Moving to a new city can be a thrilling adventure, a chance to start over and build a life from scratch. But as you pack up the moving van and hit the road, don’t leave healthful habits behind.
Pulling up roots disrupts your old routine, says Nancy Farrell, a Fredericksburg, Virginia-based registered dietitian nutritionist and founder of Farrell Dietitian Services.
“There are unknowns with a move to a new place,” she says. “It is easy to become less organized and less disciplined.”
A healthful diet may be one of the first casualties of the move.
“Because we are physically and mentally exhausted during a move, it is easy to push healthy eating to the side in favor of ‘fast’ — think ordering a pizza, or fast food burgers or tacos,” Farrell says.
Caving in to convenience often means meals with excess portion sizes, calories, and unwanted fat and sodium.
The chaos that surrounds any big move also might rob you of the time to exercise and stay fit, says Samantha Heller, a registered dietitian and senior clinical nutritionist at the NYU Langone Medical Center.
“You may be tempted to fall off your exercise routine because you haven’t joined a fitness, yoga (or) dance center yet,” she says.
Staying healthy during the move
To keep from falling into unhealthy ways, you need a battle plan. And it all begins before the move itself.
Start by learning more about your new city, Farrell says.
“Network and make good connections – whether researching what’s the best grocery store for you, or is there a farmers market around and what are their hours of operation?” she says.
Some cities offer a “welcome wagon” type of program that provides information about what’s available in your new city. Farrell suggests contacting the new city’s chamber of commerce to find out whether this option is available.
Military organizations and your new employer’s HR department also might offer this service.
“Seek out gyms – call and inquire about their services beforehand,” Farrell says. “See if your new location has bicycle or walking paths.”
Just prior to the actual move itself, plan healthful meals that will sustain you when traveling to your new digs.
“Bring easy foods for breakfast on the go: bagels, fresh fruit, yogurt, dried cereal, hard-boiled eggs,” Farrell says.
When you stop at restaurants, look for grilled, baked or roasted options. Also, bring a few healthy snacks. They might include:
- Individual cups of cottage cheese with fruit
- Raw vegetables, including carrots, peapods, cherry tomatoes and cocktail cucumbers
- 100-calorie packs of nuts
Starting over — and staying healthy – in the new city
Upon arriving in the new location, you might be too busy unpacking and getting settled to cook, Heller says. She suggests sticking with nonperishable food essentials for a few days, including:
If the refrigerator is working in your new home, add items such as pre-cut fruits, soy milk, berries and salsa.
Once you’re a little more settled, ease back into a fitness routine.
“A great way to maintain your fitness, learn your way around and meet your neighbors is to plan time for daily walks, runs or biking,” Heller says.
Also, view the move as an opportunity for – rather than an obstacle to – improving your health.
“A new home is the perfect time to create new healthy eating habits,” Heller says.
So, if you’ve never tried whole grains like quinoa and brown rice – or have never used extra virgin olive oil – now is the time to start.
Farrell also urges you to get plenty of sleep in your new home so you don’t interrupt normal hunger and appetite hormone regulation.
“Be very aware of getting into less healthy habits during this busy, exhausting time,” she says.