BariQueen Travel Guide
Warmer weather tends to inspire the primal urge for vacation. With spring travel upon us and summer right around the corner, I thought some tips on travel might be helpful. It can be hard to avoid the familiar feeling of road trip snacks in the car and mindlessly eating one after another after another until you’ve been grazing for three hours and the entire bag of whatever that was is gone down the hatch. As bariatric patients, we know that is not ideal. Heck! It isn’t exactly ideal for any human looking to maintain their health.
Whether you find yourself on a plane, train, automobile, boat, gondola⏤ wherever, here are some easy things to plan for or keep in mind with your warm weather adventures. Or maybe an Arctic trip would be a nice way to get away from the southern heat! Welcome to your guide of travel tips for bariatric patients!
For the Journey:
Stock the car with good options. If you know you are going to need to get one of your small meals in but want to avoid interrupting your drive, or perhaps your sleeping family members, plan ahead. Don’t rely on healthy options magically appearing in the glove box when your food timer goes off.
I recommend packing your food with how you will be eating it in mind. If you are the driver, make sure it is easy to maneuver and not as easy to spill or drip all over yourself. On second thought, maybe do that even if you aren’t the driver. No one likes spicy mustard ground into their car seats.
Also, be sure to portion out your food. This is an all the time tip that will save you when you’re in a pinch, but especially for travel. It will be a huge help to have the hard work done prior to crunch time, pun intended.
Avoid mindlessly snacking between your scheduled meals and snacks. Occupy your brain with a game, conversation cards, an audio book, or anything else you might enjoy of to pass the time.
If you aren’t on a deadline, take the scenic route. Plan some fun stops along the way to take a break from the car, sneak in some exercise, stretch and move. It will be good for your mind and body. Pack for a healthy picnic break for a meal instead of breezing in and out of a fast food establishment. Make the journey a part of the vacation, not just a commute.
If you are traveling by air, or just looking to travel light, pack an empty bottle. Once you are through security, you can fill it up with water and not have to pay an outrageous amount for a water bottle in the airport.
You can also freeze solid any liquid protein or hydration you may have in order to pass it through for security. Then just let it melt and you have it when you need it mid flight when your meal option is mushy pasta.
Walking at the airports while you wait is not only a great way to pass time, it also gets your daily steps in. Also take a stroll down the airplane aisle when the seatbelt light isn’t indicated you need to be strapped down. You don’t want any blood clots sneaking up nor do you want to slowly sink lower and lower into the airplane seat until you become one with the seat.
For the Destination:
Plan ahead, plan ahead, plan ahead.
Scope out what your options will be and seek accommodations when you can. I know I am always surprised with what people will do to help if simply asked!
Many lodging facilities can offer in room refrigeration unit on request, just ask. If not, pack a trusty cooler and use that ice machine!
Disney resorts and cruises also have a department for special meal accommodations. This is typically used for allergies, but can also be used for other dietary needs. Disney World guests can email SpecialDiets@DisneyWorld.com to work out noting special accommodations ahead of their visit. When you arrive, simply remind the host or hostess and the chef will visit your table to ensure your meal is prepared correctly. For cruise accommodations guest may call during their planning or flag your needs in an online cruise line account.
If you are limited on your storage or packing space on the way to your destination, grocery shop when you arrive. This can also save you money over trying to find healthy resources out or on the go. It also gives you more control over what you are eating if you have the ability to cook for yourself.
Take a look at kids menu when out at restaurants. While some have printed age restrictions, some don’t. If they do have an age policy, share your circumstance and ask if they are willing to make an exception. You can also ask about ordering á la carte or swapping sides for lower carb, lower sugar options. Many places will also be open to altering how an item is prepared, i.e. steamed over fried. You can also request dressing, condiments, or sauces on the side or not at all. Avoid buffet options when you can and portion your meal when it arrives. Most full sized restaurant meals are far out of proportion to what we should be eating. Ask for a to-go box at the start of your meal and portion out what is for now and what to save for meals #2 and maybe even #3.
When all else fails, fall back on those trusty ole bars and shakes. While you shouldn’t rely on those as your only nourishment full time, when in a tricky spot, it is great to have a sure way to get in all the protein you need.
Remind yourself that “cheat foods” are not a treat, they are essentially a punishment to your body and sabotage your goals. That being said, if you happen to slip up, just don’t go full on overboard. It is not the end of the world and you can easily get back on track!
Quick Food and Hydration Tips:
Tuna pouches! They come in a ton of flavors, are protein packed real food, and don’t require refrigeration. They may be a bit smelly for a close quarter trip for anyone sharing a confined space with you, so do be considerate of that. Also check you are buying tuna packed in water, not oil.
Make water more fun and fancy by adding infused ice or frozen fruit chunks to keep your H2O chilled.
Seeds and nuts make a great filling, protein snack on the go. Double check you are sticking yourself with a sugar filled or ultra high sodium version before tossing them in your bag. OR make your own trail mix. Shake when your ready to eat.
Jar salads make it possible to eat a salad just about anywhere. If you are somewhere that glass may not be the best container options, a boat maybe, opt for a plastic container instead. Keep dressing separated by putting on the bottom and creating a veggie barrier between dressing and lettuce that will wilt.
Egg Bites made in a mini muffin tin make for an easy, quick bite sized life saver. Add in whatever low carb morsels you prefer like peppers, onions, lean bacon bits, low fat cheese… get crazy if you want.
Make your own chicken nuggets for a non-friend, breaded carb filled bite sized nugget.
Skewers can help keep components in place and are easy to bite from. Just be careful nothing is so tender as to slip off into your lap.
Roasted chickpeas can be flavored a ton of ways making a crunchy, high protein snack that hits the spot, whatever that spot might be.
If you find you have trouble sticking to it after vacation, I know sometimes reality just slips a little too far away when we get out of routine, follow up with your care team! A quick check up with a bariatric Registered Dietitian or to meet with a Bariatrician, can help you feel like a healthy lifestyle is attainable and your goals are not so out of reach.
Your care team is also a great resource for planning and checking that you are prepared ahead of time. Just send them a portal message.