There is something very lonely about waking up five time zones away from almost everyone you know in the world. You feel like chatting. Saying hi. But how supremely rude and selfish to wake up your husband in Canada just to tell him you slept fine for the first time over here in Germany.
At breakfast, the friendly Deutsche-speaking hotel guests and staff may wonder why you aren’t eating your breakfast. Or why you sit with your head in your hands rubbing your temples with a pained expression. But they are too polite to ask.
Maybe they think I am hung over!
But the problem is jet lag … it is actually about 3 a.m. for my body. I’ve gotten used to waking up early — daylight helps with that — but my appetite is completely screwed up. On our first morning here, I actually threw up my breakfast after going back to the room to brush my teeth. Yikes. Since then, I’ve been sticking to juice and fruit and sliced cucumbers. I never drink juice, so that should be an indication of how badly my stomach is roiling at the sight, smell, and thought of chewy bread, soft cheese, smoked salmon, fatty cold cuts, thick yogurt, even croissants. And normally that is my ideal breakfast. Minus the chewy bread.
Anyway, I’ve never heard any advice on dealing with jet lagged tummies. It seems that vomiting due to exhaustion is an accepted and documented phenomenon. It has something to do with your sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system, as discussed in this nbc news article:
I can definitely relate to Dr. Rachel Vreeman’s statement that, “Exhaustion can absolutely make someone feel nauseous and even lead to vomiting. Sometimes, the body responds to fatigue — especially extreme fatigue — with symptoms of nausea. Stomach upset, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, can also be symptoms of jet lag.” Blechhh.
And there is lots of advice on what types of foods to eat and when to eat them to help overcome or avoid jet lag. And even the benefits of fasting … but I can’t seem to find any advice on what to do when you are constantly nauseated on a trip. Even when your sleep schedule has adjusted well.
My daughter noticed I wasn’t really eating (her appetite was fine!) and wondered if this was a new phase of dieting. I told her I’m just not hungry. I didn’t bother adding that I thought I would throw up all over the restaurant if I did eat something. “Well, you should eat something anyway,” was her response. Unsurprising, since that’s what we always tell our kids at mealtimes. And at the boarding school where she will live for the next four months, mealtimes are set and food is not available any other time.
I’ve been following an online course called Precision Nutrition for the past three months and the basic principles of this course are the exact opposite of the approach normally adopted by both travellers and boarding school students alike. Eat slowly. Eat only when you’re hungry. Eat only to the point of feeling 80% full.
So, eating on vacation or at boarding school doesn’t fit this paradigm. Eat as soon as the opportunity presents itself. (Free breakfast included in your hotel room rate, scheduled meals at boarding school). Eat as much as possible, because you might not get another chance (definitely true at school and while trapped on small regional trains running behind schedule) and eat as fast as you can because you’ve got to get out there and make the most of your time abroad, or at least, get back to your room and finish your homework or squeeze in a quick FaceTime call to your parents five time zones away.
Well, I am going to go back to the basic principles of my nutrition course. No more guilt over not filling up on “free” food. Even if I only eat one meal a day from here on out, which seems to work well for me, I am going to make sure it is a great meal, taste-wise and health-wise. And as for my daughter, well, she’s young and active so she can basically eat with impunity at this point. Her time may yet come, and I will know what to tell her!
“People who love to eat are always the best people!” -Julia Child
(Image from tastingtelluride.com)