WHAT YOU CAN DO
1. Drink all the water.
You know how that dry, stale plane air causes your skin and mouth to feel dry as paper? It can do the same thing to your insides. Being dehydrated causes your stool to dry out, which makes it way harder to go to the bathroom. Make sure to drink plenty of water to keep blockages from backing you up, and avoid alcohol and coffee (or other caffeinated beverages), which can contribute to dehydration. Pack a reusable water bottle with built-in filter so it’s easy to fill up wherever you are.
2. Eat fiber-rich meals.
It can be tough to eat healthy on vacation, but wherever you can, choose plates full of fresh fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Those fiber-rich foods help stools pass through your intestines faster. Until age 50, women need 25 grams of fiber each day, while men need 38 grams; the recommended intake decreases a bit over age 50. For reference on what that much fiber looks like, a cup of broccoli has 5 grams, a cup of cooked whole-wheat spaghetti has 6 grams, and a medium-size banana has 3 grams. If you know you’re heading somewhere where it will be hard to eat as healthy as you’d like, consider packing a fiber supplement.
3. Don’t completely abandon your exercise routine.
Keep moving as much as you can, and your digestive system will keep moving, too. Physical activity helps increase the muscle activity of your intestines. If you can, work in physical touring activities, like a hike or paddle boarding lesson. At the same time, don’t stress about squeezing in a super intense HIIT workout when you’d rather be lazing on the beach; instead, just make sure you’re consistently getting in some type of exercise—a quick run, an easy swim, or morning yoga each day would do the trick.
4. But also: relaaaax.
It’s vacation! There are a million things that could go wrong (ahem, delayed flights, scrambled hotel reservations, realizing you didn’t pack your e-reader…) but the more you freak out, the more it may affect your bathroom habits. Your gut and brain are connected, and psychological stress and your gastrointestinal system can affect each other, messing up the movement and contractions of the GI tract. Take a few deep breaths (or try a guided meditation app!) so you can find a solution to any problems from a calmer place. The more zen your brain, the better your belly could feel.
5. Don’t wait to go!
Sure, sometimes public bathrooms are...less than ideal, but if you have to go, don’t hold it in until you can find a toilet that meets your standards. This causes the stool to build up in your system, and that extra pressure and strain when you finally do go the bathroom can lead to uncomfortable hemorrhoids. If you end up with discomfort from hemorrhoids, stash Preparation H Totables Wipes in your bag, which will help relieve irritation.
6. Stick to a regular sleep schedule.
Your sleep habits are also linked to what goes on in the bathroom. Your circadian rhythm can influence many aspects of your health, including your digestive system. Make sure you don’t let jet lag take you down by keeping your sleep schedule as close as possible to that of the time zone you’re currently in and keeping your room cool at night. During the day, avoid napping and try to spend time out in natural light (just don’t forget to pack sunscreen!).
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