The flight from Melbourne to San Francisco really knocks me about. I've always suffered terribly from jet lag.
Probably about 10 years ago I organised for Paul Strassman to come speak at a conference I was organising in Canberra. Paul was probably in his 60s when he made the visit and I was amazed at how he seemed unaffected by jet lag. As I took him from meeting to meeting he never missed a beat. There was a couple of querks I noticed. For example at lunchtime Paul would say, "wherever we go I will need to have only protein, like a big steak." Then at dinner he would say, "We need to go somewhere we I can just have carbohydrates and nothing else, like a big bowl of pasta." I eventually learned that Paul was applying an anto jet lag diet devised by the US military and used by their diplomats. He had this dog-eared book that described the diet called Overcoming Jet Lag by Dr Charles F. Ehret and Lynne Waller Scanlon. I bought a copy on Amazon and have never looked back.
The book has modifications of a three step diet that changes depending on the number of time zones you cross and whether you are heading east or west. I recommend you get a copy of the book so you have all the background information on why this works and all the different diet variations. But to give you an idea of what the diet looks like, here is what they recommend for the flight from Melbourne to San Francisco.
FEAST = Generous servings
FAST = Limited servings (800 calories or so)
STEP ONE (preflight)
- THREE daus before the time change, begin the Program with a FEAST day by initiating HIGH-PROTEIN breakfasts, HIGH-PROTEIN lunches, and HIGH-CARBOHYDRATE suppers.
- STOP consuming beverages, foods, or drugs containing methylated xanthines (coffee, tea, cocoa, or chocolate, etc.) in the early morning or late at night. If you want to have a caffeinated beverage between three o'clock and four-thirty in the afternoon, feel free to do so.
- TWO days before the flight, eat a HIGH-PROTEIN breakfast, a HIGH-PROTEIN lunch, and a HIGH-CARBOHYDRATE supper. Because this is a FAST day, keep the meals low in calories; a daily total of 800 calories is ideal. Do NOT have any snacks after supper.
- The day before the flight, a FEAST day, allow yourself generous portions of foods based on the HIGH-PROTEIN breakfast and HIGH-PROTEIN lunch, and HIGH-CARBOHYDRATE supper plan. Do NOT have any snacks after supper.
STEP TWO (morning of the flight)
- Get out of bed earlier than usual
- Eat a HIGH-PROTEIN breakfast, a HIGH -PROTEIN lunch, and a HIGH-CARBOHYDRATE supper. Because this is a FAST day, keep the meals low in calories; a daily total of 800 calories is ideal.
- Drink water to compensate for the dehydration that is common on flights. Limit alcoholic beverages to no more than one drink (better yet, don't drink at all)
- Shortly after six o'clock at night, no matter where you are or what you are doing, whether you are still in the airplane or not, DRINK TWO TO THREE CUPS of black coffee or strong, plain tea. Now RESET YOUR WRISTWATCH TO DESTINATION TIME.
- Since six o'clock "old time" is midnight detination time, try and rest or sleep as soon as possible on destination time--even if you do not feel tired--until morning destination time. Put on a sleep mask if necessary.
STEP THREE (breakfast, destination time)
- Do NOT oversleep
- A half-hour before breakfast, destination time, activate your body and brain.
- This is a FEAST day, so when you eat, have a hearty HIGH-PROTEIN breakfast on destination time (remember: this meal usually occurs in flight). Lunch should be a large HIGH-PROTEIN meal, and supper should be a sizable HIGH-CARBOHYDRATE meal. Do NOT snack after dinner
- Do NOT have any caffeinated beverages, foods, or drugs at all today
- Keep active. Do NOT nap.
- Go to bed early, by ten o'clock at night, destination time