Some of my friends and family would pick on me for “being so sensitive” not realizing the difficulty my condition creates when my body deals with SAD (standard American diet) foods.
Especially at a music festival with port-a-potties no one wants any of their body parts to touch. I ended up spending a lot of time in them.
I’d be angry because I knew how to avoid this situation, but I had given in to old habits, despair, and feelings of futility rather than choosing my health.
It took me a few years, but I started to figure out a system.
I now have foods I take as staples and additions I use to enhance the limited choices I have at the food trucks and concessions.
Here’s a rundown of living with an autoimmune condition and eating well at your favorite festivals.
- First, think about staples: good fats, protein, and carbohydrate choices.
- Second, Know the rules of the event
- Third, think light and packable.
- Fourth, Food storage and safety
The first one you can address by watching my other videos about the food staples you should know about, or by doing some research in advanced.
The second, to really Know the rules of the even ask your self a few questions before you go
- – Can you bring food in?
- – What type of food can you bring in? and
- – What type of containers & tools are allowed?
Some places won’t let you bring in your own food, but might if you explain your situation. This may require a doctor’s note or verified diagnosis, so check out the rules with plenty of time to get these items if needed.
How much can you bring in? Sometimes you can bring in snacks but not much.
Find out if they require it need to be sealed? Does this mean you can seal something at home or does it need to be factory sealed? This might be the difference between throwing food out before you get through the gates, losing your favorite water bottle vs. being able to have the foods and beverages you need to feel your best for the whole show.
I know it sucks to purchase bottled water in small plastic bottles but it might be the difference between having the water you want and need versus having none or small tiny cups throughout the day.
It can also be the difference between having a small very expensive option vs. bringing in your empty water bottle and refilling once inside the festival. Again, do your homework.
Depending on where you are staying you may have to have a couple of staging places. If I am doing a multiple day event I will often pack and prep enough for the event and resupply each day.
If I am flying I will research stores and options near my hotel or venue so I know I can restock when I get there and before I fly home. I have found airports, hotels, and planes often have the tools I need to make this happen – knives and plates for cutting things on, if I ask.
If I am camping or staying on site. I’ll have my stash at my site and I go back to eat a bigger meal and only bring in small stuff. If you are camping you’ll need to think about food safety, which I’ll talk about in a minute.
Here’s a Meditation Just in Case you Find Yourself Uncomfortable and Stuck in the Porta-Potty Line.
Now, What types of foods can I get on the festi-grounds?
Some places will let you bring in certain foods and beverages because they aren’t selling them, but won’t let you bring in anything that competes with what they have to offer.
It might be possible to research the vendors ahead of time and find items on their menus you can eat.
When you figure out what you can purchase there and what you can bring in. Consider your macronutrients. You want to bring in a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The balance of these will be different for each of us based our particular situation.
Focus on items that will energize and revitalize you but are also accessible. Packing in a steak to cook, when you have no grill isn’t viable. But can you make the steak ahead of time, slice it, and bring it in?
Cut your veggies ahead of time and pack in reusable containers that might double for waste as you eat your stash.
In addition to the food you want to bring in, how will you bring them in? What type of containers & tools are allowed?
Will they let you bring in a cooler, backpack, purse, chair pockets, on my person only?
Can you bring in ice or will you have access to ice throughout your festivities?
The answers to these questions will determine what you bring and how much you can carry.
Consider what utensils you need. I have a folding cutting board and knife (not always allowed, so you might need to adapt), napkins, salt, pepper, and multipurpose containers.
I like to make my experience comfortable and convenient as possible so I don’t feel deprived.
I find deprivation leads me right to a big bucket of the fuck-its. The BFs lead me to disbanding my healthy habits and right to the porta-potty line.
Sometimes my difficulties are a gift. I find my options are better and easier than my friends who end up waiting in long lines and working to eat messy foods without the nice wipes I have handy.
So which containers do you choose?
The third is to think light and packable.
No matter what you want to bring and where you are going, we all know there will be lines. Lots of them, lines to park, lines to get through security, lines to find your seat, lines, lines, lines.
What you don’t want is to be weighted down while getting through these lines. That will sap your dancing energy before you know it.
Consider what items you can get in single servings. I can pack my jar of nut butter, but I can also buy single servings that are small and light. I can make my own single servings for the day. You always have some creative choices to consider.
I usually cut up enough vegetables for a gallon bag or two, but I don’t have to take the whole thing into the venue at once. Like I noted earlier I might leave some at my basecamp and refill as necessary.
Consider how much you will really eat. I tend to overpack a bit because I know if I don’t have enough I will turn to unhealthy options.
Fourth Food storage and safety
This is a big one. I don’t want to spend all my time in the porta-potties because I have eaten poor choices but I also don’t want food poisoning. Another way to spend a lot of time in the porta-potty.
As you are considering what items you want to bring make sure you are aware of what your heat and chill options are. If you will not be able to keep things cold, you’ll want to make sure to bring items that are shelf stable.
Fats are where we often get into trouble. Fats go rancid and cause us issues when they aren’t stored properly. The molecular structure breaks down and changes on us.
If I won’t be able to keep things cold, I often opt for nuts, seeds, dried meats, whole hardy fruits and veggies. Most fruit and veggies, nut butters, crackers, chips, salsas, and fried chicken are.
It’s a big win when you can find the right combination of food and drink that help you stay healthy, feel your best, and enjoy the show. Here’s to having a great festival season this year!
Want a visual of these tips? Check out Studio B’s TikTok to see me prep and pack for festival weekend and a road trip.