Traveling and vacations are great times for relaxing, but how much is it ok to relax your health habits? If you are like me, you don’t keep to your typical eating or exercise routines, and that’s ok! This isn’t really the time for a nutrition lesson or the nutrition police. Still, I know I feel better if I eat somewhat healthfully and move a bit. Here are my top five tips for staying healthy while traveling.
1. Eat breakfast to get your metabolism going and your blood sugar stabilized. I almost always have yogurt (good for your digestion), along with fresh fruit (especially local fruit in season). Try to add a protein source as well, like an egg or some nuts.
2. Drink a lot of water. There may be more opportunities to drink fun beverages (lemonade, sweetened tea, alcohol) so be sure to stay hydrated with plain water as well. In a reusable bottle, please!
3. Enjoy novel foods. Traveling often offers a chance to try new foods or local dishes, so I indulge in those and enjoy them completely, while skipping foods I could have any time, like cheese and crackers, chips, or candy.
4. Keep portion sizes reasonable. By reasonable, I mean eat what you are hungry for, not mindless munching. Slow down, enjoy your food and drink, and pay attention to when your stomach says stop.
5. Find opportunities for physical activity, even if you don’t want to go for a run or hit the gym. Take the stairs to your room, walk to your destination instead of using a car, and schedule a long bike ride to see the town from a different perspective. I also look for a yoga class, and I have friends who make sure they spend at least one night out dancing.
Find more ideas here and here!
Just One Thing to do: Eat and drink what you want while traveling, but in small portions, listening to your body when it signal it’s full.
Just One more Thing to do: Slip in physical activity throughout your trip. It feels good to move.
Much of the world is experiencing a heat wave this summer, and you probably know how important it is to stay hydrated. But what do you do when you don’t have the energy or desire to cook? You may be tempted to drive through fast food restaurants or go home and open a bag of chips; anything to avoid turning on the stove! To feel better and save money, though, make a plan to beat the heat with healthy meals.
My favorite summer meal is an antipasto platter, just a fancy name for a snack tray, that you can make both healthful and hearty. On a large plate or cutting board, lay out slices of crusty bread or whole grain crackers, rolled turkey slices, 1 or 2 types of cheese (e.g. fresh mozzarella and goat cheese), olives, pepperoncini and lots of fruits and vegetables that are in season: melon wedges, peach slices and berries along with cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, cucumber slices, radishes and sugar snap peas. Yum!
Another summer favorite is grilled anything. I recommend grilling once, making enough to last several days. Cook chicken drumsticks, chicken breasts, a few pork chops, and a salmon steak along with abundant vegetables, and you’ve got 4 or more meals, depending on your family size. If it’s just you, maybe grill just one protein source this week and a different one next week. For your vegetables, grill several varieties, individually wrapped in foil with a splash of olive oil and seasoning, so you can have something new each night: bell peppers and onions; corn on the cob; sweet potatoes; asparagus; summer squash; and eggplant. 😋 Another great option is tossing your grilled protein with a fresh, colorful salad!
For more ideas, try these great recipes HERE and HERE.
Just One Thing to do: Lighten up your summer eating with healthful no-cook (or grill once) dinners!
Continuing the water theme from last week, have you ever thought of water as a limited resource? It is important to drink enough water, yes, but also important not to waste it.
A “water footprint” is the amount of water used for things we do, wear, eat, drink and use – for example, do you run the water from your tap for several minutes to get it cold enough to drink? Try filling a pitcher or several water bottles to store in your refrigerator overnight; that way, you will always have cold water to drink without wasting any.
Another way water is wasted is overwatering the garden, using too much to boil pasta, or filling a whole kettle to just drink a cup of tea - notice how these are all food related examples in your own home. Other, bigger, examples are eating beef and sugar, since both use excessive water to produce. If those ideas are too big to bite off, you can still reduce your water footprint with a few easy changes:
· Store water in the refrigerator for a cold drink on demand
· Pay attention while you water your garden and skip watering your lawn
· Cook with and heat up only the amount of water you need
· Eat fewer processed foods; these use more water for production, not to mention plastic storage and transportation
· Turn off the water while brushing your teeth and while lathering up in the shower
· Take your car to a carwash; this takes less water than using your hose at home and prevents pollutants from getting into fresh water supplies
Get more ideas here. Also, I use this website to calculate my personal water footprint. Try it; you may be amazed at how much water you use.
Just One Thing to do: Reduce your water waste using one of the tips above!
Hydration means having enough fluids in your body to be able to sweat, transport oxygen throughout the body, deliver nutrients to all your cells, and lubricate joints. It also means you have enough water in your body to avoid dehydration, which would result in muscle fatigue, loss of coordination, excessive body temperature, cramps, and decreased exercise performance.
How much water should you drink to be hydrated? There is truth in the old saying that you need 8 cups of water a day! The good news is, this includes fluids like sports drinks, tea, sparkling and flavored water, milk, and even coffee if you are a habitual coffee drinker. If you tend to become dehydrated, you should limit coffee, soda, alcohol, and energy drinks.
To get enough fluids, be sure to drink throughout the day. I set a goal to drink one water bottle (24 ounces) by lunchtime and another by dinnertime. I also keep track on an app on my phone.
A good way to make sure your body is hydrated is by paying attention to urine, which should be frequent and a pale yellow color.
When you exercise, drink 8-12 ounces before your activity, 3-8 ounces every 15-20 minutes during your activity, and 20-24 ounces of water or sports drink after your exercise. Everyone has individual water needs and different sweat rates, so pay attention to figure out what works best for you.
Find more information on hydration here.
Just One Thing to do: Drink 8 cups of water daily, plus more during the hot summer months and during physical activity.
I know it’s hard to justify spending twice as much to purchase organic fruits and vegetables compared to their non-organic counterparts. You might want to consider a compromise, though, adjusting your budget to purchase the organic variety of one or more items from the “Dirty Dozen”.
The Dirty Dozen is an annual list of the fruits and vegetables with the highest amounts of pesticide residues. These are absorbed by foods to varying degrees, meaning they cannot be simply washed away or removed by peeling. Sure, pesticides keep pests away, but they have been linked by careful scientific research to negative health effects, including skin, digestive, nerve, respiratory, and hormone problems, in addition to increasing one’s risk of cancer and reproductive issues. The health outcome depends on the amount of exposure as well as your health status, but one thing is certain: simultaneous exposure to two or more of these chemicals results in synergy, or a multiplying of their effects. The dirty dozen produce contain residue from multiple pesticides; in fact, strawberries typically contain 10 or more pesticides, with one sample testing positive for traces of 22 different pesticides.
So what are the dirty dozen? Strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes, and sweet bell peppers.
Determine which of the 12 you eat the most, and consider purchasing the organic option for at least one of them. Maybe if more people choose organic, farmers will get the message.
Just One Thing to do: Purchase the organic option of at least one of the Dirty Dozen fruits and vegetables.