Some GREAT tips from Paleo Blogger, Christina Curp.
Here's a little bit about her:
Cristina Curp, The Castaway Kitchen
Cristina, a Miami native with Cuban roots now lives all over the world, following her husband's military career. As a chef and mother on the move, she's accustomed to packing up their lives (and her knives) to start over every few years. This ongoing adventure birthed her blog, The Castaway Kitchen: paleo for foodies. The blog is a collection of inventive, whole food recipes that have helped Cristina reverse autoimmune disease, lose weight and take control of her health and wellbeing. She's passionate about cooking, sharing her experiences and enjoying life to the last drop. You can usually find her in the kitchen or on a beach somewhere.
Website: The Castaway Kitchen
Sign up for her Email List: HERE
I had an awesome interview with Cristina and we talked about how she manages to stick to her diet being Paleo and gluten free despite traveling most of the time. She shared a lot of great ideas and recommendations that I’m sure many of you will appreciate.
With Cristina’s extensive food industry knowledge, she understands how challenging it can be for people on a clean and healthy diet to navigate the menu and look at their food options.
Afraid to Ask? I'm sorry but you have to get over it. You really do.
1. There’s no shame in asking. Don’t hesitate to make requests to restaurant staff. People in the food and hospitality industry are very customer service oriented. There’s nothing wrong with asking about the availability of food and cooking ingredients as well as the preparation method you prefer.
Do the Work FOR them
2. Read the menu carefully to see what kind of ingredients they use so you know what products they would certainly have available in the kitchen. Work with what is on the menu. This will make it easier for you to customize your own dish and also make the job of the server and kitchen personnel easier. (This is an especially great tip for making your own side dishes when dining out!)
This is so much better than asking the staff
“I’m food intolerant. What can I have?”
Cristina mentioned in many cases, the staff may really not know all that much about food, let alone your particular diet restrictions, so they will just have no idea what you can eat from the menu.
MUCH better to take note of the various main ingredients you see them using in the menu and tell THEM what you want from that.
3. Even though servers are usually accommodating of requests, there would still be times when they would be hesitant to immediately say yes. In these cases, it is never advisable to say that you are making the request because you are on a diet. The best approach? You can say that you have an allergy or food restriction and this usually ensures that they will listen to you.
4. In most popular food chains, casual dining places (e.g. Chili’s, TGIF) their ingredients already come to the restaurant pre-mixed, marinated or flavored so picking your ingredients can be quite a challenge. Your best bet? The salads. You can order your greens plain and just request for some olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper, and maybe some grilled meat.
5. Request for a plain salad without any dressing (sauces/salad dressing usually have hidden thickening agents like starch). As for any meat, grilled plain with no seasoning is good or you can request for a dash of salt and pepper (sometimes they will brush the meat with some caramelized color/flavor so be specific about requesting it to be plain).
In these places, don’t be afraid to ask for something plain, they can usually do a simple preparation of meals.
The restaurants Cristina has worked in in the past were mostly farm to table or organic food places that is why she recommends going to these types of restaurants when you go out because it is most likely that they will have what you are looking for. These places are normally used to their diners having custom meal requests.
You can also contact a restaurant prior to dining out and ask about their menu and your options so they can prepare it for you beforehand. This is usually the case with higher end restaurants.
THIS is a great idea you guys. If you call in advance, you don’t have to worry about being “THAT” person because they’ll already be expecting you and your special requests. I think if nothing else, it will really help YOU personally to have less anxiety upon your arrival about asking for what you need.
Don’t let your food choices spoil the fun of being in a social situation
We all know the feeling - eating out with family or friends, being in a social situation then you see how limited your food options are - we all know how very frustrating that can be.
But Cristina and I both agree that in these situations, the focus should not so much be on the food. Sure, it is part of the experience of going out but it is more important to focus on the company of the people you are with, the actual social experience. I personally feel this is a lot easier to do if you already have the following swimming around delightedly in your brain:
You are at social gathering/restaurant/party, talking and laughing and NOT eating the 1,000 calorie combo of cake and cookies on the buffet table or on the menu. AND THEN. And then. Go home and make yourself a slammin’ P3 smoothie that’s as big as your head for 150 calories. Like the Pumpkin Pie dessert smoothie. Wake up the next morning with NO gain and go on about your
merry crazy hectic life with 4 jobs and 3 kids that’s a teensy bit less stressful because you don’t have deal with your weight today.
Cristina mentioned not feeling sorry for yourself. You are following a clean diet and staying healthy. As for me, I believe that not having to worry about my size and dieting all the time far outweighs the occasionally less enjoyable food when I do dine out. 🙂
A little note about this - I have TOTALLY felt sorry for myself on occasion. Especially at the beginning when I first went gluten free and I was like, man, I can NEVER have real pizza again (I don’t care what they say, gluten free pizza from restaurants suck). I was like, how unfair is this??? But you know what? As I’ve continued my life and have so many benefits from living the way I do, and have found so many things I like to eat that don’t hurt my weight or my intestines or my mood or whatever else negative things that can happen when you eat them, I stopped feeling sorry for myself. I realized, hey, I found something that really makes a difference. There are plenty of other things to eat in life. And I’m CHOOSING this. I’m choosing a healthy life maintaining my weight.
So all that is to say, it’s normal sometimes at first if some of the dietary changes you are making right now are new and potentially permanent ones to have little pity parties here and there. BUT really think through these times and in time, that may go away entirely. I’m proud to say I haven’t held a pity party for at least 3 years now. I don’t remember the last time I felt like “this is unfair, why can’t I eat this.” So it does get easier and more just how you live where you no longer even think about it.
Always be prepared
For someone who is always traveling and staying in hotels, Cristina had some great suggestions on how to stick to your diet.
Just like me, Cristina is fond of airbnb-ing almost all the time now. It’s soooo awesome when you’re staying someplace that has kitchen where you can prepare your meals.
If you have NOT stayed in an airbnb yet, you are seriously missing out. Airbnb.com folks.
It’s much easier to not have major weight issues when you are eating once a day, vs. 2-3x a day. Staying in an airbnb type place with a kitchen, you can have control over your breakfast and lunch (cook in advance and bring the lunch if you are going to be out all day) and then you’ll be eating out for just 1 meal instead of 3.
It’s also great when you’re somewhere that has a lot of healthy food options (Cristina’s personal favorite is San Francisco) but what if you’re staying in a city or state where there aren’t any?
In this case, Cristina suggests sticking to the basics and just packing shelf stable stuff so you can avoid being hangry. These days, there are a lot of great healthy travel food options.
Please see our new module:
for links to a number of good choices!
Make sure to prepare by doing your research ahead of time. Use Yelp and Facebook. Chat with the locals and fellow travelers online for their tips and suggestions.
Eeeks! I’m in week 7 of P3. Yeah, I did a steak day and rebooted my P3 as you recommend. I am wobbly, so decided I needed more support. Does this sound like a recovery case? Thank you for your really comprehensive videos and support! Steak Day tmro, then I’m on the P3tolife program. Let’s bring this home!
Hi there Judi! Wow girl week 7 that is so awesome! P3 reboot sounds like a great idea and occasional steak day as needed.
We’re travelling to Italy in June for our 30th wedding anniversary. I’ve lost 28 lbs since Valentines a Day, thanks to HCG and you! What do I do about all the beautiful wines and (aah!) pasta? I don’t think the restaurants will think I’m sane if I ask for lean proteins and veggies! I so don’t want to be one of those stories of having gained all the weight back…
Hey there Jane!
What week of P3 are you on? That would make a difference to me as to what you might be able to get away with. As in how many weeks since you’ve been off P2? If you are on say week 1 of P3, I’d be more of the mind that you likely can’t get away with much lol – and plan on a correction day the next OR the day before the event to help compensate. If you are on say week 4 or 5 since the end of P2, you could likely get away with a little more. Usually what I try to do and what works best for me is to pick 1 item to splurge on, usually per day, but if you are walking a lot, you might be able to splurge on 1 item per meal – so like pick pasta at one meal, but no alcohol, or alcohol but no pasta. I find there is usually something you can get at most restaurants. However, I have not been to Italy! I do know that sometimes you have to get comfortable with being different to stick to what’s best for you. But it’s also nice to be able to enjoy yourself a little- which is why I say it usually works out okay to pick 1 item to indulge in and then to be “lean” on the other items. If you walk a lot in Europe like many do, that often helps a lot! As well as if you do a correction day here and there – not sure if that is feasible on your trip- but you know sometimes if it’s an extra busy planned day you can more easily skip breakfast and lunch and just eat a regular dinner (with pasta ;)- – I hope that helps!
Yes, thanks Rayzel, that helps a lot. We’ll be walking a *ton* and we’ll be beyond week 7 ph 3 (long into maintenance). Right now we’re in week 3 of Ph 3, and I’m doing great…even lost a few more pounds. Love, love, love your program, recipes (I’m partial to the mug breads and have learned how to make all the smoothies…my husband is the primary cook usually) and all the special details you include like your adjustment to Stevia (I’m having the same GI trouble). Really appreciate the sound advice and will follow it. All my thanks—Jane
Have you tried any of the stuff from Keto krate.
No I haven’t! But I bet the options they have would likely fit well being keto – just be cautious of total overall calorie intake with keto products since they are calorie dense.
So there is was, faced with heading to NYC for a week long business trip when I had just wrapped my first round of P2 and was literally 2 days into P3. Honestly, if it were not for these suggestions, specifically the travel food list..i would have come back 10 lbs heavier i’m sure! Instead i came back exactly the same!! yay me!! I ordered ALL her suggestions on Amazon Prime…and basically lived on Nick’s sticks, Epic pork bites and Paleo bars from Julian Bakery (I saw them somewhere else on this site!) when there were no P3 friendly options available, which was very often!. I had a handful of Pili nuts once, but was scared to eat them since I was only on Week 1 of P3.
Thank you so much for this site. It is literally a LIFESAVER!! I am now Day 12 of P3 and my weight has been stable so far.
Woohoo that is SO awesome you came back from a week of travel at the same weight!! I need to actually add more product ideas to that list- the Julian Bakery paleo bars are a good suggestion. So glad you’re weight is stable- please do let me know your final stabilization results if you end up managing the time to write in again! You can email me – [email protected]
Thank you for all the suggestions. I just got back from a vacation out of state after finishing week 3 (p3) and only gained 2 pounds. I believe some was water weight. I used the suggestions listed above and didn’t feel deprived at all. I just had a little too much alcohol the last night so lesson learned it doesn’t work for me. I came home and went back to week 1 recipes and have already lost the two pounds in less than 4 days. I can’t wait for Phase 4 recipes to come out.
Hey Becky! This is a great comment. I love that you were able to get back in control so quickly when you came back and that really, nothing even got out of hand while away, that’s awesome. 2 lbs is totally normal/doable thing to fix after a trip- like you said, probably just water or mostly water anyway. And week 4 should be out in the next 1-2 weeks!
This past weekend I went to Portland Maine to celebrate my son’s graduation from college. I am 4 weeks into P3 and was a bit nervous about eating out for the whole weekend. I listened to this vlog, along with using what I already know to inspire me. The first thing I did was pack my own food. The cooler was filled with Zero Vitamin Water, blueberries, and apples. I packed a snack bag with protein bars, Quest chips, Kay’s protein snacks, and nuts. When eating out I chose protein and vegetables. I am still struggling with cheese so I avoided that, as well as grains, sugars, and other dairy. I did eat more quantity than I had been. When all was said and done, one glass of wine and lots of walking I ended up LOSING 1/2 lb! The key for me was listening to my body- I did not feel compelled to finish what was on my plate. When I felt full, I stopped eating. It was wonderful to feel in control!
Hey there! This is so great to hear! I bet that was a really good feeling to have still had a good time and them coming home and having nothing to fix.
I love the tips and all the p3 recipes. Could you give a days worth of examples of food to eat while on a week 4 of P3 while traveling?
I just found the Phase 3 food list from the HCG Chica website. Thank you!
Let’s see – there’s probly so many ways to go about this of course, but for example for myself – I’m not a breakfast eater myself so for me I’d have my morning tea as usual – for someone eating breakfast last time I was at a hotel I tried to see what could be eaten and they had some hard boiled eggs and fresh fruit so that’s what I would choose for breakfast at a hotel. For lunch, again so many options, but one place I’ve gone is this burger place where yoyccam get your burger as a lettuce wrap so that’s what I’d do there – or you can pack a cooler depending on circumstances with items to eat like protein bar, raw veggies like little carrots or what not, kale chips etc. dinner, I would shoot for meat protein and veggies from whatever menu I was looking at – getting roasted or steamed veggies is sometimes better than a salad because sometimes between the heavy dressing they put and the fixings a salad can actually be pretty high calorie, unless you give them some specific instructions regarding that. I hope that helps a little! When there is nothing that is ideal for a choice, you want to just choose the best option and feel good about that – sometimes something does have a litte sugar – but if it’s minimal and much less than the other choices, I think you can feel good about that and if there’s a problem you can use intermittent fasting to make small corrections and keep things in balance. When I’m away I always do at least one fasting day and usually pick a day when I know we’re going out for dinner and then I know I can have a more robust dinner in that case- if you are in phase 4 like for me, I can have carbs like fries or mashed potatoes in that case. If I do that, I’ll probly get s leaner meat to help compensate calories as well as possibly forego the salad because again like I said can be high calorie due to the dressing. I hope that helps!
I travel a lot for work and I am
Fortunate to stay at extended stay hotels which usually have a kitchenette. I always have breakfast before heading to the office/meetings.
I never leave my house (Texas) without protein powder, chia seeds and healthy snacks.
While at office/meeting with clients it’s hard to eat my choice of foods when most do the meals are catered so I tend to just have salads.
I LOVE SFH protein powder: low calorie, no sugar and low carbs which makes a good choice for dinner (mixed with water tastes great too!).
Once I get back home I have an Apple day. Usually it gets me back in track.
Thank you for chiming in with these ideas, that’s fantastic. We need all the help we can get for this aspect of maintenance.
I have been Gluten Free for more than 6 years now (celiac). I can always find something to eat, that is not the problem. . I check out menus online ahead of time and spend time reassuring my dining partners that “it is ok”. I find people feel guilty to eat in front of me. I do get bummed out sometimes that my choices are sometimes very limited (salad and chicken) but I try not to let is show. I focus on the interactions, the atmosphere….not the food. If I really want a more elaborate meal, I cook it at home.
Hey M! Thank you for commenting. You hit the nail on the head about what matters. And I do feel pretty satisfied with a juicy steak which I can often get at a restaurant. ;)-
Thanks so much for this…going away is always my undoing….in the form of all my weight lost gained back and then some….am coming to America in December…so this will be really helpful…and can’t wait to try some of the stuff Rayzel mentions in her recipes as we don’t get a lot of those ingredients in Australia….especially the protein powders which is really annoying…..Thanks again for the great travelling tips!