"I saw few die of hunger; of eating, a hundred thousand." -Ben Franklin

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Vacations and Hurricanes: Paleo Edition

I've had quite the adventure this week thanks to Hurricane Irene-- what started out as a family vacation in Williamsburg, Virginia, led to spending a few days in the blackout, then heading to Newport News, VA; Washington, DC; Baltimore, Maryland; and back home to New York.

We hadn't really planned for Hurricane Irene-- we figured it was just media hype and wouldn't be all that bad, but wow, were we wrong! We got to Virginia on Friday night, bought food for breakfast the next morning, and spent Saturday morning foraging for food in town to buy stuff for dinner-- pretty much everything was closed down due to the impending storm, but we eventually found a place and cooked chicken and sweet potatoes before we lost power at around 2pm. Having a Paleo dinner by candlelight was actually really nice-- I felt very cavegirl-ish!

When we still didn't have power the next day (and lost all of the food in our fridge), we started thinking, "Wow, this would be a lot easier if we weren't Paleo. A loaf of bread and some peanut butter would be great right about now!" But we were determined to keep it Paleo, no matter what (especially since my brother has a gluten allergy), so we did what the cavemen probably did when there was no food: we IFed a bit and left town in search of somewhere with food (and power). Long story short, we ended up about an hour away in Newport News, spent the night there, then spent the next two days in DC and Baltimore because Williamsburg was still completely shut down. Although our vacation didn't turn out as planned, I still had a lot of fun and managed to keep it pretty Paleo.

This was my first vacation since going Paleo (today marks 19 months!), and I was a little worried about the food situation, since I'm used to knowing exactly what's in my food and where/what I'm going to eat. Was there probably hidden whack ingredients in things I ate over the last few days? Yeah, probably, but I did my best. Breakfasts were the easiest, of course: bacon and eggs are always a great option. (Okay, so the bacon probably had added stuff in it, but it was the best I could do!) Other meals were also easy-- pretty much any restaurant will have a protein option with a side of veggies, so I just kept it simple. "Steak/chicken with a side of [insert vegetable], no potatoes/bread/pasta/rice, please!" More and more restaurants are offering gluten-free menus and bread substitutes (lettuce wraps, salads), so it's becoming easier to keep it Paleo on the road. Red Robin, for example, offers lettuce wraps for their burgers, and Outback Steakhouse is a perfect place to order a Paleo meal. I tried Vietnamese food for the first time while in DC, and I ordered my food without the rice and noodles. As I've mentioned in other blog posts, I've been low-carbifying meals for years, so Paleofying is just the next step-- and not all that different! Just do your best with what you have to work with-- your food might not be organic, free-range, grass-fed, and nitrate-free, but if you're keeping it as Paleo as possible, you'll still be doing better than 99% of the population.

So here are some tips on surviving both vacations and power outages while Paleo/Primal:
1. Plan. If you know there might be a natural disaster coming, make food that might last you a few days, such as breakfast bars, Caveman Crunch Bars, grain-free granola, and beef jerky. These will also double as snacks on plane, car, and train rides, while camping, or during sight-seeing. (You can also use the technique of intermittent fasting.)
2. Modify. If you're at a restaurant or BBQ, substitute bread for lettuce wraps, or eat your meat with a fork and knife (or your hands!). If there's a gluten-free menu available, ordering off of it is your best option. Don't be afraid to tell your waiters about food allergies/sensitivities and ask to hold the starches and double the veggies, or order your meal without cheese/nuts/sauce/whatever-- they're usually more than happy to accommodate.
3. JERF. Just Eat Real Food. If you're new to this lifestyle, finding Paleo-approved foods might seem really stressful when you're out on the road, but don't freak yourself out about it. While a meal at a restaurant or food in the local grocery store might not be 100% perfect, just do the best that you can-- if you're sticking to protein, veggies, fruits, and fats, and not eating processed crap, you're doing fine.

Want to be inspired?
A few days ago, Karen from the International Paleo Movement Group on Facebook and the website Paleo Approved made this fantastic video of people's Paleo/Primal transformations. It's clever, creative, and so inspiring!

Quote of the Day:
"I never had a policy; I have just tried to do my best each and every day." -Abraham Lincoln

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