With holiday travel, you pretty much have all the elements against you. Whether it’s the cold weather, visiting homes that aren’t yours, or just the hectic crowds/traffic, its the perfect recipe for getting offtrack with your health. Pair that with the indulgent temptations and general excuse of “eh, I’m on vacation” and it’s no wonder we come back feeling bloated, tired, cranky, and gross. NOT THIS SEASON. Here is your guide to make little tweaks and adjustments to hack your way into a healthier holiday travel and come out feeling a lot better than everyone else. My non-denominational holiday present to you.
Before we get started, let’s baseline on what bloating is, what causes it, and why it happens.
tl;dr: bloating occurs when we overeat, retain too much water, eat something that upsets our stomach, or when we’re stressed out.
Yep, there’s many different causes of bloating. But you can avoid it if you eat cleaner, move more, and stress less. Easy right? Just kidding. We gotta live our lives, but these tips can help reduce the frequency or severity of that holiday bloat.
How To Eat Healthier When You’re In a New Place
When you’re staying at someone else’s home (or even with your own family who isn’t used to eating healthy), it can be uncomfortable asking for healthier options. You don’t want to seem rude, demanding, or difficult. Preparation is key in navigating this successfully.
- Offer to help grocery shop and prepare meals. This is my favorite trick because you get to take the load off of someone else, while also being in charge of picking cleaner ingredients. You come off as a hero and you get to eat what you want. Win.
- Bring a healthier side dish. This is for when it feels weird taking charge – maybe you’re visiting someone else’s home for the first time or you’re not that close to the host. Prepare a delicious, colorful salad made with homemade dressing (I love olive oil, tahini, and lemon juice) or roasted vegetables. You might not be able to control the whole meal, but at least you can contribute something that won’t derail your health goals as much. If you’re really feeling fancy, bring a healthier dessert option – there’s so many out there that taste better than store-bought desserts anyways. If you have any bomb recipes, please send them over to me or comment a link below for me!
- Prepare in advance. Listed below in my packing list, I found it super handy having green juice powder, healthy protein bars, and nut butters to give my body the proper nutrients it needs when I can’t control the menu. They also help stabilize my blood sugar levels so I’m less likely to binge on processed sweets.
- Embrace hunger. I want to preface this by stating that in no way am I advocating starving yourself or not eating for a whole day, but hear me out. If you’re visiting a cold weather place and you’re staying indoors for most of the time, your body won’t require as much calories if your physical activity levels are lower than average. It’s okay to skip a meal and give your digestive system a break. There are so many benefits to intermittent fasting and I like taking advantage of my low activity days while traveling with this practice. Plus, you eliminate the decision fatigue of what to eat next.
How To Fit In Physical Activity
- Do it first thing in the morning. While I personally prefer late afternoon/early evenings for my workouts, when I’m traveling I know that if I don’t do it in the mornings, I probably won’t do it all. It’s very easy to get roped into plans later in the day and I found that working out while everyone else is sleeping is the most convenient. The more convenient it is, the more likely you’re going to do it. Set yourself up for success and set that alarm. You’ll notice that you will bring back that endorphin-high energy to everyone waking up while they’re just scrambling for a cup of coffee.
- Walk. So many benefits! Simple, low impact, doable anywhere (just bundle up if it’s cold outside), and a lovely way to explore a new spot. Walking also makes for a better social activity to enjoy with others over heading to a bar to drink. Post-meal walks also aid in digestion/reducing bloating – which we can all need extra help with during the holidays. It also doubles as a nice mental health break if you need to escape your family (or your partner’s family) for a bit and decompress.
- Morning stretches. You don’t have to do a full hour-long yoga class to get the benefits of stretching. Throw on your favorite song or podcast and start your mornings with a 5-10 minute stretch. (Tip: I use airpod headphones to make sure I’m not disturbing anyone). You’ll notice that it will give you momentum to make healthier choices throughout the day and help with any travel-related stiffness or tightness in the body.
- Pre-meal bodyweight exercises. The last thing you want to do after eating is workout, so do it right before! If you can do just 5 pushups, do 5 pushups. Or squats, lunges, whatever. Very simple, bodyweight exercises can be done almost anywhere and truly make a difference – even 5 minutes. Doing a strength-focused exercise before eating will signal your body to send glycogen to feed your muscles instead of being stored on your body as fat. Science.
- Book a workout class. I get it. Sometimes it’s hard to find motivation to workout when you’re all bundled up at home or if you’re around people who aren’t active. That’s okay, you just have to set yourself up for success by changing your environment. As a group fitness instructor, I totally get why people come to classes everyday. All you have to do is show you up. You don’t have to plan the workouts, the music, or keep track of time. All of that is done for you. It’s also a great way to bond with a family member or friend from back home with a fun activity or meet some new friends in an unfamiliar city. I usually will do a Google maps search for “gym” or “yoga” or “fitness” and get a pretty good list of results. You can also do a quick Yelp search or browse Groupon for nearby deals.
What To Pack For Holiday Travel – The Essentials You Need
Full disclosure some of these items are affiliate links and I get a teeny tiny cut (like pennies). Want to be fully transparent, but everything listed are things that I already have or would personally buy myself. Help yourself and help the website stay up and running.
Lightweight sneakers. I usually wear my black Nike Free sneakers on my flight because they’re super comfortable to walk around in the airport and motivate me to squeeze in a quick workout upon landing from a flight. Plus, having athletic shoes gives you no reason to opt out of a workout. If you do end up packing your sneakers, roll up your socks and stuff them in your shoe to maximize packing space.
Solid activewear. I believe in investing in quality activewear that you feel good in, can last for a while, and that you’re excited to wear. It sounds silly, but activewear can be that extra ounce of motivation you need to get up and move. I’m in no way affiliated with activewear brands as an ambassador, but I’m a fan of Lululemon and Athleta for creating comfortable, performance-focused activewear.
Green juice powder. It’s hard to get your daily greens, especially during winter travel and vegetables are not as readily available. Organifi Green Juice has been a lifesaver because this is the only powder blend I’ve found that doesn’t taste gross (it has this lovely minty taste!) and has crazy healthy superfoods like moringa, chlorella, matcha, wheatgrass, spirulina, ashwagandha, and turmeric. You can hook yourself up with a 15% discount if you use my code “MICHELLE15” and have go-anywhere green juice powder to last you a long time. You can buy the tub and save money by getting more volume or get the to-go pack sticks for convenience of throwing them in your bag for single use.
Marine Collagen Protein Bars. Update!! I’m coming out with a high-protein marine collagen protein bar. I was frustrated with all of the other protein bar options out there and wanted a convenient, delicious way to take my collagen anywhere I went. We’re taking pre-orders now on the website to have them in time for December holiday travel, so stock up and enjoy convenience in a protein bar that actually tastes good and made for travel.
Eye Mask. Because sometimes the room you’re sleeping in is missing curtains to block out the glaring street lights. And sometimes you need to take a quick nap on a flight, but the person next to you has the lights on/window shade open. Invest in a quality sleep mask and bring it everywhere with you. I have never regretted bringing one. The one I’m linking to is a “3D Eye Mask” – sounds fancy but essentially it blocks out all light without smushing your eyelashes flat or ruin your eye makeup if you’re power napping mid-day. Why is sleep so important? If we’re deprived, we tend to overeat the next day and feel less motivated to work out. It’s truly a lose-lose.
Ear Plugs. On the similar note of not being able to control your surroundings while traveling. Maybe there’s a loud screaming child on the plane, a neighbor’s dog barking at night, or an uncle with snores so loud you can hear them across the hallway. Sleep is precious and so necessary for immunity, a good mood, and appetite control – all things necessary during the holidays. Enjoy a two-for-one deal and get a free pair of ear plugs with the eye mask I linked above.
Travel Mug. Save your money, save the environment. This mug is great to have baristas fill your coffee/tea with while traveling, but also doubles as a convenient vessel to stay hydrated. Keeps hot liquids hot and cool liquids cool. I love how it’s lightweight to carry anywhere and in a convenient, portable size to throw into any bag. Tip: I like to pre-blend smoothies and put them in these to enjoy anywhere on the go.
Hope these tips have helped you in some way! Let me know if you’d like tips or advice on anything specific and I’m happy to share what has worked for me 🙂