No I am not being a hypocrite. However, a totally grain free diet just doesn’t align with my goals when I travel. Read on for my perspective on strict grain free travel and learn how I choose to eat and why when abroad.
The whole point of a no grainer is to educate people on why grains are not a health food and give you the tools to reduce them in your diet. It may therefore seem hypocritical of me to be sharing all the delicious foods I am eating during my travels, many of which contain rice and other gluten free grains. However, I have never said that everyone must give up grains completely. Rather I seek to make people aware that grains are not a health food as we have long been told, and that many of the foods we are told to avoid (ie: those with saturated fat) are actually good for you.
I am human and particularly while away it simply isn’t practical for me to attempt grain free travel. Furthermore, in my eyes on of the most important things about food is enjoyment and fulfilment; you are not going to get this if food becomes too much about rules and restrictions.
Why I don’t attempt grain free travel
Food and culture are intrinsically linked and this is a beautiful thing. Around the world many festivals centre around food; religious holidays are often celebrated with a feast; and, when we have the privilege of being able to travel, absorbing new culture and ways of life through sampling new food is, in my opinion, one of the most wonderful things. When you think of a place, the food is often one of the things that stands out. Spicy coconut curries in Thailand, fresh sashimi in Japan, fresh rice paper rolls in Vietnam and mezze platters in Turkey. Travelling and sampling new flavours is really special.
Whilst I believe wholeheartedly in the need to cut down on our consumption of certain refined foods like grains and seed oils, I am not willing to miss out on some of the best things on offer when I’m abroad just for the purpose of grain free travel. I don’t want to sit around with a group of new friends from around the world and avoid the tasty foods that everyone is enjoying. What’s the point of travelling if you just seek to replicate a strict diet that you follow back home, only made more difficult by the fact you don’t have as much control over ingredients or the way food is prepared?
I understand that there are people with serious allergies and conditions that need to remain strict with their diets regardless of where they are in the world. So your approach, like most things nutrition related, needs to be individually tailored. Enjoying travel and feeling well is all about finding a personal balance.
I try to make the following choices when travelling:
– Remaining strictly gluten free – although this is harder in some places than others;
– Trying to avoid seed and vegetable oils as much as possible – often impossible; and
– Not having too much sugar – usually easy because most traditional food isn’t high in sugar, it’s the modern treats and drinks, often with Western influence that are the problem.
Apart from these three little goals I just try to enjoy good quality local food. It is actually surprisingly easy in most places to enjoy a balance of vegetables, meat, eggs and fruit anyway. Most of the time these tend to be flavoursome and nutritionally sound meals that will give you a new insight into local customs. While sometimes immersing myself in local food and culture means eating far more rice or noodles than I would like, this is all part of getting out of your comfort zone – what travel is all about. Additionally, when we travel we are naturally more active than if we are at home, particularly for those who work desk jobs. Extra carbohydrates are not the end of the world!
I recently posted about my commitment to gluten free travel and I wanted to explain my position on grains and grain free travel before I get into some more content about the places we go. Upcoming travel articles will document where we go with recommendations on where to find gluten free food. Where we encounter some tricky situations or get further off the beaten track I will provide other travellers with tips from my experience. I hope you find the information useful, particularly if you need to stay gluten free when abroad.