overeducated & understimulated

"if you're going through hell, keep going …" -winston churchill

Foodie abroad with jet lagged tummy April 9, 2018

Filed under: Fitness & health,Food,Life with kids,Travel,Uncategorized — Aerin Rainey @ 2:23 pm

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)



My First Migraine September 16, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aerin Rainey @ 5:21 pm

So, I have curly hair.  I blow dry it every day with a huge diffuser while in the position commonly known as the “forward fold” in yoga.  I like it, because I stretch my hamstrings and maximize my curls at the same time.  Two days ago, I was cheerfully bending and blow drying and my hair turned out better than ever.  I smiled at myself in the mirror.  The sun was shining.  The kids were excited about starting their swimming lessons.  My husband was even helping pack food and pool necessities!  It was looking like a great day.

On my way downstairs, I started feeling a little funny.  Dizzy, maybe.  Also, I felt like I couldn’t see anything except what was directly in front of my face on the right-hand side.  I thought, I should really eat something. 

In the kitchen, I found myself grabbing on to countertops to stay upright and unable to resist the urge to cover my eyes with my hands.  Severe pain stabbed through my head.  It was debilitating, but it was also kind of weird and far away.  I popped a couple of Ultra Tylenols, sat at the kitchen table, and let my husband bring me some food.  A Clif bar, if you must know.  My daughter brought me a glass of water after I motioned to her and managed to croak out something about Water … please.

I soon felt nauseated. I really wanted to lie down.

But that would ruin my hair.

So I stayed in the kitchen chair until I had to admit defeat: I was not going to be heading to the pool.  Charlie and the girls left.  I went back to bed.  I tried not to move much.  This, like my blow drying method, was for a dual purpose: the lessening of nausea and severe head pain PLUS (maybe more important) less curl crushing.

After I started feeling better only an hour later, I started reading up on migraines.  I knew it was a migraine because my mom had migraines a lot when I was a kid.  I discovered on webmd.com that the symptoms of migraines include:

  • A brief period of depression, irritability, anxiety, moodiness, and decreased appetite as much as 24 hours before the onset of a headache
  • Symptoms of an aura an hour or less before head pain starts
  • A severe, throbbing headache, sometimes concentrated on only one side of the head or around one eye lasting between four and 72 hours
  • A headache that worsens with exertion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Extreme sensitivity to light, so painful to the eyes and head that it requires retreat to a darkened room
  • Extreme sensitivity to sound
  • Arm or leg weakness, difficulty speaking, or confusion
  • Severe exhaustion, confusion, or moodiness — sometimes lasting several days after the headache resolves

I definitely had a migraine.  I had suffered all of those symptoms.  So then I looked up the causes.  One of them in particular resonated.

“Changes in hormones and hormonal levels (such as menstrual periods, pregnancy, and perimenopause)”


And that is exactly how far I have processed that thought.