How To Keep Your Hormones Happy Whilst Travelling
I don't know about you, but I want to be able to travel, go on holiday and see the world, without messing up my hormonal health.
I have worked DAMN HARD to regulate my cycle, clear my acne and regrow my thinning hair.
The last thing I want to experience is a bloated belly, a face full of acne and a wonky cycle once I get home from my summer holidays.
Holidays are a time to relax, let loose a little, explore and try local cuisines. But for super sensitive gals, like myself, the combination of airports, dehydration, time changes and new foods can often leave us feeling like we need to recover once we get home!
The good thing is, this doesn't have to be the case!
It IS POSSIBLE to return home feeling healthy and rejuvenated, with some of these simple tweaks and tips!...
Do your research
Do a quick google search about nearby cafe's, restaurants and food shops so that you have places to check out when you get there! I like to search for 'organic' or 'gluten free' places to eat (e.g Gluten free food in Barcelona) then make a list on my phone of the places I like! If you don't have any food sensitivities or major health issues, then have fun and try out all the local cuisines! Eating a wide variety of foods and increasing the diversity of your diet is one of the best ways to strengthen your microbiome (gut bacteria), which is important for hormonal health too!
Visit the local health food store
Find a local supermarket to stock up on filtered water (ideally in glass bottles) to keep in your hotel room. If you are staying in an AirBnB or self catering apartment, purchase some 'staples' like fruits, vegetables and quick snacks to keep in the fridge at your accommodation. If you are in a hotel, request a mini fridge! This will make sure that you are still consuming some healthy foods and fibre, to keep you 'regular'. Constipation is a common issue whilst travelling and out of your normal routine. If you aren't pooping daily, then you will be recirculating 'used' hormones and toxins. Eww!
Ask for what you want
Don't be afraid of asking for the meals you'd like at restaurants. Giving them a call (or email) in advance would be more well received by the staff. If you have intolerances or dietary requirements, let them know and explain to them the types of meals you are able to consume. I find if you ask nicely and give them enough notice (don't ask them at 7pm on a Saturday night!), they are often very happy to cater to your needs. Consuming foods that you are sensitive to (because you don't want to 'make a scene'), can actually throw off your digestive system, make you feel bloated and breakout. It's just not worth it in my opinion! Speak up!
Pack some snacks
For the plane, I ALWAYS bring food with me as even the smell of plane food makes me want to barf. You can totally bring food (this is a common misconception), its just LIQUIDS that you can't, so don't bring smoothies or jars of nut butter because they'll go straight in the bin (how sad). As long as you consume them before you arrive in the other country, it's fine! In your suitcase, bring things such as snack bars, nut butter sachets, protein powder sachets, trail mix, grass fed jerky and 'just add water' tubs of plain oatmeal. These are great to have on hand for those times you may feel your blood sugar levels crashing, as this is super stressful to your body and hormones.
Embrace the siesta, which is enjoyed by locals in many different countries. The travel, time zones and jam packed schedules can leave you feeling wiped out, so having a mid-day nap can help to recharge your batteries. You may naturally fall asleep on the beach or by the pool, but make sure you are in the shade or fully protected with suncream so you don't fry! Your hormones are HIGHLY influenced by sleep deprivation and changes to your circadian rhythm (body clock)
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Bring your own plastic free water bottle for the entire holiday (just make sure it's empty whilst going through customs at the airport). On the day of your flight, really hydrate your body as flying is very dehydrating. If you are scared that you will need to pee every 20 minutes, book an isle seat! Fill it up each morning with your filtered water from the local store, then stay hydrated all day! Certain health food stores, restaurants or coffee shops will happily refill your water bottle if you ask nicely. This will save you money and is also better for the planet than using single use plastic water bottles multiple times per day. When we are dehydrated, we can often crave more food, develop headaches and suffer with skin breakouts.
Hit the gym
If you wan't to keep your fitness routine whilst you're away from home then check out the hotel gym or nearby fitness classes. This is the last thing that some people will wan't to do whilst on holiday, but for others, this is the best way for them to start their day. If it's part of your daily routine at home, then keeping this up whilst on holiday will likely help your body to adapt more easily. For someone with insulin resistant PCOS, it may be helpful to do some strength training if you are planning on drinking a little more alcohol or eating extra carbs. This isn't to 'punish' your body, but to support it in processing the sugar more easily.
Get in those steps
I LOVE exploring the area whilst on holiday and most days I tend to hit 20,000-30,000 steps, whereas at home my goal is 10,000. This could be one of the reasons why people can maintain (or even LOSE weight) despite eating and drinking more on holiday. That and the stress reduction! Walking is one of the best forms of exercise for our hormonal health as it is low impact, cortisol reducing and allows us to spend more time outside, soaking up the sunlight and fresh air.
Certain strains of probiotics can actually help to prevent travellers diarrhoea! (Something that we all try to avoid) The changes in water, environment and food can cause us to feel bloated, gassy or constipated. I recommend starting a probiotic a few weeks before you go on holiday, so that it has time to get to work and strengthen your immune system. Spore forming or soil based probiotics tend to work best as these don't require refrigeration! My favourite is Megaspore Probiotic.
Give your body a helping hand with digesting and absorbing your meals, especially if you are prone to digestive issues. A broad spectrum digestive enzyme taken 10-15 minutes before you eat can help you to feel less bloated post-meal, especially because most of us tend to eat quite late into the evening on holiday, when our own natural enzyme production is really 'turned off'.
Just to 'cover all bases' whilst away from home and my normal routine, I bring my multivitamin to ensure that I am reaching all of my recommended daily needs. B vitamins in particular are water soluble therefore they need to be consumed on the daily. You will actually require MORE if you are sweating and highly active. Instead of bringing along the whole tub, save an empty supplement tub to put them in for when you are on holiday or purchase a pill tub to keep in your bag.
I need magnesium EVERY SINGLE DAY and you probably do too. The stress of airports, late nights and 'less than optimal' food can actually deplete magnesium from our systems, leading to muscle cramps, headaches, sugar cravings and insomnia. If you are going somewhere like New York or somewhere that you will be walking around a lot, it's a GREAT idea to bring along some epsom salts (or purchase whilst you're there!) if you have a bath in your hotel room. Your legs and feet will thank you! Magnesium citrate powder will also be a great addition if you struggle with travel induced constipation!
Non toxic sunscreen
I don't recommend slathering your entire body with sunscreen first thing in the morning and multiple times throughout the day, unless you burn VERY easily. We actually need exposure to some UV rays to produce vitamin D! Get some sunlight until you see your skin start to turn pink, then either cover yourself up, sit in the shade or apply some NON TOXIC sunscreen. Many of the conventional products are filled with endocrine disrupting chemicals which enter our bloodstream and mess with our hormones!
Aloe vera gel
If you didn't follow my advice above and got sunburned (just kidding! 😉), aloe vera gel will be your best friend. The best type is from a fresh aloe vera plant, however it's highly unlikely that you will have access to this whilst on holiday, unless there are any nearby plants or health stores that stock the leaves nearby! I also like to apply it to my skin every night before my facial oil as it helps to nourish my skin, calm any breakouts and locks in moisture. Just make sure that it is pure aloe vera gel (at least 98%). No phthalates, parabens or added chemicals!
Essential oil based insect repellent
If you are going to somewhere tropical, or you're just unlucky and prone to bug bites, you need a non-toxic insect repellant thats DEET FREE. I recommend one that uses a blend of essential oils such as citronella, eucalyptus, lemon and lavender. There are many negative health effects related to deet, therefore it is best to avoid it as much as possible. The good thing is that natural alternatives are often just as effective!
Side note: if you are someone who is ALWAYS bitten by mosquitos, you may actually benefit from supplementing with vitamin B1! It helps to keep mosquitoes away because when it is excreted by the skin, it helps to mask the natural human odours that are attractive to insects. As always, speak with your health practitioner first before taking this!
Non-toxic hand sanitiser
I'm not much of a germaphobe, but I am when it comes to airports, airplanes and public transport. To make me feel a little bit 'cleaner', I carry around an essential oil based hand sanitiser. My personal favourite is the Dr Bronners Lavender Hand Sanitizer. Avoid ones that contain phthalates, parabens or an ingredient called Triclosan, as this are harmful to our health (and hormones). That being said, avoid being 'too clean' as exposure to new bacteria and organisms challenges and strengthens our immune system!
Eye mask & ear plugs
There is nothing worse than being kept awake after a long day, by noise in the hotel room next door or on the street outside. Pack a pair of ear plugs and an eye mask to block out all potential disturbances and ensure that you get a good nights sleep! When we are sleep deprived, this can obviously affect our energy levels and mood the next day, but also our sensitivity to carbohydrates, appetite signals and even inflammation levels!
Rather than downing coffee all day long (or an alcoholic bevvy), pack your favourite selection of herbal teas to sip on during the day or when you are winding down for bed! Herbs like ginger can help with travel sickness, nausea or an upset stomach, whereas tulsi or chamomile can help settle travel anxiety. I carry a few around with me in my bag and just request some hot water at any cafes I am at! My favourite brand is Pukka Herbs.
This doesn't beat the feeling of opening a brand new book and flicking through the pages, however it is easier than carrying around multiple books. Especially if you are someone like me who can get through 2-3 whilst on holiday! (Think of all the extra baggage weight you will save) Audiobooks (or podcasts) are a great way to enjoy a novel (or health book if you're a geek like me), without worrying about getting the pages wet, or struggling to see the pages in the sunlight. I recommend downloading AUDIBLE as you actually get your first book FREE!
In our day to day lives, many of us are cooped up inside at our desks all day long. Being on holiday gives us the opportunity and inspiration to get back in touch with nature. The instant feeling of relaxation that occurs when our bare feet hit the sand isn't just because we feel less stressed being on holiday, it's actually in part due to the benefits of negative ions and earthing. Swim in the sea, lay in the park for lunch, visit the local nature reserves or parks. As humans, we are designed to be connected with nature.
Last but not least is GRATITUDE! Even if the weather is absolutely terrible whilst you are away, you lose your luggage or get travellers diarrhoea, be grateful that you actually have the opportunity to go on holiday and see the world. Many people don't have this opportunity.
Gratitude can actually increase serotonin and dopamine levels, reduce cortisol levels and put us in the parasympathetic nervous system state, which our hormones LOVE!
Don't forget to check out last weeks post....
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