My family loves to travel and when we do, we usually travel from Australia to Italy, which is my home country. It’s always an amazing experience filled with fun, love, good food and adventure, but there is a downside to the story… Jet lag – defined as a type of fatigue caused by travelling across different time zones.
According to Better Health Victoria, the symptoms of jet lag include: fatigue, sleepiness, digestive upset, impaired judgement and decision making, memory lapses, irritability and apathy. It goes on to say that to recover, it may take one day per each hour of time zone difference.
As Italy is up to 10 hours difference, this is a lot of time when you could be needing extra support and nourishment.
With this in mind, I’ve included my six tips for eating healthier when you have jet lag (or you are sleep deprived in general) – how to add more food that supports your body, mind and soul when recovering from what is left of that beautiful holiday… jet lag.
When you are tired and sleep deprived is when you need nourishing foods the most.
Here are my Tips:
1: If you are planning to leave your freezer on during your absence: batch cook before you leave and freeze some nourishing, healthy meals that will make your return home less traumatic. Something that is easy to digest like a vegetable soup, or a slow cooked stew. It is important that you nourish your body with nutritious food. If you want to re-train your body into its own natural circadian rhythm (also known as wake/sleep cycle) for the new time zone, it’s important to not have big meals at night time.
True story: No matter where we are in the world my 5 years old wakes up at 3 am hungry like a hippo. In the past, we experienced coming back to an empty fridge and it wasn’t fun…
2: Shopping – my rule is never go shopping when you are tired! As your subconscious drives you on autopilot, you put all the most convenient, time saving foods in your trolley and then come home and realise you got all that stuff you said you would never ever buy again. I know because I’ve done it! Ice cream + chips + frozen pizza all in one go.
When coming back from holidays, shopping with a jet legged brain could make things a bit “confused”. Here are my tips:
Have a “pantry essentials” shopping list in your purse and stick to it.
Shop for fruit and veggies first. I adore vegetables! I find, if I buy them first, I usually exaggerate with their quantities, then the need for other items will decrease, and you will only need to buy few things to complement your veggies instead of the other way around. (for me: eggs, fish, organic meat, chickpeas, lentils or rice).
3: Dinner – Keep your meals super simple and always cook more, so you will have lunch ready for the next day. Who likes to cook 3 meals a day when sleep deprived? And again, serve veggies first, especially for hungry kids who would happily snack on crackers and chips instead. My children only really complain when they know there is “something else” more interesting in the cupboard, but if there isn’t and there are cucumber slices on the table…they go for it.
4: Drink plenty of filtered water – We all know this one!!!
5: Remember to take a walk outside in the sunshine in the morning and soak up some vitamin D, even better if you can combine that with vitamin F (Family or Friends). This helps your body better adapt to the new day/night cycle through the release of melatonin which regulates your circadian rhythm.
6: Finally… keep travelling, have fun and enjoy life to the fullest!
If you are struggling in getting good quality sleep, you can watch the interview with Audra Starkey on Sleep & Nutrition: how do they affect each other? or join the conversation in our Facebook group The Connection Project Tribe – Holistic Wellbeing for women – mind, body & soul.