Written by Maya Bach, MPH, RDN
From a Saturday morning trip to the farmers market to a weeklong beach vacation, you may find yourself out and about more this summer. While exploring a new local spot or a exotic destination abroad is exciting, letting go of our health goals is not. Lack of a routine, limited access to unprocessed foods and a “vacation mindset” can all factor into why we fall off track. In addition to packing extra sunscreen, let’s dive into these simple strategies to help keep you healthy and happy this summer.
1. FOCUS ON FIBERWe may know that getting enough fiber is good for gut-health but what about when it comes to travel? Found in fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds and whole grains, fiber keep us fuller for longer. When we’re on the go, mealtime may be more inconsistent so filling up on fibrous foods can help keep cravings at bay. As a bonus, these foods are bursting with protective antioxidants, substances that protect our bodies and help lower levels of inflammation.
Pro tip: Since we tend to find the most fiber in the skins of fruits and vegetables, snack on produce with a skin (berries) vs. a peel (banana) for an added boost.
2. PORTABLE SNACKS
Running from airport to Airbnb doesn’t always leave us time to enjoy a proper meal. To stabilize blood sugar levels and give your body enough energy, aim to eat every three to four hours. Having simple snacks on hand can help prevent that “hangry” feeling some of us may experience from time to time. Examples include fresh fruit and nut butter, plain oatmeal packets with seeds, hummus packets and pre-cut veggies as well as some mēle packets!
Pro tip: pack a “perfect pair” -- start with a carbohydrate (e.g., bread, fruit, oatmeal) and add a fat or protein (e.g., nut butter, cheese, yogurt) to help give your snack some staying power.
3. DRINK UP
While you may be tempted to sample the local espresso first thing in the morning, try starting your day off with a glass or two of pure H2O. Drinking water throughout the day helps keep our bodies functioning properly, preventing fatigue and headaches associated with low water intake. Staying well hydrated is especially key when we’re in an airplane and running around in a warm environment (hello, summer sunshine!).
Pro tip: Pack a refillable water bottle that is attractive, easy to clean and carry and follow the “1-for-1” rule. For every alcoholic or caffeinated drink, enjoy a glass of water.
4. PLAN ACTIVE ADVENTURES (or a quick sweat sesh)
While lounging lakeside is definitely on par with vacation, consider checking out a nearby trail or studio near your hotel or Airbnb. Building in movement not only helps burn off any excess calories from last night’s meal, it also gives us a boost of energy and reduces stress levels. Add tennis shoes and athleisure to your “to pack” list alongside swimwear and sunnies.
Pro tip: Grab a map and DIY a sightseeing tour by renting a city bike or scooter for a small fee.
Bottom line: Treat yourself. Travel can be exhilarating and exhausting. When we are depleted, we may be less likely to dedicate energy to making healthier meal and snack choices. Choose one small item, like local sorbet or glass of wine, to indulge in each day. Be kind to yourself and enjoy your time away!
Maya Bach, Registered Dietician Nutritionist was raised in Northern California where her mom, a vegetarian since age 18, taught her and her sister how food impacts health and the body. She learned how to prepare simple healthy meals and developed an interest in nutrition at a young age. After graduating with a Masters in Public Health from Loma Linda University, she moved to foodie-central Chicago. Beginning her career as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in a clinical setting, she established a nutrition and well-being consultancy in 2015. Focusing within corporate wellness, she partners with local organizations, helping them cultivate a culture grounded in well-being through on-site nutrition services. She also works with a small subset of private clients, partnering primarily with women who may be struggling to find time to eat well or who simply aren’t seeing results. Specializing in weight management, she helps them navigate nutrition, empowering them to develop habits that enable them to live healthier, happier lives.