I thought I had my gluten-free vegan diet down to a science…. until I was told I had to travel for work. Eek! I was nervous knowing I’d be in meetings all day and wasn’t sure how I’d fit my 6 meals in. And I got more nervous when I started to research the area. I was going to be traveling to a suburb of D.C. and I knew I wouldn’t have many options for restaurants. And the hotel definitely didn’t offer any healthy grab and go foods. Even if there were good options, I was really hesitant to stray from my new meal plan. So I started to panic.
I was only one week into my super strict diet when I had to fly out and didn’t want to fall of the wagon when I’d just started. I decided my only option was to pack as much food as I could in my luggage. It is too unpredictable to rely on restaurants, especially when you’re not sure of your schedule. Typically, when I’ve traveled for work in the past, my healthy eating went out the window — I took the opportunity to order room service, drink good wine, eat desserts, etc. as if it were vacation. This time I didn’t want to derail my plan but I also didn’t want to be left starving. The trip was going to be 4 LONG days and I knew I’d only bring carry on bags. So I did my research and figured out that my hotel room would have a refrigerator but not a microwave. This is what I packed:
- 4 servings of pre-made protein pancakes (1 scoop Vega protein powder + 1/2 cup oats + 1 tbsp almond butter = 1 serving). I packed them into plastic bags, froze them and on the day I left, I put them into a box that I got from a perfume free gift — it is about 8×10″ and 2 inches deep — to keep them from getting smashed).
- Canned beans — enough for 4 days
- Edamame (bagged and divided into 1/2 cup servings)
- Dry gluten-free oats (bagged and divided into 1/2 cup servings)
- Nuts (bagged and divided into 1/4 cup servings)
- Brown rice (the precooked bag from Trader Joe’s which has about three 1/2 cup servings)
- Vega protein powder packets
- Vega protein bars (just in case I ran out of other food or had something unexpected come up)
- Green tea bags (because I LOVE tea)
- Packets of almond butter (the individual ones that contain about 2 tbsps each)
I only packed fruits/veggies for the first day (I packed the food I’d need to eat the first day in the airport and on the plane in my smaller carry on bag and the rest in my roller bag). I knew I’d need a way to include the rest of the 5-6 servings of fruits/veggies a day in my plan! There was no way I could fit any more food in my suitcase, and I knew there was no easy way to keep produce fresh in a suitcase. So before I left I found a Whole Foods near my hotel so that when I landed, I could go straight there and loaded up on fresh produce — strawberries, apples, green beans, spinach, romaine and kale, as well as Tessemae’s salad dressing (which has 0 calories/carbs/etc).
And I mixed up my salad in my room using the ice bucket. 🙂
I was also perfectly honest with the people I was working with there. I told them I was on a strict diet and they were great about me bringing my Tupperware with me. We went to lunch one day to a steakhouse and I just ordered a salad. I also took food breaks when I needed to eat and although it felt awkward, they didn’t make me feel at all weird about it so that was a relief.
Luckily, the food I packed and bought got me through the whole trip. It took a LOT of planning but I’m glad I did it. Before I left, I honestly spent hours of my time planning it and writing up my meal plan for that 4 days, as well as prepping/measuring everything. The only issue I ran into with precooking some of the food was that the pancakes were pretty gross by the last day — they have nothing to preserve them so they were starting to smell funky and I threw the last 2 out. Also, I realized that edamame doesn’t keep more than 2 days so I had to eat the protein bars for 2 meals instead. But overall, I stuck to my diet the best that I could and I also worked out at the hotel gym, not once, but twice a day!! I really did my best and was quite happy that I didn’t spend the whole 4 days eating garbage and feeling gross. All it took was some preparation.