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Traveling on SCD

The following is a list of food and supplies I have brought with me while traveling on SCD. Traveling by plane can be tricky with the restrictions on liquids, but it is doable. Some people have reported getting a note from their doctor ahead of time that has allowed them to bring anything in their carry-on, but I haven’t tried this. If you’re traveling by car, staying in a house with access to a kitchen, and doing groceries while you are there, then you’re set! But if you’re traveling by plane and staying in a hotel, well there are a number of things you can do to make the trip easier.

You’ll notice the list is quite long. I don’t bring all these items every time, but I do end up filling my carry-on with pretty much just food and maybe an extra sweater. I haven’t bothered bringing a cooler bag but it might help keep things cold a bit longer. You might want to check online or with your flight carrier if there are any restrictions to what you can bring into certain countries, although I haven’t had a problem with bringing these foods into China, Canada, United States, and England.

As for what meal to order on the plane, I usually ask for gluten-free but don’t eat it. Sometimes I’ll pick out a few pieces of fruit. Once I was actually served a wheat bun with my gluten-free meal. Not sure who failed on that one, but at least I’m aware enough to know there was no chance it was a gluten-free bread (there was no ingredient list on it either). Play it safe and bring food with you. Airplane food tastes gross anyway so you’re not missing out.

Before you leave:
  • Freeze at least 2 full meals: I usually make a big slow-cooker pot of beef or lamb stew and freeze it in small containers. Easy to pull out of the freezer when you get home and warm up.
  • Make yogurt: Even if I’m going to travel for 2 weeks, I make enough yogurt to have a liter left when I get home. It will last 3 weeks even if it is not as potent towards the end of the timeframe. It makes it so much easier when you get home to have some ready made. Make 2 liters, pack one and leave one in the fridge.
  • Freeze meatballs and vegetables: This will be for bringing with you, but if you can make lots, make enough to have some when you get home.
  • Hard boil eggs: These are to bring with you. Do them the day before so they’re good and cold when you’re ready to leave the house.
Food to bring on a plane:
  • Frozen meatballs: Freeze them so they keep for longer flights and they also help keep other food in your carry on cold by acting like an ice pack.
  • Frozen cooked vegetables: This works best if they were steamed lightly and then frozen. Make sure to sprinkle salt on them so they taste decent cold. These also keep for a while and help keep other food (cheese, eggs) cool.
  • Hard boiled eggs: Make these the night before and keep them in the fridge until you leave. I have kept them at room temperature while flying for over 8 hours in the shell. It does help to have the frozen food placed in the same part of your carry-on as the eggs. Use your own judgement for how long you wish to keep these unrefrigerated.
  • Cheese: Cheese will actually keep at room temperature for quite a while and will stay cold if you pack frozen food around it.
  • Butter: I actually brought butter on my flight home from China, salted butter is an awesome snack on its own or can make the vegetables and meatballs a bit more appetizing.
  • Whole fruit: Fruit sauces are not usually allowed, but a whole banana or apple is a good snack to bring on
  • Nuts: Pack your own, don’t expect airlines to serve nuts anymore and don’t expect to find any in the airport that aren’t coated with something.
  • Larabars: Great travel snack, I like the coconut cream pie one the best.
  • Beef jerky: I don’t like it, but it is a good snack and keeps at room temperature for the entire duration of a trip. I brought some to China but didn’t end up eating it because I had so many other snacks with me.
  • Pemmican: I haven’t tried it yet and will update this when I do, but this would be better than beef jerky because it has both the meat and fat in it. This is truly the ultimate SCD protein bar and keeps at room temperature.
  • Nut muffins/brownies: I don’t bother with these anymore but if you prefer nut butter over whole nuts, then make up a batch of your favorite recipe and bring some along. They should keep a couple days at room temperature.
Food to bring in checked-in luggage:
  • Yogurt: I pack about 1 liter of yogurt every time I travel. Plastic containers won’t break so they’re always best. I have no plastic left in the house though, so I just wrap glass jars with my clothes.
  • Honey: To flavour the yogurt. Or to eat off a spoon. Keeps indefinitely at room temperature.
  • Coconut oil: Keeps at room temperature and is great for energy or extra calories. I mix it with honey and eat it off a spoon.
  • Coconut butter/spread: Keeps at room temperature and is great for energy or extra calories. I eat it off a spoon. This is not the same as coconut oil, as it has the coconut meat/fiber still. It’s basically pureed coconut meat.
  • Nut butter/spread: Keeps at room temperature and is great for energy or extra calories. I eat it off a spoon.
  • Broth: Try to make broth that is very concentrated, freeze it as cubes and pack it in containers.
  • Dehydrated meals: I dehydrated spaghetti sauce once and it worked so well. Bring a bowl with you to rehydrate it in. I’ll try to get some recipes up soon but just do a Google search for dehydrator meals and you’ll see lots. Stews work well, just cut everything up into small pieces before cooking. I dehydrated spaghetti sauce at 150F overnight until it was the consistency of fruit leather (sticky but not tacky).
Other supplies:
  • Immersion heater: Great for boiling water or warming up broth. The boiled water can be used for tea or for reconstituting dehydrated meals. Note that most hotels have some way to boil water or you can ask the kitchen staff for boiled water too. But, this little tool is great to have in a pinch.
  • Spoon, knife, fork: I don’t now how many times I’ve eaten yogurt by ‘drinking’ it out of a jar, really need to remember to bring some utensils.
  • Activated Charcoal: This is great for times you might be exposed to illegals. The folks on the BTVC-SCD and GAPShelp Yahoo groups are very knowledgeable about this one.
  • Imodium and/or Pepto Bismol: I stay away from pharmaceuticals when dealing with a sick stomach, but if you’re traveling it’s not always a good idea. Dehydration can get you down pretty fast. Best to pack something to use in an emergency. I think in terms of SCD legal, regular Pepto Bismol is considered ok.
Hotel options:
  • Fridge: Most hotels around the world have the option of getting a fridge in your room. To me it’s worth it even if they cost a bit extra. If you don’t ask for it when you book, it’s never too late. I’ve had hotel staff wheel in a fridge an hour after I got the room once because I forgot to ask for it. They didn’t mind, and actually forgot to charge me for it. It helps keep the food you bring with you as well as allowing you to bring food back to the hotel that you find while out during the day. Fruit, leftovers from meals, and hard boiled eggs from breakfasts can all be kept for the duration of your trip. Note that in hotel rooms with key cards, sometimes the power will be shut off when you leave the room and take your card out. Try using a library card in its place to keep the power on while you’re out all day.
  • Microwave: Not as important as a fridge since everything can be eaten cold, but is nice to have if you want to warm up some meatballs or vegetables.

Check out this menu from Melanie of Honey Pie… SCD Style for her son’s hiking trip http://www.scdiet.net/images/Melanie Menu.pdf

Have anything to add to this list? I’m always interested in hearing what other people with food sensitivities bring on the plane with them.

Kat

I have been following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet since January 2008 to recover from Celiac disease. As part of the diet, I don't eat grains, sugar or potatoes and prepare all my meals from scratch.

20 Comments

    • Kat,
      You said you like Larabars…when looking at the label, one of the ingredients is brown rice flour. I was wondering if brown rice flour was “legal” on the SCD??

      • You were probably looking at a Alt or Uber Lara Bar… They do contain brown rice syrup which is not legal on SCD.

        Just the regular Lara Bars don’t contain anything illegal and are good to go.

  1. Great ideas, some of those I had never thought of before. I have gotten pretty good and bringing foods with me when traveling. Much easier in the car, but totally do-able by air. Usually I do checked luggage and half the suitcase becomes a soft sided cooler and food, the other half clothes. I am careful to wrap everything up in double layers in case there are any leaks. Yogurt, nuts, hard boiled eggs, precooked meats, and various veggies already chopped are my staples. Hampton Inns seem to always have a fridge included so I have stayed at those a couple times. Roasted chicken and grilled flank steak are probably my two favorite ‘cold’ meats, but I am getting more flexible on what I will eat cold. Tins of cooked chicken or tuna are not bad for an extended stay. When I fly on a plane I pack food in my purse or small bag….usually chopped veggies, nuts, and cold meats. When others are around me munching on peanuts and pretzels I pull out a full course spread. I can usually pack enough food for just me for 2-3 days if needed. Anything longer and I have to plan a shopping trip so I map out grocery stores close to the hotel before I go. When I go on an extended stay to friends or family I tend to pack just the more pricey items that are harder to find like seasonings, oils, nuts, almond flour, etc. I buy meats and veggies while there and take over the kitchen while there. Most folks have not minded having their meals prepared for them in their own houses..LOL.

  2. Hi Kat – Thank you for the great ideas! I had never thought of hard boiled eggs before, or the frozen meatballs – next time we travel I will definitely be bringing these. Ina

  3. For carry-on food, it is good to develop strategies to convince the screeners to hand check your food, rather than sending it through the x-ray machine.

  4. @Erin Sounds like you’ve got it all figured out. I usually end up staying in hotels and don’t get to grocery shop, but that may change with some upcoming trips. I completely forgot to include canned salmon/tuna on the list, that’s a great thing to bring.

    @Ina Gawne Honestly I don’t know what I would have done without frozen meatballs on this diet. They’re useful not just in traveling but also to have on hand for days when you just don’t want to cook.

    @Michael That’s really good advice! I never thought about asking to have my carry-on food & supplements not be x-rayed. I will next time for sure.

  5. This is so awesome, thanks for posting this Kat! Definitely takes the fear away from traveling and getting stuck somewhere with nothing healthy to eat. 🙂

  6. What a great post and awesome blog in general! The effects of airplane food are a somewhat painful experience, both in flavour and intestinal. Great list of ideas and I never thought to eat butter just on it’s own. 🙂

  7. @Katie I don’t bring water with me when traveling, it’s almost impossible. I just drink whatever water is available, bottled or safe tap water.

  8. Kat this is fantastic. I’m about to do my first business trip on SCD and all of these are fantastic ideas.
    Much appriciated.
    -Kate

  9. I am going to be traveling in June and I’m worry about packing yogurt. How do you pack it to ensure that it won’t spill or get to hot on the plane ride?

  10. @Charlotte I’ve never had a problem with yogurt getting too hot, if anything it’ll just ferment a bit more (it won’t go bad). I tend to pack mine in mason jars because you can screw the lid on tight. Then just roll them in clothing so they don’t break.

  11. I was wondering how you are able to get all the foods through security since 9/11? They make you throw out water bottles and coffee and anything else not purchased in the airports.

    • @Alicia I haven’t had any problems bringing solid food through security at airports. Sometimes certain fruits are banned (citrus is not allowed to be brought from Canada to US, bananas must have stickers on them) but other than that I haven’t had anything taken away. Cheese, hard boiled eggs, homemade meatballs, any vegetables, butter, all have been accepted. Liquids of any kind can’t be brought through unless they’re in small containers.

  12. Kat, I know you’re not posting anymore, as it sounds like you have healed yourself now! Great job on that! But I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for all this information. You have saved me on a couple occasions where I just didn’t know what to do next on SCD. I will read or re-read some of your stuff and I will know where to turn next, to tweak my SCD diet to basically save myself from going hungry, or suffering with frustrating setbacks that have me in tears! Thanks again, and I’m so happy for you you’re recovered now! I will get there too, and have come this far (1.5 yrs on SCD), with your help! THANK YOU!!!

  13. @April Hi! So glad to hear that you are coming along in your healing. I haven’t posted but may be coming back soon 🙂 Got some more info to share that I haven’t written about yet!

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