By Valerie Driscoll, Lead Coach and Coaching Program Developer for Apollo Health

I am currently in airspace somewhere between New York and Prague, where I spent two weeks testing portable coaching (it works!) while reacquainting myself with the beauty of Europe. I also practiced KetoFLEX 12/3 out in the “Wild World” — a term I frequently use to describe anywhere outside of the confines of my tiny kitchen and the carefully controlled contents therein. My kitchen has become an easy place for compliance, but out in the wild world, healthy eating is a challenge. As my future plans include traveling the globe as a pet sitter, figuring out how to practice the protocol as a frequent flyer is imperative.

For me, Prague was about as wild as it gets, as I was traveling with folks gleefully vacationing in a city where food is cheap and a mug of beer as big as your head is cheaper. Czech specialties include dumplings, fried cheese, and all sorts of meats in gravy — easy to avoid, but fabulous bread and pastries lurking around every corner was hard, as my own version of heaven contains nothing but gluten, butter, chocolate, and red wine.

So, can one vacation without vacating the protocol? Yes, and If I can do it, anyone can. But you need strategies. I am sharing some of mine with the hope that it will encourage you to come up with your own. Remember that in order to succeed, the power you need to increase is skill — not will.

Here are my top ten travel skills and strategies:

1) I mind and remind my mindset as to the “why” this matters in my life. My ease of movement, mood, and pain levels all depend on choices. When I weigh that against a roll and butter — there is no contest. Our minds spin wonderful stories: if I decide that I am deprived by not eating the same as my vacation-mates, then I will be. If I decide that it makes me more powerful — it does that instead.

2) Every time I make a good choice, I celebrate, no matter how small. Sometimes it’s a virtual fist bump, and sometimes it’s a pump — the shoe kind! Celebrating allows subsequent better choices to become easier until they eventually become a habit. You will be amazed at how one good decision, celebrated, can roll right into another one.

3) I pay attention to my body and how I feel. I can always feel a poorer food choice in my body, which makes saying no the next time much easier. I don’t beat myself up for the choice … I just pay closer attention to the results.

4) I plan ahead for travel as much as I can, even if I appear slightly crazy; some top planning practices:

● I bring or ship what I can. When I am flying domestically, I will often send food ahead from one of the food services I use. This way, all my favorite staples are there, and I can supplement them with a short grocery trip. If I am driving, I bring as much with me as I can. I have a Vermont trip later this year, and ten Apollo-approved meals are going with me in a cooler. The effort required to do this also incentivizes me to stay the course.

● I use the internet to pre-source everything, from farmers’ markets and grocery stores to restaurant menus — I can go deer in the headlights in the heat of the moment, so knowing where and what I will be eating ahead of time is really helpful.

● I pre-feed. Many times, I met my Prague companions with a “fullish” belly — nuts, an avocado, a hard-boiled egg — even a shot of EVOO are all good for this. PS — these options are a good substitute for plane food. Note: pre-peel the eggs if you want happier seatmates.

And now for the rest of my top ten:

5. I practice asking for what I need, whether it’s food modifications from a server or telling a host or hostess (nicely) that I don’t eat breakfast. This practice is anathema to my family values of never being a bother and continues to be a challenge. I do it anyway.

6. Tell fellow travelers (in 50 words or less) why you are such a healthy eater. Who knows whom you might influence? I have found that when I do not make a big deal out of my diet, neither does anyone else, and they also pay more attention. My elevator pitch also reinforces my “why.”

7. Don’t let a bad decision become a bad day; if you make a poorer choice, move along, and celebrate the next good one with even more exuberance. Aim for making primarily good decisions without expecting perfection.

8. I plan my poisons and schedule them for the end of the trip. Over the course of my 18 days, I had some beer, wine, carrot cake, and my ultimate decadence — which I will only eat in Europe, keeping most of the planet safe — a croissant. I truly planned where I was going to stray, and I did it with a dig-in policy — there was no point adding stress to sugar.

9. Manage your blood sugar — you can do a decent job of this, no matter what your overall level of compliance. For example, my carrot cake, split with a friend, was planned to follow a salad niçoise with anchovies, egg, mackerel, olives, and olive oil and was followed by a long walk.

10. I remind myself that being a brain health warrior “ain’t” easy, but it is so worth the effort.

I give my overall score in Prague an 85, which is good for my first overseas adventure. I learned a lot and am already fine-tuning for the next trip, hopefully, Spain and Portugal in the fall. In the meantime, the flight attendant is passing out Danish — macadamia nuts; here I come.

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