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.

Traveling with Food Allergies


travel_agentsHaving a food allergy can definitely add some stress to traveling, but should never dissuade you from getting out there and exploring the world. With some careful planning, you should be able to travel and eat confidently, being able to enjoy the new places you discover without worries. As always, being prepared is key!

Before The Trip

  • When booking your flight, check to see what snacks the airline serves during flights, if any. If exposure to peanuts/tree nuts affects you, some airlines will serve a non-peanut/tree nut snack on flights upon request, so let your booking agent know about your allergy ahead of time.
  • Pack your own safe food for eating on the flight. Make sure you check airline policies for what you can and cannot take on the plane.
  • Download the app AllergyEats. This app can make it easier to find allergy-friendly restaurants across the U.S.
  • A excellent website for more in-depth info on specificfood allergies is Food Allergy Network .

At the Airport and On the Plane

  • Reconnect with the airline staff and make sure that they are aware of your food allergy. That way, they can make any last-minute changes to make sure you have a great and safe flight.
  • Inspect your seating area and tray table for any crumbs or spills and wipe them down with wet wipes to avoid any cross-contamination that might happen if you set down any food on those surfaces.
  • Double check that meals and snacks you are offered are safe for you to eat. This is especially important when you’re miles up in the air, away from medical facilities.
  • Store your allergy medications with you, and not in the overhead bin for the easiest access. Remember to keep the labels and even the prescriptions from your doctor on hand to display when you go through security, to be able take your medications on board with you.
  • Let the airline staff and people you are traveling with know what to do in case you experience an allergic reaction. Let them know where you keep your medications so they can access them quickly in needed.

On Vacation

  • Ask your doctor to write prescriptions for you to take on your journey, so you can display them at pharmacies and get what you need. Know the brand names of your medications in the location you will be visiting so access to medications will be easier.
  • For meals at restaurants, carry some chef’s cards with you (business cards with your allergies listed) in both English and the language of the location you are visiting, to give to staff upon ordering.
  • Befriend a translator or plan ahead and learn how to say what you are allergic to in the language of the location you are traveling to. Ask hotel staff and locals what common dishes typically include what you are allergic to, to know what foods to avoid.
  • Bring non-perishable food that is safe for you to eat with you when alternative foods that are safe for you to eat are not easily available.

Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN was recently honored as the The 2015 Outstanding Dietitian of The Year by The New York Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a speaker, blogger, entrepreneur and innovator who is passionate about spreading the message of healthy eating for optimal health. To help restaurants improve upon menu choices and food preparation, Lisa recently founded Eat Well Restaurant Nutrition where she collaborates with chefs to get healthy meals on the table. She is the author of the “The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad,” (Nirvana Press 2014) and the widely-acclaimed “The Teen Eating Manifesto: The Ten Essential Steps to Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy,” (Nirvana Press 2012). In her private practice, with offices in Huntington, NY and the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Lisa specializes in weight managment, travel nutrition and diabetes for teens and adults. For more info, contact Lisa via email or visit here. Special thanks to Social Media Intern Anita Renwick for writing this blog.