How do you stick to your dietary plan when traveling for medical care?

Wanted: Your best tips.
Sticking to diet requirements or restrictions can be a challenge at the best of times. But what about when you have to travel for medical care? I’m looking for your tips and tricks about how you plan ahead. Feel free to also share the challenges you haven’t yet been able to overcome. I bet another member will have a solution. Let’s share.

What special planning do you do to help stick to accommodate your dietary needs while travelling?

My husband doesn't have any restrictions, but by staying at Gift of Life, or any similar type place, you can shop and cook our own food. This not only saves money but allows you to cook as you need to without having to find restaurants that will accommodate you. You also remove the temptations.

Blessings,
JoDee

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I don't travel much, but when I do–I can always find someplace that has baked or grilled fish or chicken. French fries are always hard to stay away from when traveling. Sometimes I eat half, and have a little salad. Not always easy, but it can be done. If you can have a small bite or 2 of something you really like, without having the whole thing–that is always a plus. Best of luck to you!

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@chocolate5lover

I don't travel much, but when I do–I can always find someplace that has baked or grilled fish or chicken. French fries are always hard to stay away from when traveling. Sometimes I eat half, and have a little salad. Not always easy, but it can be done. If you can have a small bite or 2 of something you really like, without having the whole thing–that is always a plus. Best of luck to you!

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My husband and I will share an order of fries quite often. Desserts are my downfall. If we get one we share that, too!

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@jodeej

My husband and I will share an order of fries quite often. Desserts are my downfall. If we get one we share that, too!

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I agree, @jodeej. One dessert with two forks (or spoons) is the best way to eat dessert.

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I have diet restrictions that seem to contradict each other. I will take snacks with me for the first 2 days that can be kept in a cooler type carrier. Fresh fruit is always a good option for me and some raw vegetables. When dining out there is always something, may not be what I really crave at that moment but it's an option that will work on my restricted diet. As the same that @jodeej stated, sweets are a downfall and a taste or two is enough for me. Flavored water goes a long ways towards quieting the craving for sweet things. Get out of the car and go for a walk, breathe deep, look at new sites; all of these will help change your focus!
Ginger

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I pack my food and stay in AirBnBs when traveling so I can cook food that doesn't make me sick. When we have a long day at the hospital or driving to clinic (we live a 3 hour drive from the hospital where my doctors are located) I pack a lunch for both my husband and I. I often get nervous before my appointments so I am lucky that I eat/pack whatever sounds good just to get calories in.

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While traveling in the car, I eat Arby's classic roast beef without the bun or anything, and also their potato cakes. When at the destination, I find a restaurant that is willing to accommodate my needs. Also, try to stay in a motel that has a refrigerator and microwave. Can make oatmeal, potato, probably scrambled eggs (though haven't tried those in microwave yet). It usually isn't too difficult to have a restaurant make you some scrambled eggs and a microwaved potato, or a plain burger, or a plain piece of fish. I have fructose malabsorption and lactose intolerance and can't eat fruit or sweets, dairy, or wheat.

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@lelia

While traveling in the car, I eat Arby's classic roast beef without the bun or anything, and also their potato cakes. When at the destination, I find a restaurant that is willing to accommodate my needs. Also, try to stay in a motel that has a refrigerator and microwave. Can make oatmeal, potato, probably scrambled eggs (though haven't tried those in microwave yet). It usually isn't too difficult to have a restaurant make you some scrambled eggs and a microwaved potato, or a plain burger, or a plain piece of fish. I have fructose malabsorption and lactose intolerance and can't eat fruit or sweets, dairy, or wheat.

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I also take along some Trader Joe's chunk white chicken in water (it has no sugars) and Kettle Brand Kettle Chips unsalted. Also some Pompeian extra light tasting olive oil (to put on the oatmeal of in canned chicken hash I make in the motel), and some cinnamon (to put on the oatmeal and some thyme to put in the hash.

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Great suggestions so far. I would love to be able to share a dessert with my husband but he never feels like desserts in restaurants, although at home I generally have to have something for him every night, like an apple turnover, or a Haagen Daaz ice cream bar.

I have learned the value of staying in VRBOs and Airbnbs. If anyone chooses to check them out my best advice would be to really read the reviews from past renters. We have had fabulous to really bad. The really bad one had no reviews but it sounded so ideal for what we needed that we took the chance. I have also stayed in Residence Inns. They have an included buffet breakfast but I find that there are enough things that are not exposed to airborne germs that it will work for me — one of them made omelets to order, there's always bananas, yogurt, things of that nature. I have wondered about toast or bagels that you put in the toaster — would that kill germs? — but so far have not done that.

I do try to order things where sodium can be limited, never get soups, and sometimes bring along a little container of my own salad dressing because it is lower in sodium. I love a couple of Braswell dressings — the Vidalia onion and the raspberry — and although they do not make a claim on the label about being low sodium, they are. I always check salad dressing labels for sodium. I don't even bother with commercial soups anymore.

Flavored water is good to bring along, I like Hint a lot. Of course you cannot bring it into a restaurant. Also, make sure if you are dining in a restaurant and get water that they do not put any citrus slices in it. Those fruit are often not washed. I always specify NO LEMON OR LIME SLICE.

@lelia CL, you put olive oil on oatmeal? Sounds interesting. I generally have oatmeal a few times a week and a new variation would be great. Now I generally put some nuts in, cinnamon, and fruit. What do you put in with the olive oil? A savory preparation would be a nice change.
JK

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These are all great tips regardless whether you're traveling for medical care or not! Got to love the Connect people and all of their hints.
Ginger

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@contentandwell

Great suggestions so far. I would love to be able to share a dessert with my husband but he never feels like desserts in restaurants, although at home I generally have to have something for him every night, like an apple turnover, or a Haagen Daaz ice cream bar.

I have learned the value of staying in VRBOs and Airbnbs. If anyone chooses to check them out my best advice would be to really read the reviews from past renters. We have had fabulous to really bad. The really bad one had no reviews but it sounded so ideal for what we needed that we took the chance. I have also stayed in Residence Inns. They have an included buffet breakfast but I find that there are enough things that are not exposed to airborne germs that it will work for me — one of them made omelets to order, there's always bananas, yogurt, things of that nature. I have wondered about toast or bagels that you put in the toaster — would that kill germs? — but so far have not done that.

I do try to order things where sodium can be limited, never get soups, and sometimes bring along a little container of my own salad dressing because it is lower in sodium. I love a couple of Braswell dressings — the Vidalia onion and the raspberry — and although they do not make a claim on the label about being low sodium, they are. I always check salad dressing labels for sodium. I don't even bother with commercial soups anymore.

Flavored water is good to bring along, I like Hint a lot. Of course you cannot bring it into a restaurant. Also, make sure if you are dining in a restaurant and get water that they do not put any citrus slices in it. Those fruit are often not washed. I always specify NO LEMON OR LIME SLICE.

@lelia CL, you put olive oil on oatmeal? Sounds interesting. I generally have oatmeal a few times a week and a new variation would be great. Now I generally put some nuts in, cinnamon, and fruit. What do you put in with the olive oil? A savory preparation would be a nice change.
JK

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The Pompeian Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil is not savory but a slight bit sweet even though there is no sugar (olive juice) in it. I dribble some on the oatmeal after I dish it up and then sprinkle the oatmeal liberally with cinnamon. It is delicious. I like it better than the cow's milk I used to be able to use. I also tried the above olive oil in a shortbread cookie recipe (left out the sugar) and it was delicious. Have also used it in regular cooking – frying, etc. So, this is a very versatile oil. The extra virgin is also good and that would be ideal for a savory dish.

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@gingerw

These are all great tips regardless whether you're traveling for medical care or not! Got to love the Connect people and all of their hints.
Ginger

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Same here!

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@lelia

The Pompeian Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil is not savory but a slight bit sweet even though there is no sugar (olive juice) in it. I dribble some on the oatmeal after I dish it up and then sprinkle the oatmeal liberally with cinnamon. It is delicious. I like it better than the cow's milk I used to be able to use. I also tried the above olive oil in a shortbread cookie recipe (left out the sugar) and it was delicious. Have also used it in regular cooking – frying, etc. So, this is a very versatile oil. The extra virgin is also good and that would be ideal for a savory dish.

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@lelia thanks, I will definitely try it. I do only have the extra virgin but I think you could probably make it more savory using that and perhaps some freshly grated hard cheese.
JK

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I’m a 72 year old female who has stage 3 kidney disease. I think that’s what this is about? Since I also have traumatic brain injury, can’t remember and looking at the replies it doesn’t say. Anyway when I go out to a resturant I bring my own dressing and sometimes pack raw cabbage cauliflower, red bell peppers etc all cut up. I know that’s good for the kidneys. I try to stick to only 2 oz. of protein for each meal. Since my potassium is high my nephrologist told me to avoid bananas, tomatoes, oranges and I think avacados? It seems to me a kidney diet is not eating many healthy things, please correct me as to specifics if I’m not correct.
I pack up a meal like maybe salad with maybe 2oz. Chicken salad or tuna salad on my alas. Lots of water. I probably drink too much decaf coffee, although black no sugar. I’m allergic to all forms of sugar. Wow it’s diffi since flour turns to sugar, so no sugar or flour in addition to what to eat for my kidneys. Any help, suggestions would be appreciated. I also have a fib etc. COPD diabetes and Lyme disease Thanks for reading.

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Good morning, @carnes, this is @mamacita, a Volunteer Mentor for Mayo Clinic Connect and also a patient with many years of drug therapy and diet modifications under my belt Seems to me we have a lot in common, even though my kidneys are one of the few things that are not doing too badly. Much of the rest of this 66 year old body has been through the ringer. Old age is so much fun!!! I, too, share your misery regarding food choices when one is traveling and must eat at restaurants. I have yoyo dieted all my life, trying to lose weight, and now that I am also Type Two Diabetic, it is very important that I eat healthy. Feet and eyesight are not optional for me, plus I have a young teen to raise.

So, here's what has helped me, in making choices at a restaurant. Everyone has salads, just about. I always tell them to have the dressing on the side, leave off the bacon, and no croutons. When Cracker Barrel asks if I want biscuits, or cornbread muffins, I tell them neither. (Most of the time! Ha!) I am also Gluten Free, as you may have noticed earlier in our conversation. I am Autistic and I have found that restricting my carbohydrate level to what naturally occurs in vegetables and nuts, is all the carbines I need. My anxiety levels are way down, I think more clearly, and I am able to withstand stressors much more easily. All restaurents provide baked or broiled fish and chicken, even beef. Now, fast food is another story. But there again I can choose a salad, and some places even have unbreaded chicken nuggets. Takes a while to get used to unbreaded items, because they taste so good Aaugh!

I go by the Autism Cookbook for recipes that are super healthy for at home use, as well as the keto diet cookbook Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen. Work closely with your good doctors. See if some of these suggestions might help you. They have helped me tremendously. What works for one does not necessarily work for others. Oh, I forgot to tell you that I also have a brain injury from a fall, twice. My x-rays were horrible to look at. But I recovered greatly from that and I try to challenge myself every day. I know my memory is not what it used to be but I work hard to stay as organized as possible. For the rest, grace covers it. You and I can be useful and live a happy life in spite of our mountains that loom in front of us. We can do this! We are better together! Love and light,

Mamacita

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