willingness. I also went shopping for a few pieces of new clothing. Let me tell you, with a skinnier body, the whole fashion game changes dramatically. Here are the strategies I used to make this business trip a healthy success:

Pack Your Lunch: Remember in elementary school how we packed our lunch to avoid the nastiness of cafeteria food? I think airline food is pretty much the same these days. Rather than try to make due with what their du jour is and if that fits into my diet, I thought ahead and packed out a Swiss chard tortilla (made with veggies and eggs) and raw veggies like celery and carrots the night I flew to Dallas. I packed my favorite tea along with two pieces of fruit (pears) for breakfast…no problema. Investment? A little thinking ahead and one good Tupperware container.

Keep It Green: I am totally obsessed with eating as many green vegetables as possible for their nutrients, calcium, and minerals. When it’s hard to load up on the road, I chug a big scoop of Supergreens food in the morning and afternoon, which is equivalent to a salad in a glass. I also discovered on very early morning flights that some airport terminals have Jamba Juice which serves a “green smoothie” made with greens, spirulina, and fresh fruit like banana and mango.

At Your Order: While I was fine eating out in Texas, a true state of foodies (at least in Dallas, Austin, and Houston), when I got to my hometown area of Central PA, I was shocked at how much bacon, red meat, and cheese went on absolutely everything. EVERYTHING. I had to get creative so I simply started asking to tweak a dish on the menu to my taste. Not in the mood for salmon again or just want a vegetarian meal? No problem, how about black beans. Or I ordered a bunch of yummy sides and soup. This strategy alone consistently saved me in numerous eating situations. That being said, I still savored many of my favorite “treats” like diver scallops from Maine, Northwest Pacific wild salmon, tempeh, and my love for Chinese greens like chom sui.

80/20 rule: In some cases, I had to relax a little and go with what was being served. I did have digestive enzymes with me, a lifesaver to fully digesting foods when I wasn’t adhering to food combining principles. I will confess one isolated cheese and chocolate meltdown. If it was any proof, the next morning I woke up to having my rosacea reignited. This made me further commit to permanently sticking to this way of eating. However, I didn’t beat myself up after slipping up. I just moved on. Most of the time we should eat 80% alkaline (fresh) and 20% acid-forming (beans, meat, etc.). My diet prior to this was exactly opposite. So I know that even if I slipped a little, it was about simply getting back on the train with the next meal. Consistency.

Snacks: When on longer flights, I always pack green bars like Green+ or anything that is raw with lots of superfoods like chlorella or spirulina. With a glass of water, it really does satiate you. In fact, one day in Dallas running all over the city and to Fort Worth, I had no time to even think about stopping for lunch with all the traffic. Thanks to the bars and fresh water, I was okay until dinner. I would not use these as a meal substitute all the time, however, for this type of travel situation, it saved the day.

Sweat: I make a point of staying in hotels that have well-equipped gyms. Even 20-30 minutes of intense cardio is better than none. I have to be jetlagged, zapped, or sick to not drag myself to the gym. In fact, the morning I woke up at 5:00am to go to the gym at the Grand Hyatt at DFW, I couldn’t believe how crowded it was. It offsets sitting on a plane or in a car all day. Going back to the 80/20 rule…80% may be what you eat, but 20% is absolutely physical activity and feeding oxygen to your brain and muscles.

How about you guys? How do you eat healthy while traveling?


Margaret October 23, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Good advice Liz. So no problems getting fresh fruits & veggies onto the plane? Anything they WON’T let you take (besides liquids?) I’ll have to try packing my dinner the next time I fly. Also get bit by gluten when traveling!
Also- do you find any of those supplements in Chile? If not–how about considering their import as a sideline business?

Liz Caskey October 31, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Peg, I had no problems taking food on the plane whatsoever. Water bottle was empty and friendly stewardess always topped off my “drink”, hehe. Besides GF, it is about not having processed food and I stick pretty much to vegetarian/vegan now except fish a couple times a week. I did this with fruit for flights in the US too, no problem. As for the supplements, I buy a lot in the US simply because the cost is much better although I have never seen Superfoods or Green+ bars in Chile (try Vitacost, great prices). KNOP has some stuff though and I get spirulina at Planta Maestra.

Alissa Vermeulen January 7, 2013 at 11:59 am

I wish that I had read this post BEFORE my holiday in the US. I would have gone on the hunt for *green superfood*. It sounds like a great supplement for those time when you don’t have access to the actual leafy stuff. Thanks for posting! I sure am enjoying your blog archives :)

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