The Healthy Traveler: Part I

Kara Bauer Health Guide November 30, 2012
  • Staying healthy year round means adopting certain diet and exercise habits that can be maintained easily. For the most part, those dedicated to living a healthy life can do so successfully within their known surroundings. However, when on the road, whether one travels frequently for pleasure or for work, many people find it difficult to stay within their routine. Although partly psychological, as I think many people enjoy the break from their normal lifestyle patterns, with a little planning ahead it’s not necessary to sacrifice your health while traveling, even if your travels take you outside of the country. Below are some tips in relation to diet. In part II, I’ll provide some exercise tips as well as how to prevent sickness due to travel-related stress on the body.

     

    Diet

    The key here, is to carry with you a variety of snacks and superfoods (foods that are extra rich in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients such as greens powders, goji berries, etc.) to supplement your diet with when a healthy option is not available. Snacks such as nuts and seeds, dried fruits and health food bars without unhealthy additives are all better options then your typical airplane food. Even many of the airports now carry health foods in delis located within the terminals that are in line with what you would normally eat at home. Look for organic and whole grain foods as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. This can be a great pre-boarding option, especially given that many of the airlines now charge extra for in-flight food.

     

    In terms of beverages, my recommendation is to give up all sugary sodas and alcohol while flying or driving for long periods of time and stick to water. Your body needs more water then it normally does while traveling and dehydration not only leads to an increase in appetite, but also makes you more susceptible to illness. By using the bathroom frequently, you flush out bacteria and toxins that you are exposed to, thus improving your chances for staying healthy while in transit.

     

    Eating in restaurants on a daily basis for breakfast, lunch and dinner does present a challenge for those who want to maintain their typical eating patterns. However, there are some guidelines you can follow that will help. The first is to always order a large salad to take advantage of the rich nutrients that raw vegetables provide. Sometimes this means doubling up and ordering two salads instead of one to get the quantity to a level that will be filling. Look at adding other fresh vegetables, including avocado, nuts and seeds, which are a great source of healthy fat and protein that will keep you satisfied long after you eat. My advice is to keep the dressing simple by just adding a bit of olive oil and vinegar, rather then using the creamy dressings that usually accompany restaurant salads. Sometimes when I know I’m not going to find many healthy options on a menu, I will bring my own things to add to a salad with me (even an avocado!). That way I’m always prepared if I don’t find something healthy on a menu.

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    You can also seek out vegetarian, natural or organic restaurants which generally offering healthier food options, even good quality meat. When ordering food, always go for raw, grilled, steamed and boiled food as opposed to fried foods. Again, think simplicity with sauces and dressings as many contain unhealthy additives and sugar. Many people are surprised by how flavorful food can be with simply olive oil, sea salt and pepper.

     

    If traveling for longer periods of time, another helpful tip is to look for accommodations that include a refrigerator and/or small kitchen. That way you can stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables from a local grocer or health food store and even prepare some “home” cooked meals in between restaurant outings. No matter where you are in the world you can usually find brown rice, which is an easy and healthy food to prepare in a kitchenette.

     

    Of course at the end of the day most people would like to enjoy the local cuisine, especially when traveling internationally. But even making healthy choices 50% of the time will keep you feeling good and not set you back too far from your wellness goals. In Part II, I will share some of my tips for staying active while also avoiding stress and sickness while traveling.

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