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Clean Eating Tips We Wish We’d Known Before Traveling Abroad

When you pay close attention to how you eat and how food makes you feel, you strive to eat in a way that gives you energy and boosts your mood. Eating paleo makes us (Tom & Maria) feel awesome, so we tried to stick to that as much as possible on our recent trip to Spain. Turns out, it was pretty hard to do.

Given that the summer traveling season is about to start, we want to share what we wish we’d known before traveling in hopes you can avoid the same traps.


1.    Don’t bank on being able to change your meal preference or buy snacks onboard.  Even though the card in the seatback pocket said that snacks were available for purchase (including some gluten-and dairy-free ones) this did not apply to our transatlantic leg; we could only settle for what was served with the complementary meal.

2.    Speaking of those meals, assume all meals and snacks handed out on flights will have gluten. Because they did. And a flight attendant laughed and said, “Oh yeah, everything has gluten in it,” when we asked.  

3.    The good news? Most airlines allow people to opt out of the standard meal and select options ranging from kosher to low salt to gluten free. The bad news, though, is that you better hope you have access to internet at least 48 hours before your flight. Probably not a issue before you leave the States but it can be problematic before your return flight when you’re traveling around a foreign country.

"Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink" could be some airlines' motto.

“Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink” could be some airlines’ motto.

4.    Bring at least two bottles of water on the plane. For our 7-9 hour flights, we only got two small cups of water and a small bottle with our meal.  Kind of made us want jump plane into the ocean with thirst.   

5.    Not all airports have water fountains.  See #4 and buy multiple water bottles even if you brought your own refillable one from home.

6.    Clean snacks can be hard to find at airports. REALLY hard. It took quite a bit of searching at certain airports to find raw nuts. Definitely bring your own snacks from home to avoid being stuck with candy bars and potato chips if those aren’t your thing.


1.    Wandering around new cities is time and energy intensive, especially if you get lost (hello 4 hour scenic tour of Sevilla).  Make sure to keep bottled water and healthy snacks on hand if you want to keep your energy levels up.

2.    Almost every meal comes with bread (like you’re on a plane).  Even if it doesn’t say it comes with bread, it will come with bread.  And they will still bring you bread if you request no bread.  And they will laugh when you don’t want some version of bread (yes, this actually happened to us).

No joke, we could've built a wall of bread double this size with how much of it we were served.

No joke, we could’ve built a wall of bread double this size with how much of it we were served.

3.    Restaurants and cafes don’t always have veggies and fruit.  At breakfast, the fruit was fresh squeezed OJ or 1 or 2 tomato slices; forget the veggie omelets you’re used to.  We had to search out grocery stores where we could snag an apple or banana.  While most menus had cooked veggies, we were craving raw salads like whoa by the end of our trip.  Funny how indulging in muchas bravas (fried potatoes) and sangria will steer you back to salad. . .

May your travels expand your mind—and not your waistline.

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