5 Tips for Traveling with a Restrictive Diet

~ Carmen

For those of you who don’t know me very well, a little background history.  I have had chronic headaches/migraines since I was a little girl.  I keep a dull headache about 24/7 and have migraines 2-3 times a week.  Even though I always try to tough it out, sometimes it does put a damper on our travel activities (future post material).  You name it medically, I’ve tried it.  This past March, I decided to try a holistic approach to find out the cause of my headaches by seeing Dr. John at the Integrative Wellness Center in Memphis.  What did I have to lose?  Three weeks later, I’m still having headaches, but I’ve lost eight pounds and have a whole lot more energy and focus.  Dr. John prescribed a very restrictive anti-candida diet.  It’s actually easier to tell people what I can eat, than what I can’t eat.  One week to go until I can add back some foods!

Prior to going to Dr. John, Joe and I had already scheduled two weekend trips.  One to see our son near Saint Louis before leaving for bootcamp, and a weekend away in Franklin, Tennessee (romantic bed and breakfast).  Being the stubborn person that I am, I wasn’t going to let a little diet restriction stop me from traveling!

Little did I know how difficult traveling with a restrictive diet would be!

Here are the tips I have learned from my two weekend trips eating only lean, organic meats and green leafy vegetables (no dairy, carbs, fruits, sugars, caffeine, dairy, yeast foods, vinegars). Yeah, it’s been real fun.   On a happier note, I’d like to thank my friend Terri for her diet and travel advice and for letting me vent my health and diet frustrations.

5 Tips to Traveling With a Restricted Diet

1.  Bring your own supplies.

Travel shakes

We froze five of these pre-blended shakes to last me the weekend. Yes, it looks like baby food peas, but they are pretty tasty!

The first weekend was a totally disaster, but I did do a few things right.  Joe pre-made a weekend’s worth of shakes for me.  We put them in individual ziplock freezer bags and froze them overnight.  They stayed frozen until I was ready to use them up until the last one.  Next time we’ll use more ice!

On our trips, I would set out the frozen mixture long enough to let it get slushy then pour it into my blender bottle.  I love using these blender bottles for remixing my protein/veggie shakes, especially if they have been sitting awhile.  I take two bottles to work everyday, and since I don’t have a travel-sized blender,  I also used them on our weekend trips.

I also love this lunchbox because it is tall enough for 20 ounce water bottles and my shake blender bottles.  Its space works well at work, too.  Right now, I have to take two blender bottles, my lunch, plus extra cut up vegetables to munch on throughout the day.  A BIG lunchbox is needed so I don’t end up looking like a bag lady.

For our weekend trips, I packed cut up veggies.  Word of warning, give yourself a variety.  There is only so much raw broccoli one should consume in the confined space of a car.  Your fellow passengers will thank you.  I also put nuts in little snack-sized ziplock for my purse.  I am using Himalayan salt, which I keep in my purse, too.  With all of the little baggies of salt and natural supplements in my purse, I look like a drug dealer.  Baby needs a new pair of shoes!

My weekend supply of "supplements".

My weekend supply of “supplements”. Snack bag-sized ziplock and sharpie labels helped keep me organized!

For our first weekend trip, Joe had hard-boiled some eggs, but those were forgotten at the house (oops!).  We remembered the next trip which made for a good-filling snack!  I also can’t have vinegar or creamy-based salad dressings right now, so I also like to pack canned seafood that I can just pour over some lettuce or spinach leaves.  Buying the seafood packed in oils gives my salad and seafood a little moisture and added flavor.

2.  Call or email ahead.

In Franklin, we stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast (Inn at Franklin Square).  Two days before our check-in, I emailed the inn and explained my restrictive diet.  They went out of their way to make sure I had something to eat for breakfast.  Most airlines, that still serve food, will also provide gluten free and vegetarian choices.  You just have to reserve the meals in advance.

Nothing to Eat Traveling

If you are staying with friends or family, they will appreciate knowing there are some things you cannot eat.  No one likes to make a special meal only to find out that it won’t be enjoyed by the guest.  However, make it clear that you can take care of your own food if needed.  Don’t be that guest who insists that every meal revolves around your restrictions.

3.  Don’t make assumptions about food awareness.

Your waiter might not know what is in every dish.  If a server seems unsure, ask them to please find out.  A couple of years ago, I had a poor guest who assumed I knew what gluten-free meant.  I thought it meant just no bread.  Imagine the look on her face when I proudly brought out a big batch of lasagna!  I was eating on that stupid lasagna for days afterwards because I was the only one who could eat it!

Stupid me, I didn’t know pasta had gluten!

4.  Don’t be afraid of traveling abroad.

Most places you will go to are use to thousands of tourists with all kinds of food restrictions, from religious to allergy to environmental concerns.  A couple of years ago I had a traveler in my Italy tour group who needed gluten-free.  Of course, by this time I had figured out that pasta does indeed have gluten!  I found these great little translation cards that she used throughout the trip.  They come in 67 different languages.  The cards worked perfectly!

When I finally figure out what my food triggers are, I will definitely get my own set before my Europe trip this June.


5.  Use lodging with kitchenettes when available.

When you prepare your own food, there’s no doubt what is going into it.  That’s one great advantage to having a camper.  We can always take our kitchen with us!  Publix is a great resource for organic food. I’ve also found a lot of the specifics that I can eat at Kroger’s.  Most towns have a farmer’s market running late spring to early fall.  Joe and I love spending Saturday mornings in different cities’ markets.  You really get a good picture of the city and its people that way.  Plus the produce is usually amazing.


So now you know my current diet story.  Hopefully, one day I’ll be able to post that I’ve discovered the trigger of my headaches.  Until then, I’ll keep an eye on my diet and keep logging our adventures!  If you have any additional tips or diet/headache advice, we’d love to hear it.  Please comment below.  You can make us feel loved by following us on social media and signing up for our weekly newsletter!


5 Tips for Restrictive Diets



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