Quite often, travelling is interwoven with an expectation to eat unhealthily, for many reasons. Convenience, expectation, cost, etc. While we are outside of our normal environment, it is also likely that we will put pressure on ourselves to be as SANE as we ordinarily would be. The fact is, this is unrealistic. You could be in a different setting day to day with different appliances at your disposal, you could be in a different city, even a different country, and going into each instance of travel with the expectation of “I will be just as SANE as I am at home” is setting yourself up for failure.
Rather, a more reasonable and realistic expectation to set yourselves while travelling is “I aim to be as SANE as I can possibly be, and if inSANEity comes across my path and I cannot avoid it, I won’t stress about it.” Perhaps it’s much more long winded and wordy (and not as click-baity or glamorous) as the former declaration, but it’s realistic and achievable.
So now that we’ve set our expectations, what practical steps can you take to achieve SANEity while travelling?
If your travels are taking you out of your hometown and you are needing to pack a bag, here are some potential items that you can pack:
A great travel snack is to reconstitute powdered coconut/almond milk by adding water, mix with chia seeds, protein powder, and sweetener and leave it to sit for a little while – SANE chia protein pudding!
Depending on the length of your journey, needn’t pack everything listed above (after all, we still need room for our clothes, right?), though they can be seen as a base list that you can choose from. If your trip is only for a few days, then pack less. If you are travelling for longer, pack more. Keep it simple.
NOTE: We advocate using packed, shelf stable foods for airplane travel, with a clear listing of all ingredients. This is due to many countries having strict bio-security and customs laws when it comes to travelling with food. – Research the destination that you are travelling to and if a destination is concerned about food, declare any food that you have with you on your incoming arrivals card.
Example: Most countries in Asia do not show any interest in passengers travelling with food. Australia, however, being an island nation, are very strict when it comes to bringing food into the country and could result in an immediate fine of between $200-400 Australian Dollars.
Your preparation for SANE flying happens before you fly – so first and foremost, have a large, filling, nutritious meal before you depart for the airport. You could even experiment with having more Whole Food Fats than normal to heighten your feeling of being satisfied if you are travelling on a long haul flight, as realistically, while you can snack SANEly on a plane, eating complete SANE meals isn’t likely to happen.
There are some foods that you will be able to take with you in your carry on luggage that you can snack on. Nuts are a great choice, as are the items offered in the SANE Store like Almond Meal Bars, Truffle Bars and Peanut Butter Bites.
You can also travel with an empty water bottle and then fill it up at a water fountain once you have passed security after check in, and are making your way to the gate. Alternatively, you can find an outlet selling water and purchase a water bottle there. Keeping hydrated while on the plane is highly recommended.
When it comes to navigating the in-flight meals, go with the mantra ‘as SANE as possible’. Typically these meals consist of a main item, a side bread item, a side salad, a fruit, and a yogurt or ice cream. You can try to eat ‘around’ the inSANE portions of the meal though note, relying on the in-flight meal alone is likely to leave you feeling hungry, so leverage some of the other items that you bring onto the plane with you (the meal bars, the peanut butter bites, etc.)
Try to have a complete, filling SANE meal before you depart for your road trip. If your vehicle has the capability, find a travel cup that you can store a SANE green smoothie and sip on this while driving – if possible, find one that’s double walled and will keep your smoothie colder for longer.
Gas Stations are beginning to offer a wider range of options, such as boiled eggs, fruit cups, canned seafood, jerky and some might even sell prepped raw veggies. Take advantage of these, as well as packing other SANE items mentioned above. Deli meats such as ham stored in a cooler bag could also be an option, and fresh low fructose fruits like oranges travel well.
If you are organized, you can make up a batch of SANE treats and have those in a container, such as these SANE sugar cookies.
When stopping off for a meal somewhere, go for an option where you can order a salad, as this is the easiest way to get maximum SANEity in. Some burger places offer the option of a lettuce wrapped burger, or you can just order a standard burger and discard the top and lower buns and eat the filling on its own (sometimes, you just don’t have the choice!).
A thermos packed with hot, veggie crammed soup can be an option for those winter time travels as well.
Also, you could choose to pack some of the appliances that you use the most, provided that you have the space. A small travel sized blender (like the NutriBullet or the Nutri Ninja) to enable you to make SANE smoothies and soups is an option if you don’t feel like putting your shiny Vitamix into the trunk 🙂
We live in an era of Google Maps and Google Street View, so these are tools that you can use to your advantage. Look at the location of where you will be spending most of your time and see if there are any places nearby that you could potentially have SANE meals – places like Subway and Chipotle are a good place to start. Anywhere you can order a salad! Don’t stress too much about smaller things like if there’s sugar in the dressing, or if there’s beans or chickpeas on it, the key thing is to find locations where you can get lots of vegetables in.
You might be lucky enough to have a local market nearby where you can purchase fresh vegetables, which is where the knife (in your checked luggage!) will come in handy. You can prep items like raw carrot sticks, sliced bell peppers, cucumbers, celery, radishes, tomatoes etc. and have those with you when you travel. In some countries local produce will be available so if you are brave, you can experiment with a food you’ve never tried before (exciting!).
Also, use websites like TripAdvisor or Yelp for restaurant recommendations in your area, and search online for their menus. From there, you can look at if they provide SANE friendly menus, or see if they have Facebook pages, Twitter or Instagram accounts and see if they have photos of items from their menus.
Having this knowledge in advance can really make things easier. If you are staying in a hotel, you can contact them ahead of time and ask what facilities are available in the room and if it is okay for you to store any purchased items during your stay. Some people ask for the minibar in their room to be emptied prior to their visit so this could be an approach you could try as well.
If you are at a course or conference, ask in advance what sort of facilities they have available to store food. Sometimes, they may not have anything (as a lot of these places provide lunch, therefore in their mind, they don’t need to provide refrigeration for attendees), in which case having your own ice packs and cooler bags with you will help keep any perishable items you have at a safe temperature. Or, you can ask if them if they’d be willing to store some food that you bring into the conference venue given your dietary requirements.
Quite often, if you are in a hotel, some form of buffet will be included. Buffets can be a SANE eaters’ best friend! Sure, there are often a lot of inSANE things on offer, though there are also SANE things there too.
Here’s an approach you can take. First time at the buffet in a location, see if you can walk around and look at everything that is available. Analyze each offering as SANE or inSANE, without judgement. Once you’ve seen everything, reflect on which items are SANE, and which of the inSANE items you would like to try the most – the latter will be especially true if your travel has taken you to a different country.
Leverage the salad bar as well as any stir fries or roasted vegetables that are on hand – even at the breakfast buffet, these will still be included as hotels will be more inclined to try to offer a wide variety of items to satisfy a large variety of dietary requirements. Then if you have room and still feel like trying some of the inSANE items, don’t deprive yourself, give it a try, and savor each mouthful. Sometimes when you do this, you’ll find that they don’t taste anywhere near as good as they look 😉
While we are in our own environment, it’s very easy to settle into a rhythm and explore item that fall into the four major food groups of SANE: Non-Starchy Vegetables, Nutrient Dense Protein, Whole Food Fats and Low Fructose Fruits. When travelling, we might be posed with limited choice and rather than restricting, be open to eating some more things from the middle of the spectrum when alternatives are from the insane end of the spectrum.
For example, if your choices for a snack are between donuts and a mango, the mango falls into the Other Fruits group, while donuts will have a high number of all three of Processed Sweets, Starches, and Other Fats (Oils). Also, in some countries, nothing quite beats a mango straight off the tree – don’t exclude yourself from that amazing opportunity due to any obligation to be SANE.
The key part of this strategy is the ‘wherever possible’. If you are travelling overseas, some countries may not be able to wrap their heads around this concept.
For example, in most of Asia their meals are heavily built around starches, particularly rice, to the point where twice a day they will eat a meal consisting of rice. Asking them to ‘hold the starch’ is not only a foreign concept to them, in some regions, it could be considered offensive(!). If you end up in this situation, it’s easier to allow the starches to be served to you, and to leave it on your plate. If you are curious about flavor, you can try a little bit and leave the rest.
A SANE Family Member shares their experience: In Vietnam, I attempted to ask a food stall to serve me a noodle soup dish (Pho) without the noodles. They were so confused and thought I didn’t know what Pho was (I do!) and tried to explain the dish to me. Eventually (feeling the queue forming behind me) I let them serve me a traditional Pho, with rice noodles and all. I took it back to my table, and just ate ‘around’ the noodles, focusing on the broth, the protein and the fresh herbs. A small amount of noodle went into my mouth but I didn’t stress about it. It was delicious!
After travelling for a period of time, if you catch yourself unprepared, you might find yourself returning to an empty fridge, devoid of anything SANE, and turn to inSANE foods out of panic. You can prepare for your return by having items prepped and in the freezer ready for you to heat and eat upon your return home.
Stock your pantry with tinned seafood, chicken, or have enough portions of cooked meat, seafood or tofu in the freezer ready. Prep a few meals in freezer safe containers like soups, stews or curries, and include a few bags of frozen smoothie greens, low fructose fruits and general frozen vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots) that you can use when you return.
Include items that you like and are likely to miss when you travel and will be excited to return home to – this will mean that you look forward to eating what you have waiting for you, rather than being drawn to eating inSANE items
A SANE Family Member shares their experience: While I loved my time in Europe, I found myself missing Mexican flavors while I was away. The moment I came back, I was looking forward to a big bowl of beef chili topped with guacamole!
While it would be nice to say that people don’t make remarks about the way that you eat, the fact is, people will say something.
Do any of these sound familiar?
It might be from a place of curiosity, or it might be from a place of judgement. Regardless of where their comments come from, focus on your own journey. Your energies are best invested what you do. If their remark is a more judgemental one, avoid engaging with them on the topic. Their remarks say more about their state of mind and their perspective than it does yours – science is on your side. For anyone who is genuinely interested, you can direct them to The Calorie Myth and let them draw their own conclusions.
This applies particularly in the case of travel for leisure. If you were to travel to Italy, you would have a miserable time if you turned down the hand scooped hazelnut gelato for powdered greens and whey protein powder. For many places around the world, the food is an integral part of experiencing ones’ culture.
It would be a shame if you traveled to a country only to shut yourself in your hotel room and look at the same four walls the entire time to be safe, and it’s the same when it comes to the food – by shutting yourself off to possibilities out there, you lose out. If you are getting in as much goodness that you can, try out some of the ethnic foods, and do so without guilt or stress.
The guilt and stress is more damaging than whatever ingredients are in the food. When you take away that power that food has over you, you will be able to immerse yourself in the experience more fully and take home much more vibrant, enjoyable memories with you.
*** The use of SANE products is not required to live a SANE lifestyle. If you are able to find comparable items in your region, feel free to use them. If you have any questions as to whether an item you are considering is SANE, please post in the coaching and support group and your SANE Certified Coaches will be able to assist.
– Raina Singh, Master Certified SANE Coach