Wherever you're heading off this summer, flying can take its toll on how you feel, sometimes leaving you arriving drowsy and uncomfortable at your holiday destination. But watching what you eat can make all the difference.
Here's the secrets to feeling energised and ready to holiday from the moment you leave the house.
Before you board the plane
Most large airports cater for all kinds of dietary requirements but it's worth double checking before you leave to make sure you'll have access to the kinds of foods you enjoy or are able to eat, such as gluten-free or vegetarian options. If not, take something to eat with you.
Light, healthy meals are best before you get on board to stop you feeling sluggish. Try porridge or muesli if you're travelling first thing, or salad bowls with mixed leaves, rice or grains, or hummus and crudites later in the day. You can usually pick these foods up from most coffee chains and mini restauarnts in the airport.
If you're travelling just after dinner or feel you need something more substantial before you fly, go for a high protein meal like a chicken, tuna or rice salad. Anything containing tomatoes and berries are especially good as they flush sodium through the body, reducing the water rentention that can make you uncomfortable on flights.
Avoid anything gassy or fatty, like fizzy drinks and chocolate as these will be hard digest and make make the bloating even worse when you are in the air. Check out this healthy guide to airport food for more advice.
Once you're flying
Be sure to tell the airline if you're vegetarian or can't eat certain foods in advance so they can make sure they have something for you for the in-flight meal. Try not to graze on the salty, savoury and sweet snacks offered, but take your own healthy versions such as portable fruit, unsalted nuts and seeds, granola, or muesli bars. Pots of grapes also work well to give you a refreshing boost of sweetness in between meals.
Resist the temptation to have too much alcohol if there’s a free bar on board as this could dehydrat you. Instead, opt for plenty of water or soft drinks that you sip regularly throughout the flight to help counter the dehydrating atmosphere you get on board planes.
Remember as well to get up and move around the cabin whenever you can to keep your circulation moving and avoid swollen legs and feet, and the risk of deep vein thrombosis.
When you get there
If you're staying in a hotel, there are usually plenty of tasty and enticing choices of fresh fruits and vegetables on offer without you having to feel as though you are depriving yourself of your favourite foods.
Don’t forget basic hygiene rules when eating out and from restaurant buffets. Avoid salads and peeled fruits, which could contain harmful bacteria destined to ruin your trip.
Ensure any barbecued meats are hot and have been thoroughly cooked through, and don’t be tempted by any meats or prepared meals you suspect may have been reheated or left out in the warm for any length of time.
If you're travelling long haul across several time zones, the best way to beat jet lag is to eat more carbohydrate and tryptophan-rich meals from late afternoon into early evening, to help make you sleepy at bedtime. Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps release hormones to instruct our body and brain to sleep at night. Good options are parmesan and swiss cheeses, avocado, wheat germ, eggs and bananas.
Then in the morning, protein-rich meals, such as eggs or oatmeal, will help make you feel wide awake. Gentle exercise and exposure to daylight will also help you through the day and start to reset your body clock so go for a morning walk or try a few yoga stretches by the pool.
The main rule of thumb on your travels, though, is to stick to your usual healthy practises from home. Eat plenty of lean protein, good fats like those in nuts, avocados and oilve oil, fresh fruits and vegetables, and take the opportunity to explore new and exotic foods you wouldn’t normally eat at home for a varied diet. Go in search of a local food market to see what the locals cook with and bring fresh new ideas back to your home cooking.
- There's more travel ideas in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.