Do you have a travelling poop plan?
You laugh – you maybe feel a bit uncomfortable even saying it – but how many of you struggle with your bowels while on the road? I know I DO. Which is why I was SO excited when Kirsten Oilund agreed to guest blog on the topic!
Kirsten is one of my FAVORITE dietitians. She works in Jasper, Alberta, and runs a private practice called Jasper Nutrition. If you don’t follow her on social media – you probably should. Her food photography is on fleek – and her Instagram account is drool-worthy. Not to mention – she’s brilliant, and provides practical advice, which I LOVE!
Without further ado….
I looove to travel. But I hate struggling to keep my bowel habits regular while I am away from my typical routine. The most common causes of constipation are a lack of fibre, fluids and movement…do these ring a bell? I don’t know about you, but my vacations typically include a jam-packed itinerary and non-stop socialization where fibre-rich foods and water often take the back seat.
So after way too many uncomfortable and anxiety-ridden travel days, this girl finally bit the bullet and designed a fail-safe ‘Travelling-Poop-Plan’. (Coming up with cool names isn’t one of my strong points).
But first, a quick FYI: Fibre is the part of plant foods that your body cannot digest or absorb. There are two types of fibre, soluble and insoluble, that help to soften and bulk up your stool to keep things moving along.
Before you leave on your next adventure, concoct a fun ‘fibre-topper’ to pack along in your purse or daypack and sprinkle it on literally anything. A good ‘fibre-topper’ should include a mixture of nuts, seeds, and pulses – with or without flavour-boosters. The recipe for my favourite mixture is included at the end of this post. Try adding it to smoothies, mashed sweet potatoes, soups and stews, hot or cold cereals, salads, or to top a nut-buttered toast or sliced banana (my fav!). Aim to eat 2-4 tbsp. daily.
Include other fibre-rich foods at meals and snacks. Need some ideas? Have a piece of fruit with breakfast or for an afternoon snack. Make sure at least one of your daily meals is loaded with veggies (no skimping – make if half your plate!). Try choosing a vegetarian protein at meals like beans, lentils or chickpeas (instead of meat, which has no fibre). Opt for the whole grain option when you can. And, last but not least, don’t overlook the power of trail mix – nuts, seeds, and dried fruit are all fibre-rich, and trail mix can last allllll week at the bottom of your suitcase.
Eat at least 3-4 times a day. Your bowels are more active after eating, so try to eat smaller more frequent meals instead of just the 2 large restaurant meals that are etched into your itinerary.
Don’t forget to pair all this extra travel-fibre with enough fluid to help your bowels use it effectively! Aim for 2-3 L of fluid daily. A good habit to get into is to drink 2 cups (500ml) of water before each meal, and then bring a water bottle or tea thermos with you to sip from for the rest of the day.
Make your mornings count. Take some time to finish your cup of coffee, relax, and let it settle. Coffee can help promote bowel movements because it stimulates the muscles in the colon to move. Also, being active in the morning can get your bowels going and set you up for the rest of the day. Talk a walk to that coffee shop. Do a little yoga. Dance to your new favourite song.
Enjoy a cup of prune, pear, peach, or cherry juice in the evening before bed. These fruits are all high in sorbitol, a sugar-alcohol that acts as a natural laxative. Enough said.
Do not, I repeat, do not ignore the urge to have a bowel movement no matter where you are. The museum tour can wait. No coffee-shop line-up is too long. Honour your body’s signals and don’t miss out on an opportunity to go when your body tells you it’s time!
- 1 can lentils (398ml, drained) or pre-cooked lentils (1 cup)
- 1 - 2 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1/2 cup chia seeds
- 3/4 cup hemp seeds
- 3/4 cup slivered almonds
- 3/4 cupunsweetened coconut
- 1/2 cup wheat bran or buckwheat
- Roasted lentils: Preheat oven to 400F. If you’re using canned lentils, drain, rinse and pat them dry first, before tossing with coconut oil. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread lentils in a single layer. Bake for 12 minutes. Stir, and then bake for another 12-15 minutes, until crunchy. Keep an eye on them during the last few minutes so as not to burn. Let lentils fully cool before mixing with other ingredients (~20 minutes).
- The Rest: Add the last 5 components and mix together. Et voila! Your fibre-topper is ready.
- Storage: Store in an airtight container. I tend to bring about 1 cup of the mixture per week of vacation, aiming to eat about 2-4 tbsp. daily. Freeze the rest to keep it fresh.
Note: This recipe is not suitable for the elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet – talk with your dietitian about managing IBS related constipation while travelling!