I had to take quite a few trips while on the GAPS diet, a gut-healing diet that restricts many foods, including all grains, sugar, starchy vegetables and most beans, to name a few. This meant I couldn’t eat out at most restaurants. I was also on a budget and wanted to save money. So I packed up all my food and brought it with me on the plane. Even though I have since graduated from the GAPS diet, I still bring mostly the same foods on my solo trips to maintain a healthy diet and to save money from eating out.
Flying with your own food
If you’re flying, you need to know what food is and is not allowed in your checked and carry-on luggage. Here is TSA’s list of foods prohibited through airport security (click on the Food tab). According to TSA’s list, it appears all foods are allowed in your checked luggage. In general, liquidy foods such as yogurt and salsa that are more than 3.4 ounces are not allowed in your carry-on through airport security. But frozen liquids in any amount are allowed on your carry-on! There will always be a food that is in the grey area, and whether or not your food gets a pass depends on the TSA officer inspecting your food.
The GAPS diet requires the daily consumption of homemade bone broth to heal the lining of a leaky gut. I usually consumed my bone broth in the form of soup at home. So I would make a pot of soup in a base of bone broth, freeze a pint or quart in a plastic container, and eat the rest for a few days. Over a few months I would have plenty of frozen soup ready to take on my next trip in my carry-on. I just packed my frozen soup in ziplock bags right before heading to the airport. When I went through airport security, I would place my frozen soup in the bins so they could inspect it. Otherwise, they would spot it on their x-ray screens and ask me to take it out of my suitcase to inspect it. At the end of my cross-country trip, the soup will still be 95% frozen.
Before leaving for the airport, I may heat up solid leftovers in my toaster oven, store them in my two small thermoses and eat them at the airport. (Actually last time I was in such a hurry I didn’t have time to heat them up so I brought them cold and asked a deli to heat up my food in the microwave).
I’ve even successfully brought frozen homemade salad dressing in a jar so I could have a salad while eating out. (Salad dressing at restaurants are almost always made with canola or soybean oil instead of pure extra-virgin olive oil).
I would also bring plenty of snack food to go along with my soup. Here’s a list of foods I would bring:
- Lara bars
- bell pepper
- Plantain chips
- Meat jerky bars, such as Epic or Tanka
- Raw milk organic cheese with plastic knife
- Hard-boiled pastured eggs with sea salt in a plastic baggy
- Wild Planet canned deep-sea cold water fish such as anchovies (it’s not too fishy), mackerel or sardines (all very nutrient-dense!)
- Gluten-free crackers to go along with the fish (post GAPS)
- Celery, almond butter and raisins to make Ants on a Log
If staying at a hotel (as opposed to an AirBnb with a kitchen), I would bring a hot plate. You can get these for $25. Instead of bringing a small pot to heat up my soup, I used an old bowl and it heat up directly on the hot plate. I brought thermoses to bring my heated up soup from the hotel to wherever I was going (usually a training).
I often stayed at Air Bnb’s (where you rent out someone’s home), but when I had a hotel room I would make sure it had a mini fridge to store all my food. Many hotels have a policy prohibiting the use of hot plates for fire safety. I never had an issue with using one anyway.
I liked bringing all my ready-to-eat food on a trip because I didn’t have the time or energy to cook my own food then. But staying at an Air Bnb is also an excellent option because you can go grocery shopping upon arrival at your destination and then cook all your own food.
If my training didn’t provide bottled water, I would visit the nearest grocery store and buy a couple gallons of spring water to avoid drinking tap water. I would also buy some more food, like organic berries and creme fraiche (true sour cream), which would not have been allowed over 3.4 ounces on the plane, and some kombucha.
I also bring my own tea mug, tea bags and less than 3.4 ounces of honey in a small jar (when on GAPS). If I drank coffee, I would bring whole cane sugar and frozen coconut cream or coconut oil for creamer. This allows me to avoid drinking out of a Styrofoam cup that some airlines serve their drinks in, avoid using paper cups, save me money spent at the coffee shop, and avoid having to use the sugar and ultra-pasteurized cream they provide. And never forget your water bottle!
Healthy food, healthy relationships
Eating healthy on a trip (and in life) should not alienate you from your friends, family and colleagues. Of course if I go on a family trip I don’t bring my own food as I no longer have the food restrictions I used to while on GAPS. But if you have a true gluten allergy, innumerable food intolerances, or you need to stick to a temporary therapeutic diet to heal your body, you won’t be able to eat the same foods with your companions. Make arrangements so you can still socialize with them outside of eating, or suggest a restaurant that would have healthier options that you can eat, if possible.
Eating healthy while out of town for work long term
What if you have to live out of a hotel for work for months at a time? I would try to stay at an Air Bnb with a kitchen and cook your own food. If that isn’t possible, eat as much whole foods as possible from the grocery store in terms of snack food and try to cook as much whole foods as you can with the hot plate. Also find out where are the healthier restaurants in town. Many cities have a Chipotle, which uses better ingredients than most restaurants.