Tips for Travelers
Louise Merriman, MS, RD
order to begin your trip feeling more energetic, try eliminating
or at least limiting alcohol and caffeine-containing beverages
for two or three days before your flight. Both alcohol and caffeine
are diuretics which can dehydrate you and make you feel less alert.
Also, alcohol and caffeine can interrupt your normal sleep pattern
to the dehydrating atmosphere in the plane cabin, aim to drink
at least one 8-ounce glass of non-alcoholic, de-caffeinated beverage
for each hour that you are airborne. Dehydration can compound
the fatigue that many travelers experience at the end of a long
flight. It may be helpful to take a bottle of water along with
you in your carry-on. You can ask the stewardess to re-fill it
when they come around with the beverage cart.
advantage of the “special” meals that most airlines now offer.
You can request a low-calorie, low-fat or vegetarian meal though
your travel agent or directly through the airline. With the increase
in consumer requests, these meals have become much improved—often
including commercial items that may already be included in your
HealthWise diet at home.
you want to allow yourself to rest—say, during the initial leg
of a 5-hour flight—eat mostly the carbohydrate foods in your meal.
Go for pasta, rice, fruit and bread. High carbohydrate meals may
have a relaxing effect for some people. At the end of the journey,
when you may want to be more alert, drink coffee or tea and eat
a higher protein meal, which might include chicken, eggs, cheese
or nuts. Many airlines will accept requests for high-carbohydrate
or high-protein meals. The alternative is to carry non-perishable
snacks along with you.
to get up and walk or stretch each hour that you are airborne
(requesting an aisle seat makes this easier). If you can’t stand,
at least stretch in your seat. This will help to reduce the stiffness,
swelling and fatigue that many passengers experience and may help
to prevent thrombophlebitis (inflammation of the veins), which
is a common problem for those who frequently do long distance
light or use a bag on wheels. Hauling heavy loads on your shoulders
can create stiffness and add to your fatigue.
help resynchronize your body schedule when you land, expose yourself
to the natural daylight. Light stimulates you to keep awake. If
you arrive during the night, do your best to assume the destination’s
schedule by sleeping or resting during the next morning.#
author is the Associate Director of Food and Nutrition Services
at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. For more information regarding
the National Consultation Service call (212) 746-0838.
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