I am writing this from 30,000 feet in the air. I’m heading home from ShiftCon, an amazing eco-wellness conference, and I had to get this all down while it was fresh in my mind. Traveling with Hashimoto’s Disease has certainly gotten easier with gluten-free options becoming more commonplace. However, I still keep the following practices in place to ensure my health does not go off track while I’m on the road.
Embrace Fresh Juices
As I have shared on both this blog and social media, starting my day with fresh leafy greens is a regular practice. At home, with my VitaMix and well-stocked refrigerator, it’s easy to start my day with a protein and greens filled smoothie. Traveling is hard on the body regardless, but even more so when you have autoimmune issues. Being on the go as much as I am, I require a healthy start to my day. I love knowing I have a great base of nutrition, which allows for occasional splurges throughout the day. When traveling, green juices are my favorite morning go-to.
Buying local is always my first choice. For ShiftCon, I stayed at Hotel Irvine, which had its own amazing organic marketplace. The marketplace offered fresh pressed juices, which made me so happy. Most juices, outside of ones made in a juice bar, tend to be high in sugar. At Hotel Irvine, I was able to request a custom juice that was heavier on spinach and lighter on fruit. Below is a picture of my favorite local juice here in Boise, Boise Juice. That handsome young man in the picture? He is my son 🙂
Not staying at a hotel with healthy options? You may still be able to find what you need a short walk or drive away. Prior to leaving for my trip, I Google for a Whole Foods, co-op or juice bar near my hotel. Even large grocery chains like Albertsons and Walmart will do. Many carry clean juices from Suja or Evolution. Evolution’s Sweet Green is always my first choice from a grocery store. This green juice contains less fruit juice and more greens. Starbucks carries the Evolution line too, and almost always has the green based juices in stock.
If you can’t find Evolution or Suja, be mindful of the first ingredients on the label when purchasing other brands. The first ingredients are the highest concentrated ingredient in the juice. So, if the first ingredient is apple, well, you are probably drinking apple juice with a dash of greens. Another indication that fruit juice is the primary component of your juice is the sugar quantity. I stick with juices that have six grams or less of sugar to ensure I am getting the full benefit of leafy green nutrients.
Speaking of sugars, be mindful of the sugar content in smoothies no matter where you buy them. Many smoothies have high sugar content because they are made with yogurt, or even sweet sorbets, to accommodate palettes not accustomed to greens. Once again, don’t be shy in requesting a modification of their main menu. Along this line, if you see spinach is an ingredient for other offerings, ask for it! This is an easy way to give a standard menu smoothie a boost of leafy green goodness. Most smoothie shops typically charge extra, but in my experience, the charge is nominal and well worth it.
Larger cities and suburban areas are where you’ll find chain juice bars. My favorites and most common are Jamba Juice and Necktar. Both bars have sugar-laden drinks so be mindful of the ingredients and choose wisely. I play it safe with cold-pressed juices as I know there is no sorbet or yogurt included. However, I am seeing more green smoothies taking starring roles on menus.
Occasionally when I travel, a local option is just not available or I know my schedule will be too packed for a juice run. In these cases, my go-to juice delivery service is Project Juice. Their organic, cold-pressed juices are delicious and many are low in sugar. It does require advanced planning, but only one or two days in advance. Project Juice offers overnight delivery to your hotel! Their packaging keeps your juices cold and safe. In fact, due to mishaps at my hotel, I have had juices remain fresh even after it took 48 hours for me to get them. Before you order, confirm with your hotel that you’ll have an in-room fridge. If it a fridge does not come standard with your hotel room, request one. My favorite Project Juice juices are:
- Get Your Greens – Swiss chard is the main green of this drink which is my favorite green…move over kale
- Sweet Greens – this juice does have kale, which some coaches say not to eat for Hashimoto’s. However, I feel in small doses it is fine
- Greenbiotic – awesome for getting your greens and building your immunity. Great way to fight off viruses that are common when traveling
- Mint Chip Shake – this is a great meal replacement drink thanks to its dose of protein
Traveling by car? Bring a cooler for your juices and snacks!
Travel-Friendly Compliant Snacks
Whether you are driving, taking a train or flying, having easy access to compliant snacks is a must. If I don’t have healthy snacks available, I find myself reaching for a Snickers bar or chips because they are the only gluten-free things I can find. And while they may be gluten-free, candy and chips are not the best choices for my body and healing process. Scarcity of healthy snacks is especially challenging when I’m traveling to less populated areas. This is why I started keeping a “just in case” snack in my purse or backpack. Additionally, I pack snacks in my suitcase.
Here is a list of my five favorite Hashimoto friendly travel snacks:
- Nuts – I love a mix of cashews and cacao nibs
- Dried fruit – Be mindful of added sugar. Many times, brands add so much sugar you end up eating the equivalent of a candy bar
- Protein bars – Of the protein bars on the market, Larabars are the lowest in sugar and additives
- Dried meat – Gluten free jerky or meat snacks are a great way to stave off cravings and growling tummies. Applegate makes great meat treats that do not need to be refrigerated
- Fruit – Apples travel well. Pair them with Justin’s Almond Butter travel packs for a satisfying snack. I also love bananas for a filling snack, though they bruise easily
Dining Out? Speak Up!
Travel almost always includes hitting up a restaurant, which comes with its own set of challenges. Did you know gluten stays in your body for six months? When going to a restaurant, be very clear with your server that you have a severe gluten allergy. You don’t want your antibodies to work overtime for six months because of a gluten exposure at a restaurant. I always let my server know that my gluten intolerance is an allergy, not a dietary preference. Crazy as it sounds to me, some people equate gluten-free with being healthy and request gluten-free menu items even without an allergy. So, be nice, but be firm, too. With this open communication, servers and chefs go out of their way to ensure I do not get sick. Many restaurants now have dedicated gluten-free menus, which take the guesswork out of ordering.
Worried that you are visiting a place that won’t have anything you can eat? My fallback is always salad, but I typically skip the dressing. If you can’t eat your salad dry, oil-based dressings are less likely to have hidden wheat. Of course, the exception is the soy often found in Asian inspired dressings.
When I was at ShiftCon, I ate at Houston’s and ordered an amazing kale and yellowtail salad. I substituted a side of Italian dressing for the peanut dressing it came with. I am sure the peanut dressing is amazing, but I was extremely happy with my replacement and felt anything but deprived.
Two things to avoid ordering at restaurants to prevent an autoimmune flare-up:
- Anything creamy – Most cream-based items, like soup, dips, pasta sauces and dressings, contain flour to thicken the base
- Soy sauce – Soy is not our friend. Be mindful that many Asian inspired dishes may contain soy. Some servers are not aware that soy has gluten, so you need to do your own detective work and educate yourself on where to look for this often hidden ingredient
Hydration is an essential part of your health. Traveling takes you out of your routine. Often you may find yourself without easy access to a bathroom, so your water intake may lessen. Don’t make this mistake. Dehydration can make you tired, which is no fun when you are working and exploring. I bought an adorable water bottle seen above on Amazon,Simple Modern Wave Water Bottle . I bring it wherever I go. Many airports now offer convenient fill-up stations right on the other side of security. Not only am I ensuring I stay hydrated, I am also saving money and protecting the environment by skipping store-bought bottled water.
Additionally, having your own water reduces the chances of you reaching for sugar-laden and nutrient-free drinks that are so readily available. Having my own water bottle at conferences allows me to stay clear of the soft drinks typically served during breaks. Plus, the small glasses typically offered just aren’t enough water for me.
Not only does travel take you off your routine, often you’re traveling with people who have different needs than yours. Remain flexible in your diet while still keeping your healthy base. When traveling, occasionally I do take a break from the AIP protocol by allowing grains and gluten-free treats into my diet. While I normally steer away from gluten-free bread, sometimes it is the best option when I’m on the road. For instance, Starbucks now carries a gluten-free egg sandwich that is both filling and yummy. Add an Evolution green juice and you’ve got a satisfying, gluten-free breakfast. Being satisfied and not feeling deprived is key for me to avoid a sugar binge later in the day.
What are your favorite travel tips and snacks? I would love to hear about them and add to my travel arsenal. In two months, I am off again to take my son to the East Coast so I need all the help I can get!