This has been a crazy year of road trips! This winter we drove from Annapolis, Maryland to Vermont to visit colleges up north for our oldest son. From Vermont we drove to Boston, then to New Hampshire, then New York City to do a college tour at each stop, and back to Annapolis. It snowed 18 inches one night and we drove about 30 miles per hour for much of our trip from Vermont to New Hampshire. But it was a fun trip. We visited places we have never seen before and my son now knows without a doubt that he has no interest in going to a college in the north! When the college admissions office has a yellow warning sign above the door that says, “Beware of Falling Ice,” it is too cold and snows too much for him!
A few weeks ago this summer we drove from Annapolis to Iowa City, back to Annapolis to drop off our daughter at a dance intensive at the University of Iowa. We spent three days at home and then drove from Annapolis to Boston, Massachusetts to see the Orioles play at Fenway Park for my oldest son’s 18th birthday on the fourth of July – and back to Annapolis. Then back out to Iowa City to retrieve my dancing girl – and back. Again, fun trips! We saw more places we had never seen before, witnessed the agriculture and alternative energy of the Midwest, learned a lot of history in Boston, saw a baseball game at the oldest park in America on a historical holiday and made some memories with the kids.
But in terms of health – this last summer adventure was a “Road Trip FAIL.”
Let me explain. For the past four years, I have slowly moved from the Standard American Diet (SAD) to a mostly Paleo/Primal style of clean eating. This means I generally eat nutritionally dense foods including clean animal meat protein sources including eggs (no antibiotics, hormone free, grass fed or pastured), healthy fat sources (such as coconut oil, coconut milk, olive oil and avocado) lots of organic veggies and berries, fermented foods, homemade bone broth, some nuts and a bit of pastured organic (raw, if possible) dairy. I try to include fresh juicing and healthy homemade smoothies in my routine. I try not to eat processed packaged foods, junk food, fast food, typical white baked goods, sodas, high sugar foods, regular dairy products, most grains (especially wheat/gluten), and legumes/beans. I do find that I need a bit more carbs than the typical low carb or paleo diet and I eat a bit of rice and potato on some days. If I am being honest here, I also eat a bit of organic sugar but I try to keep it to less than 5 teaspoons a day. Since I don’t generally eat anything processed or packaged or drink soda, the only sugar I consume is from when I physically add a teaspoon to a hot tea or coffee. Yes, I drink coffee! One gorgeous cup every morning! But, only after about 10 ounces of pure clean water. I drink at least half my body weight in ounces of pure water a day. I generally do not count calories because I do not believe that all calories are equal. And my goal is to eat for healing – to eat nutrient dense foods that my body can use to heal and thrive on. In other words, if I could only eat another 100 calories for the day, I would not choose the 100 calorie snack pack of Oreos, but would instead choose a handful of organic strawberries with a dollop of whipped coconut cream and stevia! I do frequently track my food however (which also tracks my calories) – my goal though is to make sure that my macros (healthy fat, protein and carbs) are in alignment for what makes me feel and do well.
So, back to the road trip – uh, failure. Now that you know how I “strive” to eat and what makes me feel my best, it might not be hard to imagine how a 30 hour road trip over a three day period could be a health failure! I always start out with the highest of intentions. I pack my necessary supplements – not all of them – but the minimal ones I have to take over a few days hiatus. I pack water bottles. I eat the absolute best that I can leading up to the trip. I have a general plan in mind for what I am going to eat while on the road – intermittent fasting through breakfast, salads with grilled meat for lunch, and meat, veggies, sweet potatoes for dinner.
My plan for intermittent fasting in the morning was thrown out the window when my better half decided we should hit the road EARLY – like 5 am early. I was too tired to think straight. And up too early burning calories to not have something on my stomach. This usually involved coffee – with sugar. AND cream. Not the good organic raw cream with some healthy fats, but regular ole’ gas station half and half. Unfortunately, I didn’t anticipate that the first half of our road trip would be through the mountains of Western Maryland and West Virginia and then hilly Ohio. I momentarily forgot that my husband is a bit of an obnoxious driver. Those two things combined to instantly create a bit of car sickness that clung to me most of the trip. I don’t know about you, but when I am nauseous I don’t want to eat salad. Or vegetables. Or even fruit. I want CARBS! Salty, fried, greasy carbs, period. This craving – ok, impossible to ignore urge – led to a pit stop at a gas station store (I cannot remember the last time I actually ate something from one of those before this trip). The pit stop led to the consumption of a bag of Lay’s Potato Chips. Well, their marketing campaign is obviously based on some truth – I couldn’t eat just one. And from there on out, I could barely eat anything healthy. The hills of Ohio gave way to long, straight, no end in sight highways of Indiana and Iowa. I have never seen such long straight roads with no, I mean NO, healthy food choices. On a carb and processed food low and starving one night, I caved and ate a fast food grilled chicken (albeit without the bun) and fries. That did not go over so well. The term “stomach problems” is a nice way to put it. It was a vicious cycle of up too early running on coffee, nausea and processed carbs, and no other option but fast food. I can only imagine the amount of salt, MSG, additives and preservatives that I consumed during this trip. I made as many good choices as possible when we landed in a nice town or had time to eat at a restaurant and at those moments I almost felt like a Health Coach. But the good choices were too far apart and the bad choices became the road trip norm, leading to Road Trip Failure.
Thank goodness we are back home and I am back on track. It only took one day at home for me to snap back to it! Here is the routine I quickly adopted to detox, heal and start anew:
– Drinking lots of water with lemon to support general body detoxing and alkalinity,
– Time every day in either the infrared sauna or the sun to sweat out all of those toxins through my biggest organ –my skin,
– Taking detox supplements to encourage liver and kidney detoxing from the inside,
– Drinking super greens or fresh made vegetable juice to help with, well, everything,
– Cooking and eating home cooked meals with hand-picked nutrient dense foods, tracking what I eat and getting enough healthy fats and proteins which help my body work best,
– Making a big batch of homemade bone broth and drinking at least a mug every day to heal the gut,
– Getting at least 8 – 9 hours of good, sound sleep each night,
– Lots of natural movement throughout the day – sitting for long road trips doesn’t do my body any good for sure!
The main lesson that I learned on this trip was this – while having good healthy habits is super important, so is understanding and planning for your own personal “triggers” for bad habits. Not getting enough sleep and leaving too early in the morning does not set me up for a successful trip! Traveling on an empty stomach and feeling car sick are triggers for craving carbs! If you can’t eat just one – don’t! And sometimes, just sometimes, it’s okay to go a little hungry instead eating something that never really should have been classified as “food.”
Do you have triggers that start you down the slippery slope of unhealthy habits? What are they? What do you do to avoid them? If you do go astray, what do you do to get back on track? Let me know in the comments section!