As we get nearer and nearer to the end of the school year, our minds begin to focus on vacation. What a great time of year. We all look forward to that time away – rest and relaxation! After a whole school year or a hard fall winter and spring at work, we are definitely ready for a break. However, for those of us who suffer with migraines, taking a vacation can be a little more of a challenge as we have to prepare a little more than most people when planning a trip.
So, here are a 5 tips/ideas to help you while you are on vacation.
For many of us who have to deal with food triggers, it can be challenging to work around that – especially when you eat out more and you are not always sure what ingredients have gone into your meal, and if that meal contains something that may trigger a migraine. It is so hard to continue your normal eating habits – and it can be even harder to make the right choices when it comes to eating. When we are on vacation, our brain seems to tell us that “Hey, that’s OK, you are on vacation, you can eat anything you like, it’s a vacation from your healthy lifestyle as well!” Well that only works (1) until we get home and get on the scales and see we have gained 3-5 pounds in a week, and (2) that not-so-healthy food has put us into a migraine down-spiral. There’s nothing worse than being on vacation and suffering with a migraine and missing out on the very thing you had hoped would give you a break from the disruption of migraine.
Of course, you need to have the right mindset. What fun is it to go on vacation and feel completely deprived or worry that you are going to have a headache? It is okay to indulge, and allow yourself the luxury of eating or drinking something you really like, and don’t often get the opportunity to indulge in. However, make sure that you are eating something that is migraine-safe. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and find out exactly what the meal contains. Keep reminding yourself of that throughout the week so that you can mentally stay on track. I often ask myself this question, “If I eat this________, is it worth the migraine that may be triggered by doing so?” For me, the answer 95% of the time is an emphatic “no.”
To me, planning is the key to continuing to eat clean while you are gone. This has been the most effective way of eating for me in avoiding and preventing migraines. So, you should plan according to what type of vacation you are going to take. If you are on a cruise, there is such a large variety of foods to choose from that you can easily make a migraine-safe choice. When it comes time for being served with dinner at night, pick the healthier choices on the menu and remember – you do not have to eat everything that is on your plate.
Also, plan by packing some migraine-safe snacks for yourself so that if you are out and about and don’t have the opportunity to eat as regularly as you should, you will be prepared with some type of snack that will sustain you. If you are able, depending on the type of vacation you are taking, plan ahead and make yourself “baggies” of raw vegetables, nuts, and other healthy choices that you would generally eat. Also remember to pack water to take with you so that you can stay hydrated.
If you are vacationing at a relative or friend’s house, it is always a good idea to let them know ahead of time if you have some dietary requirements – or at least make them aware of the eating patterns you have and the foods you try to avoid. You can, of course, go to the store and purchase the types of food you would normally eat. Usually, I find people to be very understanding. You can offer to help with the cooking, and if need to, you can set prepare something additional that you know is a great choice for you, and most of the time, people are very amenable to trying what you have cooked.
When I travel to England to see my family, although no one there is a vegetarian, they all accommodate me and although they don’t sacrifice the meats and other foods they are eating, there is always a good option for me. I always go to the grocery store and purchase foods I would normally eat so that I have good options in the refrigerator. They also understand that I have to be careful of some specific foods – cheese is a big one for me, so I have to be careful when choosing meals out or eating with my family, that there is no cheese in the recipe.
Remember that exercise is a great migraine preventative when done on a regular basis. You don’t need to over-exert though as that can sometimes trigger the headache you are trying to avoid. Generally, if you do some steady aerobic exercise, you will keep migraines at bay and have a happier and healthier holiday. So how do you do that when you are on vacation? Well, if you are on a cruise, you have a couple of great choices. There is the gym that’s always available and there’s a deck with an area set up for walking or jogging. If you are at a hotel, there should be a gym available, and I am sure you can slip in 30 minutes several times in the week for a work-out. There’s also a pool available, and that is a great form of exercise.
If you are at someone’s house, if you usually go to the gym, check to see if your local gym is available in that area, and if you have the type of membership where you can utilize the out-of-town option, then just set aside a couple of days in the week to go to the gym. You can always fit in a 30-minute walk. Maybe your friends and/or relatives will join you, which will make your exercising all the more fun and special. If you are at the beach for the week, there’s nothing like a nice jog or walk on the beach first thing in the morning or in the early evening before dark.
Your exercise doesn’t need to be intense, but you have the mind-set to fit in some type of exercise while you are gone.
Water, water, water! Don’t forget to stay hydrated, especially if you are somewhere humid. If water isn’t available, go to the store and buy some bottled water or if you are unable to go grocery shopping, take some water with you on your trip. It’s so important to be hydrated to prevent migraines. Try to fit in half your body weight (if possible) in water every day.
So, with a little advance planning, and getting your “mind in gear,” just a few simple planned-ahead ideas can really help you continue your lifestyle journey without too many “bumps in the road” while you are away, and can give you relief and prevention from migraines. After all, who wants to look forward to that vacation for weeks or even months, only to be stopped in your tracks by an ugly migraine. Try these few tips to keep your migraines at bay.
Enjoy yourselves, and stay healthy.
P.S. Check out my new Migraine Support Group on Facebook and come and join us for some encouragement, support, and a safe environment to be yourself. >>CLICK HERE TO JOIN<<