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Miami Adventures: Traveling Gluten Free

Last week was full of adventures and meeting new people. I traveled to Miami for the 2013 National Dance Education Organization National Conference and presented a poster presentation entitled Interpreting Bob Fosse for Beginning Theater Dance Students. To prepare I knew I had to plan ahead with some of my food options and figure out how keep my body from stressing itself out. I know it sounds silly to most people but travel really takes a toll on my system. I don't sleep as well, my eating schedule is different, and I don't want to go into too much detail but my digestive system will get all confused. I'm not sure why I'm so sensitive to environment changes but I do know that I need to be as prepared as possible to ease the stress response my body loves to manifest.

I started drinking Coconut Kefir on a regular basis back in July and the way it makes me feel can only be described as happy. When I started drinking the kefir I noticed my sleep habits improved, my stomach began feeling better, and mental clarity began to abound daily. Now I'm not saying this is a miracle product but the probiotics in it absolutely have health benefits that you just can't get from taking a pill. I am a big fan of making it myself but when traveling, that can be difficult. The Friday before my trip the stars seemed to align and I found out that a company named Tula's Coco Kefir just started selling their product at Union Market in NYC. I was ecstatic! I didn't have enough time to order Coco Biotic from the Body Ecology Website but I could easily make a trip to the store after work. So that's what I did :-)

Their product is delicious, convenient, and packed so well in my suitcase! For more information on their product CLICK HERE.

Once I got to Miami, one of my biggest stressors arrived, finding food. Unfortunately the airport had no wheat free/gluten free options available when we landed. After an almost 4 hour flight I was starving and getting very frustrated/cranky! I was never so grateful for Trader Joe's Organic Olive Oil Popcorn that I had packed in my bag. That night I had events scheduled at the conference so I prepared to get ready to meet people and enjoy the night.

I wasn't sure what my food options were going to be like at the conference (a glitch I admit that I usually am more diligent about). Luckily I found a huge garden salad that was crouton free and full of fresh yummy veggies when I arrived at the conference hotel. That salad saved my mood for the night (the hungry monster was beginning to come out).

After attending the opening reception, I knew food was going to be an issue for the week and thankfully Anthony pre-emptively went to a grocery store to buy me wholesome organic produce to have during the trip. Most of the receptions were filled with goodies that were made with or contaminated with wheat and gluten. I am ever so grateful that Anthony would check in with me and pick me up a certified gluten free dinner if necessary and also help me pack snacks/meal supplements in the morning before I left for the day. All this allowed me to enjoy the conference, network, give a great presentation without the added stress of worrying what the heck I was going to eat. I'll admit I wasn't as prepared on this trip as I usually am and I'm glad I have a partner who was able to pick up where I left off and make sure I was taken care of.

Nigel Lythgoe announcing Dizzy Feet's partnership with NDEO

Getting ready for my poster presentation!

Here is my list of tips when traveling:
1. Know what you absolutely have to have and pack it in your bag.  A busy work schedule prevented me from doing serious food planning before I left but I knew I couldn't survive a few days without my cultured vegetables or coco kefir (I had recently experienced a wheat contamination and my system was still recovering). I made sure I had unopened, tightly sealed bottles/jars of both and packed them in small cooler packs in my suitcase. When I arrived in Miami they were still sealed, cold, and hadn't leaked everywhere.

2. Get a fridge in your hotel room. This was a huge lifesaver. Once Anthony had the impression I was having food issues he was able to go to the grocery store, get what I needed and store it in the room fridge. It's the best way to ensure you always have something healthy and nutritious at a moment's notice. Don't see a fridge in your room upon arrival? Ask at the front desk, we did and were able to get a fridge in a matter of minutes.

3. Whip out your smart phone, open the google maps app, and search for Gluten Free Restaurants. This was a biggie since I hadn't done my homework prior to arriving about local food. I was able to quickly locate a reliable gluten free restaurant that Anthony could pick up a to go order for me from.

4. Don't let food stress you out. Ok, you didn't do your homework and now you're obsessing over where your next meal will be. Stop, breathe, and let technology work for you. Don't be afraid to ask questions; my hotel front desk manager had food allergies as well and was very helpful in naming places close by that would be allergen friendly. You will not starve, you will find food, and all will be ok. Enjoy yourself and know that every problem has a viable solution.

I hope you feel prepared for your next big trip and remember, don't let your dietary restrictions be the focus of your trip. Focus on why you decided to travel and enjoy all the positive things that come with it :-)


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