Almost four years ago, I underwent gastric bypass surgery. I lost about 150 pounds, and I had to make big changes to the way I ate. Too much sugar or too many carbohydrates make me feel ill or make my blood sugar spike, then crash, sometimes dangerously low. I need to limit the carbs in my diet and I need to eat at least 75 grams of protein every day. I also need to eat small meals every three hours or so, because I can’t eat much at one time.
I am planning a vacation soon and that started me thinking about traveling after gastric bypass surgery, specifically, what to eat while traveling. I’ve gone on a few trips since my surgery, and eating while on the road is not as simple now as it was before my surgery. Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.
Plan ahead. Don’t just assume you’ll find something suitable for you to eat wherever you go. Think about where you’re going, what your traveling companions will want to eat, and what you’ll want to eat. If you’ll be dining out, look up the nutritional information of items at various restaurants online and decide in advance what you’ll eat there.
Take food with you. At the very least, have something available for a quick snack if needed. Don’t rely on buying convenience food at gas stations along the way. Sometimes you can find something healthy there like a cheese stick or yogurt, but mostly what you’ll find there are carbs and sugar. For my upcoming trip, I plan to carry protein bars and almonds in my bag. I’m considering packing a small cooler with ice so I can also take cheese, raw veggies, hummus, and yogurt.
Stock up on food if necessary. Hotel rooms often have small refrigerators, so it’s easy to stock up on items that are healthy for you. I take things like ready-to-drink protein shakes, soy milk for mixing my own protein shakes, cheese, and yogurt. Sometimes I pack these items and take them with me; other times, I go shopping when I reach my destination. If I shop when I get there, I don’t have to carry as much stuff with me and don’t have to worry about keeping items cold in the car.
Be careful when trying new foods. I know part of the fun of going on a vacation is getting to eat good food that you don’t normally eat. However, throwing up in a restaurant bathroom is not fun. Being stuck in a hotel room feeling ill while the rest of the family goes sightseeing is not fun. To avoid discomfort, or possibly worse, try to stick to foods you know you tolerate well.
Ask questions as needed when eating in restaurants. Restaurants often use more fat or sugar in dishes than you would use if you were preparing the same dishes yourself at home. Don’t assume a particular dish will be safe for you to eat. If you have questions about the ingredients or nutritional information in a dish, ask. You can also ask to make substitutions or to have meals cooked to order.