Wrote this in May of 2018: For the first time since I can remember, this past week I traveled and came back home weighing less than when I had left on the trip. I had more energy to endure the trip as well. I want to thank the guidance I have received from the books of Dr. Neal Barnard to help this miracle happen. Saying it was a “miracle” is no exaggeration. Sticking with a low fat, 100% plant based diet with no added sugars or oils has made it possible.
Everyone worries about gaining weight when they travel. For those of us with Dercum’s Disease, Lipedema and Lymphedema, where it’s common to gain 12 pounds of lymphatic inflammation weight in ONE DAY, we typically dread traveling. It’s not because of calories, it’s because of too much activity, our legs being down too much, stress, lymphatic issues and eating inflammatory foods common to most people’s way of eating. For me it takes time off my feet and bed rest to lose those 15 lymphatic fluid pounds. It’s horrendously painful. (Thanks Dercum’s Disease). How Someone Can Gain 15 Pounds In One Day Stanford Video
On this recent trip my husband had to drive us nine hours through three states, for me to see a specialist at the Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio for my Dercum’s Disease. Having just lost 32 pounds, lowered my LDL cholesterol 57%, and finally reduced my swelling and inflammation a bit from the lymphatic problems, I was dreading the problems a trip like this could cause.
Traditionally, my husband and I would eat fast food by frequenting drive thru places. We wouldn’t have time to seek out places that served the foods I would need. If my appropriate dining options only offered ice berg lettuce in a dish, I would be driven back to eating what I simply couldn’t do again. If I brought anything with me it would have to be raw. If the “raw” was not as tasty as I managed to make my food at home, I would be tempted to eat forbidden food.
As it turned out, I found a way to stick to the foods that would allow me the energy to enjoy the trip AND keep that pesky 15 pounds of lymph weight from piling on. I even lost weight.
This is what worked for me and could work for you:
1) For car trips, bring your own food. It was very easy to stock our cooler with individual meals that included unsalted raw and roasted nuts, nutritional yeast, greens, riced cruciferous vegetables, meaty high fiber black beans, salsa and luscious strawberries. The idea was to have them handy incase at any meal situation there were no appropriate food choices over the following 3 days. The idea was also to make sure that there was joy in the meal through textures, flavors and color. My food was overflowing with life, balanced nutrition, and flavor. I was happy to eat it. Never deprived.
2) If you must eat out, look for places with at least a veggie burger and/or good fresh salad bar. Never did find a veggie burger but we did find places serving salad and fruit. If there isn’t a non animal protein source on the salad bar, have some nuts in a baggie at your disposal to toss on. Here, fresh peas are the perfect protein. Most places have lemon slices and that is perfect to use in place of salad dressing.
3) Be willing to be reasonably flexible when traveling with others. The trip can’t be about just your needs, it has to respect the others traveling with you as well. Being able to compromise is key. For us the trade off was that my husband wanted to eat a certain style of food that I could not. I did the plate of vegetable toppings at a sub shop so he could get a sub. A man has to eat and on his own terms. I can still reasonably take care of myself and eat as well.
Another meal I ordered in a restaurant was a small pizza with no cheese but with a pile of mushrooms, side of roasted, with no butter or oil, carrots. It was not 100% on target for how I usually eat, but it was a reasonable choice so my husband could at least eat something he preferred. It was important to watch the size of the portion of the pizza that I ate for one that meal. It was good to see my husband happy with what he ate. And I really enjoyed one bit of a diet splurge on eating part of the pizza for that meal. I could still enjoy the social aspect of eating in a pub with my husband.
4) Location, Location, Location . Do a little research and see if a plant-based diet friendly store such as Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme, or even Aldi is somewhere close to where you will be staying. You likely will have to replenish your fresh food supply even if it’s just finding a package of raw nuts to toss on a simple salad you pick up on the way home. We lucked out. There was a Whole Foods store directly across from our hotel. Also a couple vegan friendly restaurants literally just feet away from where we stayed.
5) Build in time and opportunities to mentally and spiritually find joys that are not food related. This is important for those who feel they are giving up the fun food they equate with road trips. People tend to allow themselves foods that typically they wouldn’t normally eat. Gas station foods such as candy bars, soda pop, chips, and other road trip staples you want but say no to yourself regarding, can make it more likely that you will finally will give in. Find a different trade off. We were just an hour from my most favorite place while I was a student at Miami University. We took a detour to spend a few moments there. It helped me to stay connected to joys in life. It was an emotional spiritual luxury to spend time there.
6) Honor what you know to be true about your chronic illness. For me it means using a motorized scooter so that I don’t build up too much lymphatic fluid and lactic acid. I didn’t over schedule myself. There was rest and down time.
The medically successful visit to my specialist had a lovely time with my husband and enjoyed the food every step of the way. It was all so relaxing for us both. I still got to celebrate that moment of victory when I weighed myself the first morning after returning home. Who says you can’t have it all?