With summer fast approaching, many will be packing up and setting off for a break from their everyday lives in high anticipation of the fun holiday ahead. For most this will involve flying somewhere. And even if you are lucky enough to be a regular in business class, love your in-flight films and the whole flying experience… flying is stressful for your body. Your body clock will invariably go haywire – you’ll perk up when everyone else is ready to sleep, be ravenous at 6am and want to go to the loo at inconvenient times. Sound familiar?
Whether you are one of those people that always seems to pick up a cold whenever you travel or simply someone who feels a bit worse for wear after a long flight, read on to discover some useful travel tips to look after your body and spirit whilst on the plane, on the ground and getting over jet lag once you are home.
ON THE PLANE
Hydrate your body
Long flights are dehydrating. Not only are you experiencing physiological changes related to an increase in altitude, you are also exposed to aircraft cabin humidity levels being unnaturally low (from
5-10%) creating an environment with less humidity than the Sahara Desert! In fact, the average air traveller can lose approximately 1.5 litres of water during a three-hour flight so even if you are not travelling far, you still need to make sure you are replenishing your system.
So how can you make sure you are drinking enough? It is not easy, especially with the tiny cups of water they give you on the plane. However, contrary to what most people believe, once you are through security there are no restrictions on obtaining liquids airside and carrying them onto the plane. So try to buy a large bottle of water once you are past security to take with you if you can. You then don’t need to worry about hassling the flight attendants to keep bringing more water and you can also monitor how much you are drinking.
Remember that although alcohol, tea, coffee and soft drinks are liquids, they do not hydrate your body as water does and they actually dehydrate you requiring your body to use water resources to process these liquids in your system.
Avoid heavy food
Try to eat lightly and avoid heavy food such as fried food, bread, pasta or meat. It is so easy to mindlessly eat whatever is given to you out of sheer boredom, even if the food is not something you would normally eat in your healthy diet. These days however you can pre-order your meal so (along with the added bonus that you get served first!) it is a lot easier to avoid bloating from unhealthy options. I always go for the vegan or fruit platter option as I find it the easiest on my digestive system.
You can also bring food onto the plane. So whether you make some healthy snacks to bring on board using my Apricot Amazeballs recipe below or you buy a takeaway salad from one of the restaurants in Departures, there are plenty of options to make sure you don’t go hungry whilst staying healthy.
I always advise people to avoid coffee, alcohol and sugary drinks on a daily basis but this is especially important on a flight where their effects are doubled due to the altitude. Some people may have alcohol to help them sleep but not only does the alcohol dehydrate you, the sleep they will be getting will not be as good quality. If you have trouble sleeping on flights try bringing a couple of teabags of camomile tea – a natural sleep-enhancer – onto the flight and simply ask for hot water from the flight attendants to make your relaxing tea. If you need something stronger, you can also try a natural sleeping pill such as valerian. Another practical tip for a better chance at sleeping on the flight is to ask for a seat towards the front edge of the wing of the plan – the most stable part of the plane – when you check in. The smoother ride will help make sure you manage to fall to sleep.
Try and get up out of your seat once every 45 minutes or so. If you are sat next to the window and feel bad disturbing your fellow passengers try and at least do some in-seat exercises during your flight. Many airlines now have a card in the seat pocket that outlines some movements but simply regularly rotating your ankles, stretching and flexing your toes and massaging your calves and feet will all help.
It also helps to remove your shoes on the flight as feet tend to swell and tight-fitting shoes may contribute to restless legs. You can make sure your feet stay warm by packing some comfortable socks in your hand luggage. You can help avoid feet swelling in the first place by using the foot rest if there is one and, if you are lucky enough to have an empty seat beside you, sit with your legs elevated if you can.
Hydrate your skin
I am a huge fan of hydration sprays on flights. Although you need to be careful when you spray it to avoid surprising any unsuspecting traveller in the seat next to you, it is a fantastic way to keep your skin hydrated and to freshen up. You can use any spray from a simple Evian water spray to one that includes essential oils, which will not only make you feel good but smell divine (always a bonus in a closely packed flight!).
ON THE GROUND
No-one wants to spend the first 36 hours of their holiday recovering from a flight, so here are some top tips to help your body adjust to your new surroundings.
Digestive Enzymes and probiotic are so important when you are travelling, especially to a developing country. These will help your digestive system adjust to the new foods and make sure everything is flowing nicely in the gut. There is nothing worse then an upset tummy on holiday or diarrhoea or constipation when you’re on the move. If you take these preventative measures you can make sure you don’t miss out whilst on holiday and can still taste and experience the local
cuisine without it wreaking havoc on your digestive system.
Cell Food is my top pick for travel supplements. Although I am a Nutrition Coach I don’t take very many supplements at all (unless I need them). Cell Food however is something that I love as it increases the oxygen and nutrient levels in your body through a fantastic water-slitting technology that actually allows the cells to absorb it. Plus its super light and easy to carry with only a couple of drops in water needed per day (as opposed to lugging a whole bunch of pills around).
GETTING OVER JET LAG
Try and drink as much green juice as you can both sides of a long flight, it really helps re-nourish the body and is a fantastic way to flood your body with nutrients without aggravating your digestive system. A combination I love is celery, cucumber, mint, lime and ginger – the celery and cucumber are fantastic at rehydrating the body whilst the mint, lime and ginger are great for stimulating your digestive system and preventing you feeling sluggish. Green juice is also important for supporting your immune system, which can be weakened if you are not getting enough sleep due to jet lag, and will avoid any pesky germs settling into your system and making you ill.
Make sure you stay off the computer and phone as much as possible – especially for the last hour before you go to sleep. The lights tinker with your brain chemicals, specifically melatonin, and interfere with your sleep patterns. So put your iPhone down and instead have a hot bath before bed time with a few drops of lavender or rose essential oil, which are wonderfully calming on your system. Light some candles, play some relaxing music and enjoy a freshly brewed camomile tea…bliss!
As a result of changes in cabin pressure on commercial airplanes, the oxygen levels in your blood can drop resulting in fatigue. Try this quick and simple breath retention exercise for a fantastic way to naturally re-oxygenate your blood:
Hold your breath until the body prompts you, then exhale slowly. Again breath in and this time, retain your breath slightly longer. Exhale slowly and repeat a third time. This last time, when you retain your breath, drop your chin to your chest to lock your throat. Hold a bit longer and then slowly exhale. Sit a few moments and allow your breathing to return to normal.
Have you ever carried a bottle of water with you on a plane and noticed how it contracts and expands during the flight? This same thing happens to your body. It’s the reason you feel bloated when you get off the plane, especially if you’ve been wearing skinny jeans instead of your usual yoga leggings. Certain yoga poses such as spinal twists, backbends and inversions will help to relieve the bloating, open the chest, release tension in the arms, shoulders, upper back and neck (a frequent result of sitting in those uncomfortable airplane seats), help flush fluid accumulation and stimulate your immune system.
Suzanne offers individualised nutrition coaching packages to support frequent travellers who want to maintain their energy levels and stay healthy despite their hectic travel schedules. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
(makes approx 25-30)
2 cups crushed macadamias (can also use almonds or walnuts)
2 cups organic unsulphered apricots
1 tbsp Coconut oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1. Blitz dried apricots in a food processor or blender and take care to not overheat your blender. I use Speed 5 on my Blendtec.
2. Add crushed nuts, coconut oil and cinnamon. Blend until just combined.
3. Scoop contents out into a bowl with a mini spatula.
4. Take a small amount of the mixture and roll into small balls between your palms.
5. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes to harden.
You can store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.