Sunday, March 18, 2012

Traveling nutriciously: Do's and Don'ts

UPDATE: After a couple months, I've discovered some additional items to pack in your suitcase. One is plain old salad. It keeps very well even without a fridge. I make a couple tupperwares of kale and lettuce salad, and when I'm ready to eat I ask any hotel restaurant for oil and vinegar. Presto. I also bring a bunch of carrots to munch on. Refrigeration is not needed for carrots, and washing and peeling are luxuries, not essential. The other obvious good one is beef jerky. American Grass Fed Beef sells online. It's expensive, but it's good non-perishable protein.


This will be a short one and another one is coming soon, but I'm sitting in the airport and wanted to give some thoughts on my first trip on the new diet. I had traveled down to TorC once during my month of strict paleo, but I was driving and so was able to pack a cooler full of chicken curry, baked sweet potatoes, fruit, and salad. I had to fly this time, so I had to pack food that would fit in my pack and didn't need refrigeration.

I departed ABQ on Wednesday evening. It's now Friday evening, and I'm in the airport in Los Angeles heading home. So just over two full days.

This is what I brought:
2 avocados
2 cans of sardines
Leftover rotisserie chicken and leftover half can of salmon over kale salad (to eat on the plane ride or soon after)
2 Clif Builders bars (totally processed and soy-derived, but just as a worst case scenario)
1 sandwich bag full of almonds

Here are my lessons learned:

DO keep a few sources of each macronutrient on hand at all times. (Fat, carbohydrates, protein). Especially fruit. For the sake of traveling light, I left fruit at home because I had already eaten a lot that day and figured I could swipe some at the breakfast bar each morning. But the flight to LA was on a crappy little plane, followed by a long bus ride in traffic from LAX to the hotel downtown. I had eaten the salmon and chicken earlier, and was really craving some fruit. I had already had a ton of almonds that day, and the avocado would have been messy on the dark bus (both of those foods are really more fat, anyway). I had nothing but one of the Clif bars. My headache was getting worse. I broke down and ate the Clif, pledging to bring fruit from the get-go next time. 

DO bring an avocado for every day of travel. When on the road, it's tough to access good fats. I would have been in trouble if I hadn't gone to Grand Central Market today and gotten a few more avocados (never mind that one got squashed in my jacket pocket!). Also, be sure to order olive oil as a dressing for your salad whenever you can. Maybe next time I'll bring some coconut butter along with me.

DON'T be afraid to mix and match from the menu. I've found the chef is happy to oblige if you want the grilled shrimp over the endive salad, or whatever combo you want, as your main course. I usually just get charged for the price of the more expensive item, which seems fair to me.

DO stash anything you can from breakfast bars, buffets and reception areas. You need to keep your munitions topped off. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Fruit, veggies, and sometimes hard-boiled eggs are the main opportunities here.

DO bring canned goods (see my post on the subject here) with pull tops, so you don't have to lug around a can opener. The sardines were great for this.

DON'T eat the sardines unless you have a game plan. Now, sardines are tough at a conference. You can't just whip out your can in the middle of a session unless you want to be known as the smelly fish dude. That would not be the best career move. But if you're in a bind and need good protein, there's nothing better than sardines. If you're starving and are feeling tempted by the glutenfest that is conference hors devoirs, just go into a bathroom stall. You've done things much worse in one of those. You can also go up to your room to "grab a document." Both the above options allow you to rinse out the can and recycle it. You'll thank yourself later for resisting the fried mayonnaise puff pastry.

DO brush your teeth after the sardines. You're already in the bathroom, so this is convenient. And have some mints on hand or paleo substitutes. 

DON'T worry that your strange caveman diet will put people off. This conference was the Good Jobs, Green Jobs summit and I was going on behalf of the Sierra Club. I'll admit that I was worried that a lot of hemp eaters would take issue with my meat consumption. But most people with whom I ate were carnivores themselves, and were interested in hearing about the paleo diet and how I'm trying to make it sustainable. On the other hand, I work for a company that does renewable energy for mine sites. When I'm at a mining conference, I'm pandering to red-blooded steak eaters who don't always hold veggies in high esteem. But I still think I'll be ok ordering a manly cut of rib eye to counteract my salad, distracting them by talking about my max deadlift. 

DO bring numerous packets of plastic silverware. I thought I would be green on this trip and re-use one set, and it wasn't fun. Packets also come with napkins, which are an essential commodity on a train or bus.

A few other quick thoughts, since my flight is delayed.

I went to a greek restaurant yesterday for lunch and had a gyro salad. It came with four pita slices and some hummus, which I went ahead and ate. At the afternoon session, which was very interesting, I felt foggy and sluggish and I actually dozed off. For the first time in a while, I felt the need for coffee. This may have been a coincidence, but I think the pita and hummus may have diminished the sharpness and mental clarity that is now the norm for me. Then again, I may just have developed a contrived intolerance now because I'm no longer accustomed to these foods. I don't know, and I'll continue experimenting.

Due to the sluggish feeling, I had a cup of coffee -- my first in a couple months. This was not a good idea. I've never been much of a coffee drinker, and do continue to drink tea every so often, but that jolt of caffeine yesterday made me feel nasty. I should be able to feel energetic from my diet, so that I don't need coffee.

Wow, this post wasn't so short after all.

I'm not sure if anyone besides my mom and grandparents are reading this blog yet, but if you are a paleo dieter and have read this post, what travel tips do you have? What do you do to keep it Caveman when you're a Road Warrior?

No comments:

Post a Comment