Following a healing diet, or dealing with intolerances/allergies is just a part everyday life for those of us with IBD or digestive issues. We've learned to overcome the challenges that vacationing can present, had countless one-on-one conversations with chefs, and truly, have learned to advocate for ourselves. We've modified our entire lives to revolve around food, and have scoped out and listed each restaurant we can order from within a 50 mile radius of wherever we happen to be at the time. Through years of practice, this has become second-nature for us, and has continually gotten easier and easier each trip we take.
But what about events like weddings, conferences, and parties that we have no control over what we are being served? You don't know how uncomfortable being the only one with an empty plate is until you've been there, quickly becoming the center of attention as everyone wants to know why you aren't eating. This use to completely freak me out, and there were many times I turned down invitations for this seemingly simple reason. But through lots of practice, self-reflection, and some simple planning, the question of declining an invitation due to this topic no longer even crosses my mind. I am going to take you through a quick-list of the mindset changes I made to ease my anxiety and place everything into perspective, and then, I'll give you my practical advice on how to fill your plate with travel-friendly snacks that your body will thank you for!
Top Mindset Shifts
#1: Understanding People’s Curiosity
-I use to dread people asking why my plate was empty, or why I brought my own food. I would literally plan out ways to veer conversation away from the topic, and avoid the questions by any means necessary. I didn’t want to sound picky or like I was avoiding what everyone else was eating due to some gluten-free or dairy-free fad I was following. When I took a step back and began to question myself as to why I was afraid or embarrassed of these questions, I began to gain perspective. I was afraid not because of the real reasoning for my dietary restrictions, but of what people may *think* if they were to guess on their own. So my solution? Just answer the questions! Be open. It’s completely understandable why someone might be curious of a person who always turns down food and has a Mary Poppins bag full of weird snacks at all times. I probably would be too. I am not embarrassed of my body or what is out of my control, but actually, I am proud of how knowledgable I have become about food and how it affects my body. Through health struggles, I have become so in tune with my body, which is something a lot of people never discover.
#2: Realizing the attention is not on me
- Yeah, you are probably receiving some extra attention due to your dietary restrictions, and people’s questions may began to make you feel like you are the topic of conversation, but you are not the main event! This was extremely relieving when I began to take this into consideration. Simply focusing on what or who you are there for makes your empty plate or bag full of snacks seem way less significant.
-I feel like one of the biggest reasons we are self conscious of standing out is simply because of a lack of self-love. At home, or when we are surrounded by a community of others dealing with the same thing, it’s much easier to feel motivated and passionate about healing than when in a crowd full of people would are seemingly healthy. When you are in a situation like this, it is easy to get into the state of resenting our bodies, and hating it for constantly putting you in these uncomfortable, inconvenient situations. Learning self-love all starts with a simple, but huge mindset shift. We must go from seeing our bodies as betraying us and remembering all the times it has failed, to being amazed by how many times it can bounce back and heal when we are working alongside it. In short, start looking on the bright side of what are bodies are capable of! Our bodies are truly incredible, but also, greatly depend on us to work in conjunction with it, instead of against it. When we begin to feel this unity, we not only gain respect for our bodies just as we would another human, but can actively begin working towards honoring it with every choice that we make. Sometimes, making the best decision for yourself is not the easiest, but when you truly love and respect someone, the reward greatly outweighs the sacrifice.
Sometimes you get lucky and you can pick around the buffet or plate to find fresh fruit, un-marinated chicken, or plain veggies. With an exception to the fresh fruit, anything else free of butter, nightshades, cheese, or canola oil is a rare find. So, let's talk about what to bring in case of the latter scenario so you can stay well-fed and sickness free the entire day, or weekend!
#1: Get Baking!
-So if we are talking about an entire weekend, I really suggest bringing more than just packaged foods. One of the things I miss most when I'm away from home is being able to bake, so plan out some snacks that can stay unrefridgerated a few days ahead of time! This trip I only brought my SCD Cinnamon Rolls, but on previous trips, I have brought banana bread, pumpkin cookies, protein balls, gummy bears, and so many other recipes that could survive room temperature. The more your stomach feels at home, the less grumpy it is going to be.
#2: Easy Protein
-A mistake I use to make ALL the time when first learning to pack meals/snacks for trips was I would always leave out protein. I simply had no clue how to get it in without eating chicken breast, and this took a major tole on my body. Your body NEEDS protein to heal, and stay full. So, whatever way this works for you, make it happen! My favorite favorite way to get in protein on the go is through Epic Jerky Bars. Not only does "The Whole Animal Project" guide their mission, but you're getting high quality, minimal ingredient real beef that is crazy hard to find. The only one I've found without nightshades is the Beef Apple Bacon one, but they're so delicious I don't even need more options. Sticking with Epic, another great way to get in protein while being an amazing substitute for chips is their pork rinds! AND they have one with only Himalayan pink salt, so again, you're avoiding those nightshades!
#3: Add Variety
-ANOTHER mistake I made when learning to travel with IBD was that I just bought a whole bunch of the same thing. By day 3 of eating the same two snacks, I was so over sweet potato chips and Lara Bars. SO, with that being said, get a decent amount of everything! I know that's vague, so I'm just gonna go ahead and list off some of my go-to favorite travel snacks!
-Wild Made Fruit Rolls
-Yo Yo Bear Fruit Rolls
-Rhythm Carrot Sticks
-Paleo Prime Cookies (Raspberry is my favorite)
-LaraBars (key lime is my favorite)
-Epic Pork Rinds
-Stretch Island Fruit Leathers
-Coconut Wraps (to wrap burgers, sandwiches, etc.)
-Jackson's Sweet Potato Chips (before I was SCD)
-Terra Plantain Chips (before I was SCD)
-Bubba's Fine Foods Banana Chips (don't seem to bother me on SCD in moderation even though they are made from green bananas. LOVE the Grand Garlic Parm (*pepper=small amount of nightshades) and Nacho Nacho)
-Coconut Flake Cereal from Thrive (for breakfast in the mornings)
And last tip, girl...whip it out of your bag like what you're doing is nothing out of the ordinary. The weirdest thing to do is to slowly, and awkwardly slip it out of your purse whilst hiding it under the table (BTW I'm saying this because I've been there). Spread it out your plate and eat along with everyone else!