Travel Constipation: How to get going on the go!

by Brooke on November 19, 2013

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Whether traveling for business or pleasure constipation affects numerous people.  Constipation can be caused by not drinking enough water, eating enough fiber, getting enough physical activity, or a change in your normal bathroom routine.  Unfortunately, a lot of these causes occur while traveling.  Holiday travelers may become dehydrated during their trips.  Business professionals may not have the option of choosing their own food during an all-day meeting.  Vacations, although they are great, may change sleep, eating, and bathroom routines.

For those travelers that due experience travel constipation here are a few tips you can follow to help keep you regular:

1.)  Drink WATER!  Drinking enough fluids could be the determining factor in being constipated or preventing it.  The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for fluid for men is 3.7 liters per day and women is 2.7 liters per day.   This amount can be a challenge to consume when traveling.

Here are a few tricks for getting in more fluids:

  • Drink a sixteen ounce bottle of water in the taxi ride to the airport or before going through airport security.
  • For every coffee or alcoholic beverage you drink match it with one eight ounce glass of water.
  • Consume eight ounces of water before every meal or snack.
  • Skip the soda on the airplane and ask for water.
  • Before you turn in for the night drink…you guessed it…more water.

Want another way to check to see if you are dehydrated?  Check out Urine or You’re Out!

2.)  Pack food for your trip.  You are probably not going to find high fiber and healthy food options on airplanes or in vending machines.  If you plan ahead for those situations you will have better control over the nutritional content of your snack choices.  Most flight snack boxes and vending machines have high sodium and saturated fat foods.  Packing your own snacks can also help keep you on your “normal” eating schedule and thus keep you more regular.  I normally pack whole grain, high fiber granola bars, dried fruit, peanut butter, and of course carrots for my flights.  I have even be known to take whole bags of carrots through security with me.

3.)  Don’t forget to eat some fiber.  

What foods contain fiber?

  • whole grains
  • legumes
  • fruits
  • vegetables

How much do you need?

  • Adults aged 50 and under:  38 grams for men and 25 grams for women
  • Adults over the 50:  30 grams for mean and 21 grams for women

How to get fiber in during vacation:

  • Pack whole grain crackers or pita chips for the car ride, plane, etc.
  • Add some beans or edamame to your salad for lunch.
  • Fill half of your plate at lunch and dinner with vegetables.
  • Skip the cookie during the afternoon coffee break and opt for a small piece of fruit instead.
  • Start your day off with fiber by choosing oatmeal and a small apple.

4.)  Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake.   This tip is hard!  Business meetings = coffee and vacation normally = alcohol.  Notice I didn’t say avoid, I just said limit!  Both caffeine and alcohol can make you more dehydrated and will only worsen constipation.

5.)  Be active.   Traveling often means sitting in one place for an extended period of time until you reach your destination.   The problem is when you are inactive, so are your bowels.  Plan short walks, active vacation excursions, or pack your exercise clothes and use the hotel gym on your trip.

6.)  Listen to your body.  If you feel the urge to go to the bathroom on a plane, in a business meeting, or walking into your family’s house for the holidays don’t wait!  Go to the bathroom!  Ignoring the urge to use the restroom could lead to constipation.

If you have additional concerns or if your symptoms get worse contact your primary care physician!


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