Describing her diet as “healthy foodie leaning paleo,” Hail Merry’s Chief Nutrition Officer Claudia Pillow, Ph.D., has been happily living gluten-free for more than 11 years. Her diet consists of lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, sustainable seafood, organic poultry, grass-fed meat, lentils and good fats like virgin coconut oil and olive oil. A typical breakfast may be an organic egg, cheese and avocado omelet with a slice of homemade gluten-free bread and a green smoothie. She loves dark chocolate but avoids processed grains, oils and sugars as much as possible. Her home is gluten-free and all friends and family eat gluten-free when they share a meal at her table. That’s at home. Gluten-free on the go can be a whole lot more challenging, but here’s what Pillow has learned from over the years.
You have been living gluten-free for 11 years now. What are some of your favorite gluten-free travel foods?
Luckily, traveling gluten-free is getting easier and easier thanks to companies like Hail Merry that offer high quality fresh gluten-free foods that taste delicious and give me energy when I need it most.
I rarely leave home without Hail Merry’s Orange Cranberry Grawnola, a raw fruit and nut blend, and fresh fruit. I eat both for a snack on the plane. Very often I eat the Grawnola as a quick breakfast in my hotel room with unsweetened organic yogurt and a banana.
Around 4 p.m. I look for chocolate or nuts, so on the road it is Hail Merry’s Chocolate Macaroons or Vanilla Maple Almonds. If I can’t have Hail Merry, I will buy high quality dark chocolate (without soy lecithin) or a raw trail mix. I enjoy my afternoon snack with a cup of antioxidant rich green tea that helps protect my body from premature aging caused by stress and environmental toxins.
How do you maintain a healthy diet on the road, in the air and in hotels?
Usually the first thing I do after departing the airport at my final destination is to find a natural grocer to stock up on some goodies. I will buy oranges, apples, bananas, kombucha, alkalizing water and organic unsweetened yogurt. If I know the hotel room has a refrigerator, I will pick up some hummus and gluten-free crackers. I recommend calling the hotel before you arrive to ask for a room with a refrigerator (especially if traveling with medicine). If I don’t have a refrigerator, I use the ice bucket to keep the yogurt and drinks cold.
At restaurants, I order omelets and fresh fruit for breakfast, usually a salad with salmon for lunch and a simple meal of fresh vegetables and lean protein for dinner. If I can find a good Mediterranean restaurant, I order grilled seafood and vegetable dips with olives and cucumber and tomato dippers. If Indian or Asian, I go for vegetarian curries with lentils and rice. My steak house “go-to” is a petite fillet with a baked potato and fresh sautéed vegetables. At Mexican restaurants I order fresh guacamole and fish tacos in corn tortillas (but make sure not dusted in flour). Don’t be afraid of healthy fats! They fill you up, satisfy your hunger and give you energy.
I don’t beat myself for not sticking to my normal “healthy” diet but try to make the best choice with what is presented. I go local and fresh whenever possible and I always ask the wait staff what is the best and safest choices for gluten-free. It is amazing how many restaurants at least know about gluten-free. And no wonder, gluten-free cuisine will continue to be one of the hottest trends on restaurant menus with 30 percent of Americans interested in avoiding or cutting down on gluten in their diet. Good news for all!
Do you have any other advice for eating healthy on the road?
Yes! Planning is crucial. I never leave home without a travel-friendly healthy snack. This way I’m never starving and I don’t have to settle for something unhealthy and processed. Travel apps are a great way to navigate unfamiliar places and make planning easier. I like Local Eats, Road Ninja and Gluten-Free Passport. And remember, the best defense is a good offense. I make sure to eat healthy, exercise and get plenty of rest before heading out the door.