Dr. Susie Gronski
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8 Tips To Help You Stay Regular while Traveling

Traveling abroad can mess with your pooping schedule. Trust me, I know what it feels like when you’re on vacation and can’t pinch a loaf. Over the years, I’ve managed to perfect my traveling poops and thought I’d share with you my one-wipe wonders.

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  1. Chew – Digestion starts in the mouth. Chewing releases enzymes in the mouth which starts the digestion process. Conga dance anyone?
     
  2. Pack plums - To help you rev up the colon, eat fiber. Plums are a great source of fiber with an added bonus… Plums draw extra fluid out of the colon for smooooooth sailing. No plums? No problem. Most fresh fruits come naturally equipped with both soluble and insoluble fiber.

    Note: If you’re going to up your fiber game, make sure to drink more water. Fiber tends to clump poop into balls and no one wants to push out a dry, hard, crusty turd.
     
  3. Move aroundMotion is lotion as they say and the same goes for your gut. Movement helps stimulate the colon. What kind of movement, you ask? Anything that motivates you. Keep it simple and fun.
     
  4. Take some deep belly breaths – Your colon has connections to the diaphragm and the organs underneath it such as the liver and stomach. You can massage your organs and stimulate digestion with deep belly breathing.

    Deep breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the rest and digest response for poop and pee. This relaxed state of the nervous system allows for digestion to work optimally. When you’re hurried, rushing or stressed, other areas of the body utilize more energy, diverting its efforts away from digestion and bowel function. In other words, it’s easier to ‘go’ when you’re relaxed, not tensed up.

    Brushing your teeth could be a good prompt to remind you to take a few deep breaths.
     
  5. Drink plenty of water – The colon’s main function is to absorb water and residual nutrients not picked up by the small intestine. Dehydration is the number one cause of hard, lumpy, pellet-like stool so make sure you’re drinking enough hydrating fluids.

    Traveling often distracts us from our normal routine, including hydration. Airplane travel draws fluid out of the body in larger quantities than you’d expect, so make sure to pack your water bottle and refill it regularly. The little cup of water they give you on the plane just won’t cut it if you want to keep your poops regular.
     
  6. When nature calls, go – Your gut is a creature of habit. The more you suppress the urge to purge, the more clogged up you’ll be. I know some folks who have an issue pooping in public, but everybody poops. Time to get over your phobia and answer the call of nature as soon as you notice it.
     
  7. Squat to drop – The Squatty Potty is my friend, but most places don't have this luxury when you’re traveling, which means you gotta get creative! Use whatever you can to prop your feet up: a garbage can, a box, books, a stack of towels, your partner… (just kidding!)
     
  8. Daily ritual – Just like you have your daily pooping ritual in your everyday life, incorporate a schedule while on vacation. Mimic the same routine you would have back at home, which means you might have to give yourself extra time to poop. If that means waking up 15 minutes earlier, then so be it.

    Again, your colon is a creature of habit and will get ornery when the flow is interrupted.

    Don’t rush your poops either. If you’re stressing out because you can’t poop, toileting will be more difficult. Even if you don't feel the urge to go, sit on the toilet anyway and breathe. This way you can retrain and encourage your colon to go at a regular time, the time you’re used to going back at home.

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Don't freak out if you’re not able to drop the kids off at the pool. Whenever you travel, the colon has an adjustment period and sometimes it takes a day or two to catch up. No need to worry if it doesn’t happen right away. The more you worry about your bowels, the less likely they will cooperate. So let it go and then let it flow.

Don’t let traveling ruin your pooping experience. Better to be proactive than reactive to make each bowel movement poop-errific.

Reference: Enders, G. (2018). Gut: The inside story of our body's most underrated organ. Vancouver: Greystone Books.