Good Day My Fellow PMR Warriors!
Many of us with PMR will try anything to make ourselves feel better. That includes changing how we eat in hopes of decreasing inflammation and stiffness.
Eating to feel better is a big undertaking and can be a pain at times.
With so many dietary restrictions due to Polymyalgia Rheumatica, some may wonder, how can I travel? Today, I want to let you know that you CAN travel with PMR and still maintain your current diet regime if you plan ahead a bit.
The most common eating plans that most of us follow are:
- The anti-inflammatory protocol diet (AIP)- usually the most restrictive but you can add in some foods that do not bother your PMR and digestion as time goes on.
- Mediterranean Diet
- Low Carb
You have to find out what works best for your lifestyle and health conditions. Certain diets may actually aggravate other conditions, so it is recommended that you let your doctor know what diet plan you are choosing.
I started out on the AIP diet and found that I could add back in nuts and some cheeses. I mainly now follow the Paleo diet but do use Keto recipes at times, especially for desserts (in general, I like the keto desserts better than the Paleo).
So how can I travel if I must eat clean and natural with no fried, breaded or sweet foods? I'm here to tell you that it is possible.
Recently, I went on a group bus trip with my mom to Tennessee. I was very concerned about what I could and could not eat while on the journey as I had no choice as to where we were stopping to eat. Much of our menu included southern dishes, which are notorious for their delicious breaded, fried chicken and sugary casseroles and desserts. I knew that there would be a lot of foods that were not a part of my regular diet.
For a car trip, I will often pack a cooler with food items such as veggies and cheese. I was limited on what I could bring for this trip due to being on the bus, which caused me some anxiety. A huge cooler would be too much to drag along with my luggage. So, I packed tuna packets and fruit, along with nuts and organic beef sticks. I figured those foods would have to suffice in a pinch.
Luckily, I did not have to break into my stash as I could pick enough food from the set meal menu to get by and not upset my diet.
I must say that I found it tedious and kind of embarrassing to be the "picky eater" of the group. In the past, I was an easy-going traveler and diner and ate what was served. To be "that person" now is kind of uncomfortable for me.
One instance on my trip was at the Hatfield's and McCoy's Feud dinner show. The food was already predetermined and was primarily southern fried foods and pudding. I had taken the time to look up the menus and see what I was able to eat. I had gotten through the past 3 days of our trip without making any special requests and just ate primarily the veggies and meat (sometimes picking off the topping) that was served. I planned to do the same for this dinner show.
On this evening, our waitress asked if there were any dietary needs. So I said that I was gluten-free. At a loss as to what to say exactly, I figured that this request was the quickest most straightforward way to describe my diet without listing all of the many restrictions. I said that no special considerations were necessary but I just needed to know if there was any flour in the creamy vegetable soup (most likely). She stated yes and took my soup away.
The waitress then said that I should call ahead next time and let them know my special dietary needs.
Good information to remember!
I was surprised to find out a few minutes later that this sweet waitress took my diet considerations to the cook and came back with a whole new menu just for me. The waitress informed me that I had better eat it all since they made the food especially for me (yikes)!
Although very considerate, I still could not eat a lot of the foods prepared as they had other grains in the ingredients and I am grain-free. I was feeling a little pressured and wanted to return the southern hospitality so I pushed the food around on my plate a bit to make it appear like I ate most of it.
The waitress was especially pleased when she presented me with a gluten-free brownie over ice cream. Calling me "sugar," she hovered to see how I liked it. I did not have the heart to inform her that I am also off "sugar" and all artificial sweeteners. Feeling kind of trapped, I took the tiniest bite and said, "Oh, very good. Thank you!" I hoped that my digestive system would tolerate this minor infraction.
I hid the rest of the brownie under my napkin...
But I left with an essential helpful tip about calling ahead with my dietary requests. So a new lesson was learned!
Overall, on my trip, I was able to adhere to my Paleo Diet pretty well. I ate eggs, fruit and meat for breakfast. I ordered salads for lunch and then picked apart the pre-planned southern-style dinners to glean what I could from the meal, eating only the meat and vegetables. Is it what I would have eaten at home? Most likely not. Did I get enough vegetables? Not really. But I survived and had a great time without a flare-up, which is all that I could expect on a preplanned group bus trip.
AND I was able to spend quality time with my mother too!
So to summarise, here are a few travel tips for eating with PMR:
- Pack a few staples like tuna, nuts, fruit
- Review menu ahead of time to see what you can eat
- Call ahead for special meal requests when necessary
- Load up on what you can eat so you are not tempted to eat what you should not.
- If you can, choose restaurants that feature whole organic foods such as salads and fresh vegetables and simple, unadorned meats (no heavy gravy, soy sauce, etc.). Avoid casserole dishes.
I hope that this blog gives you some ideas for eating on the road along with inspiration to travel a bit with PMR. Remember to rest a bit too while traveling so you can enjoy the next day! Happy trails, my friends!!