Health Away From Home – staying well on business or leisure travel
Sarah Reid, RHNC
One of the best tricks to staying healthy on any trip is as easy as turning on the faucet – water. When you’re on the road, waiting in the airport, on the pool deck or sitting in your hotel room burning the midnight oil, keep a 1-litre (32-oz) bottle with you and keep filling it up. Once your mind recognizes your body’s cries for the fluid, it becomes second nature to reach for the cold and clear stuff rather than a second (or third) cup of coffee. Speaking of coffee (and caffeine in general), most people consume too much – cap it at one serving a day. The “coffee break” void can be filled in with energizing, unsweetened herbal or green teas, and of course that unforgettable water. Limit your bar tab, too – especially in hotter climates. Alcohol (in particular cocktails and mixed drinks) not only is rife with calories and sugar, but it is dehydrating and inhibits the liver’s ability to detoxify the stress from travelling. With kids, limit the amount of sugary drinks and food they consume on vacation – including pop, fruit juices and the obvious candy and desserts – for the same reason, and have them drink more water instead. A good rule of thumb is for every alcoholic, caffeinated or sugary beverage you consume, drink two 8-oz glasses of water. It seems like a lot, but your body must replenish from the substances’ diuretic actions. The payoffs are better sleep, less jet lag effects, calmer kids and more stamina throughout the day.
When eating out, make lunch your heaviest meal, especially when you’re active in the afternoon (such as at a theme park or sports meet), eat a well balanced, not too fatty protein and fibre – filled breakfast (like an omelette and whole wheat toast, not sausage and a Danish!) and stick to lighter options like fish or vegetarian meals for dinner. The “rules” to eating out on a trip are the same as when having restaurant meals at home – make the wisest decisions you can, and if it’s a special occasion, plan the rest of your meals around the splurge and have that triple-fudge cake!
Activity, even when “relaxing” or stuck in an office, boosts your immune system, stress and energy levels, not to mention helps you to think clearly and get to sleep at night. If you’re in all-day meetings, take the stairs to the boardroom instead of the elevator, and when there’s a break have a power walk instead of a latte. If your office, hotel or cruise ship has a fitness centre, hit the treadmill or the stationary bike for a half hour (preferably before dinner). You’ll burn off last night’s restaurant meal and that day’s stress.
Though the beds are unfamiliar in hotels, you can improve your sleep quality while away. Try to keep as close a sleep / wake routine as possible to the one you have at home, limit heavy dinners and rich desserts and turn the thermostat in the room to about 20°C (68°F). Earplugs and eye masks will also prove useful, especially in busy hotels or those in city cores. Of course, if you or your child has a favourite pillow and just can’t sleep on anything else, reserve room in your luggage and bring it along. A good night – and better morning – are worth it.