Travel Means Being Away From Your Kitchen
Travel while on the SCD should be defined as being away from your home for over one half an hour. You cannot depend on finding allowable food outside of your kitchen, and especially not in vending machines, at convenience stores or at fast food places. Early on following SCD, or any special diet for that matter, it is vitally important to get into the habit of being prepared. An insulated lunch box with reusable "blue ice" is a must. In the beginning, it seems overwhelming but after a while, you will get the hang of it and work it automatically into your routine.
At The Movies
Wendy posts - When I go to theater or the movies, I bring some almonds in a baggie in my purse or pocket so if I get hungry, I am not tempted by the pervasive candies or popcorn in the lobby. I bring my own water so I can ignore the sodas they sell.
At a Motel or Hotel
If you are staying in a motel or hotel, try to get one with a kitchen, kitchenette or at least a mini-refrigerator and a microwave. Think about grocery stores first, rather than restaurants. Use the internet beforehand to locate grocery stores en route and at your destination.
The Easiest Vacation Travel
For vacation travel, renting an apartment at a timeshare resort or a vacation condo can be the easiest form of accommodation for those on SCD or any special diet. Most timeshares and vacation condos are apartment style condos with full kitchens. You can confirm what kitchen equipment is available beforehand when you make your reservation. Most timeshares have public rentals available and individual owners also put their own weeks up for rent. Timeshare ownership is not required. RCI and other timeshare exchange services frequently have units available. There are often bargains for those who can go at the last minute or at less popular times. Persons who own their own vacation condo often put their condo up for rent on a week-end or weekly basis for most of the year and pay a management company to take care of the cleaning. Like a hotel or motel, timeshare and vacation condos are cleaned and the beds made up for each new arrival. Both timeshare and vacation condos usually offer completely furnished kitchens (e.g. silverware, dishes, pots, cooking utensils, coffee maker, tea kettle, toaster, baking pans) as well as the usual linens and towels. Just bring your yogurt maker and starter, head to the grocery store when you arrive, and you are all set.
Wendy posts - We were at a condo for a vacation at a time when I had just started SCD. I was at my most delicate stage and I did not feel comfortable going out and sitting in a restaurant for dinner. I was not up to cooking for everybody and besides this was supposed to be a vacation. We could still had nice family dinners at the vacation condo.
I prepared my own food while the rest of the family brought in their favorite take-out from the local restaurants. We all sat down at the dining table together. Everyone was happy and we enjoyed our vacation.
Both vacation condos and timeshares are the closest to home style living, your home away from home. A one bedroom condo typically sleeps four persons as the living room sofa is a sleep sofa (usually queen size). The typical two bedroom unit has a queen size bed in one bedroom, twin beds in the other bedroom and sleeps a total of six persons when you include the sleep sofa. Both vacation condos and timeshares are usually located in beautiful places: in the mountains, on a golf course, at the beach or near fabulous destination places (e.g. Disneyland). They also may have the usual vacation amenities such as a swimming pool or an exercise room.
Attending an Overnight Conference
If you are going to stay overnight at a conference or out of town business meeting, we suggest that you e-mail the hotel manager ahead of time. Our experienced travelers find that the manager will usually do his best to work with you. Our experienced travelers also find that talking about "gluten free and food allergies" is the most effective way to describe our needs on SCD to food service personnel. Everyone is more comfortable discussing medical needs rather than digestive problems. When you get there, meet with the manager in person. You may want to have printed out what you want to eat and how it needs to be prepared. Some places will put a mini fridge in the room and also allow some food storage in their kitchen for people with medical needs, or give you a suite with mini fridge for a modest charge.
Out for the Day
Caution. Never go out of the house for any length of time without taking permissible SCD food with you. Those on the specific carbohydrate diet have to eat more frequently than others. Especially in the beginning and at certain transition periods, hunger can strike unexpectedly at any time. Wendy posted - I always keep a bag of almonds in the back seat of my car just in case I get "the hungrys" and I forgot to bring something. I usually bring along ripe bananas. They are my convenient "on the go" snack or when out of the house at lunch time. I buy a lot of bananas so I will always have ripe ones available. Elaine defined ripe as having some brown spots on the skin. If you can tolerate cheese, you can take a few slices wrapped in plastic wrap. Aged cheddar cheese is an item to remember when you are stuck as cheese can be purchased in any grocery store and even at a convenience store for a satisfying snack. A supply of hard boiled eggs is good to have on hand for snacks "on the go." Hard boiled eggs last well without refrigeration.One has to plan the food for any entire trip with at least as much attention as for any of the activities. Wendy posted - Last Thanksgiving week-end, we had to pick up my niece from college to bring her back to my home for the week-end. If there is no traffic, it is about a two hour drive each way and the route is fairly rural. Because my niece had a late afternoon class that day, we had to pick her up just before dinner time. I knew that we would have to eat on the road with no decent restaurants on the way that we could use. I was on SCD and she was on a similarly restricted diet.
Night falls early in November in cold New England. None the less, we had a successful and quick picnic dinner en route in the car parked at the back of a Burger King parking lot. We parked well away from the line of drive up window cars, under a lamp post so we could see what we were eating without running the car motor. I had brought a insulated shopping bag with blue ice in the bottom, food, paper plates and napkins. We had cold broiled chicken thighs, chunks of cheese, ripe bananas, cold steamed carrot nuggets and almonds.
We also made it a point to be customers at Burger King. We bought bottled water and my spouse, who is not on SCD, bought french fries for himself. We used the facilities. Everything went splendidly. We put all our trash in a plastic shopping bag, tied it closed, dropped it into the trash can and off we went.
The trick to eating messy things on the go in places where it is hard to use a knife and fork, is to pack each individual serving (such as a chicken thigh) in a small baggie or take a few small baggies with you. At mealtime, peel back the opening of the bag, keep the food partly in the baggie and use the baggie as a holder. The baggie keeps your fingers clean and the food is easier to hold as it is less slippery. The bones can be left in the baggie and then resealed for easy transport home or until a trash can is found. </p>
Travel By Car
PJ posted - I purchased a mini car fridge for car trips, and I also pack a large cooler. I make and freeze food items ahead of time, including tons of yogurt. I try to stay in hotels with kitchenettes, or at a minimum, a refrigerator and a microwave. I have "blue ice" for the cooler. If my food does not fit in the hotel fridge, often the hotels are kind enough to put my coolers in their kitchen freezer for me overnight so I can keep my food cold. On one trip the man at the hotel desk looked at my coolers and asked me if I was packing for the Apocalypse. It was odd at first but now my hubby and kids prefer my food to fast food on the road and now I pack extra for them.
Marilyn posted - Take a small Foreman grill, a small electric fry pan and your hand blender. If you are staying in motels or hotels, try to get one with a kitchenette. Take foods that you have prepared for a few days. Where you can, go to the grocery store, shop for small quantities of meats and grill them on the grill. Use the fry pan to simmer your veggies in, then, if necessary, puree them with the stick blender. Doing your own cooking may even cut down on your travel expenses since you are not eating out.
Foods that do not need refrigeration are handy to bring along. Ripe bananas, hard boiled eggs, cooked meats, canned salmon or tuna fish in oil, nut bread and cheese can last a few hours without refrigeration. Your own squeeze bottle of honey, your favorite permissible spices and other personal favorites will make life on the road more tolerable.
Bring a can opener, plastic silverware, paper plates, paper napkins, paper towels, paper napkins, plastic storage bags, small trash bags, "wash and dry" wipes or a can of wet wipes. You will have a long list and a lot of preparation, but it will serve you well if you do it. Google for state parks or picnic areas for a nice spot to lunch. Large, reusable plastic grocery bags can have different categories of supplies.
If you do eat out, plan to eat at better restaurants. It is easier to get simple broiled fish or meat and steamed vegetables at a better place. Avoid fast food places. There is nothing there that you can eat except bottled water. For meals, at breakfast you can have an omelet with permissible ingredients. Lunch is usually the hardest meal to buy in a restaurant. Get some canned tuna or salmon. You can find permissible types packed in oil. Avoid those packed in water or broth as you will not know what has been put in the liquid. Chicken in a restaurant has frequently been soaked in various things not permitted on SCd.
What foods are handy to take while traveling overnight very much depends on the type of travel and what facilities are available at your destination. For example SCD permissible brands of canned tuna fish or canned salmon are excellent choices for a car trip roadside picnic, eating a meal in your motel room or bringing along to a family gathering as an emergency entree just in cast your hostess served an inappropriate entree or inadvertently put impermissible ingredients into it. However, opening a can of tinned fish is way too messy to risk eating in your seat on a train or on an airplane.
The key, as always is to scope out the situation beforehand and to plan. Use the internet with its wonderful search capabilities. You can know in advance the availability and location of quality grocery stores at your destination and en route where you can get fresh foods. Bring along an electric skillet and a spatula and you can manage anywhere. Bring probiotics in capsule form if it is not practical to make to bring yogurt.
You may have cooking facilities available to you at the other end. At a family gathering at someone's home, you may be staying at the home or at a motel nearby. With access to the kitchen during the day, you can make SCD yogurt if you have room to take the yogurt maker and some yogurt starter in the car.
Some foods travel well without refrigeration, are easy to eat, and are generally good things to bring along as part of a meal or as back up. Nuts, bananas, permissible cheeses, hard boiled eggs, homemade turkey jerky and your favorite SCD crackers.
Cooked meats, yogurt that is frozen before you leave and even almond flour or nut bread can travel in a cooler and then be stored in a refrigerator if one is available at your destination. Do not be afraid to bring your own. Do not expect people to understand your diet, even relatives. The code work is allergies. Be sure that you always have on hand food that you can safely eat. Do not succumb to social pressure from the well meaning but uninformed. There are no holidays on SCD. Eating something you should not just to be polite can cause a set back that can ruin your trip.
Breakfast is usually the easiest meal - eggs are a mainstay. Have an omelet with permissible ingredients. Depending on how you are traveling, you can bring your own salad dressings, condiments and a squeeze bottle of honey. Save the list you made for one trip as it will be handy for the next. Lunch is the trickiest. That may be where the canned fish comes in handy.
Travel By Plane
The federal TSA restrictions can be difficult for all of us, but are especially challenging for those on SCD. You must plan to bring your own food as there will be nothing that you can eat that is served on an airplane and you will be challenged to find something in the limited food service at the airports. Be sure to pack extra for possible flight delays. Plan with regard to the type of cooking and food storage facilities you will have at your destination. Are you staying at a hotel or a private home?
Unless you own (and have the patience to fill) a hundred three ounce containers, don't bother taking yogurt on an airplane flight. Note that pureed foods spoil rapidly because there is so much exposed surfaces. If you need pureed vegetables, they have to be frozen beforehand. Marilyn posted - I would cook and maybe slice some chicken breasts and beef patties and bag them separately in zip lock baggies. Place them in an insulated pack. Carry two one quart bags with you -- one with ice that you can ditch before you get to the security check point, and the other empty. Once through the check point, go to one of the food stands, buy a
bottle of water, and ask them to fill your second bag with ice, to keep your food safe on the flight. Alternatively, you could bring a bag of cooked and then frozen vegetables to use as "ice." Then cook it at your destination.
Dave posted - After you reach your destination by plane, you may wish to bring a few cooking utensils and consider purchasing an electric frying pan. The pans cost 30 to 40 bucks. You can buy a steak and some vegetables at a grocery, cook it all in the hotel room, and wash the pan out in the shower/bath. Dave has done this many times. If you cannot transport the pan back, you can leave it in the room for the maid or direct it to needy folks. This technique will make you 100% SCD safe. Since you will not be eating out, even with the cost of the pan and the high quality meat, the total cost will probably be less expensive than if you were eating in restaurants. Once Dave learned this trick at the http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/BYVC-SCD, he uses it all the time.
Attending an Out of Town Family Gathering By Plane
Anne-Marie advises that before you leave home, locate the grocery stores near the hotel. Anne-Marie enthusiastically posted her success story of an out of town family gathering - I am just back from 2 plane flights, 3 nights in a hotel, one dinner out, one breakfast out and lots of shopping! This was my first experience with taking my SCD food with me interstate, then buying and cooking SCD food in my hotel room which came with an oven, refrigerator, etc. I was surprised at how smoothly everything went. Planning is definitely the key.
I took a small ice chest with a cooked chicken and boiled vegetables. I brought cans of salmon, my food processor and some utensils and I was set to go. Soon after we arrived, my husband and I went shopping for a soup pot and fresh vegetables,chickens, bananas, and ghee. I did spent some hours on both mornings minding the chicken in the oven and the vegetables boiling on the stove, but it was worth it, as I had enough energy to join in all the family activities including attending my son's Graduation from University, swimming in the hotel pool, walking all around the city, and going to an IMAX movie.
Some of you might remember that I spend Christmas Day last year home alone because I was not up to going away. I had been eating SCD for only 6 months. It was a pretty miserable time. Now, after 18 months of SCD, I could join in relatively normally. I ate sashimi kingfish at the dinner out. It was quite delicious. My husband and one son followed up their meal with pizza but not me! I am confident Christmas next year will be even more adventurous, maybe joining my son overseas with his new wife.
Going to a Wedding or a Formal Family Event
Being on SCD makes all of us very organized because every event or road trip has to be planned like a trek up Mt. Everest. On the other hand, we can summit every time. Going to a formal family occasion such as a wedding, just takes some more preparation. Even beginners can do it. Focus on the joy of the occasion and being with all the friends and family you have not seen in years. You will have to work around the food part of the occasion because weddings, etc. usually have "fancy food." It is very likely that there is nothing there you can safely eat. If you are a beginner, even the fresh fruit bowl is hazardous. No matter how good the plan, always have SCD safe, easy to eat, emergency food in your car or with you at all times.
Talk to the hostess about the menu beforehand and then contact the event venue. Double check with the manager at the event venue the day before to be sure they did not forget. Obviously, you do not want to talk about IBD so the code word is "allergies," a medical issue. Arrange for a simple dish - baked or broiled chicken or fish (specify without breading or gravy) to be set aside for you at the dinner. Any restaurant or food service is very alert about dealing with allergies. Allergies happen to them all the time and they are used to dealing with it so do not be shy about it.
At the tables of eight, again when the other guests notice that you are foregoing the cake, etc., again say "allergies" or "I am in the middle of a series of lab. tests for allergies (for hives, headaches or anything else but you know what). It makes for a better social conversation to avoid discussing the digestive tract. Try not to elaborate and move the topic of conversation away from the food you eat as quickly as you can. You do not want your medical conditions to be the main subject of a wedding dinner conversation anyway.
However, if cornered with questions on the subject of your diet, rather than discussing that you are on SCD for digestive issues, you might try saying that you are on a "modified Paleo diet." Then, you can talk about the benefit of eating foods that the caveman ate. Since the Paleo diet touts athletic performance and improvement to skin conditions, you can safely talk about grain free, starch free, sugar free diets and still keep the conversation out of the bathroom. The Paleo diet happens to be similar to SCD with regard to starch free, grain free and sugar free (Paleos exclude honey too). Since the Paleo diet is more restrictive than SCD, you are not being inaccurate about food needs, just preserving your dignity in a social setting. People might even be impressed at your interest in improving athletic performance.
As for drinks at a wedding or other special occasion, a few sips of the champagne toast is probably okay. For cocktail time, especially if you are a beginner, get a club soda or water. Have the bartender stick a lime wedge on the edge and everyone will think you have a gin and tonic in hand. They will not bother you about needing a drink. If you are up to tolerating tomato juice, have some cans of a permissible brand in your car and some celery sticks. Everyone will will think that you are drinking a Bloody Mary. If you are more advanced on SCD, see the article on Beverages for permissible alcoholic beverages.
Avoid getting high as your judgement may falter. The chips and dip or the wedding cake may start to look too good to resist. There is nothing worse than a hang over and a flare up of digestive symptoms at the same time.
Dance a lot to stay away from standing around chatting near the buffet. Have food in your car or in a bag in the cloak room. If all else fails, a quick banana will save you from being tempted by the hors d'oeuvres. Most important of all, do not put yourself in a situation where you could become hungry with no SCD permissible food around. Focus on socializing and having fun.
Leslie posted - I just wanted to give an update on how I managed an 8 day driving trip to a family wedding on my third week of the SCD diet. I was hesitant to go at first because I didn't think it would be possible to stay on SCD permissible foods. I was wrong. The suggestions from the http://www.health.groups.yahoo.com/group/BTVC-SCD group before I went helped very much. I had a huge cooler and most of my meals consisted of cold chicken (that I had cooked at home), avocados, cheddar and swiss cheese, tuna in oil, homemade applesauce, homemade yogurt, lots of bananas and homemade muffins (recipe from Breaking the Vicious Cycle) and orange juice and water to drink. It was actually fun to pull over at rest stops and have a picnic instead of eating bad food at stops along the way. The few times we did eat out I had a hamburger or a steak. For breakfast I had eggs and my first taste of bacon on SCD. One night, I had talapia tacos without eating the tortillas. At my nieces wedding, I even managed a couple of glasses of wine over the weekend without any problems. So I am here to tell people it is possible to travel with SCD, even as a beginner. Thank you all for your suggestions before I left!