Conference Challenge: Follow a Gluten-Free AND Nightshade-Free Diet

It looks innocuous, right?

Those who know me know that I follow a mostly gluten-free and absolutely nightshade-free diet. Gluten-free is relatively easy, but nightshade-free? Not so much. Nightshades include potatoes, tomatoes, peppers (like red peppers, green peppers, chili peppers – but not the Red Hot Chili Peppers), eggplant and tobacco. If you’re nightshade-sensitive, you can end up with joint pain and rashes, which I have. Ever since I went nightshade-free, my skin has cleared up immensely.

But I travel for business, and that means I’m at software conferences and on the road and in airplanes and all sorts of places that may offer gluten-free options but will not have nightshade-free options. It seems like everything that is gluten-free has potatoes in it – a nightshade. Either that, or I’m served a stuffed nightshade (pepper). It’s a tough diet, and its increasingly difficult to find accommodations at conferences because the food keeps getting fancier and fancier. So here’s what I do:

  • I stop at a grocery store at my destination to pick up something to eat for breakfast. That’s usually fruit and, if my hotel room has a fridge, Greek yogurt.
  • I eat a lot of salad. I feel like a rabbit on trips, but that plain leafy green stuff is good for me and completely gluten- and nightshade-free. I’ll add chicken or eggs or even nuts that I bring with me for protein.
  • I ask for options. When I can, I’ll ask for a plain grilled chicken breast and steamed broccoli. It beats having to pick out what I can eat from what I can’t.
  • I bring snacks. I love the snacks I get from Graze because they travel well and are so tasty.
At my most recent conference, I was despondent at the lack of choices in the press room. (I had just been stood up for a briefing, and I was hungry and annoyed and just wanted something to eat.) So I ventured out and found a cooler full of California roll sushi with imitation crab. Score! That was my lunch for three days straight.