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Men's health

Energy boost for business travel

Travelling for work sounds a great lifestyle choice. The chance to see different places; to stay in hotels; eat out all the time; swim in hotel pools; meet new people and have an expense account. It sounds so glamorous.

Consider the flight attendants; the politicians; the sales and business people who often start their week at 5.30am to catch red-eye flights so they arrive at their destination in time for 9am meetings. There are also those involved in transportation industry such as the truck and coach drivers who travel up and down the country delivering goods and people to their destination.

Ask the many men and women who travel for a living and they will tell you that it is not only hard work but hard on their health too.

  • Dietary fibre can be hard to find when breakfast is often skipped in order to catch a plane or early shift
  • Regular meals stop falling blood sugar levels and aid concentration but if meetings drag on there may be little time available for lunch or drink breaks. So energy levels fall.
  • Keeping fat intake low sounds easy too but can be hugely difficult if dining out for a week on restaurant or takeaway meals.
  • Oiling the wheels of business may mean drinks and bar snacks at the end of the day and free mini bars in hotel rooms can soon lead to a regular alcohol drinking habit if you’re not careful.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids is an important health goal too but may be dependent on the opportunity to stop in meetings or traffic to find a toilet.
  • Exercise is recommended each day but apart from running between meetings there may be little opportunity to go for a run, particularly during winter month, when days are short, wet and cold.

Is there any wonder then that those who travel for work often report feelings of fatigue, stressed to the max, jet lagged and sleep deprived? Apart from the risk of obesity, elevated cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and digestive upsets these people also are at risk of mental illness. Being away from loved ones can test family relationships, leaving people feeling lonely, anxious and depressed.

If travel means work and you enjoy the work you do then you need to gear up for it nutritionally. Eating well not only makes you perform better mentally and physically on the job it can also help to reduce long-term health related illness. If you plan to eat well you also work more efficiently and so are more likely to finish your work sooner leaving more time for exercise and relaxation.

Tips to boost your energy

  • Fuel your day. No matter what time you start eat a substantial breakfast  e.g.some cereal, fruit and yoghurt if possible.
  • Have a drink bottle on hand and try to fill it up 2-3 times through the day. Drinking milk is also important so try to get a trim latte or trim hot chocolate at the airport or service station.
  • Keep alcohol to a minimum by choosing more low alcohol beverages; iced waters; lime and sodas and you will notice how much clearer your brain will be next day, particularly if driving.
  • If travelling by car or bus try to take some food with you each day. Some cheese slices and dried or fresh fruit; a sandwich or roll; a muesli bar are better health choices than pies, chips and savouries. Such food rations can also become important if caught by flight cancellations or traffic delays.
  • If the weather is cold a packet of instant soup can also help to cheer up your day and most service stations and cafe’s will provide you with hot water.
  • Try to fit in some time out for exercise. Most hotels offer gyms and swimming pools but if these aren’t available then try to fit in a walk during the day. Even 10-15 minutes can help you to unwind and sleep better at night.
  • For peace of mind don’t forget to reconnect each day with your family or friends to remind yourself  that home still awaits your return and that others do care about you.
  • Try to get an early night, especially if driving long distances as sleep deprivation is associated with road accidents, weight gain, heart disease and fertility problems.

If you would like to talk through the practical issues of eating when travelling then do contact us for an appointment and some creative ideas that may help.

About the author View all

Lea Stening

Lea is one of New Zealand’s leading paediatric dietitians and also specialises in Sports Nutrition. She has specialised in Paediatric Nutrition for 31 years and in 1985 was the first paediatric dietitian to enter private practice in New Zealand. Lea helps families through her private consultations, public lectures, newspaper and magazine articles as well as television and radio interviews. Read more »

View all posts by Lea Stening »

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