Hey friends! This week I've been sharing all the fabulous eats and restaurants we experienced in Florence -- the food was definitely a big part of our trip! But I wanted to balance things out by sharing the ways we countered all this eating and tried to stay healthy abroad. I can't say I followed all these tips for staying healthy on my recent trip to Europe, but I took note of what the more seasoned travelers in my group were doing; several of them had tried-and-true methods for feeling a little more balanced away from home for so long.
+ Drink a lot of water. One lady made it a point to buy a liter of water from the hotel everyday to ensure she was getting enough. Because they don't serve huge glasses of tap water with meals (like they do in the U.S.), it's easy to get dehydrated. Experts also say it's easy to get dehydrated during long airplane rides. Make it a point to drink water, even if you don't want to. (Also, check out this article from Today with tips for making your next long flight a pleasant one!)
+ Take the stairs every chance you get. One couple passed us walking into the elevator on their way to the stairs almost everyday! Mind you, they were on the fourth floor and we were on the third! I finally smartened up and took the stairs too. The little workout gave me an instant energy boost!
+ Pack lots of different types of shoes. The feet have different pressure points and because of this, it's helpful to wear different types of shoes over the course of several days if you're doing a lot of walking. Once again, I failed in this category and learned my lesson! My feet were aching so bad by the end of the week from walking in the same shoes every day, and walking so much! I'll definitely pack more shoes next time to switch up the pressure points getting hit during long walks each day.
+ Opt for one light meal, whether it's lunch or dinner. In Italy, it's easy to feel like you need (or rather, want to) eat pasta, pizza and gelato with every meal, and if you're on vacation, why not?! A better approach would be to aim to have a light lunch or dinner because inevitably one of those meals will be heavy.
+ Find fresh fruit. About mid-week we found a market where we bought the most delicious oranges! They served as the perfect snack midway through the day when we wanted something, but didn't have anything handy. I'm definitely a snacker so finding this store was a lifesaver! You could also buy almonds to keep handy for quick and easy snacking!
+ Sleep. My husband had an especially hard time sleeping and it definitely effected his energy level. One lady said she always asks for the room in the back of the hotel, which may seem a little over-the-top, but she said I can see her logic: sleep is so important to an overall sense of health and well-being. If you can't control what room you'll be in, pack ear plugs and sleepy time tea -- both should help combat any loud noise you hear from your room (we had a lot)!
+ Eat a sensible breakfast. So, I'll be honest - the first few days at the breakfast buffet I went straight for the prosecco and orange juice (vacation=mimosa) and chocolate crossiants, but I eventually realized this sugar-laded breakfast wasn't lasting long on my stomach, or giving me a lot of energy for the day. I switched to eating yogurt with a sliced banana and granola and water, and found that I stayed full longer and more satisfied through the morning.
+ Opt for espresso instead of wine, sometimes. My husband doesn't drink so he'd get espresso when I got wine at the hotel bar in the evenings. However, wine is usually served with dinner in Italy, along with a cocktail (on the house, believe it or not!). Alcohol reaks havoc on any weight loss efforts while coffee boosts your metabolism. Try swapping the wine for an espresso every now and then.
+ No milk in your coffee after midday. So this is an unspoken Italian custom, but I think it would serve Americans well. We all know sugar and dairy laden drinks from Starbucks can totally blow your diet, but sometimes you just need an afternoon boost; what's a girl to do? Again, try espresso or an Americano. It's not as delicious, I know, but save those calories for real food - something chewed! Not an afternoon drink that's gone in less than 5 minutes!
+ Go for an early morning walk or run. One of the guys in our group is a former navy seal and we heard he went on an 8-mile run one morning! Now, that's a little extreme and of course, us ladies aren't as safe as a navy seal running through an unknown town early in the morning but, if you can, make some time for exercising while you're away. If your hotel has a gym, make use of it! It'll make you feel good. I promise.
Are you an international traveler?
What are your travel health tips?