Eating Properly Outside
of Your Home
Eating On The Road
And On The Run
By Gwenith Whitford,
UPdate Fall 1996
Are you in
a pickle when faced with the prospect of eating in unfamiliar environments?
Here are some hints that may help you get out of a jam when away from your
safe haven. Advance preparation can save a lot of “headaches” and
other adverse reactions if forethought is given to a meal plan. Study
your rotation diet (and take a copy with you) to determine what foods may
be transportable, what may have to be purchased upon arrival and what may
have to be obtained from a restaurant. Whenever I travel anywhere,
I have generally taken non-perishable food with me that is not likely available
at my destination.
On my particular
rotation diet, I have packed tolerated breads, noodles, and chips to make
up the starch component. Glass bottles of nut butters and fruit spreads
are wrapped in clothing or towels to absorb impact. In old vitamin
bottles, I may put some honey and olive oil or other oils which are covered
in plastic and “bubble” wrap and stored upright in my on-board luggage.
Cartons of soy milk and rice milk have been a nutrition bonus. For
quick energizers, I bring along home-made cookies such as oatmeal/almond,
cashew butter, peanut butter balls, as well as rice bars and sesame bars
from the health food store. Dried unsulphured fruits and various
nuts also go a long way when unable to prepare a meal or eat in a particular
location. Obviously, this suitcase starts out on the heavy side,
but its safe, edible contents has always made the extra effort most worthwhile.
can certainly present its own challenges, depending upon your location.
However, there are a number of options available. I take along a
portable hiker’s filter. In most countries, bottled spring water
is plentiful, although it is usually contained in plastic. Perrier
or other carbonated waters can often be obtained in glass, and have helped
to neutralize various discomforts when I have needed a quick fix.
Amazingly, I have tolerated water from the tap in a number of Caribbean
countries where its source is high in the mountains and bacteria has been
killed by an ultra-violet light system. That water has tasted so
soft and pure. A real delight! However, different waters may not
suitable be for everyone. Sample with caution!
For more information
about eating in other countries, please refer to my article Trouble-Free
Take-Offs in the Spring 1996 issue of UPdate.
can also present food-related challenges for those whose work may take
them away occasionally or every day. If a purchased lunch is not
ideal because of your food sensitivities, then advance meal preparation
can save a lot of aggravation. This is the case with my husband Brian,
who is gluten intolerant (celiac) and has a number of other food sensitivities.
His job requires that he travel by car to a different town every day.
Therefore, a packed lunch is essential in order to maintain his energy
levels and productivity while he is “on-the-road”. Because we always
refer to our food rotation schedule, it is rarely a problem to plan the
next day’s noon repast. Sandwiches are out-of-the question because
“safe” grains are limited. Therefore, we tend to make simple meals
which may consist of only a few foods. My husband’s sensitivities
are now relatively mild (other than the glutenous grains), so he does not
have to be as rigid with his daily food rotations. As a result, he
may eat the same food more than once within a 24 hour period. (Before
attempting such a plan, be sure to discuss the nature of your illness with
your health counsellor, as individual tolerances do vary greatly).
For example, he might take chicken with him from the previous night’s meal
in an insulated lunch box which keeps it cold, even when the car is hot.
He might eat a cold rice salad, or rice crackers with goat’s cheese or
peanut butter of hummus with organic potato chips or corn chips.
Baked rice or corn muffins and home-made cookies can provide additional
sustenance. Some raw vegetables such as carrots or broccoli add fibre
and other nutrients. For a snack, he might nibble on a sesame bar
or a rice bar, (depending on the rotation day), and would take along some
fruit such as apples or bananas. Nuts and dried unsulphured fruits
have been helpful in situations where he feels that his blood sugar is
beginning to drop. Of course, a large bottle of spring water goes
with him everywhere.
In cold weather,
two thermoses frequently accompany him on his journey. One will contain
hot soup, such as prepackaged lentil and rice or a home-made variety such
as pea, chicken, or pumpkin. The other thermos will contain an herbal
tea with honey, or hot rice milk and cocoa for moments when he is feeling
chilled or needs a warm pick-me-up.
If he is stuck
without a home-made lunch (it has happened a few times!), he may go to
a grocery store and order a broiled chicken breast, possibly french fries
(if “fresh cut”) or a salad without bacon bits and croutons which is dressed
with olive oil and lemon.
he has previously ordered a hamburger without the bun and a baked potato
or the contents of a sandwich without the bread and extra vegetables.
Soup is sometimes an option if it is completely made from scratch (beware
– many soups are prepared with a base which may contain sulfites of MSG).
He does tend to ask a lot of questions about the foods he might like to
order, and finds that many restaurants are willing to make changes or substitutions.
If they do not wish to oblige, they simply don’t get his business! He always
keeps some nuts or seeds in the car so that he is never stuck without something
arrives and the pollution levels soar (at least here in southern Ontario),
we escape to provincial parks in the northern part of this province. In
these areas, the air is incredibly fresh and clear, and human-generated
contamination is at a minimum. Before the outings, we arrange to
bring a large amount of sustenance with us on our back country canoeing/camping
expeditions. Along with all of the other camping paraphernalia that
we heave into the canoe and then haul for short distances inland is a very
substantial cooler. It is loaded with nourishing goodies to last
for five days. We are willing to make this effort because of the
tremendous pay-off of improved health and energy that occurs a day or so
after the initial trek.
have spent the week before these wilderness excursions camped out in the
kitchen, it has been convenient to have prepared most of the suppers in
advance. I freeze them in larger-sized yoghurt containers.
They can be quickly reheated in a pot or a frying pan over our one-burner
camping stove (Brian does this part – I stay upwind from the smell of the
gas. We do not make campfires for ecological/health reasons).
We try to
adhere to a four day rotation as much as possible, although it may sometimes
be necessary to eat the same type of food more than once in a 24 hour period.
I write out the menu and pack a copy for quick reference. I don’t
seem to have a problem with a looser rotation when I am away from sources
of pollution because my total load is dramatically reduced. However,
individual tolerances will vary, so make meals that are best for you.
We eat the
most perishable items first. Because the larger meals are frozen,
we do not take along extra freezer packs. Generally, we do not bring
any meat, except for a can of preservative-free tuna. Fresh fruit
includes apples and kiwis. Dried fruit and a carton of Tropicana
orange juice seem to last quite well. Rolled oat flakes for porridge,
rice cereal, precooked hard broiled eggs (left in the shell until eaten),
goat’s yoghurt, home-made and health food store cookies, rice milk and
soy milk may make up the breakfasts for your sojourns.
We do carry
two 1.5 litre bottles of tolerated drinking water from home. When
they run out, we use the hiker’s filter and/or boil the lake water.
My tolerance for this substance varies with the location. Occasionally,
I do experience mild discomfort from unfamiliar waters. However,
I put up with the inconvenience in exchange for my restored vitality.
as Greek salad with tomatoes, feta cheese, sweet onions, oregano, lemon
juice and olive oil, or home-made pea soup, or packaged lentil soup with
rice cracker, or pre-made hummus with pre-cut carrots and broccoli spears,
or fried potatoes and onions require minimal effort. Peanuts and
soy nuts are quick energizers, as are potato or corn chips. Rice
or sesame bars, and even organic chocolate help to keep us going during
more rigorous activities.
such as fish cakes taste incredibly good in the out-of-doors. I precook
and freeze the mashed potatoes with onions, garlic and spices, then quickly
add the tuna before Brian pan-fries the mixture. Pumpkin soup with
corn chips and packaged ginger bread cookies make a marvelous meal.
My own portable, pre-made Caribbean concoction is delicious. Bean
burgers with tomato slices and sesame balls for dessert is an extremely
filling supper. The easiest feast is organic spaghetti sauce with
rice noodles and soy parmesan cheese, followed by hot rice milk and cocoa
for a bedtime treat. Not to be forgotten at home are basics such
as tea, coffee, cocoa, salt, spices, garlic, lemon, and peanut or sesame
butter. Although the time and energy required to arrange for safe
meals away from home may seem overwhelming, it can have tremendous rewards.
If you eat compatible foods, then you may experience fewer reactions and
increased energy in your new surroundings. Wherever you go, PLAN
AHEAD to eat well in order to be well. It’s definitely worth the
Gwenith Whitford, Bmus, MLS, had
been an amateur musician and professional librarian in Halifax when she
was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Environmental Illness.
She moved to Ontario in 1993, where she continues with treatments.
She lives near Peterborough in a house with many ecological features.
While she recovers from CFS/EI,
she occasionally writes health-oriented stories for a number of magazines
including Disability Today, Health Naturally, alive, Vitality, Alternative
Journal, Family Practice, Northern Woman Journal, and Herizons. Her
interest in outdoor recreation and travel has resulted in articles which
have appeared in Explore, Canoe & Kayak, Edges