From long haul flights to camping, I’ve done it all while on the Paleo diet. This series will provide practical tips on how to meet your Paleo needs when faced with the dilemma of being out of the comfort zone of your own kitchen and network of resources.
Consider being more lenient on holiday. If dairy doesn’t bother you have some because local cheeses are amazing. Be more flexible with foods made with or cooked in polyunsaturated fats. At the very least you could be like Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo and just be gluten-free on your holiday.
If you’re staying in self-catering accommodation go and buy some groceries. Ask locals for the best place(s) to do your food shopping; grocery stores, specialty food shops, butchers, delis, green grocers, cheese shops, ethnic food shops, etc.. And then go to them. It’s always best to take advice from locals as they should know the best places. If there’s a local market take advantage of it. You’ll be able to find most, if not all, of your fresh food needs right there. Hopefully most food will be locally grown and reared.
When road-tripping take advantage of eggs and produce via honesty boxes, look for farmer’s stands and buy local potatoes. Stop in at those small farm shops because you never know what Paleo gems you could find. I got quite the Paleo haul of smoked mackerel, organic Aberdeen Angus minced steak, mild coconut oil, Maldons smoked sea salt, organic apple cider vinegar, Harissa paste, and yellow courgettes from a small town deli. In the past I’ve also found Medjool dates at a small green grocer in Italy – they were expensive but worth it! Seek and ye shall find. You may even be lucky and find some hidden treasures in the forest like wild blueberries, raspberries, and Chanterelle mushrooms!
Again, ask locals for restaurant recommendations. They’ve got the knowledge of the best eateries as well as local food functions like food festivals and food halls. Check them all out because you’re bound to find Paleo-ish foods there.
You may have also noticed that some traditional dishes – Boeuf Bourgignon, Salad Nicoise, Portuguese Cataplanas, Italian Antipasto (minus the cheese and bread) – are already Paleo. Traditional restaurants may be an option for you as well.
Consider being more lenient on holiday. If dairy doesn’t bother you have some because local cheeses are amazing. Be more flexible with foods made with or cooked in polyunsaturated fats. Alcohol is again something which you may want, but again don’t overindulge because drunkenness leads to poor food choices which will lead to an alcohol and sugar hangover. At the very least you could be like Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo and just be gluten-free on your holiday.1
As for non-Paleo foods, my stance is to take advantage of your surroundings and have some. Pastries in France, pizza in Italy, haggis in Scotland, soda bread in Ireland, Pasteis Nata (custard tarts) in Portugal, schnitzel in Germany – I don’t know about you, but I think it’s completely fine to eat non-Paleo foods now and then, including holidays. Especially holidays. I endeavour as much as I can to stay Paleo, but if I’m in a place famous for a certain kind of food, Paleo or not, I’m going to have it. I make it part of my meal but not a meal in itself. And what I certainly won’t do is overindulge and abandon Paleo altogether. If you are compelled to do this often perhaps you should rethink how your version of Paleo is formulated.
If visiting friends or family for a meal they presumably should already know about your dietary philosophy if they’re close to you and may make some Paleo dishes for you. My aunt did this for me when I visited her this past year. If your family doesn’t don’t make a big deal about it – suggest a dish to contribute. And if worse comes to worse, just eat the non-Paleo food. I did this when I was home in Canada earlier this year and my 89 year old grandmother made Tourtière, a French-Canadian meat pie, along with homemade bread, both made with wheat flour. I ate the delicious food without complaint nor issues because my grandma is an amazing cook.
While I promote a bit more food freedom when on holiday, I would suggest that those following Autoimmune Protocol Paleo, and those following a well-formulated diet to control major health issues, should still adhere to their chosen parameters. You should know your body well and what foods you react badly to. The last thing you want is a flare-up while away or when you get home, or some kind of negative change as a result of too much non-Paleo food. You have to ask yourself “Is it worth it?” and ultimately make that decision on your own.
Finally, if you’re absolutely stuck for food choices, go for meat, seafood, fish or eggs, with vegetables and fruit. It’s your safest bet.
When you get home it’s time to get back into normal routines. Meal prep and your usual foods should make a comeback but maybe you’ll add some holiday-inspired dishes to your Paleo repertoire. The most important tip I can give you is that once you return home get right back into your version of Paleo – there’s no reason not to.
- Tam, M. (2015). Gluten-Free on Maui. In Nom Nom Paleo. Retrieved 22 August, 2015 from http://nomnompaleo.com/post/122310604243/gluten-free-on-maui