Those who have health have hope, and those who have hope have everything.Rachele, @thenourishedone
I truly believe that having a lifestyle that revolves around preventative health is so important to living a healthy, long, and happy life. That’s why I am so passionate to be engaging in many meaningful conversations with you regarding my new initiative on Instagram called Healthy Food Hacks. You can find these tips and strategies in my IG Story Highlights.
To begin, I recommend reading Part 1 of my 3 Healthy Travel Hacks series in order to get the background story of why I decided to write these blog posts.
With media scares about the Coronavirus on the rise I thought I’d share some Health Hacks for Travel that I’ve learned throughout my adventures through South East Asia and Australia over the last 5 months.
When news about Covid-19 broke out, my family and friends were concerned about my health and safety. I also received a lot of messages from all of you Nourished Ones on social media. I want to thank you for showing your concern during this time. Please know that I am safe and healthy and more energized than ever thanks to your sincere concern for me, for keeping me in your thoughts/prayers, and for the recommendations you have shared with me to keep me safe during my travels. Thank YOU from the bottom of my heart folks!
On another note, I would like to highlight and put emphasis on the fact that we DO NOT need to be scared of Coronavirus, or any disease for that matter, if we live a healthy and active lifestyle. There are MANY things we can do on a daily basis to PREVENT disease and illness. However, when an outbreak like Covid-19 emerges, it is too late if our immune system is down because our bodies need to have strong immunity and need to be in an uninflammatory state BEFORE these diseases arrive in order to combat them.
Luckily, there are things we can do on a DAILY basis to strengthen our bodies to be able to fight off illness and disease.
To me the 4 non-negotiable pillars in my everyday life that help me keep my immune system strong include:
- Eating whole, real foods and drinking 12 cups of water (more in hot weather)
- Daily dose of movement
- Prioritizing sleep
- Supplementation of vitamins (when needed)
Looking at these 4 pillars that have helped me maintain my health, fitness, and energy levels during my travels I have reflected to create 3 NEW Healthy Travel Hacks to help YOU keep your immunity system strong. Although these strategies are intended for travel, these tools can also be transferred to your everyday life. I truly hope you all can benefit from these easy and realistic Health Hacks!
Part 2 of my 3 Health Travel Hacks will help:
- Keep your immune system strong
- Prioritize sleep, even when on busy, noisy transport
- Maintain energy levels and satiety
Below are the 3 tools and strategies I use to help me in the 3 areas mentioned above:
1. Keep your immune system strong: Washing Hands and Disinfectant Wipes/Gels
Let me just say this bluntly: being sick while travelling sucks. Period.
So my #1 defence against illness is preventing it by disinfecting my hands.
I used to be such a germafobe and wash my hands whenever I could. My hands would get so dry to the point of cracking, which meant that I was taking it too far and doing more harm than good. When our hands are dried out, cracking, and/or bleeding, germs enter the body more EASILY and sometimes even more QUICKLY (directly through the bloodstream). I never knew this before doing research. All I knew was that as a teacher in Elementary School at the time, most of my colleagues were also compaining about dry hands so I thought this was the norm. You know how many germs are travelling around a classroom with 30 kids? ALL the germs! lol
Due to over-handwashing, my immune system collapsed during my first 2 years of teaching. I fell ill with strep throat several times and I got the flu. It was horrible.
When I began researching healthy hand-washing habits I realized that I had been removing too much bacteria from my hands that was compromising my overall health. According Samer Blackmon, M.D., an internal medical specialist advises that, “… constantly using hand sanitizer [and washing your hands] eliminate[s] the bacteria that helps build up your immune system, allowing antibiotic-resistant bugs to enter your system and make you very sick.”
But we need to wash our hands, right?
So WHEN do we wash our hands and HOW often do we do it?
As a good habit, hand-washing is usually necessary in the following 2 circumstances:
- Before eating
- After using the washroom
Now, how to properly wash your hands (as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC):
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold).
- Lather your hands with soap. Be sure to include the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
If clean running water is unavailable when you need to wash your hands (before eating or after the toilet) this is the only only when we should be using disinfectant wipes or hand sanitizer.
Disinfectant wipes and gels contain a host of VERY harsh substances to remove bacteria that can make us ill and bacteria that we actually need to strengthen our immune system. So use it only in situations where there is no access the clean running water and soap.
When we are young, our immune system is strengthened by the exposure of germs. This helps us to adapt to our environment as we grow. So when we are exposed to parasites, bacteria, and viruses we face a greater chance of being able to fight foreign invaders later in life. Researchers believe that when children overuse disinfectant wipes, hand gels, and products they face a greater chance of not being able to fight illness and have an increased tendency for having allergies, asthma, and other immune diseases later in life. Scary huh?
But do not fear!
My advice is just to be super conscious of when and how often you are using hand wipes/sanitizers in situations where you have access to clean running water and soap. For example, if you’re on the subway and decide to use your sanitizer, maybe rethink that decision and wash your hands as soon as you get to your destination with water and soap.I know this can be especially difficult while travelling, so here are my go-to products to keep my hands clean at home and abroad.
These products are as natural as they come, which is a plus to keep hands clean from pathogens and the “bad” bacteria all while maintaining the skin’s natural moisutre.
- Fave Hand Soap: Dr. Bronner’s Organic Tea Tree Hand Soap
- Fave Hand Wipes: CleanWell All-Natural Hand Sanitizing Wipes
- Fave Hand Sanitizer (Natural): Dr. Bronner’s Organic Lavender Hand Sanitizing Spray
2. Prioritize sleep: Earplugs
Never underestimate the power of good earplugs! #thelittlethings
Literally the smallest item I packed in my knapsack were earplugs and let me tell you, they have come in handy on numerous occasions.
From noisy bus rides, to thunderous trains, to blaring airplanes, I’ve experienced it all in Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Australia BUT my earplugs have helped me get some much needed sleeps during these less than ideal commutes.
So why is sleep so important?
Sleep is all about repair. Sleep plays a vital role in good immune health and well-being throughout our lives. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, getting enough sleep (during the right times, ahem when it’s dark so sleep goes with the flow of our circadian rhythm – we’ll save this point for another time) protects our mental health, physical health, quality of life (how long we live), and safety (without sleep we are less aware).
From experience, how I feel while I’m awake when travelling all depends on how much sleep and the quality of sleep I got the night before.
Have you ever pulled an all-nighter on a flight? Then you get to your destination feeling extremely tired, irritable, and anxious? Me too. Been there. Done that. These symptoms are all related to lack of sleep.
When we sleep our body is working to repair our muscles, tissues, and organs (physical health) and to support healthy brain function (mental health). For example, when we get good quality, uninterrupted sleep 6-8 hours a night) our short term memory gets processed into our long term memory (YAY to bizarre and vivid dreams!) to support healthy brain health. This means that all necessary information is being processed and stored and all the unnecessary data is being erased. Think of sleep kind of like a software update for your brain, which makes us feel more energized when we wake up, makes us feel in a good mood throughout the day, and makes us better able to make decisions because we are more aware. And let me tell you having energy, being happy, and being aware makes travel SO MUCH MORE enjoyable.
If I haven’t convinced you about the benefits of sleep, let me tell you about the risks associated with sleep deficiency. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute,, ongoing irregular sleep patters, sleep deficiency, and interrupted sleep RAISES our risk of health problems because sleep is so closely tied to immunity and cell repair. Thus, lack of sleep is detrimental to health because it affects how well we think, react, work, learn, and interact with others.
So while you’re travelling I highly recommend keeping a pair of these bad boys (soft earplugs) in your carry-on. They take up virtually no space and weigh nothing. You can buy a pig pack like this off of Amazon so you always have them handy when your next travel adventure arises. It also comes with a small carrying case to keep the earplugs clean and easily accessible.
3. Maintain Energy Levels & Satiety
Have you ever arrived at an airport so excited to get on your flight and head to your much dreamed about destination, only to find out that your flight has been delayed or cancelled?
Yeah, me too and it’s frustrating.
I think we have all experienced delayed flights, trains, and buses and it can be exhausting waiting around for your mode of transport. The thing about travel days are you just never know how they’re going to go, so you MUST prepare.
I truly believe that if we fail to plan, we plan to fail, so listen up to this simple Healthy Travel Hack, which we can also transfer to our daily life: pack healthy snacks at ALL times.
But how many of you pack protein bars, nuts, legumes, and dried fruit in your carry-on?
OR Stock these items in your desk at work?
OR Pack these items on your long commute to school?
I know I didn’t used to do this either. I would pack gummies, chips and chocolates and an energy drink before leaving for the airport thinking it would give me energy . I would get a coffee and a donut on the way to work because I thought caffeine and sugar would make me feel more awake. I would pass by a convenience store on my walk into my university campus and buy a chocolate bar before an exam because I thought a Twix (my fave chocolate, insert drooling here, lol) chocolate bar was an adequate snack to have before a test or exam because I #deservedit
Wow, was I wrong!
What I realized is that all of these snacks left me crashing shorty after consumption and made me feel tired, irritable, guilty, and unsatisfied… and well hungry one hour later.
Because these foods are highly processed. That means they are high in chemicals and enhancers, things that are NOT real food. To make processed foods taste good, a lot of sugar is added and to offset the sugar, a lot salt is added. Salt is also added to these foods to make us thirsty, which our brains mistakes for hunger, which makes us eat more and thus, buy more of these processed foods. These companies are smart! #McDonalds #TimHortons #Nestle #Lays #Maynards
But there is a way we can all learn from this and DO BETTER. So this is your time to stay #intheNO
There are BETTER snacks out there that are JUST AS tasty and without all the chemicals that will leave you feeling energized, content, and satisfied no matter how your travel days go.
I have broken down my favourite travel snacks into these 3 categories:
- EMERGENCY SNACKS: PROTEIN/SNACK BARS
- NUTS & LEGUMES
- DRIED FRUIT
1. EMERGENCY SNACKS: Protein/snack Bars
- Protein and snack bars are processed foods, so they should be eaten with caution and in an emergency. They SHOULD NOT regularly replace meals made with real food. ALL of the protein/snack bars I will mention contain sugar, salt, and fat, however MUCH LESS and MUCH BETTER QUALITY than unprocessed foods mentioned above. However, I decided to include them here as because:
- They contain the most natural ingredients in my opinion
- They contain all 3 macro nutrients to keep us feeling satiated
- They are easy to grab and go in an emergency (ex. if you’re REALLY hungry and don’t want to compromise on your health/fitness goals, you’re replacing a meal, or if you need something quick for illness related symptoms like diabetes, you need sugar quick)
- What I look for in a good protein/snack bar:
- Contains good quantities of macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fat)
- I usually look for a protein bar with 10-20g protein, less than 30g of carbs, and less than 10g of fat.
- Some of my favourite protein bars include:
- RX BAR – I love these bars because I have made similar ones at home in the past, which means they are not highly processed. They are made with 10 or less natural ingredients like fruits, nuts, and egg powder all blended up and formed into a bar. They have a variety of flavours and the texture is chewy and crunchy without a weird protein aftertaste. They are literally the most natural protein bar I have come across to date! I LOVE THEM! Can you tell?
- EPIC Provisions Protein Bar – These bars are a close second to RX bars. Simple and minimal ingredients and all the right flavours to keep you feeling satisfied.
- Lärabars – These bars will definitely satisfy your sweet craving while travelling. They contain 8 ingredients or less that I can actually pronounce, however they have more sugar (carbs) and less protein so I find they are more of a “treat”. Eat with caution and eat with gratitude. #mindfuleating
2. Nuts & Legumes
- I always like travelling with a bag of nuts/toasted legumes because they give me all the crunch and flavour I desire for a guilt-free snack. I like toasted nuts because they taste better to me and because they last way longer than raw nuts, especially in hot climates.
- I recommend unsalted, unsweetened, and preservative free nuts and legumes because that’s the way they’re supposed to be.
- I also advise that you combine nuts (a healthy fat) and legumes (a carb) with another macro nutrient (protein or carb for nuts and protein or fat for legumes) because that will make you full.
- My go-to nuts include: Cashews and Almonds
- My go-to legumes include: Roasted Chickpeas
3. Dried Fruit
- I love travelling with something sweet because with every more savoury snack I need something sweet to offset the salt. I love packing my own dried fruit (even though now airlines have been offering them to passengers as a snack) because I can ensure they are natural, at times organic, contain no added sugar, and free from preservatives and added oils just like nature intended.
- Dried fruit is typically high in fibre, which also keeps me regular on long journeys #toomuchinformation #sorrynotsorry
- My go-to dried fruits include: Apricots, Prunes, Dates, and Mangoes
I get most of my nuts, legumes, and dried fruit from Amazon or from bulk food stores because they’re more budget friendly. Here are my faves that you can easily get shipped to your door:
After you have purchased all of your bulk snacks now you need to pack them. To begin, you’ll need some bags or containers to package your snacks. I love these storage snack/sandwich bags and these small containers because they are durable, easy to clean (dishwasher safe!) and can be reused as a way to reduce our eco-footprint while travelling. They are also the perfect size for snacks, which means you can have smaller portions of a variety of the snacks mentioned above to avoid overeating.
So there you have it!
3 Healthy Travel Hacks that are realistic, simple, and time efficient. It is my hope that these 3 NEW Healthy Travel Hacks will allow you to keep your immunity strong, get a good night’s rest, and feel satisfied to enjoy your travels and/or daily commutes.
Let me know when you use any of these Health Hacks while travelling or in your every day life by tagging me on Instagram and by using the hashtag #intheNO. While you’re on my IG Page don’t forget to check out my other Healthy Food Hacks in my story highlights.
As always, I look forward to feedback. Do you want more Health Hacks? Do you want to know more about the health and wellness products I use? Do you want more travel content? Let me know in the comments below.
Yours in Preventative Health and Travel,
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