Updated: Apr 19, 2018
The first time I really noticed the effects of certain foods on my body & on my feelings was during a Thanksgiving trip back to my hometown of New York back in 2013. I left Dallas feeling energetic, clear headed, and with an overall sense of wellbeing. After two short days of room service and splurging, I remember waking up sluggish, emotionally down, and stripped of my vitality.The only thing I had done differently was eat things that I don't normally eat, like bagels and maybe a dessert or two. Honestly, it wasn't even anything egregious. It wasn't like I was pigging out from dawn til dusk and yet, I could feel a drastic change.
Just two days after going back to my normal way of eating, I felt like myself again. My energy and clarity came back. Now mind you, I'm married to a clinical nutritionist. I knew that foods can cause you to feel more anxious, depressed, lethargic, but as we all know, there's a difference between knowing something and experiencing it or more importantly, becoming aware of the experience.
Ever since this enlightenment, I've been sold on eating the right foods for me and staying away, as much as possible, from processed foods, even when traveling. My relationship with food used to center around one question: Will eating this make me fat? Now I ask a better question: How will eating this make me feel? If I have the choice to consume foods that can help me feel calm and upbeat, why would I choose otherwise? I'm convinced that if people knew just to what extent food contributes to our wellbeing, not just in theory but in fact, they would make better choices more consistently. I can already hear the protests that life is meant to be lived and that we have the right to live it up! Absolutely! I'm not advocating never being able to consume an alcoholic beverage or a piece of apple pie. In fact, you can do whatever you want! I'm saying that consistently eating whole foods, and more specifically, the foods that are right for me, make me feel more alive, and that's a choice I choose to make more often than not.
Nowadays, if I'm traveling within the United States, I pack my meals in my suitcase. Again, it's not because as some social media comments have suggested, that I'm afraid to lose my fitness results or because I don't know how to live. Traveling with my meals almost guarantees that I will feel my best while I'm there! I don't want to spend my trip searching for foods I can eat or feeling sluggish, bloated, or just not myself. Is traveling with food and eating from containers the most convenient and luxurious thing in the world? Absolutely not, but the benefits for me outweigh any inconveniences. I know where my priorities lie.
Tips on traveling with food:
Call the hotel to arrange for a refrigerator and microwave. Many hotels do not have microwaves in room. However, some will heat up the food for you.
Separate meals in disposable containers (At home we only use glass containers. They are heavy to travel with.)
Pack paper plates and forks
Put icepacks in your insulated bag to keep the food cold while you travel
If possible, stay in a hotel with a restaurant.
Traveling with food doesn't mean that you'll miss out on all the fun or that you won't be able to eat out or order in at all. I'm writing this right now from my hotel bed and I can tell you we've ordered room service dinner two times in the last four days. But because we have brought along our other meals, we've made better choices during our trip. I feel good, whereas had I just ordered in or eaten out, I would be feeling down, sluggish, and probably constipated. If I'm traveling abroad, I book my hotel based on what restaurants and grocery stores are around. It's about doing your best to feel your best, not about perfection.
Living it up to me means feeling good in my skin and having clarity of thought. Sure, having nightly drinks and fun restaurant meals while on vacation sounds fun. Actually, to be honest, it no longer sounds all that fun to me! It probably makes me really uncool in the eyes of others, but I'm completely okay with that. From experience, I've learned to think about the way I'll feel 12 hours later and to consider how I want to feel during the course of my trip. That, for me, has been enough to make eating my home cooked meals from a container or paper plate a much better and way cooler choice.