Dr Samantha Clarke, clinical psychologist & personal trainer, shares her insights
A passion of mine is travelling! I love to see many different cultures and landscapes, and it is often whilst travelling that I feel most vital and most free. As I have gotten older however, I have started to develop food sensitivities and travelling for longer periods of time often plays havoc with my digestion and immune system. More research is showing that the gut and mental health are inextricably linked, so in order to stay healthy in mind we need to stay healthy in body to ensure we can make the most of our overseas delights.
Here are some tried and tested ways I have learned to help reduce my chances of illness, fatigue and sluggishness, and avoid unnecessary weight gain while travelling!
1. Food – Organise an apartment or residence with cooking facilities where you can. Take advantage of the beautiful fresh food and local markets you might be able to find and eat in season. Enjoy whole food ingredients and aim to eat at least 1, if not 2, meals at home each day. When you do dine out, seek out cafes serving fresh food, preferably organic where possible, and enjoy your meal with the knowledge that you are eating well. Avoid the bread basket and fries, and choose a salad or proteins with veggies for dinner.
2. Probiotic – Take a good probiotic with you. It’s natural when being on holidays, or even working away from home, that you are going to enjoy some foods that are not typically healthy for you – whether that’s a glass of wine, some cheese or fresh baked white dinner rolls. A probiotic will ensure that you are building up good bacteria. I would actually suggest most people be on a good probiotic regardless. It has been shown to be essential for gut health and research shows it is more effective for depression than your typical antidepressant medication.
3. Alcohol – Aim for at least 3 alcohol free days a week. Never drink on an empty stomach and aim to drink clean spirits or wine. Have these with your protein to reduce the sugar spike.
4. Eat early – Aim to finish eating early in the evening if you can so you don’t go to bed with a full stomach. Or you can try a mini fast of 14 hours from dinner to lunch the next day for women and 16 hours for men. I find this to be really helpful to reduce weight gain but also to allow time for the body’s digestion process to take place.
5. Exercise each day – Ensure that you do at least 30-60 mins of moderate exercise a day. Even if you are walking a lot to see the sites, try and make sure you get ½ hour of resistance workout in as well as this will help maintain muscle mass and assist in burning calories throughout the day. Focus on walking where you can. It’s a lovely way to discover a new city and get your incidental exercise at the same time. You can even join a local fitness class that you typically like. Last time when I was in Paris I attended Barre class as I was missing my BootyBarre class so much at home. It was great.
6. Daily routines – Keep up the health routines that you can. At home each morning I start my day with a warm water and lemon to help cleanse the system and begin my day having nurtured my health in some small way. I do this wherever I am in the world. I also take my nutritional supplements with me and aim for 10 mins of meditation each day. I try to limit the foods I know are not going to do me any favours, like sugars, gluten and dairy.
About the Author
Samantha’s work has a strong foundation in providing Mindfulness-based interventions and she is particularly interested in assisting people with addressing lifestyle difficulties and overall wellness. She completed her PhD in goal setting and striving, and focuses on assisting people in clarifying their values to assist in building and maintaining motivation to achieve health goals.
Merging two of her passions – travel and wellness – Samantha founded Mind Body Resilience wellness retreats that are held both in Australia and overseas. These wellness intensives assist health professionals and the general public in reconnecting with their sense of meaning, combat burnout and kick-start their overall health.