Along with rest, fun, and relaxation, travel can bring a few other things, namely bloating, dehydration, and constipation. How do you have a good time without letting the food and drink get you down? We asked local clinical and functional nutritionist Caitlin Self how to both travel and eat well.
How can traveling affect our bodies?
The body strives to be an efficient, well-oiled machine. Naturally, by changing your routine while traveling, the body is in a state of adaptation, which can impact things like sleep and bowel habits. Plus, spending extended periods sitting in cars, trains, and planes reduces blood flow. And airplanes are less oxygenated than sea level, so you’re taking in less oxygen while in the air. All of this impacts immune function, digestive health, and cellular energy.
What kind of foods might help ease digestion while traveling?
Bitter foods are my top recommendation. Typically, traveling includes new and different foods and more restaurant meals, which are higher in salt and oils. Bitter foods stimulate the liver and gallbladder and can help us break down our food better. Bitter foods include arugula, dandelion greens, dark chocolate, coffee, and endives. Vegetables, in general, are amazing at supporting digestion.
Are there ways to prevent bloating while traveling?
Often bloating while traveling can be a result of overeating or poor digestion, which occurs when we make significant changes to our food intake. In addition to bitter foods and tinctures, movement is probably the best way to prevent bloating. Movement can help promote stomach acid production and can help stimulate the stomach and intestines, which helps food move through the digestive tract and prevent bloating. High-intensity exercise can have the opposite effect, so a comfortable 10-to-30-minute stroll after meals is a great way to enhance your digestion.
Another tip is to finish your meal with digestion-supportive hot teas like chamomile, ginger, or peppermint. And finally, when I travel, I start many restaurant meals with club soda and a bunch of bitters. Most restaurant bars have cocktail bitters like Angostura behind the bar. I love these in club soda as a refreshing way to give my gut some additional support.
How important is hydration while traveling?
Hydration is always important. I recommend drinking more water in the three days or so leading up to your travels. If you’re having a hard time with the volume of water needed, you can hydrate with water-rich fruits and vegetables and use trace mineral drops or low-sugar electrolyte powders. Hydration is about both fluid and electrolytes, not just water.
WHAT YOU NEED:
BITTERS: Bitter foods and tinctures can natu- rally stimulate digestion and prepare your gut for larger or new meals.
ELECTROLYTES: Water alone is not enough; include trace minerals or electrolyte powders to ensure you’re getting proper nutrients.
MOVEMENT: Before or after a meal, non-intense movement helps produce stomach acid and get your intestines active.