You're about to take a big trip, and can't wait. Whether you are seeing a new place for the first time or going on a work trip, you're packing your bags and you're ready to go!
Being able to see different parts of the world is a gift.
But the flying aspect of traveling? It can be very tough and stressful on our bodies. As a routine-oriented person, flying throws me and my healthy-schedule-at-home off.
After any flight over 1 hour, I'm usually bloated, tired, cranky, and EXTREMELY constipated when I land. It's not rare for me to go 3 days without a bowel movement when I arrive in a new place. Talk about backed up!
And on longer flights (8+ hours), forget about it. It takes me WEEKS to adjust! Extremely tired, jet lagged, irritable, anxious, swollen feet, lethargic, and dependent upon caffeine to get through the day.
BUT...I just returned from a 5 week trip last week. And this time, it took me 0 days to get back on track. I had no jet lag, tiredness or trouble acclimating. The secret?
I fasted for the entire 13 hour flight, going a total of 15 hours without food.
It's called intermittent fasting! It helps the body with a ton of things: increased energy, better circulation, gives your detoxifying organs support, reduces oxidative stress, and stabilizes your metabolism. It's also known to prevent jet lag. More on that later though.
Flying makes a lot of people uncomfortable. From the dehydration, high cabin pressure, to the sparser amounts of oxygen, it's takes a big toll on our bodies.
I googled the question, "why does flying make you"..and the top 5 responses are below.
Pretty telling, huh? Apparently flying makes a lot of people feel pretty bleh. Below are my tried and true tips for making the flying process as healthy as possible!
I started fasting on flights in spring of 2016, but I had never tried fasting on an international flight. It seemed scary and I didn't think I could do it. Eating on planes is a big source of joy for many people. It's easy to get bored (you are sitting in a seat for a uncontrolled amount of time, after all) and food is an easy and pleasurable thing to partake in and look forward to. But even my healthy salads and macro bowls I'd take on planes with me caused gas and constipation.
But on my flight last week from Stockholm to LA, I decided to fast, and boy, did it change things for me. I landed in Los Angeles after a 13 hour flight feeling light, refreshed, and immediately back on track. I slept that night for 9 hours, no waking up. I had a full load of energy the next day.
Eating on flights can cause our system to back up. Our bodies are under a lot of stress in the air and the added food creates that much more work for your body to do. (Drinking water is fine and recommended!)
According to Ayurveda, "When we are in travel-- on planes, trains, cars, etc-- our bodies are in motion and disconnected from Earth. Earth is like our home-base always telling us where we are. Every time we step outside, we receive feedback from the Earth telling us where we are, what season it is, what time it is. This helps our digestion, nutrient absorbtion and elimination."
"When we are in motion and disconnected from Earth, our bodies have no idea where we are or what is going on. Our Vata (air + space energy) goes out of balance, which makes us cold, dry and airy from within. Think bloating, gas, constipation, dry skin, IBS and other Vata-related imbalances caused by excess air + space." says Sahara Rose, LA-based Ayurvedic practitioner and author of "The Idiot's Guide to Ayurveda".
Fasting is also known to help jet lag. Why?
Researchers at Beth Israel Medical Center suggest that, “because food is as essential for survival as sleep is, hunger can influence circadian rhythms as much as changes in light/dark patterns do.” (HuffPost) Try fasting on your next flight. My suggestion is to bring a lot of herbal tea and a reusable eco-friendly water bottle. Don't bring snacks on the plane as you might be tempted to eat them when you get hungry. Keep yourself occupied with books, movies, work, emails, journals, or even catch up on some ZZZ's! Also, don't forget to introduce yourself to your neighbor. If you are checking a bag, keep a little healthy nosh in there like fat balls for you to eat when you break the fast.
Okay, this one's pretty nuts but it works. On flights longer than 6 hours, I recommend wearing compression socks. Not only will they keep your feet warm, but the light compression will help increase circulation, decrease the chances of blood clots and will help your feet from getting super swollen while up in the air.
I struggle with RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) and usually struggle on planes to keep my legs still. If you have RLS you know that horrible creepy crawly feeling you get in your legs! It feels like there is a spider crawling up your muscles and bones and the only way to shake it off is by literally shaking your leg. It's just the worst! Well, on top of sufficient sleep and proper stretching before and after flights, compression socks helped me a ton with my flight. (Feel free to leave further RLS tips below in the comment section.. I am interested!)
I apply these topically. Clary sage, lavender, and peppermint oil are favorites for traveling. Peppermint on the temples helps reduce headaches, lavender on the wrists and neck lulls you into a sleepy dream space, and a few drops of clary sage rubbed into my belly is a great way to beat bloat. I get my oils from Saje Wellness and Mountain Rose Herbs.
Water, water, water, water.
Did I mention water? Drink as much as you can. Drink it even when you are not thirsty. And then, drink some more. Water is an essential aspect of staying healthy: it helps you concentrate better, balances hunger cues, hydrates skin, and regulates digestion. When traveling, it is even more essential. It's easy to drink a lot of water when you are home or sitting at your desk. But we often forget to drink water while flying (or traveling, in general)
While flying, I was always bring a nice big aluminum water bottle with me. I fill it up at the airport and always ask the flight attendants to refill it while in the air. Sometimes they get annoyed at me for asking for so much water. But hey, this girl's got to drink!
choose the Aisle seat
So you can get up and walk around at your leisure without disturbing your neighbor too much. But of course, if you are window or middle, don't have any shame if you have to get up to pee and walk around. Respect your needs and you know whats best for you! No shame in the self care game.
Get Up and Walk Around
Set a timer on your phone for every 30 minutes to remind yourself to get up and walk around. Walk up and down the aisle a few times, slowly and then quickly. Do a little yoga stretching. Raise your arms over your head to stretch your waist. Do a calf stretch against the wall. Grab your foot behind your butt to lengthen the quads. You can also even do yoga in your airplane seat! Yoga with Adriene has a cool video about it.
I love drinking herbal, non caffeinated teas while traveling. It brings me a sense of calm and routine. It also reminds me of home, since I sip herbal teas throughout my days.Some favorite herbal tea blends:
Detox by Pukka Herbs,
Kava by Yogi Tea
Oil up, baby! There's nothing like a little self-oil massage right before a trip. Lather yourself up in some love and give your skin some extra TLC. Sahara recommends using sesame oil as a way of balancing Vata while traveling.
Never met a coco bun in the air I didn't like. Here is my coconut oil hair mask tutorial: https://www.instagram.com/p/BbP8Cw5FEJQ/?tagged=lfacleanbeautyhacks
On a plane! Make your neighbors jealous and whip out a face mask for your flight. Hey, if you're going to be stuck somewhere for that long, might as well make it worth it! I love the Marie Veronique Hydromask for flights. Super nourishing and it's the one I am wearing above. I put a little bit in a re-sealable container so I'm not bringing my whole jar on the plane. These containers are a good example.
Definitely not a necessary part of traveling healthy, but one of my favorite self-care tricks. These Cactus Collagen Eye Pads from Honest Hazel help reduce puffiness, redness, and dryness around the eyes that flying can exasperate.
If you can swing them, noise-cancelling headphones will help reduce the constant drones of an airplane engine. They won't completely mute the screaming baby next to you, but they definitely help me fall asleep better. Bose makes the highest quality ones around.
As much as all the stuff above with help you flying, at the end of the day, there is only so much coconut oil will do to make your travels smooth sailing. One thing that helps make travel a bit more manageable is lowering expectations and cultivating patience. Patience for the delays, the screaming babies, the taxi-d airplane. The airline lost my bags in Sweden, and it took 7 days for them to successfully return it. If I weren't practicing patience during that time I think I would have gone mad. Traveling always finds a way to teach us lessons. And in the end, patience will only help yourself.
What are your favorite traveling healthy tips? Share them below!