Damage Control: Staying On Track While Traveling
Traveling away from home often means deviating from normal activity and eating patterns, and the months of November and December are the most traveled months of the year. Regardless of how you get to your destination, the accumulated travel stress will cause your body to react whether you notice it or not.
There are three major travel stressors that affect your body while traveling, and a handful of others like traveling with backpain or injury, which can also add stress to your trip.
Major Stressor 1: Voluntary Confinement In the car or on the plane, your body is restricted by the space you are confined to, and though you can get up whenever you want, you are not likely to have that convenience like when you are sitting at home. The Effect: An immobilized body in a seated position begins to experience indigestion and fluid retention, a factor that agitates pre-existing pains, arthritis, or muscle soreness. The Solution: Don’t worry about what others think when you stretch in public. Perform seated stretches for the hips and glutes which can be done anywhere, and take time to get out of your chair.
Major Stressor 2: Time Change You arrive early to the airport, which means you compromised sleep time. You get on the plane and get interrupted sleep at best, or you stay awake catching up on an inflight movie. The Effect: Sleep deprivation can raise cortisol, the primary stress hormone that regulates blood sugar, heart rate, and systemic inflammation. The adrenal glands which produce this fight-or-flight hormone can also be overwhelmed with stress, time change, and frequent abrupt dietary interruptions. The Solution: Don’t have caffeine or sugar rich snacks if you should be sleeping on your flight. You can also use flight time as a nap time, so don’t waste it by watching movies.
Major Stressor 3: Altered Diet In order to stay awake, you choose sugar and cream with your coffee. You have a donut or pastry at the airport, or some kind of fast food when you get there. The Effect: Impulsive eating is the killer of any good dietary pattern. When you choose foods that are high in carbohydrates, your pancreas respond with a bolus of insulin secretion which can cause temporary LOW blood sugar after a meal, causing that sleepiness often called a “food coma”. This is a problematic vicious cycle that leads one who is in a “food-coma” to resort to more sugar or carb rich food to wake up, which then repeats the insulin release once again. This cycle fatigues the pancreas and its ability to produce insulin effectively in the future. The Solution: Bring snacks with substantial protein like almonds, chia seed crackers, or pecans in order to balance your carbohydrate intake. Having your meal before arriving at the airport can help control impulsive eating later on.
Dr. Adrian Pujayana has been providing drug-free solutions for health and wellness to adults, athletes, and youth since 2000 through his private practice at Family Chiropractic Center of South Pasadena, a place for strength training and nutrition based health care.