Summer weather definitely has us dreaming of tropical beaches and island time. And while we love the idea of going somewhere new and exciting or heading out for a much-needed vacation, the actual process can wreak havoc on our bodies and our health resolutions.
24Life asked wellness expert, best-selling author, social influencer and frequent flyer Nikki Sharp to share her top healthy tips for eating while traveling. Sharp has lived in seven different countries, traveled to Africa and Paris last year, spent the last few weeks vacationing in Italy, and is currently in Bali.
You can always bring your own food to the airport, Sharp says, whether you want to meal prep it yourself or grab a salad to go from Whole Foods.
“One of my new favorite things to do is Uber Eats. You can choose to have things delivered to you at specific times,” Sharp says. “So if I’m flying, I will have Uber Eats deliver food before I leave for the airport so it’s fresh. It takes the guesswork out and then I just take it with me to the airport.”
Find healthy snack options
Sharp knows that no matter where you are, whether a gas station or an airport, you can always find three healthy things: a banana, raw almonds and water. “I’ve never been to a gas station or an airport that doesn’t have those three items,” she says. “So if you don’t have any other option and you want to eat healthy, that’s your go-to.”
Do not eat plane food
Whatever you do, Sharp does not recommend eating the food served on a plane. Why? High sodium.
“When you go into the air, your taste buds change and food loses its taste. That just naturally happens. So they have to put more salt in it for you to actually taste it,” she says. “The nutritional quality of the food is not only bad, but it’s also not organic.”
If, however, you have no other options, Sharp recommends calling the airline ahead of time and asking for a low-sodium option or a vegetarian meal.
That said, just because the airline is providing you with food doesn’t mean you should be eating it.
“Many times, as soon as you get on the flight, they feed you and then you go to sleep right after,” she explains. “So not only will that cause indigestion, but you’ve just had mass amounts of sodium and you’re about to sleep, and you’re not moving your body at all.”
Sharp times her eating schedule to correspond with her destination. “I will eat at completely random times from other people,” she says, “but it helps avoid jet lag and you don’t waste half your vacation feeling crappy.”
Bring agents for nausea and digestion
One of Sharp’s go-to travel hacks for digestion: individually packaged mint tea bags.
“When I’m traveling, especially flying, I’ll buy a liter bottle of water and then put the mint tea bag in it. You put the cap on and infuse it the exact same way as if you had hot water. It just takes a few minutes longer,” she says.
Mint tea aids in digestion, which can get a little funky during travel. “Mint tea helps calm the stomach and settle it, especially if you get airsick or carsick,” Sharp says. “It’s also super refreshing and gets you to drink more water and stay hydrated when you’re flying.”
Other ingredients she recommends packing are ginger and magnesium. Ginger tea or candies to chew on will help with nausea, and magnesium helps relieve constipation. “A lot of women get constipated when they travel, and it’s not something that people should be scared of,” she says. “So if you start taking magnesium a few days before you leave and continue while you’re away, it will help.”
Of course, Sharp says, drinking enough water is key to staying hydrated and regular. “I also highly recommend people bringing digestive enzymes. I work out when I travel, but I also bring digestive enzymes. I think if you know that your body’s a little more sensitive or you know that you really want to go to Italy and eat all the pizza, just bring digestive enzymes.”
Eat the local cuisine
Many people obsess about diet while traveling, fearful that taking a break from their routine will throw them off track completely. But Sharp says to take advantage of the local cuisine wherever you go and to always remember quality over quantity.
“In the Western culture, we’re like: ‘Oh my God, it’s not gluten-free, vegan, raw, organic, Paleo, keto.’ And so people don’t eat it. When you get that mentality and you travel, you cause so much stress in your body that no matter what you eat, it’s not going to digest,” she says. “Instead, if you eat the local food and don’t stress about it and eat quality over quantity, you’re less likely to get bloated. I go to Paris, or Europe, anywhere in the world and I eat gluten, I eat cheese, I eat meat, all the ‘bad things’ that we’re not supposed to.” In fact, Sharp says that with activity and local, fresh food, she might even lose weight when she travels.”
Photo credit: Hengstream, Unsplash; Courtesy of Nikki Sharp