How to Keep the Well in Well-Traveled
Making healthy choices at home and work can be relatively easy compared to traveling. When you are on the road, you have a lot less control over the quality of your meals, snacks, exercise, and sleep. According to Tina Bettin, APNP, DNP, of ThedaCare Physicians in Manawa and New London, it’s no wonder some people return from a trip more exhausted than before. “Sleeping in a strange place and eating out or eating campfire food for a few days straight can throw your body off.” She advises her patients to plan for their wellness while traveling just as carefully as they plan their itineraries:
- Make rules for yourself. For example, eat something green with every meal, or insist on eating one fresh apple per day. (They are easy to find, and the fiber is a real plus.) Decide to go free of fried food, or reach for dessert just every other day. Bring fresh firm fruit with you on your trip.
- Eat breakfast. “Breaking the fast” after a long night of sleep with protein and whole grains alerts your brain and reawakens your body’s systems. Plus, breakfast skippers often get hunger pangs by mid-morning and reach for high-fat, high-calorie snacks that can lead to sleepiness or erratic blood sugar spikes and dives.
- Get your steps in. Walk the airport terminal instead of sitting through long waits. Are you traveling by car? When you get out to fill up, do step-ups on the gas pump island while you pump gas.
- Be thoughtful about your alcohol intake. Combined with a strange bed, the tendency for alcohol to disrupt your sleep patterns can cause fatigue and irritability the next day. Tina recommends no more than one alcoholic drink every two hours. Drink a full glass of water between each one.
- Use an app to relax. If you find yourself uptight in the middle of a busy vacation or business trip, try an app like Rest and Relax Guided Meditation to soothe your nerves. A short period of meditation will help you sleep better and relate more cheerfully with family members or business colleagues.
- Get away for quiet time alone. We all know the feeling of being surrounded by people we love on big family trips, but feeling a bit overstimulated, too. Take a quiet walk with your partner, escape on a solo shopping trip, go for a run, or slip away for a nap.
- Drink enough water. Take your body weight (in pounds) and divide it by two. This is the number of ounces of water that you should be drinking each day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you will need 75 ounces of water per day. “Many people don’t realize that staying hydrated helps ward off fatigue, irritability, headaches, and even ‘brain fog’,” Tina said.
- Wash your hands. Be aware of germ clusters on faucet handles, door knobs, bubbler buttons, and vending machines. Don’t use a pillow or blanket on an airplane unless you brought it yourself. “People touch their hands to their faces an average of 18 times an hour,” Tina said. “Try to stop. Germs enter our bodies through our eyes, nose, and mouth, and being sick away from home is so much worse. Be especially thoughtful about your hygiene habits.”
Do you need a doctor who will help you journey through life in a healthy way? Tina Bettin, APNP, DNP, of ThedaCare Physicians in Manawa and New London is accepting new patients. Call her office directly at 920.596.3435 to schedule an appointment or call ThedaCare On Call at 920.830.6877 or go to www.thedacare.org and click on “Find a Doctor“.