Traveling can induce many emotions-- excitement if its a personal vacation, stress if traveling for work, anxiety if you’re a homebody-- but don’t let one of those emotions be fear over whether you’ll be able to maintain your low carb lifestyle while on the fly. Sometimes knowing what to look for outside of your hometown, how to express what you can and can’t eat to those unfamiliar with keto, and making the best possible dietary choices while abroad, can be tricky.
To have the most successful and enjoyable time traveling while staying in ketosis, try these tips below!
SCOPE IT OUT
If you are not familiar with the airport, you can usually find what food options they have available online. You may find a familiar restaurant chain, like Chipotle, with food that you know you can modify to be low-carb. Sub the rice with extra lettuce, ixnay the beans, and go crazy with the meat, salsa, grilled vegetables, cheese, sour cream, and guacamole and request it served in a bowl. Asian stir-fry restaurants can also do plain protein sautéed with cabbage, broccoli, and onions to give you a low-carb, high-fiber meal. Mexican restaurants? Ask for fajitas with all the toppings, hold the tortilla and chips.
Some flights offer mid-flight meals, particularly if you are on a longer flight, and often you can request one of several options. Look for a gluten-free option, this guarantees no flour but not necessarily corn-free products which are also high in carb, so make sure the gluten-free option is also low carb. If sandwiches are your only options, try discarding the bread. You may even be able to get a mixed cheese plate or nuts in the air, which fits perfectly into your low-carb lifestyle. Stick to water, diet soda, or a small glass of wine in flight to avoid drinking your carbs.
As low-carb diets are becoming increasingly popular, low-carb options are becoming more accessible.
When ordering at a restaurant, it’s smart to tell your server you have a sensitivity to sugar so they come completely clean about the added sugars in your food. Sugar is a sneaky culprit as it’s often hidden in savory sauces, dressings, and marinades. When you are somewhere new it might just be best to stick to the basics, a grilled protein with a side of veggies. For breakfast, get the egg and protein platter (be wary of omelets as they sometimes have added batters and sugars). When in doubt, choose simple where there are fewer places for carbs to hide.
When searching for sleep accommodations, look for hotels with a kitchenette. That way you can do food prep for the day or the duration of your stay while staying in complete control of your meals. Just having that added control can make all the difference in how successfully you stick to your diet.
Often, hotels will have a breakfast option with waffles, pastries, fruit, donuts--a lot of no-no’s. But they usually offer eggs, bacon, and sausage as well so call ahead and see what hotels offer in the way of breakfast.
KNOW PLACES TO AVOID
Stress can make us crave high-carb, sugary foods. Is your terminal right by a donut shop? Take a walk around the airport to avoid the temptation. Does your hotel only offer pastries for breakfast? Find a restaurant near your hotel that offers a high fat and protein, low-carb breakfast option and then bee-line it through your hotel and straight to the restaurant in the morning. If you’re traveling for work, meetings and symposiums often offer an array of bagels, donuts, and other popular carbs to eat throughout the day. Give those tables of temptation a wide berth and pull out your well planned cheese stick to snack on instead. Avoiding areas of weakness can win you half the battle without hardly any effort.
MAKE A PLAN
Planning ahead can be the deal breaker in whether you stick to your diet and return home feeling like an all-star or giving in to the cravings and feeling like a pile of poo...like literally missing out on important meetings or family fun because your high carb consumption has you glued to the toilet. Don’t be that person who trades a fun and successful trip for a few extra carbs. Plan ahead to win.
The best way to plan ahead is to know what your options will be. Does your flight offer low carb meals or snacks? Do you have the option of staying at a hotel with a kitchenette so you can meal prep? Will you be near restaurants with low carb options? If the answer to any of these questions is no, make a plan on how you will be able to stick to your low carb lifestyle in these situations. Here are some fail-proof planning ideas:
Pack some low carb snacks to eat whenever hunger strikes.
Carry water with you at all times as staying hydrated suppresses hunger and helps you make healthy choices.
Make a specific plan for when you encounter a temptation or moment of weakness. Do you know you’ll be going out for drinks with friends? Decide what low-carb drink you’ll order beforehand.
If you are unable to meal prep, know what restaurants around you offer low carb options.
Here is a list of snacks you can take on the go or order while you’re out to stay on track. Print it out and keep it with you so you don’t find yourself giving in to less healthy options in a pinch!
Mixed nuts (check for added sugar)
Vegetable packs with dressing
Hummus plate with vegetables
Low-carb fruit, e.g. blueberries, strawberries, raspberries
Low carb protein bars
Jerky (check for added sugar)
Coffee with coconut milk
Low carb protein drink
Hot water with lemon
Traveling doesn’t have to mean diet suicide, you can successfully stick to your low-carb lifestyle while seeing the world. Be mentally committed and physically prepared (with a cheese stick and almonds) and enjoy your healthy time abroad!