I’m not going to lie. I long for the days when packing for a trip simply meant putting clothes in a suitcase. Now, clothes are the least of what I pack, or even give my attention to.
Since I am on a primarily liquid diet, my special, pre-digested protein powder is the first, and most important thing I pack. I have it down to a pretty good system. And while the liquid diet has made traveling exponentially easier, it’s a bit of a process to manage it. I thought I’d give you a glimpse of what a few days on the road with my liquid diet look like.
For starters, here are the basics:
- I mix each shake with a cup of water and 1 tablespoon of MCT Oil. The oil adds 120 calories, and is easy to digest.
- The shake separates if I mix it in advance, so I mix each shake when I’m ready to drink it.
- When on the road, I use insulated cups to keep my shake as cold as possible, as it tastes better that way.
- When going through an airport, I cannot add the water until we get through security, but I can add the oil ahead of time. So, I add the oil to each cup before we leave the house so I’m not messing around with oil and measuring spoons at the airport.
- When we get on the other side of security I buy a bottle of the coldest water I can find and pre-fill my cups.
- I use a small backpack as my purse, and my secret is it carries my shakes, along with my lipstick, wallet, etc. This is important to me because I used to carry a cooler around, and it felt so unnatural. Now I just feel like a normal person with a backpack.
OK, those are the basics, and here is what it looks like.
Step 1 is above. Pre-pack protein powder for each day.
Step 2. Buy water at the airport and mix shake.
This flight was at lunch time, so I’m making “lunch” here. I am measuring the water into a mason jar with line markers, as my thermal cups do not have measurements on them. My shake only tastes good if the powder to water ratio is correct.
A few other things to note. You will see my backpack to my right. You would never know it’s basically a life support system, right? You can also see the baggie of protein powder I packed at home, along with a cup of hot water I picked up at the airport. Whenever possible, I drink warm water along with my shake, as the warm water helps my GI tract relax.
Step 3. Sip. Slowly.
Here I am enjoying my lunch at the gate while we are waiting to board. Because the shake is so calorically dense (500 calories per), and I have very slow digestion, I have to sip it quite slowly. It usually takes me about an hour to get a full shake down, and a half hour to drink a half shake. I do full shakes for breakfast and lunch, a half shake for an afternoon snack, real food for dinner, and a half shake for “dessert”. This routine has helped me gain 26 pounds over two years.
Step 4. Get to hotel, wash shake cups and prep for the next day.
If we are going on vacation, we always stay in a house with a full kitchen to make it easier to manage my food and shake needs. When we are in more of a road trip situation, as we were here, my accommodation of choice is Residence Inn by Marriott. Each suite has a full kitchen, so it’s very easy to deal with my shakes. I absolutely hate washing my shake cups in a hotel bathroom sink and avoid it at all costs. Gross.
Here my cups are all nice and clean and ready for the next day. I will usually chill them in the freezer overnight, so they will stay cold longer the next day.
And that’s the end of this day. Now let’s take a look at the next day, which was a long one. We were at my daughter’s college for freshman orientation. We had to leave the hotel first thing in the morning, and would not return until after dinner. That amounts to a lot of preparation on my part. So, here we go with day two.
Step 1. Prep.
I measure the water and oil into each cup, grab the baggies for each meal (I label them in advance), and load everything up into my trusty backpack.
In this case, I mixed my breakfast shake at the hotel and sipped it on the way to campus. Pictured in the photo are my lunch, afternoon snack and “dessert”.
My morning supplements are in the bottom right of the photo.
Step 2. Hit Campus.
Here I am on campus, ready for a full day of sipping and learning. I am finishing up my breakfast shake, and the rest of what I will need for the day is in my backpack. Nobody is the wiser.
Step 3. Lunch.
Lunch was served in one of the school dining halls. My husband enjoyed chili and sushi, and I had….. a shake.
Step 4. Meditate.
OK, this one has nothing to do with my liquid diet, but keep in mind I am not fully restored to my old self. As such, I still get overwhelmed pretty easily when I am in a situation with a lot of people and a lot of stimulation. And the orientation featured an abundance of both.
We had a short break after lunch, so I high tailed it over to the prayer chapel, as I guessed it would be empty, and thankfully, it was.
First, I sat on a chair and closed my eyes and breathed. That wasn’t enough. I was still feeling quite anxious. So, I dropped to the floor, which usually helps ground me. That was an improvement, but still wasn’t getting the job done. Then I took my shoes off, grounding myself further. Then I was finally able to breathe easier and shed a few tears, which is usually a sign I’ve finally relaxed enough to release whatever emotions I need to.
After about a fifteen minute meditation, I was feeling improved enough to get back in the game. I wasn’t completely calm, but I felt better then before I meditated.
Yes, I know it’s a little weird to take time out from a college orientation for a cry/meditation break, but when you live with anxiety, sometimes you just need to do what you need to do.
Step 5. Afternoon Snack.
I was ready for a snack as one of the afternoon sessions approached, so I quick mixed it up before the session started. In this case, my husband did the shaking for me. Incidentally, it takes quite a bit of shaking to make my shake nice and smooth, so I need to factor that in if I’m in a public place, as I try not to call too much attention to myself.
Step 6. Dinner.
As with lunch, dinner was served in one of the school dining halls. I was wondering how it would work for me, as I have many food sensitivities. But the dining hall staff literally bent over backwards in order to prepare a special meal for me, and I was extremely grateful.
I forgot to take a photo until I was mid-meal, but here’s what it looked like. A little more oily than I would prefer, but beggars can’t be choosers. I didn’t eat much anyway.
Step 7. “Dessert.”
They had us on a tight schedule, so I had to mix my “dessert” up and bring it with me to the first post-dinner session. Typically, my shake has more calories than what I consume for dinner, as I’m only able to eat small portions, so my dessert shake is actually more important than whatever food I eat.
Here’s my shake on the chair next to me during the session.
Step 8. Get everything washed up and prepare to do it all again the next day.
Step 9. Collapse.
Yes, that was exhausting. First, it was information overload. Incredibly useful, but a lot to process. Then dealing with my shakes in the midst of it all was honestly, a bit stressful, and quite the hassle.
But right now, this is the only way for me. My GI tract cannot process enough actual food in order to maintain anything even close to a healthy weight, so what choice do I have, really? I can sip and continue to gain weight, and feel half way decent, or I can eat, and lose weight, and feel crappy.
I mean, when you look at it that way, it’s not even a discussion, right?
So I will continue to sip while also trying to heal my fractured gut, and never give up hope for a different future.