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Ultimate Guide to Prevent Vacation Constipation

You’ve been looking forward to this trip for months, packed your bags, and can hardly wait for that first glass of wine while overlooking a beautiful view… But all of a sudden, you’re struck by a case of constipation. Forget the good spirits and breathtaking views, all you want is for your stomach to stop feeling like a bloated, knotted ball of discomfort!

Does this scenario sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, up to 40% of people experience constipation while on vacation. The good news is that this guide will show you EXACTLY how to prevent constipation and enjoy your hard earned time off!

Woman avoids constipation while on vacation

Fuel Up on Fiber

You may be looking forward to a nice family pizza night in Italy or beignets with friends in New Orleans, but those options aren’t doing your bowels any favors. While there isn’t any issue with indulging a bit on vacation, make sure there is some fiber in the mix.

Having pasta and gelato for dinner? Perhaps lunch that day should be a fresh spinach salad and a side of veggies. For breakfast, you could opt for a high-fiber cereal with flax seeds and fruit. Then when that dinner rolls around, try to keep portion size reasonable. Excess amounts of the following low-fiber foods will only make things worse:

  • Cheese
  • Processed snacks
  • Chips
  • Candy
  • Ice cream

Another great trick is to make those decadent meals count. Save them for leisurely dining experiences. If you’re looking for a grab-and-go option, don’t waste your yummy cheat meal on fast food or dry packaged cookies. Make your quick option an apple and high-fiber granola bar and save the indulgences for a time you’re truly enjoying the experience rather than just snagging something while sight seeing.

Bonus tip: Fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut don’t contain much fiber, but they can often also help relieve intestinal problems.

Get Moving

As you know, it takes some sedentary time to get anywhere. Whether you’re taking a train, car, boat, or plane, travel will inevitably involve some sitting. Unfortunately, the fact that you’re not moving may cause your bowels to do the same.

Try to include as much movement as you can in your travel experience. If you have extra time at the airport, go for a power walk around the terminal rather than sitting on your laptop. If you’re road tripping, take an extra few minutes to do stretches and some jumping jacks at each rest stop. When traveling by car, you can also opt to swing through grocery stores rather than fast food joints when you take a meal break. This allows for both a little more walking and heightened control over your food options.

Once you get to your destination, try to incorporate some kind of physical activity into every single day! From hiking in the mountains to swimming in the ocean to walking around a big city, every vacation should offer the opportunity to get your body moving.

Stay Hydrated

Mmmm coffee… mmm cocktails! If you’re like a lot of people, you look forward to sipping delicious beverages on vacation, from the frothy mocha mint cappuccino in that cute cafe you just discovered to a nice old fashioned in the local bar you happened upon.

And all those hours between coffee hour and cocktail hour? Well, you may have been so busy sightseeing that you forgot to drink enough water. Perhaps you even did it on purpose so your bladder wouldn’t call for too many breaks from the fun.

Unfortunately, caffeinated and alcoholic beverages dehydrate you. This can cause or worsen constipation. Drinking lots of water will help soften your stool and allow it to pass more easily. Even if it means more of one kind of bathroom break, it will also help you to achieve the other kind of bathroom break that you are seeking.

Bonus tip: Adding lemon juice and honey to a mug of warm water is one of the best-known cures for occasional constipation.

Go if You’ve Gotta Go!

Your bowel movements may not be something you think much about when you’re living according to your normal routine. But what a lot of people may not realize is that the routine is what’s actually keeping them consistent. Even the smallest changes in your eating or drinking habits can throw your body off.

Constipated man uses bathroom during vacation

“Any time you leave your general habitat, it’s throwing your gut microflora off balance,” said New York-based registered dietitian Brooke Alpert. In fact, for some people the very act of traveling can cause constipation before they’ve even entered the temporary vacation “habitat”.

Not only can the different geographic location and eating habits throw your body off, but many people also don’t like to use public restrooms. This subconscious emotional discomfort can result in not being able to go.

If however, you are lucky enough to need to go, please don’t ignore it! If you suppress the urge because you want to wait to get back to your hotel, it might be gone by the time you do. If you need to go while at a museum or restaurant or somewhere that makes you uncomfortable, it’s best to bite the bullet and go anyway. Remember, the psychological discomfort will be over as soon as you’re done, but ignoring it can worsen your constipation— causing physical discomfort around the clock.

Be Smart with Laxatives

If you’re a regular when it comes to vacation constipation, it can be smart to prepare ahead of time. Taking a stool softener or bulk-forming laxative a few days before you leave and throughout your vacation may help keep things comfortable.

If you’ve tried everything and are still constipated, it may be time for a laxative. Remember, laxatives should be more of a last resort than a go-to. If you use them too often, your body can get dependant on them and even resistant to them. This will cause more constipation long term.

There are a number of different laxatives available over-the-counter, as well as prescription laxatives. We recommend talking to your doctor about what would be best for you.

Conclusion

Everyone’s microbiome (gut) is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all trick for preventing vacation constipation. However, the tips above should help most people alleviate their symptoms!

Usually, constipation isn’t terribly serious. However, it can also cause hemorrhoids or tears in the skin around the anus. Not to mention that sometimes it’s indicative of more serious issues, such as Parkinson’s disease.

If you’re experiencing chronic constipation both at home and away, it’s a good idea to talk to a professional. If you’d like an option that doesn’t require health insurance and grants you access to the latest treatments, you may want to consider participating in a constipation clinical trial. The team of talented physicians and researchers here at Achieve is working hard to provide a (permanent!) vacation FROM constipation for individuals across the globe. You can learn more about our efforts but clicking here or calling us at (205) 757-8208.

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