We all look forward to our well earned holiday in the sun, but how many of us put pressure on ourselves looking to crash diet to ‘look good’ in our swimwear? Or do you experience the transient fatigue and malaise known as “jet-lag” often associated with long-haul travel that persists for some days, occasionally interrupting the first few days of pleasure at that long-awaited idyllic holiday location? Pre-holiday nutrition needn’t stray that far from your everyday eating habits – if it becomes exactly that – a healthy eating habit, that is sustainable and manageable all year round. Here are my top health tips to prepare you for your summer holiday.
Top health tips to get you ready for your holiday…
1. Aim to eat protein with every meal – lean meat, fish, pulses, beans or legumes.
2. Have 2-3 non-starchy vegetables on your plate: asparagus, spinach, kale, broccoli, courgettes, peppers etc.
3. Stay hydrated.
4. Include a small amount of complex carbohydrate with your meal: root vegetables, whole grain bread, quinoa, brown rice, sweet potato.
5. Reduce sugar intake and avoid excessive sugary drinks and alcohol.
6. Include good fats (oily fish, avocados, seeds, moderate dairy) and avoid ‘bad’ fats found in processed meals, takeaways, fast foods.
Top tips to combat the dreaded jet lag…
The symptoms of jet-lag are caused by the disturbance of the body’s circadian rhythms as a number of time zones are crossed during your flight. Below are a few preventative strategies surrounding diet and hydration both prior to departing, during the flight and following disembarkation that may alleviate the symptoms until the body has had the time to adjust to the new time zone.
1. Selecting the best meal type for a few days after you arrive may accelerate that feeling of ‘normality’ allowing you to maximise your well earned holiday time. If you are struggling to sleep, choose a carbohydrate rich meal. If you are lacking energy, a high protein meal can reduce feelings of fatigue.
2. Avoid gastrointestinal disturbance associated with jet lag such as cramps, bloating, diarrhoea or constipation by taking a good quality probiotics up to 14 days before departure. These symptoms may also be associated with jet lag as a disruption in the circadian rhythm may upset the balance of gut microflora, leading to a dysfunction in the immune system and consequently a susceptibility to holiday bugs.
3. Eat probiotic-rich foods two weeks prior to departure (live yoghurt, kefir, miso and sauerkraut) or taking a good quality probiotic (available from health food shops or online).
4. Consume foods rich in dietary fibre (apples, mangoes, pineapple, oats, root vegetables, sweet potatoes, pulses and beans) which both support elimination, preventing constipation during a long flight, but equally providing a food source for the probiotics within the system, enabling them to colonise and support a balanced gut microflora.
5. Include a variety of colourful fruit and vegetables in your daily diet (dark green leafy vegetables, peppers, beetroot, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower. These provide a source of fibre but equally nutrients to support a healthy gut.
6. Consume plenty of essential fatty acids found in oily fish, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and olive oil to support your immune system.
7. Include lean proteins in your diet – either vegetable proteins in the form of pulses, beans and quinoa or lean meat such as chicken, game, turkey and fish.
8. Restrict your alcohol intake during your flight. Alcohol is known to dehydrate the body but also to disrupt sleep patterns. By consuming water and soft drinks during the flight, feelings of lightheadedness, fatigue and headaches may be reduced.
Once at your holiday destination, these simple preventative steps will continue to support your immune system and your body throughout your stay, adding to a happy healthy holiday and leaving you to relax and enjoy that well earned holiday of a lifetime.
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