How to do a Whole30 while traveling: Everything from research to must-pack snacks

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I’ve completed 2 rounds of Whole30 where I was traveling for OVER HALF of them (one of which I was in another country). It IS possible, and you can do it!
Lots of people don’t know how to do a Whole30 while traveling and, admittedly, it can add stress to an already strict program. BUT your energy is soaring, you feel on top of the world and are eating delicious food! Why not combine all of that awesomeness with a trip? If you’re new to the Whole30 this can be super-cala-fragilistic-expial-INTIMIDATING. But, if you put your planning hat and game face on you can travel Whole30 style with ease. Below are my top tips for traveling while on a Whole30. Let me know what you think and if you have questions!

 “Hope is not a strategy. Luck is not a factor” – James Cameron

Yes, this applies here. The key to traveling while doing Whole30 is plan, prepare, plan, and then prepare some more! You do NOT have to starve when traveling on Whole30!  The tough love truth is if you end up stranded without compliant food while traveling there’s a 99% chance it is due to lack of planning .   The good news is carrying around snacks in your purse is a great way to make friends so what’s stopping you??  Below is how to plan for a successful, delicious Whole30 while traveling.

Before leaving – What should I pack?

Emergency Snacks

    • The list of Whole30 emergency food is ENDLESS
    • One common mistake when traveling on Whole30 is to overload on fruit (especially dried) and nuts.  You definitely CAN eat these as part of your Whole30 diet but if they are your main food source for an extended period of time I guarantee you  will miss out on some major non-scale victories by not having a balanced meal
    • Here is the usual rotation that’s in my purse/backpack:
        • Epic meat bars/bites – uncured bacon bites and chicken sriracha are my faves
        •  RXBAR Almond Butter Travel Packs– The individual vanilla almond butter packs are heavenly by themselves or on top of some blueberries or a banana.  Click on the picture below to order them on amazon!
        • Collagen Peptides – Great for throwing in coffee to add some protein to your day.  I like that Vital Proteins sells single serve packets (also available at Whole Foods) for travel and I use Thrive Market when I’m at home to save cash money


     

First off, what are my restaurant options once I get there?

Restaurants

Most sit-down restaurants have menu options that can be modified for Whole30 or can plain grill some meat and veggies for you!  Additionally, Whole30 has now partnered with Zoe’s Kitchen and Chipotle so you KNOW you’re getting something compliant without the usual, rigorous list of questions (praise hands emoji).   Admittedly, ordering at chain restaurants you know cook with non-compliant oils is more difficult because they may have less flexibility to just “grill something plain” or make other adjustments (I love you chick-fil-a but that peanut oil is killin’ me) .

    • Zoe’s Kitchen Whole30 Menu – Try asking for the potato salad “grilled”!  Lots of people (like myself) prefer it served warm
    • Whole30 Chipotle Bowl – Don’t be afraid to mix it up, literally!  You can take the basic Whole30 bowl back to your hotel room, mix in some sauteed spinach and cabbage then top with tessamae’s ranch for an entirely different flavor profile.  Declare war on food boredom and you will win.
    • If you’re in a pickle: often times a plain grilled steak (or other meat) and baked sweet or regular potato with no toppings are easy to order at a “standard american” restaurant.  Then just verify they’re not using any sauce and any seasoning is free of sugar, gluten, etc. and you’re good to go!  Of course, food cooked this way isn’t always 5 stars on the taste scale but once again, purse food to the rescue.  Particularly Tessemae’s new individual packs of salad dressing are a life saver!  Dry chicken?  Boring baked potato?  Tessamae’s covers a multitude of cooking sins.  A side of sliced avocado or hot sauce (check your brand) can do wonders in this situation as well.
  • Yelp. Google. Check food blogs.  Back to Yelp.  Searching “gluten-free restaurant” can find options that are more health conscious and likely more flexible for a weird order.  Yep, you are going to be that person at the table and you need to get over it NOW……feeling better than you’ve ever felt trumps any weird looks you get.

What grocery stores are available?

Grocery stores

A rock-solid grocery stop as soon as you get into town can set you up for success for your entire trip.  Make a list, check it twice (then thrice), and conquer.

My personal favorites for prepared food are Whole Foods and Plum Market.  In my experience Whole Foods has more Whole30 options at their hot bar but both label all their ingredients so you can find something compliant.

If you’re grocery shopping somewhere without compliant prepared foods, here are some meal template tips:

  • Protein/fat: Deli meat, jerky, and boiled eggs may be your best options.
    • Applegate has some awesome deli meat options and more and more brands are coming out with compliant jerky.
    • Remember with these more “bland items” you can always add sauces, condiments etc. to pack a flavor punch. Add some mustard, avocado or your favorite Whole30 sauce to your deli meat to up the flavor.
    • I swear by boiled eggs with guacamole for a hotel breakfast and bonus points because it can all be eaten cold, no microwave required.
  • Veggies: In this scenario, raw veggies are your friend.  One of my favorite ways to sneak them in is raw veggies dipped in ranch, guacamole, or salsa!
    • Sliced cucumbers as a “chip” are life savers.  Often sold pre-sliced with hummus packs (for now just throw away the hummus…it’s sad but temporary)
    • Veggie trays are great – just add your favorite compliant dip
    • A bag of spinach may be your best friend if you can find some compliant meat to top it
    • Many stores sell raw, sliced bell peppers and onions as “fajita veggies”.  No cutting required.
  • Fruit: Arguably the easiest to get at a grocery store but also the easiest to over do.  Remember, fruit on its own will not really fill you up or help you achieve sustained energy levels.  I’m not saying “never” eat it by itself…just try to add some protein and fat into the mix if at all possible!  Berries or a banana topped with nut butter and jerky on the side can tide you over really well.  That being said, there may come a time when literally the only thing you can find to eat is a banana at starbucks and you’re super hungry and OMG what do you do…you EAT IT and then move on knowing you need to #plansomeprotein for your next meal or snack.  Thank you, next.

Appliances

  • Know what appliances are available at your hotel/air BNB/VRBO/sister’s couch:
    • You will be shocked at the meals you can put together with just a fridge and a microwave.  Just make sure you have the necessary tools for a hotel-room dinner (microwavable plates/bowls and silverware…..most hotels with room service can provide these for you if you don’t want to buy single use products at the grocery store).

Focus on your WHY

Before you set out on a traveling Whole30 (or, any Whole30) you want to be absolutely crystal clear on WHY you’re doing this.  The number on the scale is not enough.  Do you want more energy?  Better sleep?  The confidence that comes from keeping a promise to yourself?  Whatever your reasons are…. know them!  Re-visit them when you are sitting next to your co-worker eating that break room coffee cake you used to dearly love.  Remember these challenges will only create stronger, healthier habits.  Your self discipline doesn’t increase as much by going home to your “all compliant ingredients, whole30 proof, gluten free heaven” of a kitchen.  View this as a benefit of traveling when you’re on Whole30!  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I promise that passing on the bread basket at a company dinner will not kill you.

Long story short: YOU GOT THIS.

Let me know what you think about the post above!! What do you struggle with when traveling on your Whole30?  What would help you out?

Photo by Jairph on Unsplash

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