Wellness Wednesday Tip- Breaks and vacations are vital to our health. Allowing ourselves to step away from our workplace for a period of time rejuvenates our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. This holiday season, don’t forget to enjoy the interactions with friends and family while maintaining your nutritional needs. In doing so, you can create the relaxing break you need while renewing your strength for the year ahead.

Travel Granola Bars

By April D. Davis, MS, RDN, CD, ACSM CEP

The next time you pull that suitcase out of your closet, think about adding these small-sized yet big-reward items to your packing list: candied ginger, licorice root tablets, fennel teabags, coconut flakes, Epsom salt, snack bars, and a reusable water bottle.  This “nutrition grab bag” will provide you with natural remedies for almost anything your digestive system sends your way during travel.

Candied ginger: Studies have shown ginger to be effective in relieving mild to moderate nausea, dizziness, and cold sweats related to motion sickness. Ginger has natural compounds in it that relax and soothe the intestinal tract, along with decreasing inflammation.  You can make homemade candied ginger or purchase it at the store.  Take a baggie with you and suck on a piece if you start to feel nauseous or suffer from motion sickness.

Licorice root (DGL) tablets: No worries all you non-licorice fans, these chewable tablets come in a variety of flavors that taste nothing like actual licorice.  However, DGL tablets do contain ingredients from licorice that help with heart burn or reflux.  Look for DGL licorice tablets because that means the compound associated with high blood pressure has been removed.  My favorite is the German Chocolate-flavored tablets for immediate relief of heart burn or stomach discomfort.  DGL is effective, easy to pack, and tastes yummy.

Fennel teabags or whole seeds:  Fennel is an herb used in many cultural dishes, especially Italian, French, and Indian foods.  It is a common practice in India to chew fennel seeds after meals to aid digestion.  Fennel relaxes the gut and is exceptional in relieving bloating, gas, and abdominal pain related to indigestion.  Look for a fennel tea that is high in volatile oil content and also contains the whole seed.  Volatile oil is the factor within the tea that produces the beneficial effects.  The higher the volatile oil level, the greater the medicinal value.  Or, just take a baggie of seeds and chew your way to a happy gut.  You will be hard pressed to find an easier, lighter weight remedy for stomach distress anywhere in the world!

Coconut flakes: I am coo-coo for coconut.  Coconut is very high in soluble fiber and this type of fiber causes any loose fluid in your gut to “gel up”.  It also has a lot of potassium.  Potassium is an electrolyte that can get low when you have diarrhea.  As an added bonus, the oil in coconut contains antimicrobial properties.  Pack a snack-sized baggie of unsweetened coconut flakes and sprinkle them in foods such as yogurt or warm cereals, or just eat them plain to help with diarrhea during travel.

Epsom salt: Constipation is very common during travel and Epsom salt is an everyday household agent.  What do these two things have in common?  One alleviates the other.  Magnesium is nature’s remedy to a “clogged drain” and Epsom salt is, by definition, magnesium sulfate.  Fill a sealable container with enough Epsom salt to provide 2 teaspoons for every day of travel.  Dissolve 1 to 2 teaspoons of Epsom salt in warm water and drink 30 minutes before bedtime.  Enjoy some morning relief!

Snack bars: Traveling takes a lot of energy.  It is important to support this energy by providing your body with healthy fuel throughout the day.  Travel schedules do not always allow time to stop for a snack or meal, so take snack bars on your day-long excursions and keep your body energized.  A good rule of thumb is to look for a bar that has about 200-250 calories and 10-12 grams of protein (~20% of the total calories).  Choose brands that incorporate whole, unprocessed ingredients for better health and stamina while traveling.  Check out the mother nature network “Mobile munchies” article for some delicious, healthy, and satisfying travel snacks.

Refillable water bottle:  Bring a lightweight, refillable water bottle that you can attach to your daypack and easily carry with you each day.  Water is your best friend during travel because it helps decrease all travel-related issues and increase stamina.

[Image Credit Healthy Snack Bars: http://www.partnersforhealthykids.com/honeybar/index.html]