Whether you have just started your new management consulting career or you are a globe trotter with platinum mileage status under your belt, traveling for work across the continent and internationally is rapidly becoming the norm in today’s business world. While the idea of experiencing different business cultures and new languages in different country codes is exciting, it also comes with some wear on your body and diet. Because we understand this challenge too well, we tapped into the knowledge of a wellness expert for tips on how to stay healthy while frequently traveling over long distances.
J. ‘Dami Madugu, Wellness Expert
As a wellness advocate in the fitness and movement industry, J. ‘Dami Madugu received her certification from the Institute of Nutritional Leadership. She is also the creative catalyst and founder of Passion Barre by Karingah!, a dance inspired fitness lounge that helps inspire clients towards total wellness. She advises audiences on how to live healthier lifestyles and she shares with us how professionals, and just about anyone who flies pretty frequently, can be physically and mentally prepared for long distance air travel.
“We all feel exhausted, dehydrated and jet-lagged when we travel, and become too foggy to hit the ground running once we land at our destinations. As business professionals and frequent travelers, we may get too distracted and stressed to meet the demands of our work.
“Much more so than eating well is drinking plenty of water; you will need to be ready to go to the bathroom a lot, which is actually an easy way to exercise in-flight, but you will need to double up on the amount of water you drink.
“The rules on eating don’t really change much as you prepare to travel. Eating small meals more frequently throughout the day or intermittent fasting is a great way to maintain hormonal balance and reset circadian rhythms, particularly since you are changing elevations and time zones. When you eat heavier meals a day before or while traveling, your digestive system works even harder to break down complex carbohydrates, which is a good thing if you are physically active because it boosts energy. But since you are not expending any energy sitting on a plane and are relatively inactive, you run the risk of feeling bloated and fatigued on a carbohydrate heavy diet.
“Heavy meals or what we like to call “swallows” should be avoided prior to flying. I would recommend eating fermented cultured yoghurts, vegetables like pickles and beverages like apple cider so that your digestive system is not clogged up or compromised. Cultured yoghurts like kefir are relatively lactose free and does contain protein which is very important to have in your diet. Grass fed meats, eggs and organic or “real” chicken are also great protein rich options.
“If you happen to be a vegetarian, you will want to load up on plant based proteins including nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables. If you do go with a kale, spinach or lettuce salad, take note of what you use to dress it with. Some salad dressings are high in sodium, which retains liquid, and if taken in excess may actually cause you to become swollen or bloated.
“Inflammation occurs a lot when traveling, so potassium rich foods are a must, and green smoothies are a great way to go. A blend of cucumbers, celery, kale and spinach [with bananas and pineapple as sweeteners] provides energy and helps with brain fog and inflammation. Also, ditch the painkillers and introduce magnesium (400mcg) into your diet. You will feel more relaxed, and it helps alleviate pain such as leg cramps. The by product of magnesium intake is some serious cleansing [aka very frequent bathroom visits], so it is not a vitamin supplement you will want to take right before a trip, but it should be a regular part of your diet. Another alternative is magnesium chloride oil which can be rubbed on sore spots and is easily absorbed by the body.
“In-flights meals served by airlines are a grey area. Airlines usually provide meals in portions; you have breads, meats, fruit, and in many cases, a salad on the side. Meals tend to be processed & packed with calories and refined carbohydrates. A one-time meal may be okay, but if you travel highly frequently and depend a lot on in-flight meals, it may become an issue. If your body is not prepared for the long flight and you do decide to have a meal, go with vegetables and fruit and some form of protein like chicken or fish.
“What I also like to bring on board when I travel is a small bag of herbal teas or adaptogenic herbs like chamomile, ginseng and holy basil which help to naturally lower blood pressure, boost your immune system (catching colds on flights are real y’all), and help regulate key hormonal and metabolic functions.
“After all is said and done, It might actually be easier to sustain a healthier diet when traveling than at home because your brain is focused and connected to habits that encourage you to eat well. If you are physically and mental prepared for the journey, you can feel your very best while traveling.”
Image: Courtesy J. ‘Dami Madugu
Adeyelu Asekun is a The Voix contributor and an avid traveler. Catch her on her latest adventure!