Traveling Tips For The SCD Diet
These days, traveling and getting away for a vacation takes a bit more planning and organizing to accommodate our lifestyle and dietary restrictions for Crohn's disease. In fact, almost anything we do these days takes more planning and organizing, but it has almost become second nature to me. Almost. The last thing I want to do is slip up and my son have a setback. It is not worth it! Hopefully this message will resonate with him one day and he will continue on the path of clean eating as he becomes more independent and enters high school and college.
In the meantime, he has his personal chef (ahem, me!) by his side.
Here are a few tips and suggestions I have gathered over the past couple years that have helped me stay on track when we travel. Traveling by car is obviously more convenient because we can pack a large cooler with cooked meals, supplies and ingredients but when we fly to our destinations it takes more planning and time to ensure that we stay within the strict guidelines of the SCD diet.
RESEARCH YOUR DESTINATION
We always stay somewhere that has a small kitchen or kitchenette so we are guaranteed space to cook and prepare meals and we have a refrigerator to store all the prepared food I pack. You'll want to scout out the grocery store and dining options. Try and find a local health food store if you can, but if not stick with fruits, vegetables and basic proteins and try and buy organic and non-GMO when possible. Consider writing out a grocery store list of basic items before you leave for your trip. (See sample list at the end of this post)
When we travel we usually cook breakfast and lunch in the hotel, condo or house we are staying in and go out for dinner. Since dining out can be expensive, especially on the SCD diet, cooking in may be the best option. However, as restaurant owners, I feel confident in telling you that dining out on SCD is doable! I'm in the process of writing a post on tips and suggestions but in the meantime, use these few ideas as a guideline.
Spend time researching the restaurants in the area you plan on visiting. You can quickly narrow down your list by crossing off fast food restaurants, some chain restaurants and bars because chances are they will have very limited options. Higher end restaurants are usually a safer way to go and often they are willing to work with you and accommodate your dietary needs. If the restaurant is local, organic and farm-to-table then you hit the jack pot! I strongly suggest calling ahead and don't hold back on saying your diet is allergy related. The word "allergy" will always grab their attention. While making your reservation let them know about your dietary restrictions. Ordering a plain meal is always best. Steak or salmon with no sauce, marinade or seasoning except salt, pepper and olive oil and ask for steamed veggies as a side. I would be cautious with chicken, unless it is guaranteed all-natural or organic. Most chicken served in restaurants contain fillers that are not SCD legal and contain preservatives. Salads are okay but make sure they don't have croutons, processed cheese or dressing on them. Always stay away from salad dressings and soups in restaurants! Ask for olive oil and lemons to use as dressing and then add salt and pepper as needed.
When traveling I usually pack these staples and carry them in my purse: salad dressing, ketchup, mustard and honey.
I bring snacks everywhere we go. My purse is always loaded with various snacks and you can usually find additional snacks in my son's backpack, soccer bag and even in our car. When they pass out drinks and goodies on the plane you can dig into your snack pack and pull out your own treat. Plus, it's always good to have a small bite to eat for long car drives or long waits at the airport. I always put a snack bar in my son's coat pocket, as well as honey drops and money in case he needs to purchase a water.
Here is a list of my go-to travel snacks: (click on the item to purchase or view more info)
Dried Fruit Snacks*
Hard Boiled Eggs
Nuts or Homemade Trail-mix
Mini Muffins, made ahead of time and frozen
Honey Drops or Honey Sticks
Homemade Yogurt in glass jars
Banana Bread, made ahead of time and frozen
DON'T FORGET THE ESSENTIALS
I've found that sometimes I get so wrapped up in preparing food, researching my destination and packing snacks that I forget about the essentials! It's best if you make a checklist before you even begin to pack for your trip. You'll want to consider your activities and what you will be doing on each day of the trip. What snacks should you bring on those adventures? Will you have a picnic one day and if so, what do you need? Are you eating out and will you need to bring condiments? And remember, your goal while away is to adhere to the SCD diet. You'll want to continue making and eating yogurt in order to ensure you are feeding your gut with beneficial bacteria. I know it sounds complicated and making yogurt may be the last thing you want to do on vacation, but I promise, once you get it down it is extremely easy and you can't beat the benefits.
These items may vary, depending on how far you are traveling and if you are driving or flying, but here are some essential items to consider:
Spices - I always travel with Paleo Powder
Medical Kit (I always bring this with me)
Benadryl (Another item I never leave home without)
BPA Free Water Bottle
Small Soft Cooler
You may want to pack additional foods in your suitcase, especially if you're checking it at the airport. By bringing nut butters, ghee, coconut oil, frozen bone broth, olive oil and so forth, you are able to save money at the grocery store. In the past I have packed an entire small suitcase with food, but I'll be honest, these days it is easier for me to purchase these items at the local store and bring home what I don't use.
ALWAYS BE PREPARED
I have found it's always better to be over prepared than under prepared. Bring more food than you think you may need. Pack the medical kit, you never know. Toss in the heating pad, you never know when a stomach ache could occur. There have been moments when I pulled out the SCD legal ketchup and it literally made my son's night. I've come to realize that these little moments mean so much to him and offer a chance of "normalcy" when it comes to eating out or enjoying the dining experience.
RELAX AND ENJOY
Whether you're going across the country or away for a weekend soccer tournament, prepping to go out of town while on the SCD diet is extremely time consuming and exhausting. The majority of the hard work takes place before you even leave. When you get to your final destination, relax and enjoy yourself. For me, I work hard before we leave so I can actually relax and enjoy the time away with my husband and children. Even if we're just going two hours away for a weekend tournament, I know I have plenty of food and I can focus my time on having fun with the family.
SAMPLE GROCERY STORE LIST
fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, aged cheese, olives, honey, tea, Welches grape juice or other legal juice, eggs, bacon, coconut oil, olive oil, peanut butter (use with apples & celery and make sure it is legal and free of sugar & additives), chicken for roasting, fresh fish, organic free-range meats, almonds, almond flour, bananas and other smoothie ingredients, kale & beets to make chips, avocados, salt, lettuce for salads and wraps
When traveling I usually keep breakfast and lunch simple. Scrambled eggs with sautéed kale and bacon, smoothies or banana bread. For lunch it's usually salads, roasted chicken with veggies, fish with veggies, or sautéed veggies in lettuce wraps.
*These items appear SCD compliant but I have not verified this with the company, therefore if you try this item proceed with caution and only introduce when you are symptom free.
We waited until there were NO symptoms before adding prepared products to the diet.