Another popular question I get about my book Travel Balance is around eating on the road.
Here is an excerpt from Chapter 7 on What Can I Eat While Traveling…enjoy!
This is the chapter that most people think about when they hear about a book on tips for traveling healthy. If you are a healthy eater at home, then your challenges with eating healthy while traveling are probably more of an awareness issue than anything else. If you are not a healthy eater at home, then it’s doubtful that a trip will change everything for you, but you never know. As with most things in this book, I will describe a spectrum of possibilities from domestic travel (where you have less issues with foods foreign to you), to international travel (where each meal can be an adventure). The other spectrum, of course, is from the fried chicken and ice cream traveler to the raw-food-vegan. I will do my best to provide a few tips for each type of traveler.
We know that the immune system predominantly resides in the digestive tract, so it stands to reason that eating healthy foods will go a long way in helping us get and keep a healthy immune system. This is a universal statement, not just for when you are traveling. Your immune system is the foundation for health, as it keeps things in balance in your body (keeps the good guys in and the bad guys out – and everyone in balance).
There has been much research recently on the balanced microbiome in the gut. I like to think of this as the rainforest in your tummy. It’s the balance of the diversity that is the key. Research has shown that bacteria outnumber our “human” cells by a factor of at least ten to one. You may have to ponder on that a bit to realize that the balance of bacteria (and other critters) in our body is much different than previously thought. Many people believe that we want to get rid of all the bacteria, viruses and fungi in our body, but the reality is that they all serve a purpose – when they are in balance.
The key to this is to maintain an ecosystem that supports the proper balance of good guys and bad guys. For example, when you take a prescription antibiotic, it can remove most of the “bad” bacteria that the doctor is shooting for, but it also removes the good guys as well, which is why you should always take a good probiotic (meaning “for life”) with any antibiotic (meaning “against life”) to attempt to keep things in balance. There is a time and a place for prescription pharmaceuticals, but I would only use them as a last resort. In some cases, prescription drugs can definitely save lives, but you have to do your homework, as there can be many side effects. The point of all of this is that the majority of your ability to stay happy and healthy when traveling resides in your immune system . . . which is foundationally dependent on the health and balance of your digestive system. As mentioned earlier in the book, we know that stress (sometimes increased when traveling) can impact our immune system in a negative way, so we need to do some extra things to help keep it functioning effectively.
We really need the energy of the sun, and if we could just eat solar energy, that would be great. There are people who get their energy from the sun only by staring at it . . . really! They are called “breatharians” and you might want to look them up on the Internet, if you’re interested. This practice is obviously not for everyone, but just shows that the body can function with very little food when required. We can only live for a few minutes without air, a few days without water, but several weeks without food. Back to the sun. It supports all life on our planet, including us. Since we can’t eat the sun, we use our friends, the plants, to help us. As you might remember from elementary school, plants capture the energy of the sun, using photosynthesis, and store it in their plant bodies. When we eat these non-toxic fruits and vegetables, we are getting this energy along with the myriad phytonutrients (plant nutrients) stored in each specific plant. This is the foundation of natural healing – using energy from plants, herbs, and other natural substances to aid the body in its healing.
So what does all of this have to do with eating on my trip? Well, all of the above is background to say that your body will be the most happy and healthy if you will eat a diet that is primarily based on fruits and vegetables. Quite simply – eat things that grow.
Now, I do have to include a balanced perspective here and say that I think it’s important to indulge in the local delicacy at your destination. You don’t want to travel halfway around the world and not try the trdnelnik, for example, in the Czech Republic. Or the dim sum in China. But, try to limit your local cuisine indulgences to a reasonable amount, if it’s in the “not so good for you” category. It’s all about balance.
One of the main things that I’ve learned in my Aikido practice is the importance of balance. It is very difficult to respond to others who are attacking you, if you are physically and/or mentally off balance. Aikido teaches us to use movement and techniques to keep ourselves in balance relative to our opponents, both on and off the mat. I have used the principles of Aikido in my everyday work world as well, as I might have to deal with less than pleasant personalities. We learn to deflect and move and allow balance to settle between us. If you have never seen Aikido in action, you might be interested in watching a few videos on the Internet.
When it comes to the spectrum, I am more of a balanced traveler – you may catch me eating some “hey that’s not good for you” things like desserts (who can pass up a French éclair or New York cheesecake?), but I balance desserts with extra veggies and lots of clean water throughout the trip. It’s kind of like doing extra exercise before and after your trip. I enjoy my travels to the degree that I can, but keep it in balance. I know that this approach to eating might surprise some health purists, and I’m not saying that I eat whatever I want . . . but rather that I don’t want to miss out on local cuisine because it doesn’t fit a restricted diet.
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John has traveled to more than 26 countries with IBM (sales and training) over 30 years (he’s lived it) and is a Traditional Naturopath (natural health practitioner), meeting planner, consultant, and author. He has taught more than 4,000 people his actionable travel tips and stress management tools with rave reviews. There’s more to it than just exercise and eating healthy.
John is an expert in Wellness, especially when traveling, and will give your participants new information that they didn’t know about how to stay healthy. He is extremely responsive and easy to work with after 25+ years of conditioning by IBM.
You can expect a highly interactive and engaging presentation followed by actionable outcomes for all participants!