For many of us, summer and travel go hand in hand. Unfortunately for some of us it also means our digestion is thrown off by road trips, plane rides, and hotel stays. Our bodies love habit when it comes to nutrition, they want to know when they’re going to be fed while being reassured that what goes in doesn’t disrupt the functioning of our systems - and travelling can definitely throw off our routines. Inactivity, lack of nutrient dense food sources and dehydration – especially when it comes to flying – are the major culprits when travelling but have no fear, we’ve got some great tips to keep you feeling good while you’re on the road this summer.
A major key to success = planning ahead. As we mentioned earlier, if you’re flying, hydration is important so bring a reusable water bottle with you. Most airports have refill stations so you can fill it pre-flight and don’t hesitate to sweet talk the flight attendants into filling it during the flight. Peppermint tea is good for digestion so bring a few tea bags with you in case the airline doesn’t offer it. A bonus to staying hydrated in-flight is that you’ll have an excuse to get up and stretch your legs during your journey to/from the lavatory. Keep consuming H2O after your flight as well to continue to hydrate and flush out your system.
Check ahead to see if there are any food restrictions for your flight and remember, no liquids. Once you know what you can and cannot bring (fruit is a no-no cross border for example), pack yourself a snack pack. When flying, go light on protein and fat, although these macronutrients are good for you, they’re slower to digest which can make you feel sluggish. Instead, opt for more fiber-rich foods and stay away from refined carbs and sugar loaded items that don’t offer much in the way of nutrition and instead cause energy spikes and crashes. Some of our favorite snacks include cheese and fiber rich crackers, hummus and veggies such as carrots, broccoli and snap peas, apples and peanut or almond butter, whole fruits and vegetables, rolled oat bars with minimal ingredients like Bob’s Red Mill Oat Bars or better yet, homemade bars, hard-boiled eggs, and avocado and rice cakes or Wasa crackers. Some people like to fast while flying, if it works for you it’s not a bad idea, if its not something you’re used to you might not want to try it for the first time when your system is already under a bit of stress.
If you’re driving you’ve got more flexibility when it comes to space. All of the above snacks are great for road trips in addition to pre-made sandwiches and salads (bring them in a Tupperware as it’ll likely come in handy throughout your trip), popcorn (make it yourself with a bit of olive oil and salt vs. store bought), home made protein balls and trail mix (that way you know what’s in it!), baked crispy chickpeas, kale chips, dried fruit (no sugar added), bell peppers and guacamole, and probiotic yogurt and raspberries. Don’t hesitate to pack a mini cooler with items that need to stay cool knowing that you’ll use it again during your vacation. Anti-inflammatory foods are your best friend during long sits, so make sure to add them to your grocery list when prepping to hit the road.
If you’re staying in a hotel and eating out a lot on vacation, try to have at least one meal made by you and pick up some snacks you can store in your room – whole foods are best. Breakfast is an easy pick for your ‘hotel-made’ meal, most hotels have a refrigerator in the room, if they don’t you can always request one. It also doesn’t hurt to ask for a kettle or use the coffee maker to boil some water for protein oatmeal for example.
If you have time to do a workout or a walk before you fly or hit the road, definitely work that into your travel schedule. Another good way to get your system going first thing in the morning is to drink apple cider vinegar in lemon water. Consider bringing a blanket, large scarf, small pillow, etc., you can use them for back support, a bum cushion or cover up, whatever you need when you need it. If you’re driving make time to stop. Walk around, stretch your legs, do some fun races with your friends or the kids, or work in a mini body-weight workout with squats, push-ups, triceps dips, etc.
To recap; do your best to stay hydrated, stock up on nutrient dense foods and work movement into your travel plans. Your entire body, especially your digestive system will thank you!