How to do a Whole30 while traveling (and get even MORE out of it)

nils-nedel-386683-unsplash.jpgWant to know how to DOMINATE your Whole30 while traveling?  I’ve completed three Whole30’s; during two of them, I was traveling OVER HALF the time and one of them I was in another country.   The first two were a struggle and the third felt like a breeze.  Here’s the secret to stop using travel as an excuse NOT to do Whole30 and see why it’s an ever better reason TO do it.

Here’s the secret – it’s simple, but of course, not EASY.  To do a whole30 while traveling you have to…

Flip Your Mindset!

The first two Whole30’s I struggled while traveling because I constantly thought about what I was “missing” by not having my kitchen.  Knowing that I COULD be eating delicious, 5 star dinners on Whole30 but instead was stuck eating boiled eggs and almonds for the 9th time that week was torture.

Here’s the tough love truth on traveling Whole30.  SOMETIMES you will go to Whole Foods and have a delicious, well-rounded meal of roasted sweet potatoes, grilled salmon, and spinach and you will love life.  Other times…you will be in your hotel room, exhausted and staring at your hodge-podge dinner of walnuts, deli turkey, and an orange.  You’ll hate your 5 pm self that was too tired to go pick up chipotle and bring it back.  I GET IT.  But somewhere along the way, a light switched for me and I want to help that light come on for you sooner.

I realized that one of the BENEFITS of Whole30 while traveling was that not every meal is a spectacular explosion of taste.  Why is that a good thing?  Whole30 is supposed to be a diet where you can actually eat flavorful food that you enjoy, right?  Well, yes. BUT Whole30 is about more than just selecting ingredients that are on the “approved” list.  Whole30 is about learning how food affects and nourishes your body.  Sometimes that food will simultaneously be delicious, but sometimes food is just that, NOURISHMENT.  After all, keeping our bodies fueled is the core purpose of food.  Building up the strength to look at a bland meal and say “this is going to do its job of keeping me full and energetic until the next meal” even if the taste is 3/10 is SO incredibly useful.  If your traveling Whole30 meal fuels your body well and gives you sustained energy, it’s already doing so much more than most foods that only taste delicious.  Building the mental strength that I didn’t have to LOVE the taste of every meal has served me so well on and off the Whole30.

So, instead of travel being the reason you “can’t” do a whole30, let it be the reason you should.

Focus on the Benefits 

When you find yourself sad that you have to eat another meat stick from your purse at a restaurant remember what you’re gaining…

Self confidence! 

I truly believe that “self confidence is built internally, by keeping the promises we make to ourselves” -Ed Mylett.  If you promise yourself that regardless of travel you WILL stick to Whole30, you will be amazed at the growth of your self confidence.  A few months down the road when you’re trying to decide if that cheap, store-bought birthday cake is “worth it” you will remember the time you got stuck in a six hour meeting with only pecans to eat and you DID IT.  Not only did you survive, but when you looked around at your colleagues sugar crashing from the donuts someone brought to the meeting, you were HAPPY you didn’t have to choose between the trade-offs of eating them or not.  You were able to use that mental energy to get ready for a presentation that you crushed.  I’m not saying we should always have systems in place that limit our choices with rules as black and white as the Whole30, but I think imposing these limitations on ourselves for a temporary, set amount of time can set you up for success in the long run.

Strengthening your “say no to peer pressure” muscle

Whole30 in general is great for building self-discipline, but if you never venture outside of your own kitchen (where it is delicious Whole30 snacks galore and all non-compliant food has been ceremoniously burned) you’ll miss out on the growth opportunities that come with saying NO.  Many of us haven’t really worked our “say no to peer pressure” muscle since middle school and it definitely needs some reps.  I don’t use the term muscle here as a shallow metaphor, you really do have to practice at this to get stronger!

In addition to passing on wine at happy hour, a small part of me hated that to Whole30 outsiders it sometimes looked like I was on a diet that looked straight up miserable because my only compliant options were an orange and some jerky.  I couldn’t help but think, “if I just had my kitchen!!!”.  I knew I could cook them a meal and and have them saying “THIS is Whole30?!”.  But, when these nagging thoughts popped up in my mind I reminded myself WHY I was doing the Whole30 and guess what?  NONE of those reasons were about other people’s opinions.  I certainly didn’t need their “permission” to keep on eating in a way that served my body so dang well.

More energy!

Ever come home from a vacation and need a vacation to recover from your buffet or bar binge?  Yep, you can safely count that out for your traveling Whole30.  You’ll also love using the extra energy you get from your “tigerblood” to go for a run around your new city or to hit the hotel gym extra hard.  Traveling with a body that’s firing on all cylinders is more fun than a glass of wine on the plane, promise.

Focus on experiences

When your sugar dragon isn’t crying for more ice cream or you’re hitting an afternoon energy slump it’s hard to enjoy sight-seeing or stay at the top of your game when presenting to investors.  Taking out any potential negative impact of food allows you to be a more energetic for the experiences that do matter.  A huge turning point for me was when I got to have dinner with some old friends while traveling and we went to a steakhouse.  They laughed like crazy at my diva order (dry steak, only salt and pepper, no butter no flavor please) BUT then we spent the rest of the night laughing and re-living old memories.  While my dinner itself was a 3/10 on the taste scale, my dinner experience was off the charts.  I’ll take that over the most delicious Whole30 dinner alone in my hotel room any day.

Avoid Decision Fatigue

Because Whole30 automatically limits the choices of restaurants/foods you can pick, you have more brain power to decide what you want to see, do, and explore!  There’s a reason some of society’s most successful people do small things to remove daily decisions (hi Steve Jobs in your black turtleneck and Einstein with 5 versions of the same suit) it frees up your decision making power to go to the big things. Stop worrying about which pizza place you want to try, grab a bowl at Chipotle and head on to the next adventure!

Save Money

Traveling on a budget is WAY easier when you’re not buying alcohol and spend time to look for a local grocery store instead of last minute snack shopping at the airport.  You’re also likely avoiding lots of “extra” food (looking at you, ice cream) in between meals that you might be spending time, energy, and money on if you weren’t doing Whole30.  Your body and your pocketbook will thank you.

Lastly, “Discipline is Freedom” – Jocko Willink

If you stick to your Whole30 while traveling, you’ll find that the discipline and routine you create give you so much more freedom in other areas of your life.  This is hard to fully understand until experienced so I hope you give the traveling Whole30 a try and see for yourself!  What is stopping you from traveling on Whole30?  List your questions in the comments below! 🙂






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