With summer holiday season looming we thought in this week’s tasty blog we should share with you our top food and gut tips for travelling.
Gut feeling, take a prebiotic. Holidays are a time to relax, unwind and enjoy new things including local foods. However travelling can be stressful and we know that stress can alter the gut environment. Add to this new foods and a common tendency to eat less fibrous food and to have slightly more sugar whilst on holiday leads to alterations in gut bacteria. Taking a prebiotic such as Bimuno in the lead up to your holiday and whilst away will support the survival of ‘good’ bacteria. Why is this important? It will help prevent changes in bowel movements as well as reduce your risk of picking up bugs. The GB Olympic teams take prebiotics prior to flying to support their immune system, so act like a champion!
A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips. Generally people expect to put on a few pounds while away, however it really is quite easy to put on half a stone over a 2 week holiday. And this is often the reason people become overweight. They put on a few pounds on holiday, don’t lose it when they return, add a bit at Christmas, then a few more pounds on the next holiday… over the years weight creeps up.
How do those holiday calories all add up? Well for example a cheeky croissant in addition to our normal breakfast, we’re on holiday so why not have an ice cream or scone mid-afternoon? A pre-dinner drink, a couple of glasses of wine with dinner and maybe an after dinner liquor (especially if it is a free ouzo or the likes). Add in a starter and a dessert and that is a staggering extra 1750 kcals a day; 7 lbs over 2 weeks.
How can this be avoided without taking away the fun? Indulge in the things that you enjoy and make your holiday, but don’t eat just for the sake of it. Consider diminishing returns on enjoyment; the first mouthful may be fabulous but are you still enjoying the tenth mouthful? So think about portion size. Stay in a structured eating pattern and take healthy snacks with you. Upping exercise will help offset some of the addition calories – a leisurely swim will burn around 422 kcals an hour and walking 230 kcals. Also make an effort to lose the weight when you return.
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. And I learnt this the hard way on a holiday in France a few years back. We had flown, then rented a car to drive to a very beautiful but remote Chateau arriving around 8pm on Sunday evening. After the first 5 minutes of initial excitement on arrival it suddenly dawned on us that we had no food for dinner or breakfast and there would be nothing for miles around. Think ahead! If you are self catering take some basics with you or if in the UK arrange for a food delivery when you arrive. This also means you can be out enjoying the local area rather than stuck in the supermarket. Pre order the basics and top up with local delicacies.
Soak up the sun. Being on holiday often provides extra time to be outside and if the sun is shining this is an ideal way to get our daily vitamin D requirement as well as store some for the winter months. However suntan cream blocks the rays so if you are wearing protection through the day remember to keep taking your supplement!
Stay hydrated. Fluid requirements increase in hot weather as the body sweats to cool itself. Drink plenty of water and wear breathable fabrics that enable sweat to evaporate from the skin. Flying and alcohol also cause dehydration. Urine should be close to clear in colour. If urine is dark yellow you need to drink more water. If travelling to countries where water can not be drunk straight from the tap stock up on bottled water, check the steal on the bottle has not been broken (ask to open the bottle yourself in restaurants) and avoid ice cubes. In some countries it is also advisable to not eat salads or unpeeled fruit.
Ice cream is one of the most common causes of food poisoning. Be particularly careful in very hot countries or counties that experience regular power cuts causing the ice cream to melt and refreeze.
Parkinsons.me wish you happy, healthy holidaying and please do share with us any tasty recipes that you discover on your travels.
Find out more about Helen Money's nutritional advice