Traveling is about exploring, learning and having a good time. But often we are plagued with the least-fun part about traveling. (And I’m not talking about the line ups.)
I’m talking about constipation. It nags you. It takes away from your fun. It’s uncomfortable.
Here are the top ways to help keep your traveling going smoothly, both in your body and on airplanes.
Flying is dehydrating, and being away from our normal schedules having just done prep time to leave brings along with it the potential for dehydration, which can contribute to constipation. To avoid this, bringing a full bottle of water with you to the airport and drinking before security to refill after is ideal. Long flights are especially dehydrating, and continuing to drink (nonalcoholic) fluids on the plane and get safe drinking water once you land. If your hotel is another train or cab ride away, find water at the airport to drink en route, after a long flight if you wait until you get to your destination to get water, you’ll already be dehydrated.
It’s not just water that keeps you (and your bowels) properly hydrated. Electrolytes matter too. If the body is lacking water in general and electrolytes in general, it’s not going to be available for the large intestine” to properly lubricate a bowel movement as it moves through the colon. To get those electrolytes, always ask for lemon slices to squeeze in to your water in restaurants, and be that person who brings along a baggie of sea salt or Himalayan pink salt to pinch into your water for similar benefits. Not enough to taste it, as you don’t want to drink salt water, just a tiny pinch.
Consider probiotics and digestive enzymes.
No matter where you go, bringing magnesium, probiotics and digestive enzymes. Take your probiotics in the morning and digestive enzymes before each meal. While it’s important to check the labels for proper dosing and to make sure that the enzymes correlate with your meals’ ingredients, that does make for more thinking. So for travel, a full-spectrum digestive enzyme makes it even easier. Since while you’re out you may be eating foods that are a little different from what you’re used to you’ll want to make sure you’re breaking it down as best you can. Enzymes help your stomach to do just that. You can also help your stomach to break down food best by chewing as much as you can.
Seek fiber, fruits and veggies. [Read: 5 Reasons You NEED Whole Foods]
Trying new cuisines can be part of the fun of travel – but needs to be balanced against the not-so-fun side effects of constipation (or diarrhea, if that’s your tendency from anxiety, or if you suffer from IBS). That’s why, if you’re really concerned, its best to bring your own food and snacks like nut butters and crackers, or fruit to maintain some dietary normalcy at least through the flight and your breakfast the first morning or first meal upon arriving. If you find yourself struggling later on, relax about it and just continue to seek out real food. Increasing your fiber intake by including more real food: fruits and veggies is the best advice.
Incredibly useful is a magnesium supplement [order supplements online through my ‘dispensary’] for both constipation and stress. Taking 300 to 400 milligrams of magnesium citrate a day if you need an extra push; and this isn’t just for travel, as most North Americans are deficient in the mineral anyway. I love the product Natural Calm, a mag supplement you can get in Penticton at Vitamin King.
When we are with others we are not as comfortable with or on a tight schedule, we might not just make the time to go. One common contributor to vacation constipation is fear of using foreign toilets, which is a ‘nesting’ trait leftover from our caveman days. But those irrational fears are not only holding you and your bowels back, they’re also pretty unrealistic since most bathrooms aren’t carriers of disease; it’s the lack of safe ones in developing countries that promotes disease. Do what you can to make a foreign bathroom feel more comfortable. How? Pack your own antibacterial wipes or travel with a portable Squatty Potty (the ‘holy grail of toilet accessories’ that encourages the proper (knees up) elimination position for better colon position.) I know it can be hard to go if you think people are waiting for you or can hear you. Toilet anxiety is real. While I can’t remove that for you, I can remind you that “Everyone Poops!”
Relax. Still plugged up? The worst thing is to stress about it.
When our stress hormones like adrenaline or epinephrine starts to flow into the body because of anticipation or excitement or anxiety, the GI tract slows down quite a bit. It’s just the nature of those hormones. Deep relaxation exercises like slow breathing or meditation can help to activate your “rest and digest” system instead of your “fight or flight” nervous system.
At the end of the day, you could still put all these tools into place and run into a bit of a struggle. It’s okay. Sometimes its just the nature of the beast, and all you can do is your best and to try again. Simply accepting that you may be constipated for the first day or two of travel, and understanding it's relatively normal, can help too.