Traveling is always exciting; you meet new people, experience different cultures, and expand your flavor horizons with new tantalizing cuisines. However, if you suffer with IBS, a well-anticipated travel experience can become tougher than a stroll on the beach.
Here I share my top tips for staying bloat-free and pain-free while looking glam and enjoying your trip!
1. Please Prepare For Take Off!
Most big trips begin on a plane, and you’ll want to be prepared – no matter how long your flight is. Ah, airplane food…some people love it, some people hate it. I avoid it entirely. Most of the snacks contain sweeteners, preservatives and a lot of salt. Plus, the meals lose most of their nutritional value when they are nuked to kill bad bacteria. Instead, I find my food at the airport. While the rest of the passengers make for the duty – free makeup counter or the booze section, I’m on the hunt for snacks to eat on the plane. Most airports will have the basics, like fresh fruit and unsalted nuts.
A long flight also means a long time sitting down. This will almost definitely cause my IBS symptoms to return. On board, I walk around as much as I can (when it’s safe to do so) and always try to get a seat near an exit or in the front row seat for extra leg room.
2. Carry an S.O.S. Bag
This little makeup bag follows me everywhere I go when traveling. It contains my in-case-of-emergency essentials for when I’m away from home:
– Peppermint oil supplements to reduce bloating or help with an IBS flare up. They help calm the gut and regulate the bacteria in the stomach, which is especially helpful for those with SIBO.
– Herbal tea to help with stomach bloating. Preferably one with cardamom and fennel.
– A heat balm/heat rub for muscular pain. The essential oils work on the specific area of application and helps to soothe the bowel and inflammation. Easy to carry and great for if you don’t have a hot water bottle.
– Calming music to keep stress at bay. I always get stressed traveling, and this can make IBS symptoms flare up twofold. I make sure I have my headphones with calm music to help me relax and forget about silly stresses of traveling.
– A Low-FODMAP snack for when there is literally nothing you can eat. I usually pack rice cakes and peanut butter or pumpkin seeds, just in case.
3. Bring a Water Bottle!
I’m so used to carrying water with me that when I don’t have it I’m paranoid. This is no different when travelling! Staying hydrated is essential to keeping your stomach doing what it needs to. If you suffer with IBS-C, staying hydrated help your stools from drying out and resulting in constipation – a definite vacation downer. With your own reusable bottle, you could even make up your own electrolyte drink, minus the junk of store-bought:
– 1 liter of water
– 1 tsp of sugar
– 1 tsp salt
– 1/2 lemon juice to taste
4. Learn Local Cuisine Basics and Key Phrases
If you travel internationally and you’re a low FODMAPer, finding food to eat will most likely be a challenge. Before I travel, I try to identify the most popular ingredients used in local food, and how to ask for modifications. For example, before I went to Thailand, I found that a lot of Thai food is coconut based with garlic and onions and is heavy on the sugar. Not FODMAP friendly, so I had to be prepared. I definitely needed to know how to ask for “no sugar” (“Mai sai nam tan”) when ordering food…they even added sugar to fruit!
5. Avoid pre-packaged food
At home, I avoid pre-packaged food and try to stick to raw fresh produce. However, it’s just as important to remember this when away from home where ingredients are unfamiliar and often written in a language you don’t know. If you travel to somewhere like Japan where they have super “Kawaii” snacks, don’t be tempted. They are usually loaded with all the nasties us low-FODMAPers can’t have.
With a little planning ahead of time, it’s not too difficult to manage your IBS away from home. Remember: traveling is exciting! Enjoy yourself the best you can. Don’t stress over the small things and HAVE FUN!
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Note: PLEASE consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.