I’m actually sort of on vacation right now. I’m in Vegas staying at the Aria hotel while my husband attends the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (we call these conferences “vacation” because instead of working from 6 am till 8 pm or later Andy only goes to work from 8 am till 4 pm). Anyway, weight loss surgeons from all over the country are here. Since we are traveling ourselves I thought I’d share some clean eating tips for summer traveling.
Before I get to the tips, I know I’ll be going off in a tangent for a minute, but bear with me….
Last night we went to dinner with a few of the surgeons and I brought up a question I already knew the answer to. I asked the surgeons why they thought the surgery was so effective for weight loss (if you aren’t familiar with weight loss surgery, people who have tried and failed at every diet under the sun routinely lose astonishing amounts of weight following the surgery). While the surgeons give complicated extremely detailed explanations for why the surgery works, the dummed-down, simplified answer is because the patients no longer feel hungry post operatively.
In fact, a few years ago when we attended a conference (also in Vegas) I heard Muhammad Ali’s daughter, Khaliah speak. Khaliah had recently had weight loss surgery and had recently lost a significant amount of weight. Khalia and her surgeon (who, by the way, had undergone weight loss surgery himself!) wrote a book together called Fighting Weight: How I Achieved Healthy Weight Loss with “Banding,” a New Procedure That Eliminates Hunger—Forever. I listened carefully as Khaliah and her surgeon, one of the most well respected weight loss surgeons in the country, Dr. George Fielding, both explained to a large group of weight loss surgeons how terrible it was to constantly be hungry and how the surgery finally enabled them to stop feeling hungry and to finally lose weight. That speech had a huge impact on me because it made me realize the power of hunger. Khaliah and her surgeon were both highly intelligent, very motivated people and they knew the dangers of being obese, but as long as they were hungry they couldn’t lose weight. That made sense to me, because I know how much I hate being hungry.
I’m not a weight loss research scientist but I do believe some of us are genetically predisposed to being hungrier than others. I also believe that because of modern society’s relatively recent reliance on terribly nutrient-deficient but high calorie foods those of us who get hungrier than others are becoming obese at an alarming rate. I also think those of us who are predisposed to getting sick (like me), are getting sick at an alarming rate by eating a nutrient-poor, overly processed diet. Regardless of your genetic makeup, the advice for everyone is the same. You want to nourish your body with nutrient-rich foods and you want to “eat clean”. Nutrient-rich “whole foods” will not only curb your appetite, but they’ll also help protect against disease.
Pack for Hunger
This is where healthy eating tips for summer and traveling come back into the picture. When you pack for a trip you should always pack for hunger. Just like you know you are going to need underwear, you know you are going to get hungry and you know you are going to need to eat. You should pack healthy nutrient-rich food in your suitcase right alongside your underwear. I’m not kidding (well, maybe you could put your food in a bag and pack the bag next to your underwear). The point is, when you travel, you don’t want to forget your underwear…or your food. No matter how motivated you are to eat healthy, hunger will derail your best intentions. Science proves this and I know it personally.
Even as motivated as I am to “eat clean” and stick to my healthy whole foods diet, if I had to go around being hungry all day I just couldn’t do it. I hate being hungry so much and yet I am so committed to healthy eating that there is NO way I travel anywhere without bringing snacks. It’s not that we don’t go to restaurants where healthy foods are served; it’s that I get hungry in airports, I get hungry for snacks at odd times, I get hungry on long car rides, I get hungry in airplanes. I just get hungry. And when I’m hungry I want to eat…and I don’t want to have to rely on willpower to starve myself. I just want to eat. At home I have a huge refrigerator and a pantry filled to the brim with healthy foods. But when I’m traveling I don’t have the luxury of having healthy foods at my fingertips. Which is why I always pack for hunger.
How Do I “Eat Clean” When I Get Hungry On the Road?
I find breakfasts are a big problem. I’m never thrilled with the quality of restaurant breakfast food. I prefer to just order room service and get coffee and fruit because I know it’s pretty hard to mess that order up. However, a fruit-only breakfast doesn’t satisfy me. I usually sprinkle on wheat germ and some nuts and seeds to give my fruit some “oomph”. Since I’m not a fan of processed breakfast cereals I don’t normally pack cereal with me, but I did just stumble upon a fabulous un-processed cereal called Dorset Cerealsmade with simple wholesome ingredients; dried fruit, nuts, and whole grains. The cereal packs perfectly in your luggage and it’s delicious sprinkled right on top of my fresh fruit. The video talks a bit more about Dorset Cereals.
I’m not wildly creative about packing airplane foods. I tend to pack the same thing over and over no matter where I go:
- A veggie sandwich on toasted sprouted whole grain bread. I usually do shredded carrots, roasted red peppers, spinach and hummus.
- A fresh fruit (usually an apple)
- Spinach salad mixed with sundried tomatoes and chopped walnuts packed in a Tupperware container (dressed with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, lemon & salt)
- Individually packed green powders for mixing with water (such as Green Vibrance)
- Go Raw RAW cookies —I have a major sweet tooth and the Go Raw “Super Cookies” made with only organic unsulphured coconut, sprouted organic sesame seeds, organic dates, raw organic agave nectar and raw organic cacoa totally satisfy my sweet tooth
I seem to bring the same staples with me trip after trip:
- Lara Bars (made only from dried fruit, nuts and spices)
- Raw nuts or seeds
- Dried fruits
- Manna bread (this has to be refrigerated so make sure you have a refrigerator in your hotel room!)
- Baby carrots (again, you need to keep these in a refrigerator)
- Wheat germ (believe it or not, this is a fabulously filling snack—perfect for topping your fruit with)
If you have any healthy travel tips I’d love to hear them! Feel free to leave suggestions. Hope you all have a happy, healthy summer =)