5 Simple Ways to Keep Healthy While Travelling
29 August 2016
I have just returned from the most magnificent trip to Italy. I spent 8 days in the north of Italy where my grandmother’s home is located, and seven days in the south, where my family and I visited Positano, Sorrento, and Capri. Italy’s culture and beauty is unparalleled, and the variety of experiences you can enjoy there is truly fantastic. During my time the the Alps we enjoyed hiking and exploring the quaint villages in and around Cortina, and while at the cost, of course plenty, of sun, sea and beaching.
While it was so incredible to experience such magnificent places, I found the travelling very taxing on my body, especially with the constant change in altitude up in the mountains ( on average you are changing between to 800-3000km above sea on any given drive between the various villages and towns in and around the alps). Then there were boat trips, train rides and of course the flight to and from Italy, so all in all pretty heavy on the body.
Travelling can take its toll sometimes, so I thought I would share the things I found really helpful throughout my trip with you:
1. Drink plenty of water
Travelling can really dehydrate your body and your skin very quickly, so I made sure to drink plenty of water, before, during and after each trip. Even though it can be a bit annoying with needing to go to the bathroom all the time, trust me this is a small price to pay. Feeling dehydrated also makes you super tired, which will prevent you from enjoying your holiday to the full. So make this a travel rule – always keep a bottle of water or two with you wherever you go. A note here - Be careful of tap water - this varies drastically from one place to another, and if you arent used to the mineral content of the water in the place you are visiting, this may result in an upset tummy. Also, in many cities you cant drink the tap water at all so rather opt for bottled spring water.
2. Keep your body Moving
Often with a lot of travelling, you may spend a lot of time sitting – be it on a boat, in a car, on a plane or train. Long periods of this can make you feel stiff, lethargic and can also affect your digestion and bowel movements. I recommend standing every so often – if you are on a plane or train, take a walk every hour or so to get the blood flowing and to keep your muscles mobile. This is especially important on planes, so as to prevent blood clots. If you are doing some exploring, bring a good pair of sneakers with you and walk – walking is a great way to keep your body moving, to maintain your fitness and to prevent weight gain while travelling. If you enjoy yoga, take your yoga mat with you and maintain a regular practice while on holiday. I did yoga on the balcony of my hotel room while at the coast, and when I was in the mountains, I went hiking, running and also did some skipping. Get yourself a light weight yoga mat and a skipping rope – these are the easiest, lightest and most effective pieces of “equipment” you can take with you – you can literally use these anywhere so it becomes easy for you to get in some regular exercise even if there is no gym around. You don’t have to be training every day, but it is so much better to maintain your fitness so that you don’t lose too much muscle and so that its easy to get back into training when you return home.
3. Eat Smart
Depending on where you are travelling to, eating healthy can be easier in certain places than in others. Italy for example is not the easiest place to keep it healthy, especially when you have incredible pastry, gelato and confectionary shops at every corner beckoning your name. The temptation is real folks! Of course you need to apply a bit of discipline, but also allow you self to enjoy a treat ever now and then. They key is though not to do this every single day while you are away, because then, as you know, your will gain weight and will have to pay for your sins when you get back home. So instead of going crazy, be smart about it – if you are treating yourself to a hearty traditional pasta then skip the dessert and keep your next day as healthy as you can. So separate your treat days and fit in healthy days in between to keep your body balanced. Don’t overload your body with large amounts of the not-so –good stuff – this is when your appetite begins to grow, your stomach stretches and you end up gaining unnecessary weight. So be smart about how you eat – again its not about sucking the life out of your holiday and not eating as single bad thing the entire time – this is both boring and unbalanced – I want you to enjoy your food, just balance your treat meals with healthy ones. This coupled with exercise or regular walking will help you maintain your health goals without having to go on any crazy crash diets when you get back home.
In Italy, I allowed myself to enjoy more dairy (something I don’t usually eat) – so breakfasts would usually include thick yoghurt with fruit or nuts, or otherwise eggs and wholemeal bread or 100% rye. There where quite a few yoghurt bars in Italy, so I would always opt for the unsweetened variety and add nuts or fruit as my toppings of choice. Lunches would usually include antipasti – so artichokes in olive oil, roasted melanzane, oven grilled peppers, olives, caprese salads, mozzarella and ricotta. I occasionally enjoyed this with bread but for the most part skipped the bread and stuck to the veggies and cheese. For dinner I would opt for grilled fish or calamari, and again antipasti or a large Italian salad. I was always able to find something healthy no matter which restaurant I went to. On my treat days, I enjoyed seafood risotto, or pastas with olive oil based sauces, and of course some gelato. I even found a gelateria that had vegan ice-cream that was made using honey which was a great option for days that I wanted to keep it healthier but still felt like something sweet.
4. Keep a Back Pack with Healthy Snacks with you
On days that you are doing a lot of travelling or exploring it is so helpful to keep a backpack with you filled with water, fresh fruit, nuts and health bars. There were times on my trip where I made the mistake of not bringing food with me and I ended up being so hungry that when we eventually found a place to eat I was so “hangry” and tired – and when you feel like this you often end up over eating. So I learned quickly from my mistake and brought food with me on the days following. This way you always have access to a healthy snack, you keep hydrated, you keep your energy levels up and you don’t overeat unnecessarily. This also helps big time when you are in places that just don’t have any healthy options available.
5. Bring your Own Sweetener
When on holiday, coffee pit stops can become a regular thing – especially in Italy, so keep your own sweetener with you so that you don’t have to worry about having to unwillingly consume artificial sweeteners or sugar. I keep stevia or xylitol sachets with me in my bag wherever I go – that way I never have to worry about sweeteners. Even to sweeten my yoghurt, I would use my xylitol sachets instead.
If you are smart about how you eat, keep up regular physical activity (from walking, to hiking, to swimming – whatever makes sense and is enjoyable within the context of your holiday), drink plenty of water, and keep your eating balanced, you will feel fantastic throughout your holiday and you also wont have to worry about having to lose holiday weight or rebuild your fitness when you get home. The transition can be easy and seamless.
Yours in Health always,