Travel Advisories (updated 1/10/2018

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Friday, June 1, 2018

3 Ways Gorging while Traveling Can Ruin a Senior's Day

Contributor: Bill League

As retired seniors, we typically have our own “system” for eating and enjoying our meals that have developed over our lifetimes. These eating patterns can change when we develop medical issues, such as diabetes, hypertension, arthritis and the like, that force us to readjust our eating habits.

When we vacation and otherwise travel we can feel we are entitled to break the old routines and just enjoy whatever we want...after all, we are on “vacation” right? Eat half of that Key Lime pie, rather than a measured slice, indulge in a Banana Split while at the beach. After all, the last time you had one was when you were twelve on summer vacation with your parents at Atlantic Beach. Enjoying the memories of our youth can provide comfort and escape your present reality! Isn't that what vacationing does for us? After all, many of us have felt we have been on one long perpetual diet and we're sick of it!

Well, not so forward to a new future.

You are now planning a European Tour with an organized group. Many of us think, “well, I'm going to budget sufficient funds so I can enjoy gastronomical feasts every day while on tour.” I know that thought runs through my mind. But can I? Realizing I am traveling on a tight budget starts to put a knot in my desire to pig out! It's right expensive over there, you know? A simple sandwich at a deli could cost as much as $15-$20 in a place like London or Paris! Imagine eating at a fine restaurant every day at noon...what...$40-$50 each? Let's see...$50/day for a 14-day tour will cost me something get the picture! So, with this realization, my enthusiasm for savoring a steady stream of delicately well prepared fine French/Germany/Italian meals diminishes. The mere fact we have to watch our dollars places a healthy restraint on our otherwise uncontrollable desire to eat everything in sight!

Gastronomy (not astronomy, gastronomy!)

Ask yourself what happens when you suddenly begin to eat differently? What physiological changes occur? Remember, we are in our late 60's, 70's and 80's now, not 25! Our sense of “regularity” if you get my drift, changes...meaning more potty breaks, more gas, possibly dehydration become issues. Bad breath also rears its ugly head as well. Our bodies will be undergoing physiological stress from the change in physical activity as well. You may find your sleep patterns and energy levels change for the worse. Not something you want to experience on a fast-paced tour when getting up at zero-dark-thirty is a must! Are you going to start missing breakfast just so you can get an extra few minutes of shut-eye time before running to get on your tour bus? Not a great idea at our age.

Medical Concerns

If you are one of those seniors who have zero medical issues, raise your hand! That's what I thought! Not many of you are in perfect health...we all have something that has gone awry with our bodies. However, we do not need to let those complications interfere with our sense of wonder and exploring different cultures. We just need to work at adapting to our personal realities.

I would really like to eat anything I would like while on vacation. The reality for me is that I am a diabetic (with a few other medical issues thrown in for good measure!) Those of you that are in my boat with me know what controlling our glucose levels means to our energy, physical stamina, mental state and all round well being. The tour organizations I am familiar with will ask during the registration process, if there are any dietary restrictions you want to comply with. This is a good staring point. Save your desire for meals that are not very good for you for limited consumption on your own. Let the tour operator know your diet requirements for healthy eating.

Alcohol, excessively starchy meals (include most bread and potatoes) are like a death sentence for our blood sugar levels, so consume them moderately and much less frequently than others traveling with you. People do not have to curb their eating style to conform to yours...take responsibility for yourself, Eat what is right for you....let others enjoy their food in peace from your nagging and complaining about why you can't eat what they are eating. In the end, people don't really care what you think and they will do what they want to do regardless. Don't be a wet blanket on others while at the dinner table. It's really bad manners!

So let's say you and your travel buddy are sitting in a famous Pub in London. You see your favorite British dish,“Bangers and Mash” on the menu. You both order the dish. Your travel buddy may be able to eat the entire plate of three huge sausages and what appears to be a small mountain of mashed potatoes. You know you cannot eat that much food in one sitting. Be a bit preemptive. Ask your waiter for lesser portions (and why not at least ask for a lower price as well.) If that cannot be done (I know this is hard to do in the States) eat one sausage and about a cup of the “mash”. I makes me cringe too! Wasting all the money on a dish you cannot enjoy completely! Well, “doggie bag” it if you can save it for another meal (probably not though give the pace of your tour) or let your travel buddy enjoy it later, (and she can torment you with how much better it was than the original meal! lol)

In other words, enjoy the unique gastronomic foods the region is known for...just overdo it...moderately. Your blood glucose will appreciate it and you will have gotten the culinary pleasure out of the meal. Eat the foods that bring on that guilty pleasure...just less of it! In some cases much less of it!

You're thinking to what or how can I eat healthy while on my tour?

First, let's talk about how badly you smell! Here are a few tips from an article from, entitled, “7 Reasons you Smell Bad When Traveling” I'll just focus on four that pertain to eating and drinking. Follow the link to the article if you are interested in the other three.

  1. Dehydration – Drink lots of water (not caffeinated drinks nor coffee)
  2. A Different Diet - “Eating a new type of cuisine can mess with your body odor, turning it from sweet to sour. Watch out for bad B.O. culprits like cruciferous vegetables (such as cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts), red meat, fish, and processed junk foods, all of which can cause a bad olfactory turn.” Remember, we are talking about foods that create bad odors when in confined spaces like an airplane or a tour bus, not that you should never eat them, for there are nutritional benefits to them all. - Bill)
  3. Over-Indulging local drinks - There ’s nothing wrong with wanting to try one or two of the special local cocktails or brews while you’re traveling. But if you drink too much alcohol, you might still smell like the bar the next morning. According to Men’s Health, stouts and other dark alcohols cause more of a stench than clearer spirits, like vodka.”
  4. Skipping Meals - “Maybe you’re too busy to eat or just trying to save money by skipping lunch while traveling in an expensive destination. You might wind up with hunger pains and bad breath, as not eating can cause a breakdown in body chemicals known as Ketoacidosis, which results in stinky smells. Beat this by packing some healthy snacks to bring with you on your trip.
Here is one more tip to enjoy your meals, whatever the size...” eating more slowly may be a crucial lifestyle change to help prevent metabolic syndrome, When people eat fast they tend not to feel full and are more likely to overeat. Eating fast causes bigger glucose fluctuation, which can lead to insulin resistance." (Metabolic syndrome develops when an individual has three of any of the following risk factors: abdominal obesity, high fasting blood sugar, hypertension or hyperlipidemia.)

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