By Nicole Centeno
Traveling can leave you exhausted and not acting like your normal self. Whether it's for work or a vacation, it's important to stay healthy and energized when you're on the road or in the sky. Splendid Spoon founder and CEO Nicole Centeno gives us her tips and tricks for staying healthy while traveling.
1. Fighting sleep deprivation on the road
The key to fighting sleep deprivation is to improve the quality of sleep that you do have (even if it’s nowhere near the recommended 8 hours). REM cycles are 3-4 hours so if you can focus on really deep 3-4 hour increments while traveling, you can typically power through your next 6 hours of work. While this is absolutely not recommended for every day sleep patterns, it’s a reality of flying between time zones. Here’s how to optimize.
- Increase your intake of melatonin and tryptophan an hour before rest time. Melatonin is readily available as a supplement, and tryptophan is found in salmon, spinach, turkey, and pumpkin seeds. Cherries and kiwis are also helpful in keeping tryptophan in the system and have been shown to improve sleep patterns.
- Carry a sleep mask. Work travel is often quick: 1-2 days in one time zone before you hop to the next. This is really difficult for our circadian rhythm and, again, the quality of REM cycle is really important. Darkness signals the body for rest, and a sleep mask will help you avoid all that unproductive tossing and turning.
2. Eating healthy when all you have are fast food stops and rest stops
Staying healthy while on the road is a struggle because we don’t have access to our typical healthy resources. While you might be awesome at making a spinach scramble at home, your choices at the airport are often muffins, caffeinated beverages, and processed foods. It’s helpful to accept that there will be some meals that are not ideal, and it’s always great to start strong. Here are my tips:
- Pack as much as you can ahead of time! Your first day of travel can be really healthy if you pack your own breakfast, pack your own snack, and bring a frozen meal for later (completely frozen foods are a-ok with TSA). You’ll probably eat out at some point but the majority of your food on Day 1 has been pretty great.
- Identify your healthy staples before you get to your destination. Are you staying close to a healthy grocery store or grab and go spot? Make that your go-to. I empty the mini fridge and stock up as soon as I arrive.
- Opt for Airbnb instead of a hotel. I’m much more likely to stay in and make a simple meal in my Airbnb kitchens than I am in a tiny hotel room. Plus, there’s none of the temptation of room service.
I carry a water bottle with me wherever I go when traveling and add lemon as much as possible which boosts hydration. Limiting alcohol is key as well - not only does it dehydrate but it messes with sleep patterns.
And some other on-the-road-specific things that go beyond general health tips:
4. I have Splendid Spoon meals sent to wherever I am staying as well. I can count on the smoothies for breakfast and the soups are really helpful after a long day of meetings. I have had many room temp soups in hotel rooms instead of getting room service. Waking up refreshed is priceless when traveling. I definitely choose healthy over perfect!
5. I always grab a little bottle of apple cider vinegar, turmeric and lemons when I travel. Less sleep and more restaurant food creates more stress on the body and triggers inflammation. I make a morning tincture with these ingredients to reduce inflammation and combat the extra sugars and starches of restaurant food.
Does reading about food have you craving some of Nicole's fave Splendid meals? Check out this week's menu here!