Last Updated on June 29, 2022 by Rebecca Huff
I used to be a raw vegan, so imagine trying to eat while traveling when you (and your family) are restricted to only raw fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains. Now that is a real challenge! So when people ask me how to stay on plan with eating while traveling now that I am a Trim Healthy Mama, my response is usually “no problem!” I guess you could say it is all a matter of perspective. I mean, if you are used to being able to just go into any restaurant and order any ‘ole thing off the menu with no contemplation about the ingredients, then yes, this might be a bit more challenging!
Eating out can work if you are not afraid to ask for what you want! Many times you will be able to just order right off the menu, other times you might need to ask a few questions about ingredients. I'm going to share my tips and tricks and they are in no particular order.
Do your research
Tip#1 Investigate in advance. One of my favorite tools is TripAdvisor. You can see my reviews here.
Tip#2 In my experience, I skip anything with a “sauce” because most of them are thickened with either cornstarch or flour. Even if I wasn't following Trim Healthy Mama I would skip sauces because I prefer not to eat cornstarch as most are made with GMO corn and I try to stay gluten free.
Tip#3 Look for specialty or mom and pop restaurants. I love to find a good mom and pop, cause they're invested in your meal. If you don't like it you won't be back…unlike fast food chains. Specialty restaurants are great. If you find a Paleo Restaurant then you are in for a treat. Just watch out because the Paleo diet does not separate fuels the way the Trim Healthy Mama plan does even though almost everything that is Paleo is on plan, it's the combinations that can trip you up. Mom and I only found a couple of options for staying in S mode, but we could have ordered literally ANYTHING on the menu as a crossover. Remember, a crossover is still on plan!
The Health Factory. Since we didn't want to go with a crossover we opted for two choices, the first was this beautiful omelet made with 3 whole pastured eggs, local bacon, kale and topped with avocado then sprinkled with salt and pepper.
Our second item was this beautiful kale salad that we could either top with two eggs or chicken salad. Since the mayo was made in house, I had to try it, even though I picked around the apples they added so I could stay in S mode. If I had eaten this with the apples it would have been a very healthy crossover, but I am still trying to reach my goal weight so I just ate around the apples. It was delicious and we were both full and completely satisfied for hours.
Some restaurants offer fresh juices but most of them have a lot of fruit juice to make them palatable. At one such stop our waitress really wanted my BFF and I to try the juices, so she brought out a sample of all three they had to offer. Having been a devout juicer in the past, I know for a fact they all had too much fruit juice and one even had sweetener. Just because it “looks healthy” doesn't mean it is.
Breakfast is usually fairly easy to find at most places, you can't go wrong with eggs! This is an egg white omelet with salsa, a bowl of fruit and English muffins. I ate the berries before I took the photo 🙂 but I did not eat the grapes or the bread. Had it been sourdough I might have considered it since I was having an E meal. This egg white omelet was stuffed with veggies and mushrooms. I was so full afterwards that I couldn't have eaten the bread or the grapes even if I wanted them.
Most places will make a burger however you like it, you can ask for a bun-less burger or just take the bun off yourself. Check out this Elk Burger I had at The Stray Cat Cafe in Arlington, Virginia.
You can't see it for all the veggies, right? Here's another pic:
It's a good idea to keep up your veggie intake by ordering salads, whether full plate salads or side salads. Here's a great salad with thinly sliced blackened chicken breast. I always ask for my dressing on the side. This one is olive oil and red wine vinegar.
This restaurant offered a double meat and eggs platter with two pancakes on the side. Worked out great for us, we just gave the pancakes to the children and everyone was happy. You can get your eggs scrambled…
Sometimes you might want something different… I like really sour fermented local yogurt. We really got lucky with this cafe within walking distance of our Airbnb. I really enjoyed a small bowl of the yogurt with house made granola sweetened with STEVIA and topped with in season fruit…in this case an apple.I enjoyed a cup of steamin' hot joe with a dash of half n half.
If you get tired of eating out, you can always grab some goodies from a local supermarket. Am I the only person who has a Trader Joe's bag habit??
We picked up some produce and snagged a few DC bags for our friends. Speaking of Trader Joe's that brings me to Tip#4 Be Prepared!
Some things that are great for traveling are nuts, string cheese, jerky, Whisps, lunch meat (in a cooler) for roll ups, avocado, berries… I have been caught without my coffee in the morning, and I confess, I get a little grumpy. I picked these pour over single serving bags from Trader Joe's before I left home and I WAS GLAD. I don't put sweetener in my coffee, but if you do, take the individual packets! My mom and I both had our collagen powder in a little baggie but that's when we were traveling by car, we used it up before we got on the plane to return home; not sure what security might think about little baggies of white powder.
Ask for what you want
Tip#5 When you are ordering, ask for what you want. The worse that can happen is someone might say no. My best friend asked for red pepper flakes and the waitress told her “we don't have those” but after my friend politely asked if she would ask the chef, she came back with a small bowl of red pepper flakes!
I decided to give it a go and asked for heavy cream and guess what… I got it! Key: Smile and be polite…
My children are all very slender, so I try to feed them often. They wanted to visit the Lost Dog Cafe (mostly sandwiches and pizza) so I simply picked a sandwich that I wanted and asked them to leave off the bread, “just serve it on the plate” I said. I was pretty happy with this tuna with a salad and side of house made wasabi mayo.
I still got a salad on the side because after a long morning of walking and sight seeing, I was a hungry girl.
Tip#6 If you are with someone or a group who loves stopping for coffee frequently, opt for tea sometimes! Many coffee shops will have a variety of teas, some even carry oolong, if not, you can always carry your own.
Tip#7 Drink plenty of water! While traveling I think I tend to retain water, probably due to eating out.
One of my favorites when eating out is Fajitas! Just leave off the beans, rice and tortillas and you're good to go. I know some choose not to eat shrimp and I don't usually eat it either, but my teenagers love it so I gave mine to them. There was still plenty with all those veggies, beef and chicken! Plus I had a side of guacamole to dip it all in!
The nearby cafe had mostly bagels and pastries for breakfast but we loved the atmosphere and enjoyed the walk so I simply ordered my breakfast bagel minus the bagel … ha ha It had arugula, fried eggs, and a garnish amount of caramelized onions, it was delicious. Check it out:
Here's another sandwich made “on the plate” for us:
Since we were taking the Metro or walking, we took advantage of restaurants close by. Happily, there was a really popular BBQ spot only half a mile from our Airbnb. It had a really high rating on TripAdvisor.
Here's my 3rd daughter Ivy with our goodies… we ate half of it before we remembered to take pictures…it smelled that good. Sorry!
There's plenty of meat to choose from at most BBQ places, but besides the collard greens, you'll have to skip the sides. The coleslaw has mayo and sugar, the baked beans have sugar or at the least molasses, other items are usually breaded. The hotter sauces tend to have less sugar, if the sauce tastes really sweet then you know it's off-plan. This place had amazing meat choices!
During this trip, my mom who is also on plan ate pretty much the same thing I did and maintained her 10-pound weight loss… I am going to encourage her to eat a few crossovers at this point, cause I don't want her to get too skinny!
As for my BFF… even though she was away from home she lost a few more pounds!
Here's the link to my Video on YouTube about my own progress while on the DC trip. You may want to watch this if you have ever fallen into the Comparison Trap!