A healthy diet is tricky to manage when we travel. Often, we don’t have enough time or energy to fully focus on eating habits, so maybe we choose the carb-filled continental breakfast down the hall or opt out of breakfast all together. Either way, we’re doing our body a huge disservice, say health experts.
When we make unhealthy choices, the body protests, shuts down, and can even become ill, --consequences especially inconvenient during trips that require long-lasting energy.
Deborah Enos, nutritionist and frequent traveler, shares ways in which the overscheduled and overstressed can stay healthy and boost energy while on the road in her e-book, What’s in My Suitcase?
Plan breakfast and afternoon snacks ahead of time
“A lot of people make the mistake that when they don’t have time to grab something, they don’t grab anything, but if you don’t eat, you crash and burn,” says Enos.
Enos recommends packing healthy pre-breakfast snacks, such as protein bars, and eating them within 30 minutes of waking up to jumpstart the metabolism. “Studies show that people who eat within 30 minutes of waking up can burn an additional 100 to 150 calories a day,” Enos writes.
When you’re ready for a quick breakfast, stick to eggs, oatmeal, or Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts and make sure you watch the sugar content. “You want to avoid white flour pastries and too many carbs,” Enos says. “When you eat them, you’ll feel great for like 45 minutes, but it will cause your body to crave more sugar and crash.”
If your only option is a bagel or a muffin, Enos advises eating only half and having a source of protein with it. “This is why I travel with a Ziploc bag of walnuts,” Enos says.
To keep energized throughout the day, Enos suggests snacking on apples (a good source of fiber and water), lightly salted nuts, pumpkin seeds (an immune system booster), grapes, pears or clementines (all of which travel nicely).
Avoid sugary drinks
“Staying well hydrated is a really important thing for your body,” Enos says, but she warns that sugar-loaded drinks can have a negative effect on the immune system.
Instead of orange or apple juice, “go for the most tart juice, like pomegranate juice, which is a lot lower in sugar and has a huge level of antioxidants,” says Enos. “If all they have is orange or apple juice, dilute it with about 25 percent water.”
For a healthy caffeine boost, Enos has a cup of coffee in the morning and then switches over to green tea in the afternoon. “Green tea has a ton of antioxidants,” Enos says. If you don’t like the taste of green tea, mix in some cranberries or lemon. Just avoid the sugary bottled green teas.
And don’t forget to drink water. “[People can overlook] the importance of staying hydrated with water,” Enos says. If water is too bland for you, add lime, grapefruit, strawberry or orange slices for flavor.
Flaxseed not only keeps you regular, it’s also an appetite suppressant. Enos notes that it’s important to buy ground flaxseed rather than flaxseed oil supplements because the supplements lack the filling fiber.
“Pack a few fiber packs with you and you can sprinkle them into your yogurt,” Enos says. She suggests starting out with a teaspoon and working up to a tablespoon at a time.
To combat bloat, Enos says avoid empty carbs such as white flour foods and try eating parsley, watermelon, or cucumbers, all of which are mild diuretics.
Without enough sleep, the body stresses and can store fat. According to Enos, enough sleep is at least six and a half hours a night.
To fall asleep easier, Enos advises avoiding bright TV and computer screens right before bed. Also, wear socks to bed. “By warming up your feet, you signal your body that it’s time for sleep,” Enos writes.
When you travel, you come in contact with a lot of germs. To boost your immune system, Enos suggests packing a small bottle of vitamin D3 as well as the multivitamin, Oxylent. “I picked up Oxylent and fell in love with it. It’s really good for your immune system,” Enos says.