Smooth Travels: Don’t Let Constipation Hinder Your Trip

Petaluma food pic

Traveling not only opens doors to new experiences and cultures, but also offers you the pleasure of trying new foods that you’ve probably never tasted before. You should take some time to enjoy the new foods and flavors that are at your destination. Quite often the  wonderful food will be a major highlight of your trip. However, as you may unfortunately already know, dining out daily while traveling can lead to a variety digestive issues, including constipation.

Why does this happen?  Many restaurant meals can be lacking in dietary fiber, which we need to keep things moving along in the intestinal tract. Think about it. How often are you served fiber-rich foods when you travel, such as whole grain breads, vegetables, fresh fruit, nuts and beans? Probably seldom. Often the breads and other grains served abroad (and in the U.S.) are refined, meaning they have had the fiber removed. And the vegetables served with a meal are very sparse. It can be much easier to consume foods with fiber at home.

Paris 2 produce stand


Becoming constipated when you travel can put  a damper on your trip.When you travel you want to feel good so you can enjoy your time exploring your new surroundings. You don’t want to be troubled with constipation. So making an effort to get adequate fiber should be at the top of your list. According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, fiber recommendations are 25 grams per day for woman and 35 grams per day for men. If you have been plagued by intestinal issues in the past when traveling, or want to avoid a potential problem, check out these tips.

Amsterdam grilled veg sw

4 Tips to Help Avoid Constipation While Traveling

1. Bring along some high fiber bars for your trip.  KIND and Kashi bars are smart choices. Bring enough to have two per day, if you need it. If you find that the breakfast options where you are traveling are low in fiber, add a bar to your breakfast. They also come in handy for a mid-afternoon snack. Look for bars that contain at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. These are great

2. When you dine out, ask for whole grain bread. Have a salad and/or a serving of vegetables at lunch and dinner. Order high fiber soups, such as Lentil or Minestrone. Try something new like a veggie burger or a grilled vegetable sandwich. Craving pasta? Think Pasta Primavera with extra veggies. And ask for whole wheat pasta–they might have it! For dessert, request a dish of fresh fruit.

3. Make an effort to drink fluids. Aim for at least 8 cups per day. Be eco-conscious and bring your own water bottle from home. Drinking helps keep you hydrated and helps the fiber move through your intestine. Inadequate fluid can lead to constipation.

4. Plan ahead and do an Internet search for farmers’ markets where you will be traveling. Plan a trip to the market and purchase fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts to keep in your room for snacks. If your destination does not have a marketplace, visit the local grocery store and stock up on produce, nuts and whole grain cereals.

Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN is an award-winning Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who is passionate about helping people improve their health with optimal nutrition. She received the 2015 Outstanding Dietitian of The Year from the New York Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Lisa is an entrepreneur, speaker, private practitioner, and writer. She consults with food startups and restaurants to help put health on the menu. Lisa is the author of the ebook The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad (Nirvana Press 2014) and The Teen Eating Manifesto (Nirvana Press 2012). In her private practice she specializes in teen and adult weight management and diabetes. Lisa received her two degrees in Nutrition from New York University. She consults with clients in Huntington, New York, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and virtually. To find out more about Lisa or to book an appointment, please visit here.

Hydration Tips For Traveling Abroad


Drink up. Staying hydrated is imperative for good health whether home or abroad. But when traveling, we should be even more aware of it. Being away from home often throws off daily habits and drinking fluids is usually one of them. Our bodies are constantly losing water through perspiration and even breathing. Proper hydration supports the heart and all muscles to work more efficiently. After all, we are composed of approximately 70% water, so no wonder we wouldn’t survive more than a few days without it.

Fluid Facts You Should Know

1. Fluid needs vary from person to person. Various factors influence fluid needs such as climate, activity level, clothes, body build and age. Lean body mass is composed of more water than fat tissue, so those leaner with greater muscle tone require even more water than their not so lean counterpart. Certain health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, may elevate fluid needs as well.

2. Thirst often indicates we are already dehydrated. So the goal should really be to avoid this, so you don’t end-up playing catch-up. The color of your urine is an easy indicator of hydration status: clear, light yellow indicates hydrated while dark yellow means drink more water. An outward sign of dehydration is dry skin while some symptoms may include dizziness, headache, or fatigue. Also, be aware that you may feel hungry when you are thirsty as the sensation for thirst is the same as hunger. So to keep your weight down, drink up.

3. For every pound of sweat lost, it takes a pint of water (16 ounces) to replenish. Water, seltzer, unsweetened coffee or tea really should be the beverage of choice. Alcohol can have a diuretic effect, so drink water along with any alcoholic beverage and drink moderately. Sports drinks aren’t necessary unless you are exercising at high intensity for more than 90 minutes. The extra sugar can be tough on the stomach if dehydrated and eating meals and snack throughout the day is sufficient to provide electrolytes.

Is the Water Safe to Drink?

Before you leave on your trip, find out if the tap water is safe to drink. This is a biggie. Water is obviously the best beverage to hydrate, but only if it is purified. If the water is unsafe to drink, so too may be the fresh produce. Just keep this in mind. When purchasing bottled water, make sure the caps are attached to the ring to guarantee you are in fact receiving purified water. Depending on your frequency of travel and length of stay, if the water is unsafe, it may be more economical to purchase a UV purification water bottle. CamelBak makes an All Clear

Bottle for $99 that utilizes UV technology to neutralize microbiological contaminants to EPA standards and has a built-in LCD to confirm purification results.

Hydration Travel Tips

  1. Fruits and vegetables have high water content so snacking on fruits such as apples, pears, and oranges and including salads and vegetables with lunch and dinner can up your water intake for the day.
  2. Always start the day off with a few glasses of water before hitting the pavement.
  3. Keep a water bottle with you as you explore your new surroundings.
  4. Pay attention to the type of climate in which you will be traveling. Hot environments will increase water loss. Lower humidity and higher altitudes will also accelerate water loss. Airplane cabins have very low humidity levels, typically 10-20%, whereas the humidity level in most indoor areas is 65%. So when flying, especially on long international flights, you should make a conscious effort to drink plenty of water and pay attention to any symptoms of dehydration. Try to avoid alcohol on the plane.
  5. Moisturize your skin to help retain moisture, especially in dry atmospheres. Pack a carry size so that you always have moisturizer on you. Spritzing your face can also help reduce the rate moisture leaves your skin.
As always, it’s best to be prepared. Happy travels!
An award-winning nutritionist, Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN was recently honored as the 2015 Distinguished Dietitian of the Year by the New York Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Lisa is the author of the ebook The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad and The Teen Eating Manifesto: The Ten Essential Steps to Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy. Her private practice is based in Huntington, Long Island and NYC. Lisa specializes in travel nutrition, weight management, and diabetes for teens and adults. To find out more about Lisa, visit here.