The Inconvenience of Avoiding Convenience Food

Food Allergies | Autoimmune Disease | Fast Food | Convenience Food | Lifestyles

The inconvenience of avoiding convenience food involves the loss of spontaneity, and planning ahead.
The inconvenience of avoiding convenience food involves the loss of spontaneity, and planning ahead. When you don’t plan ahead, “doing without” has its hazards. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

From the very beginning, I knew that writing about eating real food – let alone convincing anyone that eating real food is a viable, valuable, and vital activity — would be a hard sell.

All I need to imagine is the tired eyes of a work weary parent, or an over-worked employee at a corporation with flexible hours who never has time to get a proper meal, and I know that my most powerful statement, “Heal yourself with the medicine of real food” would likely be heard as an ideal to aspire to,  not an action to live by.

Why? Because we perceive that statement as a lofty goal, and not an achievable end-destination. We think it’s too inconvenient to live without the conveniences of modern-day eating, which offers taste, ease, and practicality.

And of course, there is a price to pay for that convenience. Just look around. I watch people coming in and out of food comas, over indulging on alcoholic and sugary beverages, and not understanding why they feel like crap all the time. “But I can get away with this,” says one friend, a reference to not feeling sick immediately after eating a favorite dish at a restaurant.

Since it took a long time to get where our nation is with convenience food eating, I don’t imagine it will go away quickly. There is much you would have to overcome. However, if you’re ready to try — or, like me, it’s “ready or not” because of a medical condition that requires you to change your eating habits now — here are a few things to consider.

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Trello For Meal Planning and Prepping

Screen shot of part of my Maui Menu Plan for the March Triathlon camp. I used Trello to help me prepare, including a shopping list for Day 1.
Screen shot of part of my Maui Menu Plan for the March Triathlon camp. I used Trello to help me prepare, including a shopping list for Day 1. Photo by Imei Hsu.

How do you keep track of your food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities? How do you track your Elimination/Provocation schedule? Do you have a way to systematically think about rotating in a new recipe, and getting the ingredients on your grocery shopping list earlier in the week so that you’re not caught making multiple trips to the store? How do you organize links from websites with interesting information about foods, supplements, and treatments for your gastrointestinal and allergy issues?

First of all, I want to tell you this: IT’S A LOT. To eat well, to eat healthy and clean, and to eat nutrient-dense food free of chemicals, and emulsifiers, processed ingredients and processing cross-contamination, sugars, and unhealthy fats and oils,  you have to do a lot of fancy footwork and planning.

For many of us with Autoimmune Disease and fatigue, we simply don’t have the available energy for those extra trips to the grocery store, let alone standing at the stove and oven, prepping, cooking, and baking. At the worst of my own disease process, just standing at the stove for five minutes left me too tired to eat. Even the joints in my feet ached.

At the time of writing this post, I was planning from a couch, resting from travel and a food “incident” on the return flight of my trip to New Orleans to deliver a presentation on food and mood. I started using Trello.com as a project management system for my eating lifestyle in early 2016, and I love how I can use it plan out my week, month, and repeat previous week’s menus to keep my food varied, interesting, nutritious, and flexible to my changing needs. I can also use it to plan special events, travel food, and holiday meal planning.

Read on to learn about Trello’s features you can hack for your own eating lifestyle.

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Travel Cooking Beyond Your Kitchen

I packed my bags carefully. Very carefully.

Styrofoam wrapped around a center frame of a 48cm road bike, headset velcro strapped to center bar, derailleur removed and placed in a red bag and velco strapped in the center of bike frame.
Do you know how to take apart a road bike down to the frame? I learned quickly, by packing my frame and wheels into a Ruster Armored Hen House.

Two standard sized bags weighing in each at 46 pounds and 26 pounds;  one carry-on backpack with my laptop, essentials, medication, and epi pen. Every item was carefully checked and double checked. We loaded them into the car, and my husband bade me farewell and good luck at the airport.

I was off to Maui, HI for a triathlon camp. Over a week’s time, we would be riding four challenging cycling routes, running and hiking through a variety of different terrains and elevations, and swimming in the ocean.

Black bag with red handles for bike wheels, and 62 linear inch black frame bag by Ruster Hen House, used to fly frame and wheel of a exercise equipment in standard size cases.
Want to fly your exercise equipment without being charged additional fees for oversized bags? Ruster Hen House does just that, in a bag that fulfills the requirement of being under 62 linear inches.

By the next day, I would have my bags unpacked, my dismantled road bike inside the two standard cases rebuilt, and I would be sailing down the coast of Maui towards the Maui Winery with the wind in my hair and water in my road bike bottles. However, man (or woman) cannot live on bread and water alone; in fact, I can’t really live on bread either!  I would need to be able to feed myself for the duration of the demanding camp activities, as the caterer had let me know that she would be unable to safely meet my needs while feeding everyone else. I opted to cook for myself.

Life’s most beautiful adventures across your state borders and across an ocean require you to think about travel cooking beyond the confines of your kitchen. All journeys are really not so much about what you take, but what you leave behind. What can’t you live without, regarding a week’s worth of food?

In my last post, I gave you a glimpse into menu planning so you could think like a pro when it comes to organizing yourself for cooking for at home. When you travel, it’s even that much more important that you learn how to save time and money by planning carefully what you will need to eat, and how to create tasty, nutritious food that you will want to eat, especially when you’re tired and worn out from all your fabulous activities throughout the day.

Keep reading to learn more about how to cook for yourself when you arrive at your destination’s kitchen, and what I did to improvise.

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Menu Planning Like a Boss

It’s that time again. It’s time to travel, and cook for myself outside my own kitchen!

Next week, I’m climbing into a plane and flying with my road bike to Maui to participate in a triathlon camp. Unlike the last time I travelled for the same camp, I’ll be responsible for about 90% of all my food and snacks for a very active week full of epic bike rides, ocean swimming and snorkeling, hikes through bamboo forests and red dirt trails, and running on beaches and trails on this beautiful island.

My chiropractor mentioned a truth that I found ironic. He said that a successful Ironman competition was not just about who was strong enough to go the distance — a 2.4mile swim, 112-mile bike course, and a 26.2 mile run – but who could  eat and drink enough to cover that distance!

When 70% of all surveyed athletes state that they have experienced GI distress during a race or sport performance, it’s a serious concern. So the Sensitive Celiac takes food seriously! And of course, I make food fun again by showing you just how easy it is, once you know what you need to eat, to simplify the process, organize yourself, and make tasty and nutrient-dense meals and snacks that will help you take on the activities of life that thrill you.

You might not ever do an Ironman, but I can tell you, just snorkeling in the ocean makes everyone hungry! Everyone needs to eat. Having food allergies and intolerances or a special diet means planning, preparation, and if at all possible, cooking your own food.

So, wanna know how to menu plan like a boss?

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