Have you decided to embark on a lectin-free diet and are anxious about traveling? While eating at home can make such a lifestyle change manageable, when your lifestyle includes travel, you may wonder if staying plant paradox compliant is possible.
After six years of eating this way and traveling quite a lot, I want to encourage you. Not only is possible to stick to a lectin-free diet while traveling, but with the right mindset and a few tips and tricks, it will be fun, you will eat delicious food, and you will experience the benefits of a healthy diet: like not having headaches and pains while traveling.
This article will include all the possible lectin-free snack options you have, tips and tricks on how to plan your travel, how to mitigate the effects of a high-lectin meal, when and even how to choose a restaurant, and how to order when you are eating out.
The right mindset
How we think about food matters. Travel, even for pleasure, usually involves some stress, and we don’t want to add to it, as being stressed is as bad as eating unhealthy; hence it defeats the purpose.
We should not do things out of fear but rather take everything as a challenge and try to have fun finding creative solutions and living the new lifestyle in different contexts.
Why the trouble?
I’ve followed the plant paradox lifestyle and a lectin-free diet for about six years (update 2023). I completely understand the concern about traveling and staying healthy, as I’ve been there myself.
We all know that food in transit is unhealthy, whether at airports, gas stations, planes, or even hotels, and this adds even more to the stress of traveling.
All the travel tips in this article were tried and tested. I’ve traveled on different continents, lived in different countries, transited many airports, and completed thousands of miles of road trips: Texas, California, New York, Dubai, London, Denmark, Romania, and more. I always find a way to stay healthy while traveling.
The main reason I stick to it is not that I want to complicate my life. I stick to it because I know the difference. Before embarking on the plant paradox program, I suffered a lot when traveling:
- swollen legs and hands
- painful back, knees, and general body aches
- sinus inflammation and headaches
- terrible jet lags
- exhaustion and brain fog
What you eat during travel will make such a difference in how you feel; once you experience the benefits, you won’t want to go back.
Lectin-free travel essentials
Lectin-free protein bars
Since the last time I updated this article, Quest bars’ compliance with the Plant Paradox program has become quite confusing because they changed some of the ingredients. Plus, they are no longer the healthiest option on the market.
MARIGOLD protein bars
MARIGOLD, a family business based in Texas, makes some fantastic lectin-free protein bars. All their bars are made with grass-fed whey, free of casein and lactose, only with real, quality ingredients, and free of sugar alcohols. They are delicious, and although I’m on low histamine, dairy-free diet, having a few bites of one bar a day did not trigger any symptoms.
I still don’t recommend having a protein bar every day, but for travel and emergencies, they will be my number-one choice from now. (This is not a sponsored post, although they did send me a sampler pack, and great they did because I would have missed on something delicious).
They truly taste and look like something I would make at home. Plus, I have a soft spot for supporting Texas’s small businesses.
Gundry MD lectin-free snack bars
Gundry MD has launched two new lectin-free snack bars, and they are loaded with fiber, protein, and polyphenols.
I have tried and tested the recent snack bars in two flavors; honey nut (made with real Manuka Honey) and polyphenol macadamia (made with decadent dark chocolate). Both are delicious and recommended.
When purchased from my Ambassador Store, you can save up to $78.00 when buying 6 boxes with 72 bars.
List of travel essentials and lectin-free snacks
Below are most of the items I traveled with that helped me stay compliant and happy all along and not feel deprived:
With all the efforts we might make, there will still be situations when you can’t control everything in your food. Make sure you always have a couple of Lectin Shield in your purse. Take two pills 30 minutes before a meal.
I would not recommend using Lectin Shield as an excuse to eat non-compliant food, but you do you. Make sure it’s worth it. I would do it for a croissant in Paris or a slice of pizza in Italy.
You can save more than 40% and up to $240.00 on Lectin Shield when buying 3 jars or more from my Gundry MD Ambassador Store.
Lectin-free protein bars
I know, maybe not comparable with a bowl of greens, but they are packaged, they don’t need to be refrigerated, and they are a lifesaver when you crave something sweet and consistent on a flight. It will keep you away from unhealthy snacks that you will see everyone eating. Plus, we are more stressed and more tempted to have snacks when traveling.
There are only three QUEST bars that are PP compliant, and my favorite ones are Quest Nutrition QuestBar Protein Bar Strawberry Cheese Cake — 12 Bars and Double Chocolate Chunk. I believe Cinnamon Roll is also compliant.
For the healthiest and tastiest option, check MARIGOLD protein bars, a newer addition, and all their protein bars are lectin-free, so there is no more confusion when searching for compliant options.
When I wrote this article, none of these options were available, at least not in the stores I shop, but now (I try to edit this article regularly to keep it updated), we have quite some lectin-free snack choices, which is pretty tasty and satisfying stuff.
We have two brands of green plantain chips, one of the coconut tortillas and some sweet potato chips. We even have Puffs people; although careful, they are addictive.
75% and more, unsweetened, or, if sweetened with sugar, it has to have less than 1-2% sugar per serving. Today many brands are making this type of chocolate, so it’s super easy to find.
My favorite chocolate now is Taza, the 95%. Even my husband loves it, and he used to be a milk chocolate fan.
Lectin-free trail mix
I don’t leave the house without nuts. If I go on a longer journey, I usually buy packages of my favorite ones: walnuts, macadamia, pistachios, hazelnuts, and pecans and have a small bag with a mix of all of them in my hand luggage or purse. This is an excellent lectin-free trail mix.
Nuts are also an easy-to-find item in airports – not all, but most of them. So far, the best airport in terms of healthy food options was Heathrow London.
I find individual packs of coconut oil at Trader Joe’s. They are perfect for carrying around in your bag when you feel hungry, need some energy, or even for your skin.
Coffee Creamers, Collagen, Turmeric Tonic, or these Vital Proteins Collagen Sleep Shots. For lack of a better word, I call them little helpers because I see them helping make a trip a little more bearable and exciting.
You can always buy a black coffee from a coffee shop on the road and add your collagen creamer or even turmeric tonic.
And suppose you have jet lag or need a little help to fall asleep. In that case, this collagen shot with collagen peptides (their collagen is grass-fed), hyaluronic acid, melatonin, and magnesium may help.
I love them because they have the travel sizes. You find it in Whole Foods or Amazon (linked above). Same with the Turmeric Tonic from Further Food, you can find their travel sizes here. It’s amazing if you have a headache, sinus pressure, or feel like you are catching a cold.
Most beef jerky is not compliant (not 100% grass-fed, has sugar or maple syrup or other non-compliant ingredients), but if you search well, you will find stores and local farms that sell compliant ones.
I buy mine from Burgundy Pasture Beef in Dallas, a local farm/ranch store. They are a great source of protein, and they keep hunger and cravings at bay. Plus, they are tasty, so satisfying.
Especially if you travel by car, but even on a plane, you can bake some of your favorite stuff at home and take it with you.
I make avocado or sweet potato brownies, almond & flax seed crackers, walnut bread, Italian almond biscotti, anything that you bake at home and can last for a few days. I also make fat bombs with nut butters and chocolate, an excellent healthy snack, so you don’t have to crave the bad stuff.
I know some people cringe at the idea of traveling with fish, but until you open a can, you won’t smell a thing. On my last trip, I had some cans of BPA-free, sustainable pink Alaskan salmon, and it was a lifesaver; plus, it is delicious with just some lemon and olive oil.
Especially if you travel by car, you can get hard-boiled eggs, olives, raw veggie sticks, compliant cheese, and lemons.
I usually have a cooler box in the back of the car to keep all the food. Also, see my article on how to reduce lectins in your favorite high-lectin food. It will be useful when preparing veggies, etc.
Enjoy not eating
When food is not available, take the opportunity to do intermittent fasting. You can still have a black coffee or tea, and your brain will thank you for this. Usually, breakfast is the easiest to skip, and it makes the most sense because it gives your system a long break from digesting.
I do intermittent fasting every day by just skipping the morning meal, making everything easier. I can’t even imagine having to think about three meals a day.
This new addition to the list is not sponsored, but it is the best invention; I must include it. They are the best way to transport food, especially when traveling by plane. They are transparent, made of silicon, and leakproof. Theoretically, you can take soup with you. They are even microwave and oven safe, so you can even heat your soup. I’m not going to do that, but I’ve seen people doing it.
They are a little pricey, but it’s all worth it. You can go plastic-free, and these will last you long. Unless you misplace them, as I do…
Stay plant paradox compliant when traveling – Take it as a challenge, a fun one
I’ve realized that the fear that we will starve because there won’t be anything to eat is not justified. There is always an option, even if not the perfect one.
Make sure your accommodation has a kitchen, especially if you stay for a longer time. Even hotels have a tiny kitchen with a microwave, a fridge, and a sink, but I prefer Airbnbs. I’ve survived short trips in hotels with just what I brought from home. Having a cold-boiled egg for breakfast with salt and pepper, a few olives, and veggie sticks is more delicious and satisfying than you would think.
Check the local grocery stores. There are good grocery stores everywhere. Even if you don’t have Whole Foods, Sprouts, or Natural Grocers in the area where you are traveling, you will always find broccoli, cauliflower, seasonal greens, salad mixes, sweet potatoes, and all kinds of vegetables you can cook with. Some of the best dinners we had were in Airbnbs.
And finally, if you visit friends and family – like was the case when I went to Europe (my sister in the UK, my mother-in-law in Denmark and my friends and family in Romania) – have fun going shopping with them and cooking for them. We had amazing dinners with my friends and family, and there was a little bit for everyone, and we were all happy to share the experience.
The art of ordering lectin-free food
Practice the art of ordering in restaurants because if you are traveling, you don’t want to spend all the time cooking in a kitchen. Enjoy your nights out without stress, and take it as a challenge rather than a burden. And don’t be shy to ask for healthy food.
We all know that the demand drives the offering. So the more we ask, the more restaurants will think about the oils they use and how they source their ingredients. Look at the paleo community. Many restaurants now have paleo items on their menu.
Now, if you pick a fast-food chain, there is no way you can get something healthy, so I don’t want to raise your hopes high. But there are so many local, good restaurants everywhere, and some even have special menu items for people on diets (mostly paleo or gluten-free).
If they don’t, here is what I learned by experiencing it firsthand.
Eating out in New York City
If you haven’t read it yet, I have an article about eating out in New York City if you are traveling there any time soon. It also has tips and tricks for ordering food that you can apply anywhere.
Tips on eating out and staying plant paradox compliant when traveling
When it comes to protein, never order chicken unless it is specifically mentioned that it is a pasture-raised chicken (which you probably won’t find anywhere, and if you do, please let me know as I’d like to know that place).
Pastured beef (100% grass-fed) is challenging to find but not impossible. If you find it go ahead and order. Just make sure you are sharing with someone else, and you don’t have more than 4oz per serving (the steaks, especially in the US, are enormous). Make sure you ask the server if they have grass-fed beef. Sometimes it’s a special – probably only for connoisseurs – and it’s not added to the menu; they don’t even tell you they have it unless you ask (I have no idea why but I heard chefs always have a special thing they cook that are not on any menu).
My favorite protein to order is a wild-caught fish (I always check restaurants’ menus in advance to see what kind of food they serve). Always ask about the oil they cook in.
If there is no protein option, go for a salad or two side dishes
Sometimes, there is no protein option for me, so I go with a salad or one or two side dishes. I had a fantastic dinner in a restaurant just having Brussel sprouts and asparagus. They were delicious.
Make sure you ask them in advance what oil they use, and ask them if they can replace any non-compliant oil with olive oil or butter (which, even if it’s not casein A2, is still a better option than canola or peanut oils).
And above all, be nice and graceful with the staff when you make all these requests. Usually, they are super friendly and accommodating, but it’s good to have a good connection with them for a great dining experience.
A glass of red wine or champagne always makes dinner more enjoyable, no matter what you eat.
Cheese platters are also an option. Ask them what their cheeses are and select the French, Italian, Spanish or Swiss ones. Or goat cheeses. Because my husband is not on a diet, we usually take the whole stuff, and I eat only what’s compliant, and he eats the rest.
When it comes to salads, make sure you ask to have it without the dressing and ask for extra virgin olive oil and lemon or vinegar on the side. A piece of tomato or cucumber is easy to remove from the plate, but a dressing is not. Alternatively, you can travel with small olive oil and balsamic jars in your purse and use them for your salad. Don’t be shy or ashamed. Do it with a sense of humor, and laugh about it with your partner or friends.
Ask beforehand to the ingredients
I learned this the hard way; some restaurants have dishes that sound complaint, but when the food comes to the table, it has all kinds of non-compliant stuff like chickpeas, peppers, peas, chilly flakes, etc.
You don’t want to be disappointed with your food when hungry. So nicely ask beforehand if the ingredients on the menu are exactly all the ingredients in the dish or if they add something else.
And if you need a reason to give for your requests, say you have bad reactions to specific ingredients or are on a special diet for health reasons and want to make sure they are not included in the dish. I would not use the allergy reason unless you really are allergic because that makes things more difficult for truly allergic people.
Oh, and forget about dessert! I’m sorry to break this news. There is no way you will find a compliant dessert in a restaurant, no matter what. If you know you like something sweet at the end of your meal, have a piece of dark chocolate with you or one of your homemade desserts.
And, if none of the above works, get that Lectin Shield out of the purse.
Questions or comments on how to stay plant paradox compliant when traveling and lectin-free snacks
Did I forget something? If you have more specific questions, ask me, and I’ll add more points to this article if I know the answers.
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