5 Travel Tips for Restrictive Eating on Vacation

Restrictive eating sounds different to me than it did once I began this journey. I’m almost a year in to eating the way I do (paleo, grain-free, refined sugar free) and I feel much more freedom in it than I did in the beginning. One of the more difficult parts of being grain-free, though, is travel. The balance of indulging while still staying safe, being a good steward of my body and taking care of my health in the long-term rather than prioritizing that small moment can be difficult. Trust. It’s not always easy, but our trip to L.A. last week has put my skills to the test and I’m excited to share these go-to tips.

Before I begin, I want to say that O and I truly base where we’ll travel on our kid-free trips off of what we’ll be able to eat. This is why we frequent NYC and LA. While I’d love to go to the islands or really remote places, until my body is in more of a stable and healed place it’s just not the best decision. With O being fully vegan (I’m dairy free but not vegan), we have to take into consideration that if we travel to places that don’t cater to his diet he’ll be eating strictly fruit and veggies the whole trip. That’s fun for absolutely no one. At home, I cook all of our meals and only eat outside the house about 8% of the time. For this reason, we pretty much base our solo trips off of food and while it sounds a bit ridiculous, it makes the vacation a vacation for us.

1. If you’re on a strict vitamin regimen like I am, you’re probably dreading lugging all those around on your trip. My nutritionist recommended these bead bags from Amazon and they’ve been a game changer these past few months. I brought full bottles of all my vitamins and powders and concoctions and before heading out for the day, filled the bags with whatever vitamins were necessary for the three different meals of the day. This keeps me from jingling and jangling around as I go and allows me to carry my small purse. Win.

the delectable millet from Sqirl

the most delicious cinnamon collagen latte and chocolate caramel cake from the 100% grain, dairy and refined-sugar free Sweet Laurel Bakery

2. PLAN AHEAD. Plan, plan, plan. I’ve done some extremely poor planning in the past and not only does it add stress and take time from every day, it’s just plain unsafe. I spend time before every trip making a master list of everywhere I’d like to eat. This includes a blanket google search of “best vegan restaurants in…” and “top gluten-free restaurants in…” and that is a great place to begin a deeper menu dive. I look for keywords like organic, gluten-free option available and love a good mission statements about things restaurants always/never use.

This is especially helpful for treats and splurges so when your sweet tooth hits, you’ve already got a list of things you know make the cut.

3. Find a health-food store when you land. Nine times out of ten, when you’re traveling within the U.S. at least, there will be a healthy store you can make a quick stop at to stock up. I love having things like organic beef jerky, RX bars, Hu dark chocolate bars, Simple Mills crackers and plenty of fruit on hand. We also love to make a salad or two and grab some green juices.

If you don’t have a fridge in your room, only get packaged things. Luckily for us we had a sink, fridge and microwave in our hotel room. When we’re traveling with kids, I always go for the Airbnb option so I can cook for us. If I’m traveling with just O, you better believe I’m not cooking–this way it’s a true vacation for both of us!

The doughnuts from the always 100% gluten free and vegan Erin Mckenna

4. Take advantage of food delivery services. Postmates and Door Dash and all those wonderful things aren’t an option for me at home. For this reason, we go HARD on these services when we travel. We often time it up that we’ll go out to breakfast and order food as we walk around and sight see afterward so our food will be waiting for us at the front desk later on. It’s wonderful! But if I’m ordering from a restaurant that isn’t exclusively gluten-free or dairy free, I’ll double check. If i’m pleasantly surprised by how “cheesy” a vegan cheese looks, I don’t hesitate to call the restaurant to be sure there wasn’t a mistake. Unfortunately, things to get lost in translation sometimes and they send the regular option instead of the gf/df option. Other times, they’re just THAT good! Better safe than sorry.

O’s vegan fig and cashew-ricotta cheese pizza from the Butchers Daughter

The vegan ‘crab cake’ also from the Butchers Daughter in Venice Beach

5. Ask questions. All the questions. If you’re at a restaurant that expresses it’s willingness to cater to different diets, nine times out of ten, they’re able to make changes to their menu items. These don’t tend to be the places that have food they’re being sent from out of town and heating up in the microwave-they’re able to sub things out and add things in. Ask for an item to be made with olive oil instead of butter. Ask if you can get the grain-free crust with the toppings you wanted. There is no harm in asking.

Before Hashimoto’s, I would never ask any questions. I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone or waste a waiter’s time but I always put myself in their shoes and I know I wouldn’t ever mind answering that question or helping however I was able to.

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