Managing an autoimmune low thyroid condition requires care and attention, which can become challenging during holiday travel. Boarding with relatives, long car rides, busy airports and crowded airplanes, trying to eat well while living in a hotel room, and constantly having to turn away trigger foods offered by well meaning relatives all present additional work. However, maintaining your autoimmune protocol while traveling can help prevent flare ups so you don’t spend your vacation crashed in bed.
So what do you? First, take a moment to evaluate your stress levels. Stress is one of the most toxic triggers to flare up autoimmune symptoms, so start there to see what you can do to adapt a low-stress, can-do attitude. Recruit help, including from the relatives you’ll be visiting to have food on hand for you can safely enjoy. A little strategic thinking and planning can smooth the path ahead.
Following are tips to help you enjoy the holidays while preventing the dreaded autoimmune flare up.
Don’t get too hungry! A crazed sense of hunger from going too long without eating will undo the best laid plans. The body and brain naturally want you to eat when deprived of energy and will have you craving quick energy foods like sugary foods, processed carbs, or inflammatory options that may trigger inflammation. Plan ahead so you never go hungry.
For instance, google health foods stores and safe restaurants at your destination and ask your hotel or your relatives to make sure you have space in the fridge for yourself.
Some people even travel with their own frozen food and a little hot plate or crockpot to use in a hotel room. Hot homemade chicken curry or beef stew in your hotel room can be pretty great.
Be sure to bring snacks on long flights, such as beef jerky, celery, sardines, olives, coconut meat, and other filling snacks. You can’t rely on airlines to have something you can eat, or to care. Some autoimmune people also find wearing a mask on flights helps prevent flares as the air inside airplanes is associated with increased illness.
Pack anti-inflammatory supplements. Holiday travel is stressful regardless of health. Therefore, bring along anti-inflammatory supplements such as liposomal glutathione, resveratrol, and turmeric and use them liberally.
Other effective anti-inflammatory supplements include glutathione precursors like N-acetyl-cysteine, alpha-lipoic acid, cordyceps, and milk thistle.
Search ahead for hotel rooms not bathed in a chemical scene. Unfortunately, many hotel rooms reek of cheap, perfumed sanitizers that can provoke inflammation. Search ahead for hotels that feature scent-free, allergy-friendly rooms, hypoallergenic bedding, air purifiers, and windows that open. If that’s not possible, ask them open a window to air out the room for you before you arrive.
Carry a mask to avoid inhaling triggers. Sometimes in crowded locations you may be hit with scents and odors that are too overwhelming, whether it’s perfumes and colognes, cigarette smoke, or exhaust. Keep a face mask with you in case you need to breathe safely. A quality face mask lets you breathe comfortably. If you wear glasses look for one that won’t fog them up. Some companies also make face masks for children.
Once at your destination, create boundaries around your need for down time and alone time so you have time to destress.
By doing some advance planning and thinking, you can use the holiday time to enjoy reconnecting with family and friends and enjoying safe versions of your holiday culinary favorites.