I was in Lawrence from Thursday through Sunday running a conference at KU (Go Jayhawks!) for 22 college students from Kansas and Ohio. I loooooooove the Midwest. My dad’s from Iowa and we used to spend summers visiting his family. I was in rural Iowa when I decided to be a vegetarian, which in hindsight was an awkward choice to make while at dinner with my cattle-farming aunt and uncle, so I spent a lot of meals just eating the side dishes. By the time I was in college I had become more resourceful and my family (especially Aunt Joyce) had educated themselves (family is awesome) so my last visit to Danbury was pretty stress-free. Still, IBS-management is pretty routine-dependent so I get pretty anxious when I know my tried-and-true systems are going to be interrupted. That said, this trip was a lot easier to manage than my weekend in Raleigh. Definitely more hits than misses this time around.
Item 1: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This idea came from Heather Van Vorous’ Eating for IBS. I packed a vegan, organic oatmeal packet for each day of the trip (plus an extra) so I could eat a solid gf breakfast each morning. The in-room coffee maker means I can heat water while I shower and then take it to the conference site in a to-go coffee cup. This is also a fantastic airport option, since most coffee shops will just give you a cup of hot water and a spoon, so you don’t have to eat a Kind Bar and Fritos for breakfast (unless you want to. No judgment).
Item 2: Lara Bars! Vegan and gf and pretty damn delicious. We had to use KU’s campus catering service for all of our meals (sorry, participants) and each of their gf meals (possibly all of their meals) included a Lara Bar. I’ve had one or two in my life, but these were pretty awesome to have around all weekend. The apple pie flavor is delicious and they have about 8 ingredients.
Item 3: Make a stop at the HyVee (or any grocery store with a decent natural foods section). We hit up a grocery store at the beginning of all of our conference weekends both to grab breakfast and snacks for the students and to stock up on whatever our staff needs to make it through the weekend. For me this was smoked tofu, coconut water and a package of Lundberg rice cakes. I actually didn’t end up needing most of it, since Lawrence has pretty decent vegan options.
Item 4: Research. Check out http://www.vegguide.org/region/396 and http://www.happycow.net/north_america/usa/kansas/lawrence/ for recommendations and then browse menus to make sure there’s something you want to eat on the menu. I had a ridiculously good quinoa burger at Dempsey’s Burger Pub (not gf, but I ate the patty without the bun and felt okay the next day). We also visited ZenZero – amazing tofu and veggies with cashews. For our last night in town we went to Free State Brewery for a “quintessential” Lawrence experience. There was nothing appealing on the gf menu so I ordered a black bean burger that was pretty mediocre. I was bummed not to be able to try any of their local beers and no one else in my group was a beer drinker, so it was kind of a wasted opportunity.
Item 5: No one can make you eat anything you don’t want to. More wisdom from Van Vorous, which I ought to tattoo on my eating arm. The campus restaurant we went to on Friday afternoon advertised gf bread but didn’t actually have it, so I got a spinach wrap assuming I’d be okay because…magic? I don’t know. I was wrong and then I felt stupid for feeling sick when I didn’t need to.
However: I did a much better job following my fiber supplement routine this weekend, and because I felt better, I was able to be a lot more present at the conference throughout the weekend. This is huge for me, since I’ve felt that my health has been holding me back quite a bit at work.
Next up: Facing Race conference in Baltimore this weekend, Thanksgiving collaboration with my roommate, Meaty McMeaterson, and a convening in NYC. November, you’re kind of a butt.