A passion of mine is traveling! I love to see many different cultures and landscapes, and it is often while traveling that I feel most vital and most free. As I have gotten older, however, I have started to develop food sensitivities, and traveling for longer periods of time often wreaks havoc with my digestion and immune system. More research is showing that the gut and mental health are inextricably linked, so in order to stay healthy in our minds we need to stay healthy in our bodies to ensure we can make the most of getaways.
Here are tried and tested ways I have learned to help reduce my chances of illness, fatigue, and sluggishness and avoid unnecessary weight gain while traveling. They're especially helpful during indulgent times like the holidays.
1. Whenever you can, stay in a place with a kitchen.
Take advantage of the beautiful fresh food and local markets you might be able to find and eat in season. Enjoy whole food ingredients and aim to eat at least one, if not two, meals at home each day. When you do dine out, seek out cafes serving fresh food, preferably organic where possible, and enjoy your meal with the knowledge that you are eating well. Avoid the bread basket and fries, and choose a salad or proteins with veggies for dinner.
2. Take a good probiotic with you.
It's natural when being on holidays, or even working away from home, that you are going to enjoy some foods that are not typically healthy for you—whether that's a glass of wine, some cheese, or fresh-baked white dinner rolls. A probiotic will ensure that you are building up good bacteria. I would actually suggest most people be on a good probiotic regardless of whether you're traveling. It has been shown to be essential for gut health, and research shows it is more effective for depression than your typical antidepressant medication.
3. Aim for at least three alcohol-free days a week.
Try not to drink on an empty stomach, and aim to drink clean spirits or wine. Have these with your protein to reduce the sugar spike.
4. Eat early—aim to finish eating early in the evening.
The plus side of vacation is that you get to focus on resting and digesting. For this reason, we don't recommend going to bed with a full stomach. You can try a mini fast of 14 hours from dinner to lunch the next day for women and 16 hours for men. I find this to be really helpful to reduce weight gain but also to allow time for the body's digestion process to take place.
5. Ensure that you do at least 15 minutes of moderate exercise a day.
Even if you are walking a lot to see the sights, try to make sure you get a half-hour of resistance work in as well as this will help maintain muscle mass and assist in burning calories throughout the day. Even 15 minutes will do the trick. Focus on walking where you can. It's a lovely way to discover a new city and get your exercise at the same time. You can even join a local fitness class that you typically like. Last time I was in Paris, I attended Barre class as I was missing my "BootyBarre" class so much at home. It was so fun!
6. Pick a couple of routines to keep, even while you're on vacation.
At home each morning I start my day with a warm water and lemon to help cleanse the system and begin my day having nurtured my health in some small way. I do this wherever I am in the world. I also take my nutritional supplements with me and aim for 10 minutes of meditation each day. I try to limit the foods I know are not going to do me any favors, like sugars, gluten, and dairy.