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Tis The Season for Travel - Travel Food Tips

With the busiest long-distance travel period upon us, and my own upcoming 29 hour flight itinerary, I thought it would be an appropriate time of year to present my two favorite topics as one: travel foods!
Whether you are boarding an airplane or cramming into the car, providing the right fuel for your body can support an enjoyable travel experience and deliver you at your destination feeling energized and (physically) prepared for your visit.

Traveling by air

Nearly 90 million Americans already have digestive issues, so 35,000 feet up is not the time to exacerbate existing disorders or experiment to see if you can contribute to this statistic. Here are some general flight food tips to keep your tummy travelling well.

  • Carbonated drinks. Stomach gases already expand by approximately 30% when you reach flying altitude, hence why downing bubbly beverages can make you feeling like Mr. Clause by the time you are deboarding.
  • Alcohol and caffeine. Sure that Jack and Coke takes the edge off turbulence, but alcohol and caffeinated beverages contribute to dehydration. Besides irritated skin and eyes, this can also put you at greater risk for respiratory infections and DVT (deep vein thrombosis). After clearing security, fill or purchase a water bottle and bring onboard, sipping 8fl oz every hour onboard.
  • Avoid fried, fatty foods before flight. These foods are already taxing on the GI system (fatty foods take longer to digest), but when traveling at even higher altitudes can cause exaggerated complaints of heartburn and acid reflux.
  • Cruciferous vegetables. Wait, did the dietitian just say I don’t need to eat broccoli? These cruciferous vegetables (Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage) contain a complex sugar, raffinose, which results in excess gas production in the intestines. Pre-flight is the only time you’ll catch me advising you to stay away from these nutritional powerhouses, as the decrease in cabin pressure results in expansion of stomach gases and a not-so-comfortable traveler. They get the thumbs up the other 360 something other days of the year.
  • Legumes. Skip the chili before you board. Beans have a high raffinose content, and are loaded with difficult to digest soluble fiber.
  • Dairy. Milk and dairy contain lactose, and many of us have a threshold as to how much we can tolerate as we need an adequate amount of the enzyme lactase to breakdown lactose before running into trouble.

Suggestions for in-flight meals:

Traveling by ground

Although you may have the option of stopping during your car trip, it may be smarter to pack your own foods to ensure your tummy remains a happy traveler. For the sake of your car-mates, I would advise avoiding most of the aforementioned flight foods above if you already struggle with these on the ground. I would also emphasize simple, ‘no-assembly required’ foods for car travel. You also have the option of packing a cooler to keep foods safe while en route.

Suggestions for car-trip snacks and meals:

  • Bars (Larabars, Odwalla): Select a bar with at least 3g dietary fiber and 5g protein.
  • Fresh fruit (wash before packing in the car): Avoid those with pits (cherries). Try single serve applesauce.
  • Easy-to-eat veggies: Pre-washed cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, broccoli florets served alongside a thick (no-drip) dip.
  • Yogurt and berry parfait: layer yogurt, fresh berries in traveling cup and seal with a lid).
  • Simple sandwiches: toast bread before adding spread to avoid soggy sandwiches.
  • Wraps: layer hummus, lettuce, veggies and seal in foil or saran wrap.
  • Homemade trail mix: chex mix (or low sugar cereal), toasted nuts, air popped popcorn, dried fruit packed in ziplock.
  • Instead of soda: Water, 100% vegetable or fruit juice (can be cut with seltzer water).

Whether traveling by air or ground, make sure you consider the foods pre-trip to ensure you are as comfortable as possible while traveling this season!

GERD: Something not to be thankful for at Thanksgiving

It is that time of the year when we get together with family and friends at Thanksgiving to eat heaping platefulls of turkey with greasy gravy, green bean casserole and rich pumpkin pie with whipped cream. How about seconds! This can be a difficult scenario for someone with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). People with GERD may be bothered with very troublesome symptoms after ingesting large amounts of rich food.

What is GERD?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, as it is commonly called, is a condition where you are bothered by burning chest pain behind their breast bone. This commonly occurs after meals or during the night. You also may experience regurgitation of gastric contents up into the throat, causing coughing and difficulty breathing. It may be common for many people who usually do not have GERD problems to have some GERD symptoms following a large Thanksgiving meal. Other people, however, may have these symptoms on a much more frequent basis.

What causes GERD?

With the swallowing process, food ...

An Appetite for Autumn

Perhaps a recent flip of the calendar and a gentle drop in the thermometer has reminded you that it’s time to transition from the hassle-free and spontaneous raw meals of summer to the grounding and planned dishes autumn warrants. Despite claiming that we enjoy this season of change and appreciate the opportunity to readopt routines and schedules, most likely we will get lost in our obligations, stretch the limits of our clothing seams, let the darkness of the early setting sun bury our guilt for abandoning the gym, and then collectively and excitedly gear up for fabulous health resolutions when the clock strikes midnight on December 31. Kidding. In all seriousness, I hope you can utilize the following tips and suggestions for transitioning to fall foods while successfully avoiding the seamstress.

Fall Favorites

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Freaky Foods for Halloween

In celebration of Halloween, let me share with you some of the freaky foods finding their way into my kitchen!

Foods that go ‘boo’ – Kombucha (kom-BOO-cha)

“Whoa” shrieks the clerk as the checkout belt delivers a frightening surprise before him. “That’s absolutely disgusting. Is that a brain?” Since I couldn’t stop laughing to explain to this nauseated clerk what exactly was living in the glass jar in his hands, let me at least take a stab at convincing you that it’s really not that freaky, and in fact might be pretty good for you.

  • What it is: Kombucha is ....

Gluten-Free in a Gluten-Filled World

For this French/Italian girl that grew up on bagels and loaves of bread, it wasn’t easy to read the lab results telling me gluten was the source of all my problems (digestive anyway). Despite a degree in nutrition, I’m here to break the news that it’s far from easy, not just for me, but the unfortunate waiter, the distressed party hostess, or the sibling that doesn’t quite understand why you are no help in devouring the Oreos.

This post is for anyone with a new diagnosis, those just coming to terms with an old diagnosis, and those that think that gluten intolerance might be a possibility. It’s also for the friends and family of those affected by celiac disease or gluten intolerance, and for those that just want to learn more about it.

What’s the deal with wheat, gluten, and these allergies?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. You can be allergic to wheat, which is different than being gluten-intolerant (a broader category of things to avoid), which is different from having celiac disease. Here’s a little about each.

Celiac Disease

  • What it is: Not an allergy, but an autoimmune disorder that ....

Busy Morning Breakfasts

Breakfast = Break the fast. As long as you aren’t participating in ‘FourthMeal’ (I’m hoping you don’t even know what this is), breakfast should be the first opportunity of the day for a healthy meal. Breakfast can be quick, easy, and good for you. You’ve heard before it’s the most important meal of the day (studies have shown improved cognitive function and maintenance of a healthy body weight), so here are some ideas to help you get off to a great start!

If you don’t have time in the morning…

Quinoa Cereal

 Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ cup berries (blueberry, raspberry, blackberry or strawberry)
  • 1 tablespoon hempseeds

Directions:
Place water, quinoa and spices in saucepan and stir gently. Turn heat to high until just bubbling, then cover and reduce to simmer for approximately 15 minutes. After cooking time is complete and water has been absorbed, remove lid and fluff lightly with a fork. Add honey, berries and hempseeds and stir gently to combine. May be enjoyed warm or cold. Serve over yogurt if desired.

Preparation Time: 25 minutes total
Yield: 4, 1 ¼ cup servings.

Original recipe by Tarynne L. Mingione, 2012.

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