It’s sometimes difficult to ensure a healthy holiday when you’re traveling to an unfamiliar place. Have you ever experienced an upset stomach or caught a cold while on vacation? We reached out to an expert who can help you prepare for a healthy holiday. Stephanie Kay is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (R.H.N.) with a passion for food, fitness and travel. Her intention is to help individuals find balance in their diets and create a sustainable healthy lifestyle they can feel good about, while still having fun.
With the holidays on the way, many of us will be traveling to see our loved ones. We asked Stephanie what can we do to stay healthy while traveling so we can get to our final destinations without getting sick!
WEHL: What is your philosophy on wellness?
SK: My approach to nutrition is simple and sustainable: focus on real food and the rest will start to take care of itself. I think nutrition can get way too serious, so I do my best to keep things light and fun while still being informative. My goal is to help change the way people look at food and help them create sustainable habits they can maintain. You don’t need to be a chef to eat well, you don’t need to buy crazy expensive superfoods, and you don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen, but you do need to focus on the basics.
My philosophy is simple: I believe in real food, I believe in quality over quantity, I believe there is no such thing as a perfect diet, I believe indulgence is an important part of health, and I believe you have the power to change your life.
WEHL: How do you prioritize wellness in your life?
SK: I don’t make it a choice, I make it part of my routine, like brushing my teeth or changing my underwear. I schedule it into my day the same way I would schedule in an appointment. Every week I create a plan for what I am going to eat and when I am going to workout. Yes, sometimes things come up and I need to change the plan, but I adapt; I don’t cancel. I prioritize myself and my health over other things in my life, not because I don’t care, but because I know that I will be better able to serve others if I take care of myself first. You only get one body; if you don’t take care of it nobody else will.
WEHL: Why did you decide to become a holistic nutritionist?
SK: Prior to running my own business and becoming a holistic nutritionist I worked in marketing and sports marketing. I love sports, and always have, but after working in the industry for several years I realized it was not my passion. I used to spend hours on my desk looking up recipes and nutrition articles (when I was supposed to be working), and eventually I knew that I had to make a change. It happened over many years, but eventually I decided to go back to school and take the plunge into starting my own business and pay my passion and my lessons forward to others.
WEHL: Why is it so hard to stay healthy when you’re traveling?
SK: To be honest, I actually don’t think it is. I think that people can over-complicate things and stress out about things when you can actually keep things really simple. Just because you are outside of the four walls of your house does not mean you need to throw caution to the wind. I’m actually a firm believer that you can eat well no matter where you are; you just need to look for it. These days you can find whole foods anywhere from the airport to gas stations. Yes, there is lots of junk food in between, but the good stuff is there, you just need to look for it. And it’s also important to remember that one treat, one indulgent meal or one indulgent weekend are not going to derails days, weeks, or months of hard work. Indulgence is an important part of health; that’s what the word balance means. So you can and should enjoy treats on vacation or when traveling; you’ve got to add more good stuff in between.
WEHL: What do you do to keep from getting sick while traveling?
SK: I stick to the basics. I do my best to keep hydrated with lots of water, try to keep my veggie intake as high as possible, and keep my sugar intake to a minimum. Sugar is really hard on the immune system; it can suppress it up to hours after consumption, so keeping it to a minimum is ideal to avoid getting sick. Depending on where I am traveling I may also pack probiotics or activated charcoal which is great for stomach bugs or food poisoning.
WEHL: What are your go-to-snacks to bring on the plane with you?
SK: I actually try to avoid eating on flights as much as possible. For short flights I typically stick to coffee and water, while on longer flights I try and pack something from home. Often snacking on a plane is strictly done out of boredom, not true hunger, and limiting the amount of food you consume actually makes it easier to adjust to new time zones when you land. If needed, I will grab something simple in the airport like fresh fruit, veggies and hummus, nuts, jerky, or a salad if I need a whole meal, but I try to avoid the on-board menu at all costs.
WEHL: What else are you packing in your carry-on for a smooth flight?
SK: An empty water bottle, a book and a good set of headphones.
WEHL: What do you do to keep jet-lag at bay?
SK: I am gifted with the ability to sleep on a flight very easily, so I don’t really struggle with this. However, magnesium or melatonin are great to help induce good sleep for overnight flights, and once you land try to adjust to the local clock as quickly as possible. Eat your first meal in accordance with the new time zone and try to get to bed at a decent hour.
WEHL: Do you have any tips for eating healthy while staying in a new city or town?
SK: Research restaurants before you go! If you are concerned about eating well when you are traveling, doing a little forward planning goes a very long way. There are so many great travel websites with great tips these days (Spotted by Locals is a personal favourite) and it’s such a great way to find good food. You may not get to all of the options you researched but at least you will have them when you need them.
WEHL: Do you have any other travel hacks to stay healthy for the holidays?
SK: Relax and enjoy it! The holidays are a special time that is meant to be celebrated, but that doesn’t mean you let things go for the entire month. You can go to the party and the gym, drink wine and drink water, eat vegetables and eat cookies; it doesn’t need to be one or the other.
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