Friday, June 6, 2014

No Grains, No Gains - June 2014 topic - eating Paleo while traveling - on a cruise

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June 2014 Blog topic is: Eating Paleo while traveling. Specifically, I chose how I ate Paleo while on a cruise.

In 2013, I booked an Alaskan cruise for my daughter (pre-teen at the time) any myself. We did a great job of planning and saving so we could make this great trip together. We gave up eating out, got $1 Red Box movies, and took home made picnics to the beach so we could save up for our trip over a few years. Many "Staycations" during school holidays. Stay at home and travel the local sites.

 I had no idea that the year I'd take my first cruise, I would be eating low-carb Paleo as part of my long term weight maintenance and post auto-immune maintenance plan. No exposures to gluten! I did have a one night lapse on the ship (sugar in  mint jelly on some lamb... sigh!).  More on that later.. Reminder: I'm grain free, dairy free, legume free, and nut free and almost completely processed sugar free. I found cruising very do-able on a Paleo food template.

1. Planning:  Envisioning how things would go:

 A. I picked a cruise line that had a gluten free menu and had good feed back on gluten free sites. The last thing I want to have on a long trip is an "unintentional glutening" I'm in a lot of pain and it does change our activities for the day if I get exposed.

My emotional/binge eating will come back with a vengeance if I fall back into patterns with grain and sugars. Even if I am on vacation, I've got these conditions 24/7 and the responsibility to manage them to the best of my ability. Day in Day out.  I accept that and planned accordingly.

B. We planned our eating strategy a few months before we left home:
  • Hotel before cruise- breakfast buffet where I could eat Paleo and my daughter could eat Primal.
  • Choosing high quality, real food. I had an interview with Dietitian Cassie (Low Carb Conversations, episode 81)  My daughter started examining low-fat and no-fat yogurt ingredients and choosing not to eat it.  She realized there was a lot of either sugar and/or chemicals. She was also learning how good eggs, bacon, avocado/guacamole/salsa ,and whole fruit could taste for breakfast. So much more filling than cereal and waffles!

Primal Fuel for Jr. Family Member
  • Day to Day plan for the cruise: A big, big discussion about how food would be set out all day. Deserts for my daughter were okay, once a day, reasonable serving, stick with dark chocolate or full fat ice-cream  or full fat butter where possible. No all day munching on junk. NO on the soda package that most families bought for unlimited soda and diet soda. Yes, occasionally a hot chocolate or tea after a cold outdoor event for her. Ice cream sundae bars, unlimited pizza = no or limited amounts. Bun less burgers, turkey burgers, veggies, fruit, cheese, nut butters, guacamole, YES!
  • Hotel after the cruise  I booked a Home Wood suites for a few days in downtown Seattle. The room had a kitchenette  and was within walking distance to public transportation and a downtown grocery store. Instead of waiting to get home to get back to home cooked meals, we could start in Seattle. 
2. Communication once we arrived:
A. Getting to know the assistant waiter:  The waiter came and spent a long time the first evening talking to me about the gluten free options. I convinced him that I wouldn't be eating the gluten free rolls and bread, but he could help me avoid hidden flour in sauces. Clear soups were gluten free, creamy soups all had flour.
My cruise breakfast, hard-boiled eggs for later
B Advance menus:  I had a sneak peak at the menu the night before the food was served for dinner. I could choose anything I wanted and the chef would prepare mine without gluten. Awesome!

3. How it all worked while cruising:
A. Breakfasts in the formal dining room. I could always order eggs, omelets made to order,  and bacon or sausage. There was always salmon available, too.  I would obtain hard boiled eggs to take on shore excursions.
B. Lunch was usually from the buffet bar. Protein, veggies, and sometimes fruit
C. Snacks: I  found that there was a nacho bar that had huge bowls of guacamole. I would load my bowl up with guacamole only and put it in a plastic container in my cabin refrigerator. I could supplement any meal with guacamole for some good added fat. An international cafe served shrimp cocktail all day long. Also, turkey sandwiches (minus the bread) were great if we had been walking or hiking a lot.
Walking deck and my home for the week!
Lamplugh Glacier, Glacier Bay National Park

D Dinner: Almost always in the fancy dining room. Good steaks, salmon, seafood, lamb, veggies, and berries for something sweet.
There was a lot of seafood.

E. Food I brought: 85% chocolate to have at dinner with decaf coffee, beef jerky for on shore trips.
This sign marked the 15 pies on the buffet.. oh, maybe 15 people in the life boat??

F. Food for the Seattle tour: Easy! We shopped for our favorite foods that we eat at home and I cooked in the hotel.
Seattle grocery shopping for cooking at the hotel
Ground turkey salad bowl and Space needle with a view, walking fuel

Here's what worked:
1. Planning before the cruise started. Setting up some ground and cruise rules!
2. Communicating so I could be strict gluten free and eat great food.
3. Bringing food with me both to stay gluten free and save $$
4. Steering clear of sugar so I could put my full time and attention into the trip. Feeling great, walking lots.

Here's what didn't work for me before I went Paleo/gluten free
1. No planning, just show up and eat, and eat some more..what the heck I'm on vacation!
2. Not communicating about what I needed, just going with food that is set out for me.
3. Eating junk food, because what the heck, everyone was doing it... I'll start my diet when I get home..
4. Eating a lot of sugary foods and being stuck in the emotional/binge eating cycle. Lapsing on a bit of mint jelly (too much sugar and I knew it...) on some lamb one night. Felt terrible. Not worth it. Laid on the bed with depression setting in, thoughts of the Titanic.. (sigh)  A great reminder of why I stay away from sugar!

Chihuly Museum, Seattle
Check in with the other No grains, No gains bloggers and check out their travel topics.

Gwen at Against the Grain
Jeanette at For Life
Leigh at Poonapalooza


  1. Guacamole...nectar of the gods! Great job!

    1. Gwen, guacamole has saved me many times. I steer for the freshly prepped stuff as the guac in the containers at the grocery sometimes have MSG and or diary. Usually, guacamole = good outcome. Plus a satiating form of fat.....

  2. Awesome! You did great! Did you pack along some containers for use onboard and in the hotel? Did you have to specially arrange for the fridge, or do all the cabins have them?

    1. Jan, yes! I bring the round snapware plastic bowl (spaceneedle photo) on all my trips. I can fit that in my backpack and I put in a ground meat/sauteed broccoli slaw -aka noodles, with vegies and olive oil. I bring that to the airport for my first meal, then rinse the bowl before the flight leaves. I thought in advance to bring the rectangular container for food to put in the refrige in the cabin. I think the refrige comes standard in Princess. We had a window view room- so second to the smallest. I find that plastic snapware is great for not leaking. If we are doing car travel and I can heat in a microwave, then I will switch to glass snapware. Plastic is nice and light.

      I did pack some sea salt, and two tiny plastic bottles of good olive oil and balsamic. The cruise ship had great, real olive oil, but other places did not..

  3. " Laid on the bed with depression setting in, thoughts of the Titanic.. "

    Not laughing at your pain, but smiled a lot at that.

    1. LOL- Vickie... I had to laugh at myself on that one. It was mid-trip and my daughter even said "MOM! You usually don't eat that stuff, are you sure.".- meaning the sugar in the jelly. Great reminder about sugar messing with my brain. My dad had died 3 weeks earlier, so I laid on that bed and felt my feelings. Decided I would get right back to the regular food template the next morning. My dad always talked about ship wrecks like the Endmund Fitzgerald in Whitefish bay. I have no doubt there was mixed grief and mixed sugar effects that night. ;)

      It was a big eye opener. How little processed sugar can mess with my brain. Now I'm super nosy at restaurants on any sort of condiments. I'm glad I choose not to go back there... It is funny.... got to laugh... :)