Managing an autoimmune condition is hard enough. Throw in holiday travel, staying with relatives, meals out, and exhaustion, and autoimmune management goes to a new level of difficulty. However, failing to follow your plan can wreck the holidays with symptom flares or an energy crash.
What to do? First, take a deep breath and adopt a no-stress, can-do attitude. Just as at home, good autoimmune management simply requires some advance planning and strategic thinking.
Here are some tips to help you manage your autoimmune condition while traveling.
Map out meals and snacks so you don’t go hungry or trigger a flare. The functional medicine approach to managing an autoimmune disease requires following some variation of the autoimmune diet This diet is usually a strict Paleo diet of ample produce and healthy meats and fats, and no grains, dairy, soy, sugar, or processed foods.
Google ahead of time to find out where you can eat at your destination. Look for the Whole Foods and other health food stores. Make sure you have a refrigerator in your hotel room or ask your hosts to make space for you in theirs. You can insulate and pack frozen meals to heat up in a mini crockpot, also stowed in your luggage. Some people even pack a hot plate and cookware. Bring a travel bag large enough for approved snack items to stave off hunger. Ideas include beef jerky, celery, sardines, olives, coconut meat, and other filling snacks.
Pack plenty of glutathione support. Traveling includes plenty of stressful events that can deplete your glutathione stores. Glutathione is the body’s most powerful antioxidant and vital to preventing and taming autoimmune flares. Early mornings, long days, new environments, crowded airplanes, Grandma’s fabric softener, and so on — these stressors can deplete glutathione so that inflammation is more likely.
Options include glutathione precursors such as N-acetyl-cysteine, alpha-lipoic acid, cordyceps, and milk thistle. You can also take s-acetyl-glutathione, or an oral liposomal glutathione. Note that taking straight glutathione is not effective.
Search ahead for hypoallergenic hotel rooms. Ever walk into a hotel and get blasted with that sickly perfume smell? Some hotels overdo it with the scented products. Others have feather pillows, and dusty, stale rooms. Look for hotels that offer scent-free, allergy-friendly rooms with hypoallergenic bedding, air purifiers, and windows that open.
Carry a mask to avoid pollution or toxic odors. There’s only so much you can do to control your environment while traveling. If the passenger next to you on the packed plane is doused in cologne, it helps to have a face mask handy so you can breathe easier. A good face mask is comfortable and allows you to breathe easily while protecting you from toxins in the air, thus keeping your immune system calmer. Some companies even make face masks for children.
Don’t let your vacation become work. Schedule in down time to nap, read, or go for peaceful walks. Stress is a powerful inflammatory toxin so it pays to make sure you enjoy your vacation with plenty of rest time.