Nothing puts a damper on your vacation like dealing with jet lag once you get to your destination. The switch in time zones does a number on our bodies, creating what Natalie Dautovich, Ph.D., an environmental fellow at the National Sleep Foundation, describes as a desynchronization between our internal body clock and the external time clock of our destination. "Symptoms of this desynchronization include fatigue, difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating, indigestion, and a negative mood," she says.
Not the makings of an enjoyable time abroad. Luckily, there's a way to mitigate the effects of jet lag—through food. She recently outlined her top strategies in Travel + Leisure, and we've chosen our favorite tips to highlight here.
Stick to set meal times. "Meals help to regulate our underlying rhythms so try to stick to the mealtimes of your destination time zone," Dautovich says. This begins even on the plane, so if dinner is served when you should be sleeping, ask the flight attendant to set your meal aside until you wake. Pack your own snacks so you can kick-start your circadian rhythms as soon as it's breakfast time without having to wait for the flight crew to come around with another meal.
Start taking probiotics. Dautovich recommends taking probiotics as early as two weeks before embarking on your trip. "[Probiotics can] help improve the immune system and decrease the risk of illness," she says. Incorporate probiotics into your diet via supplements or fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, and kefir.
Snack away. Throughout your trip, you should be making sure to stay hydrated with plenty of water, but snacks are essential too. "Pairing a protein and a carbohydrate like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, trail mix, or fruit with string cheese will prepare you for delays, keep you satisfied, and maintain blood sugar," Dautovich says. Planning and preparation can make a significant impact on your travel experience, so do what you can to accommodate your body's adjustment.
Read about more tips to fight jet lag here.