When Beth and I first started making a shift from our former eating pattern to this whole-foods, mostly plant-based protocol, we wondered how difficult it was going to be to maintain the plan while we travel. With my BNI regional and country visits, we rack up some serious frequent flier miles. We had to think about not only ordering meals in restaurants and hotels, but also in many different countries!
I have never liked to go out with people who are extremely picky about what they order and how their order is to be prepared—it just seems so awkward to me. Now I was becoming one of those people!
Our first experience with travel was going to the US National Conference just a few weeks after my diagnosis. Beth made contact with the conference hotel’s chef and explained that I was on a medical protocol and asked if he could prepare meals for us based on the foods list and the preparation techniques recommended (eg, grilling with grape seed or tea oil and lightly steaming organic vegetables). We were pleasantly surprised that the chef was not only willing to do these things, but he actually seemed excited to be able to go “off menu” a bit. It seemed like he relished a chance to be creative in a new way.
She emailed the foods list with the preparation techniques to him and he created a custom meal plan for our stay. It was that easy. No extra charge, no fuss, no stress. Granted, we were not holding our conference in the local Motel 6, but neither were we at the Ritz Carlton! There has only been one hotel in the year and a half we have been following this protocol at which we were charged extra. And then it was a simple $100 fee for a private, dedicated chef for seven days to prepare our meals with organically grown produce, etc.
Beth got the idea to include the most delicious meals created as we travel in the cook book she is helping to write. We began to take pictures of the great meals with the chefs and Beth—all over the world! One of the great meals included a stuffed sweet potato. Another was baked cinnamon apples with agave caramel. The chefs really do go out of their way to accommodate our requests.
Going to restaurants is a bit different. It is not always possible or practical to contact the chef ahead of time, but most restaurants have their menus online now. We look up the restaurants in the area, review the menus, and make our choice of restaurant based on what elements of the protocol are already being offered in pre-set menu selections. For example, if the restaurant offers prawns cooked in a creamy, buttery sauce and complex vegetable side dishes which include ingredients such as broccolini and asparagus, we knew we can ask for simple grilled prawns served with steamed broccolini and asparagus and pan-roasted garlic. We always ask for a side of olive oil with lemon wedges, or a fresh lemon juice and olive oil “vinaigrette.” (I still cannot get used to the concept that all vinaigrettes do not contain vinegar, but it’s true!)
Another good choice is salmon, when it is wild-caught and not farmed, with green beans and spinach. When we request the lemon vinaigrette with that and roasted garlic, we are always completely satisfied with the meal. Salads are always good starters and most restaurants have options for dessert such as mixed berries or some other types of fruit.
Following the Misner Plan does not mean you will never be able to eat out. It does mean that you will probably want to be ordering “off menu,” but most restaurants are fine about that. They are used to people who have allergies or other restrictions with what they eat.
It is not always possible to find organically grown vegetables when you are dining out, but we follow the good, better, best philosophy when it comes to eating organic vegetables at restaurants. It is definintely best to eat organic veggies, but it’s better to eat plain, green veggies than fried or overly sauced vegetables.
Since starting this protocol in April 2012, neither Beth nor I have gained weight on any of our travels and we’ve been to Australia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Canada, St. Maarten, Bali, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, and the British Virgin Islands, not to mention the many travels in the US we have taken. It takes planning, preparation (in some cases) and diligence to stick with it.
When it comes to traveling on airlines, airline food doesn’t have a great reputation to begin with and now we want to really be careful about what we eat. It has not been easy with airline food. Most airlines have a gluten-free meal we can request, and that option seems to usually come with more vegetables and fish or chicken, not beef. It does seem to come with a sugary, gluten-free bakery item of some sort and a sugary dessert, but we eat only the salad, vegetables and meat option.
Beth usually prepares her Cheesy Quinoa Muffins and has them in a lunch bag as a back up along with some raw, soaked almonds, cashews or macadamia nuts. That can tide us through if the parts of the meals we end up eating are not that substantial. We also save little 3-ounce glass jars into which we can put our lemon vinaigrette, since the salad dressing options are usually always not on our eating plan. We bring organic green tea bags and organic raw agave nectar packets for sweetening the tea.
It does make airplane travel just a little bit more complicated, but it works to make these allowances and it keeps us on the program, lean and healthy. A very good thing.