Paleo Day 22: Paleo Travel Is Ticking Me Off

Sunday, June 22–Traveling and Paleo are seriously ticking me off at this point.  It’s one thing to have to suffer through self selections at restaurants.  I don’t expect things to be as easy as it is when I am at home with the comfort of supermarkets, kitchens and my own routines.  But on travel days where air travel is concerned it goes from being a nuisance to being totally irritating.  I was close to dropping some F-bombs on myself for subjecting myself to this stupidity.  I could just cave for one day, but I didn’t.  Instead I just slugged through and threw myself a little pity party.

When it comes to air travel, I like to be as prepared as possible.  I like to get to the airport two hours early.  I like to have everything packed up the night before, or at least be ready to be packed.  I don’t want to be rushed.  I don’t want to try to beat a clock.  I want the process to be as stress free as it cane be.  Knowing I would be dealing with a non-stop cross country flight on Southwest, it was my job to get some food for the trip.  I started that process yesterday when I purchased a fruit and nut mixture.

Dried fruits and nuts are really a godsend when it comes to the Paleo diet.  They are compact and easy to carry.  The pack a reasonably good amount of nutrients in that small package too.  One cannot live on nuts and raisins alone, but it certainly helps fill out the gaps.  Unfortunately most of the packages have peanuts or some sort of cracker in them.  I won’t even bother discussing the problem with granola mixtures.  Many of them also have banana, which is Paleo but just tastes disgusting to me.  I was lucky enough to find a diverse mix made with almonds, brazil nuts, coconut, dried papaya and dried apples.  I was set, so I thought.  Of course it wasn’t until this morning that I started really tearing about the back of the label.  All the nuts were roasted and salted, so their goes their beneficial omega-3/omega-6 fat ratios.  Some of the fruit was candied not just dried.  So there goes the strictly Paleo definition, although in a pinch I’d still claim it as Paleo compliant.  My perfect flight long mix therefore was actually far from that.

With the irritation of the self imposed problem at hand we went down to breakfast in the lobby.  The hotel had the same buffet breakfast I ate on Friday morning. I rationalized that I could really fill up on breakfast and thus get by on something as minimal as a garden salad if I really was forced to.  People have gone days without eating, it’s not like I can’t go most of a day without.  Yet when we got downstairs the line was twenty people deep.  We had gotten an early start but not that early.  Instead of filling up on farm fresh eggs, bacon, sausage and a selection of fresh fruit we were forced to instead hot foot it across the street to the Burger King.

I can’t recall ever eating a breakfast at Burger King.  My last fast food breakfast was early on in this saga when I was forced to eat at McDonald’s for breakfast.  I was hoping for an egg and bacon platter.  While there was none on the menu my partner correctly insisted that they could make it for me.  What came out was a much more generous helping scrambled eggs than what I got at McDonalds.  It had the sole sausage patty but accompanying it were four strips of bacon.  The taste wasn’t altogether bad, but the whole thing was much greasier and saltier than I usually make.  That didn’t stop me from lamenting the lack of added salt when I snuck some hash browns from my partner’s tray.  But the whole thing left my stomach feeling unsettled.  A persistently slimy unpleasant sensation in my mouth annoyingly stayed until I was able to eat something much later.  In my mind every time I consciously acknowledged the film in my mouth and throat I thought of how jacked up the fat ratio was in that whole meal.  It’s like a heart disease bomb on a plate.

Thankfully airport security was pretty easy to get through so we had time to try to figure out the meal plan.  I had also hoped to use that time to get some good walking in, since we’d be stuck sitting for most of the rest of the day.  Unfortunately with dining options few most of that time was spent doing nothing but trying to get my food situation squared away.

First up was eating something to get this lingering aftertaste out of my mouth.  It was literally starting to make give me nausea.  This was also the pre-flight for what I would be needing to buy for the flight.  The pickings were slim, and the options at the slim pickings were leaner still.  Almost everything is a sandwich or flat bread.  That immediately left me to salads.  Most of the salads were already coated in cheese or the meats were breaded and deep fried.  Things were looking pretty bad, but I did manage to get some grapes to just settle things out a little, which it thankfully did.  After all the searching I found that the Californi Pizza Kitchen had two things for me.  The first was a berry and trail mix made with raw walnuts, coconut, raisins, dates and dried apples.  It was much more carb heavy than I wanted, but it was still better than the mix I had already.  The other thing they had was a Buffalo Chicken Salad with just grilled chicken, tomato and lettuce.  I could just throw away the tortillas and ranch sauce and be easily Paleo.

After milling around for half an hour after eating the grapes my stomach was settled and I was ready to buy my food before getting in line for the plane.  When you fly Southwest and have an A-group pass you want to make sure you are not late for the boarding time.  It defeats the whole purpose of getting the first group since on the later seats you are bound to get a crappy middle seat.  I therefore hit up the California Pizza Kitchen to buy my nut and fruit mix and my salad.  My partner’s selection was a sandwich for a place with a much longer line, so with some time to kill I figured I’d throw out the dressing and tortilla strips while I still had plenty of space and time.  I also wanted to get rid of the scallions I saw.  There is nothing more obnoxious than being the guy who opens up the rank food on the airplane.

As I cracked the case and pulled away the bag of strips, I saw to my dismay a black bean.  I was thinking that perhaps it was there by mistake. Why would there be just one?  Nope, there was another and another.  What was right next to it but some corn.  There was also some jicama, which was a nice surprise.  Unfortunately cut almost the same way and looking the same was also some white cheese.  My perfectly Paleo salad was actually a big freaking mess of everything I’m supposed to be avoiding.  As I slowly start picking the offending items out by hand it becomes clear that they are in every single spot of the salad.  So here I am, that jerk in the airport, with my hands tearing apart my food cursing myself at holding myself to this stupid plan for no reason but self-experimentation.  In the short term my system hasn’t been shown to operate substantially different on any of these foods, as I discovered through the JJ Virgin Elimination Diet phase.  Why am I bothering killing myself?

If I was in the post-experiment phase, with my tuned diet already laid out, I wouldn’t have bothered with any of this, even if it turns out these items end up on the verboten list.  One day of eating these things isn’t going to make or break me.  Traveling with these dietary restrictions, and I imagine vegan will be similarly frustrating, just isn’t practical.  On the way out I can pack myself enough to get it squared away.  For the other legs of the trip I think it is easier, and saner, to just say “Screw it!” and try to eat as cleanly as possible without obsessing about the details.

I did eat the now cleansed salad on the plane, as well as the fruit and nut mix.  That combined with breakfast left me woefully under-nourished for the day.  When I got home I found a bunch of kale, cabbage, carrots and tomatoes that I still hadn’t finished off from earlier in the week.  I figured what better way to finish off a day of poor nourishment than with a giant salad. I’m looking forward to heavily loading up on vegetables this week, especially in the form of some enormous salads.  I’m not just looking forward to it, I’m craving it.