This year the COVID has us all on lockdown here in NJ and thinking differently about summer. But at the very least, a day away from home is in the works because the walls are closin’ in. And since no one here is taking a cross-ocean flight any time soon… I’m gearing you up for a road trip and some gluten-free travel tips!
Because you’re gonna need to eat.
(As well as enjoy drinks at 5 pm at the “shore” when the lifeguards go off duty, and the sun is warm and golden, and your kids are splashing in the waves – check out the bonus recipe linked at the end.)
When I put my clients on a gluten elimination, I see disdain and fear, sometimes a tear. “Am I ever going to eat delicious food again?!”
You will! I promise: gluten-free people are still fun and eat fun foods.
But there’s nothing worse than waking up on vacation with your old symptoms… migraines, joint pain, stomach ache. You know what I’m sayin’. You’ve been there before.
So whether your plans are keeping you near or far, if you’re newly gluten-free or a lifer, here’s a list of gluten-free travel tips to keep you healthy, and happy while traveling.
If you do nothing else, go download Find Me Gluten Free! Because there’s a big difference to your body between a restaurant where they’ve never heard the word “gluten” and one where the server helps you navigate the menu like the GF ninja you need to be. Use your location or type in where you’re going and voila: endless lists of local eateries.
Menu Search and Research
You’ve researched everything under the sun (like the answer to your 3rd grader’s math during distance learning), now research restaurants. And get specific! For example, we love a barbecue place in Philly called Sweet Lucys. When I googled “Sweet Lucy’s gluten-free” guess what… an ENTIRE allergen menu came up. Do that for every restaurant you’re going to, always, and especially when traveling.
Don’t Be Afraid to Look for Local Gems, too
Search for famous food in Portsmouth, NJ and you get “popovers”. Now search for “Gluten-Free Popovers in Portsmouth, NH” and find yourself on the quintessential New England square spreading maple butter on a yummy GF flaky pastry. You’re Welcome. Seriously – search for the local fare! There are so many of us GF geeks now; we even get our special allergy-free version of “famous” things. Like crab fries at the boardwalk in NJ – totally GF.
Kick it Old School
When I was a kid, we would drive from NJ to Boston every few months to see my grandparents, and the best part of the drive was the cooler we packed (and the Traveling Wilbury’s cassette tape on blast). My dad threw sandwiches around the car like he was feeding chickens. So throw it back old school – Don’t rely on rest stop food. I try hard, like really hard, to get my clients to rely on foods in their whole form. MOST of the time. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for: GF bread. Grab a bag of Canyon Ranch and slap on some turkey and a guacamole cup (trust). Some peanut butter/almond butter/sun butter and strawberry jam. These are the times to enjoy the things you did as a kid. They make us feel nostalgic! The one white bread sandwich on your family road trip isn’t going to make or break your long term health.
Build a Mini Meal
Going on a hike? Dried meat, fruit, and nuts make for a mini-meal. I was never a jerky girl (don’t get confused, I’m a sarcastic a-hole a lot of the time, just not a jerk.) Jerky, as in dried beef. Until I tried these Chomps. I did a grocery store tour with a client, and I showed her where the Chomps sticks were, and she was all “I’ve never had this before.” I get it. We’re not the snap into a slim jim demographic. But she reluctantly tried a stick. “Oh my God, I LOVE them. I buy them every time I see them now. I can’t believe it.” So take your new beloved Chomps (protein), a small pack of nuts or seeds (healthy fat), and a piece of fruit (carb). It’s a mini-meal!
I don’t love a shake. Food needs to be chewed – chewing is the first step in the digestive process, firing up enzymes in the saliva to begin breaking down food. Food also needs to be tasted and enjoyed, not sucked through a straw if you can help it. I digress. Protein shakes. The only time I really recommend this is traveling. I haven’t found a store-bought one I love, but I have a couple of bags of Truvani in my pantry for when I travel. All you need is a scoop in an empty shaker bottle and water. With a piece of fruit, another mini-meal.
Use Your Words
And the worst-case scenario, I can’t believe I’m recommending this because I have such anxiety… Just pick up the phone and call. Where’d I learned that bold move? My gluten-free 14-year-old daughter has zero phone anxiety (thank goodness, because I get the shakes when my inlaws start passing the phone around to talk to absent family members on holidays). Don’t be like me. Be like my daughter. Ask the simple question, “do you have gluten-free options on your menu?” I always expect to be treated like a high maintenance pain in the a$$ – that’s my own issue. Most places want you to eat there and are happy to guide you through their door.
Here’s your beach BONUS: Make a pitcher of these Paloma Cocktails. Bring them everywhere. I’m obsessed with grapefruit this summer!
Listen, in a perfect world, our plate is full of colorful fruits and veggies, healthy fats, animal protein every time.
But we live in the real world, and I’m keepin’ it realistic for you to stay gluten-free (and symptom-free). All while connecting to your family and the world around you, and yes, that includes food and the emotions, memories, and excitement it can create. Exactly how it should be.
Wondering if a GF lifestyle is for you? Contact me.