Traveling Healthy – How to Travel Right During the Holidays

Traveling Healthy – How to Travel Right During the Holidays

If you travel for work, are traveling for the holidays, or have trouble with jet lag, STOP SCROLLING and read this. 

  • 70% of travelers noted weight gain
  • 52% admit to eating and drinking more freely while traveling
  • 65% admit to drinking more water while traveling
  • 36% of travelers pack their own snacks 

Traveling does not have to derail your health and fitness goals if you have a plan in place and a mindset of Progress over Perfection. 

Air Travel:

Before you fly eat regular, healthy meals before departure. If you are prone to stomach discomfort eat lighter foods and avoid the food served on the airplane. Cabin pressure can significantly hinder gastric emptying and the lack of oxygen triggers inflammation. To help relieve discomfort avoid caffeine, oily foods, and any food that causes you gas and bloating. Eat and drink slowly to minimize the amount of air that is swallowed and consider fasting during the flight (14-24 hours) to minimize gastric discomfort. Furthermore, flying is very dehydrating because the relative humidity on an airplane is around 10-20% instead of 30-65% like we are used to in our homes or outdoors. Low humidity can cause dry skin, itchy eyes, and breathing problems for those with a respiratory condition. Further, a low humidity environment increases your risk of catching a cold because the low humidity prevents the mucosal lining in your throat from doing its job of catching germs. On a 10-hour flight the average person loses 4% of their bodyweight in water. Considering how a 1% decrease negatively affects your mood, cognition, attention, and motor skills, a 4% decrease will leave you feeling pretty crummy. Aim to drink a minimum of 8oz of water per hour to minimize the effects of dehydration. On a longer or international flight, again start with 8oz per hour, but you should be drinking enough water that you have to get up multiple times to use the restroom. 

Food:

Let’s be honest, when traveling for business or pleasure, it’s hard to find the best/healthiest options. In airports especially, choosing better foods is a more sustainable and less neurotic approach that allows flexibility and consistency. Hummus and veggies or fruit and a handful of nuts are the better options, instead of a soda and a candy bar. When you’re at your intended location, focus your meals on lean meats and vegetables. You will not be hard pressed to meet this suggestion, just about every restaurant will have this option available in some shape or form. Use it as an opportunity to try a different type of protein or vegetable that’s local to the area. If you’re on vacation to Italy for the very first time, try the pasta or pizza! A couple of meals outside of a consistently healthy diet will not derail your progress. You’re taking the opportunity to share an experience with your family and friends that you normally wouldn’t get to in the States. Enjoy it and move on! If you’re traveling for business regularly, lean protein and vegetables should be your default when building your meal. And, iIn the event your schedule is stacked with meetings, consider having a protein shake to prevent an evening binge. 

Jet lag:

Jet lag is a rough one for a lot of people. Why? The hormones circulating throughout our body our cyclical. Two hormones related to our sleep/wake cycle, melatonin and cortisol, function diurnally and are affected by sunlight. For example, the sunlight turns off the secretion of our sleep hormone melatonin. Step 1: Get on your new time zone’s eating schedule as soon as possible. For example, if you fasted on the flight and landed at 8am, eat a normal breakfast once you’ve gotten off the plane. Then do not allow yourself to take a nap to “help” with tiredness. The goal is to get on to the new time zone’s schedule as fast as possible. The next morning exercise, even if its 15 min, and get sunlight on your skin for 5 minutes. The sunlight helps to raise cortisol, which is exactly when you want cortisol raised, in the morning to give you energy to get through the day. Jet lag is difficult to overcome because our hormones are on a diurnal cycle, however, sunlight is an excellent way to aid in resetting/adjusting to a new time zone. The problem is most people’s cortisol curve is mismanaged so cortisol is elevated at night making sleep more difficult. There will be a post all about cortisol, stay tuned!

Whether you’re traveling to visit family, or just to get away this holiday season, you can still make your health a priority and make little decisions that will keep you feeling great from takeoff until you land back home.

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