By Nancy Churnin
RISMEDIA, July 16, 2010—(MCT)—From diet-busting menus to life-threatening ailments, summer vacation is filled with hazards to a healthy lifestyle. Fortunately, whether you’re going around the world or making a quick flight to grandmas, there are ways to stay safe and still have fun.
For global travelers
Anyone traveling to a foreign country should consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov) to find out what vaccinations are necessary for that country, says Dr. Anne Lipton, a neurologist at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, who has traveled to nearly 20 countries, including China, Malaysia, Botswana, Austria and Sweden. Some, like hepatitis B shots, need to be administered as much as six months in advance.
Travelers on a long plane ride should be aware of “economy class syndrome,” another name for deep-vein thrombosis. It’s a potentially fatal condition where clots can form in your legs. “It happens if you sit in a prolonged position for a long time,” says Lipton. Passengers are particularly vulnerable if they are dehydrated or taking oral contraceptives or diuretics for blood-pressure control.
One way to reduce the risk is to drink water; coffee and alcohol can be dehydrating. Lipton likes to bring empty water bottles to the airport and fill them with water after she passes through security.
Another tip: Get up to walk around whenever possible and do chair exercises. Wear loose-fitting shoes or take them off and rotate your ankles and flex your feet. Moving your legs, arms and shoulders can be helpful, too.
Staying fit while on-the-go
Lipton says it’s also good to keep up the exercise upon arrival. She always wears or packs comfortable shoes so she and her husband can take walking tours.
Dr. Christina Kuo, an internal medicine physician on the medical staff at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano, suggests taking advantage of the hotel gym, walking on the beach, hiking or cycling.
Kuo says one of the biggest temptations that derail the best-made plans of vacationers is the complimentary breakfast buffet. All-you-can-eat spreads can lead to overeating bacon, cheese and high-fat pastries. She advises patients to opt for a moderate amount of food and stick with whole-grain cereals, nonfat milk, fruit and eggs.
High-calorie drinks can be another pitfall. Avoid consuming more than two sodas, fruit or sugary drinks each day and drink plenty of water.
There’s nothing wrong with trying local cuisine as long as you practice portion control, Lipton and Kuo agree. In fact, Lipton notes that many cultures offer healthier options and more sensible portions than we do in the United States.
The key, Lipton says, is to “eat a rainbow” and choose local, colorful, fresh fruits and vegetables over processed selections.
Traveling with the kids
Deborah Stern, a registered and licensed dietitian at Children’s Medical Center, says the key to keeping kids healthy is to plan ahead.
-Bring food: Kids love to nibble, and you don’t know if healthy snacks will be available in the airport, on the plane or en route to your destination. Pack healthy snacks such as fiber bars, raw almonds, fresh whole fruit and baby carrots. In the grocery store bulk section, look for rice cracker mix, dried fruit or walnuts. The more variety, the more likely your child will be satisfied.
-Ask for healthy options: Scan restaurant menus ahead of time to view their nutrition information. Request steamed vegetables as a substitute for fries, get grilled meat instead of fried and ask whether the restaurant could use Pam spray instead of oil or butter.
-Look it up: To choose healthier foods at fast-food chains, download an application on your phone to look up nutrition information, or purchase a CalorieKing Book that fits in your purse.
-Plan activities that involve exercise: Kids can have fun while keeping fit if they are swimming, playing beach volleyball, taking walking tours or riding in a kayak or paddle boat.
In addition to sunscreen and water, Lipton also packs the following items when she hits the road:
-Over-the-counter medications: Lipton and her husband once came down with colds in Sweden, only to find that cold remedies were only available by prescription and they could not purchase them.
-List of prescription medications: In case yours are lost or run out.
-Antibacterial cleanser: To kill microbes, most of which are transmitted hand-to-hand.
-Pocket pack of tissues: Can be a hygienic lifesaver if no toilet paper is available.
(c) 2010, The Dallas Morning News.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.