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.

Staying Healthy While Traveling with Prediabetes

cropped-20140803-210352-758327041.jpgIf you have prediabetes, hopefully you are familiar with strategies to lower your blood glucose and avoid the progression to diabetes down the road. Making the right food choices and exercising regularly to keep blood glucose levels within normal range are key strategies for staying healthy. These lifestyle choices should be practiced during your daily routine at home, but can also be easily incorporated into your plans while traveling. It can be tempting to savor new foods and indulge on sweet treats when you’re away. However, you should strive to keep up the healthy lifestyle choices you keep at home. If you have questions regarding your diet while traveling, meet with a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) prior to your departure to gain more knowledge on foods and physical activity that can keep your blood glucose within normal range. If you check your blood glucose at home and are still working on getting it into a healthy range, bring your glucometer with you so you can stay on track when you travel.

Here are some tips to help you stay healthy during your travels:

  • Avoid sugary drinks. Drinking sweetened beverages is a quick way for blood glucose levels to rise. Avoid sodas, juices, and sugary coffee beverages. Instead, enjoy water, seltzer, or unsweetened tea or coffee.
  • For breakfast, skip the sugary cereals and baked goods. Try some oatmeal or yogurt with fresh fruit, or egg whites on whole grain toast. Bring some packets of plain oatmeal with you and a bag of nuts or energy bars, such as KIND, so you have healthy choices readily available.
  • Make sure you eat balanced meals when going out for lunch or dinner. Fill half of your plate with fruit or vegetables, and include whole grains and lean protein, such as tofu, beans, grilled fish, veggie burgers, or chicken.
  • Eat every three to five hours to keep your blood glucose level steady. Have a meal or snack which includes a carbohydrate rich in fiber, such as fruit or whole grain crackers, paired with a healthy protein,  like nuts or hummus.
  • For dessert, try to order fresh fruit or some plain yogurt and fruit. If you order something very sweet, try to keep your portions smaller.
  • Keep up your exercise. A great and easy way to do this while traveling is to walk to some of your nearby destinations. Aim for 30 minutes of brisk walking per day.
  • Be smart about your snacks. Do not just grab the most convenient snacks; choose them wisely! Between meals, enjoy a fresh fruit, vegetables with hummus, rice cakes, or some mixed nuts. Stock up on some of these snacks before you leave home, so you always have a healthy snack on hand.
  • Do your research. If you are traveling abroad and want to try some of the traditional foods in your locale, do some research online to check ingredients or ask your waiter. If a dish is rich, order it as an appetizer or share with your dining partner. For the most part, try to stick with grilled fish, seafood, chicken or vegetarian proteins, such as tofu and beans. Enjoy salads and vegetables dishes. Have fun on your trip!

Helpful Travel Apps

For U.S. travel:

  1. Eat Well Eat Out-find healthy dining options in your locale complete with nutrition information. Developed with The American Diabetes Association.
  2. Food Tripping-healthy food establishments located wherever you are traveling
  3. FitTravel Guru-plan your trip and workouts with one app

Traveling abroad:

  1. EatWell EU-the Europe healthy food travel guide
  2. EatAway-fully customizable diet translator for most diet restrictions

Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN 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.). She is a nationally-recognized Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a specialty in teen and adult weight management and diabetes. Lisa received her B.S. in Food and Nutrition and her M.A. in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. She consults with clients in Huntington, New York and on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Special thanks to the fabulous writing contributions of nutrition intern, Anita Renwick. To find out more about Lisa or to book an appointment, please visit here.

Summer Travels: Staying Trim On A Beach Vacation


Making arrangements and reservations for vacation can be anything but relaxing. Sometimes we need a vacation from a vacation, as all the planning is exhausting. Rather than eliminating vacation from your schedule, a relaxing beach holiday where you’re able to lounge and recharge is sometimes what is most needed. Yet, before you jet off to the beach, make sure to use some of the below tips to stay trim and healthy while away. With so many restaurants serving large portions, finishing all that’s on our plates and justifying frequent splurges of higher calorie menu selections, moderation of meals is definitely needed to stay trim while vacationing at the beach. Trust me—-you’ll be much happier when you return home.

Useful Travel Tips:

• Instead of equating dining out while on vacation as an opportunity for carte blanche, remove your indulgences from solely food and instead focus on indulging in a mystery book, massage or quality time with the family. When you redirect your indulgences to other great experiences in life, you will be less likely to overindulge in calories!
• Order half sized portions, appetizers, share entrees or opt to take leftovers home for tomorrow’s meal.
• Don’t be afraid to ask to ‘have it your way.” Restaurants are more accustomed to guests requesting modifications to dishes. For example, it’s not unheard of to ask for dressings, sauces and/or gravies on the side or for diners to ask for part of the meal “doggy bagged.” You may also find that many restaurants will prepare your sandwich on whole grain bread or, if vegan, add avocado or chiickpeas to your salad in place of the cheese. As long as the restaurant has the requested items on hand, you’d be surprised what modifications can be made.
• Aim to “eat in” once a day! Staying in for breakfast, brown bagging your lunch for the beach or eating last night’s doggy bag can save calories and dollars. Bringing along some low sugar oatmeal, cereal and/or breakfast bars, and peanut butter can do the trick. Head to the local farmer’s market or grocery store to keep fresh fruit and vegetables on hand for breakfast, lunch, and snacks.
• Sample rich foods in “moderation” instead of feasting. Keeping calorie-laden foods to a small portion once a day will allow you to enjoy the “local” food while maintaining your desired weight.
• Take advantage of surroundings and go for a morning run on the beach or an afternoon hike. Take every opportunity to sightsee via walking.
• The mini bar in room is the start of many guilty extra snacks and drinks! Your wallet and waistline will thank you if you hide the key!
• As you know, traveling can dehydrate you. Add a few days in the sun and water requirements increase exorbitantly. If you can, keep ice cold bottles of water stocked in your fridge and have some water on hand wherever you go. Also, keep the triple digit calorie drinks at bay with unsweetened hot or cold tea, coffee, sparkling water, club soda or by adding some lemon or lime to ice water. Enjoying a drink or two is expected, but keep in mind that each alcoholic drink can add an extra 150-450 calories and added sugar.
• Challenge yourself to 5 a Day. Every day, make every effort to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables. You won’t only meet your daily fruits and vegetables quota, but you will feel more satisfied with the added fiber.
• Go easy on the condiments. Half of the grams of fat in Arby’s Southwest Chicken Wrap or Ultimate BLT Wrap comes from the ranch sauce or mayo. Limit intake of creamy sauces or soups, opting for ketchup, marinara, mustard or BBQ sauce, which tend to be about 25 calories per tablespoon.
• Take advantage of the abundant amounts of seafood in the nearby ocean. Seafood is a delectable way to get your weekly dose of fish that are high in omega 3 fatty acids. Make sure to order grilled or non-buttered fish as they are lower in fat and calories than the fried or battered dishes.

For your next beach trip, keep these tips in mind so you can have a little cake and eat some fruits and vegetables, too.

Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN was recently honored as the 2015 Outstanding Dietitian of the Year by the New York Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Her passions include traveling the world and experiencing new foods and cultures. She 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: The Ten Essential Steps to Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy (Nirvana Press 2012)..  Lisa maintains a nutrition practice in NYC and Huntington, Long Island. For more info on Lisa or to schedule a consultation, visit here. Special thanks to Nikki Nies for her contributions in writing this blogpost.