When it comes to Thanksgiving, most of us have a one-track mind. Whether you’re daydreaming about tasty turkey or mouthwatering mashed potatoes, the primary objective of this special day—gobble till you wobble. Of course, spending quality time with friends and family and giving thanks is important, too.
And while many of us spend hours thinking about what we plan to eaton Thanksgiving, few of us consider what happens afterwards: nothing. That’s right—we’re talking about constipation. On its own, festive food can make just about anyone irregular, but when coupled with traveling, it’s a doozy for your digestive tract.
Here are 5 simple ways to avoid constipationwhile traveling. If you don’t, traffic may not be the only thing that’s backed up this Thanksgiving.
1. Snack right. While it may be tempting to blame your tummy troubles on turkey day treats, it’s likely a result of all the other snacks you’ve been enjoying. Whether it’s fast food on the road, all those pretzels on the plane or that leftover Halloween candy you’re catching up on, these foods don’t do your digestive tract any favors.
While there aren’t many healthful options to choose from while traveling, try to plan ahead by bringing whole-grain crackers or cereals, maybe even a protein bar and fruit.
2. Stay hydrated. In the midst of traveling, it’s easy to forget about staying hydrated. On top of that, it seems like bathrooms are never exactly convenient when you’re on the road or in the airport. Nonetheless, it’s still important to make an effort to drink water or other clear beverages as this will help to soften stools so they are easier to pass.
While coffee may seem like the perfect pick-me-up, it can actually make you even more dehydrated—so drink with caution.
3. Keep it moving. You’ve likely heard that it’s important to get up and move when you’ve been sitting for long periods. This doesn’t just apply to blood flow, though, it’s also important for digestion. Think of it this way, if you’re moving, your digestive tract will be, too.
Whether you’re in a car or plane, make sure to take frequent breaks to get up and stretch those legs. Once you arrive at your final destination, incorporate as much activity as possible into your daily routine.
4. Be flexible. Most of us are creatures of habit. So when you change up the routine, it can be difficult for your body—and your digestive tract—to adjust. When making travel plans, try to be mindful of your routine and the times you may need access to a bathroom.
Most importantly, though, when you feel the urge to go, listen to your body. Even if you aren’t a huge fan of public restrooms (after all, who is?), don’t put off going to the bathroom as this may only worsen your constipation.
5. Stay well-rested. When you’re on vacation, it may feel like the perfect time to let loose and lose track of time. But compromising on sleep can impact everything from heart health and concentration to mood and digestion. While sleep doesn’t directly cause constipation, it can increase bodily-stress and lead to poor food choices, both of which are hard on your digestive tract.
Try to maintain your normal sleep schedule, but when you have to give in to staying up a little later, enjoy an afternoon nap. It is vacation after all.
Keep Your Digestive Tract Running Smoothly
Staying regular while traveling may be easier said than done. Sometimes, no matter how badly you may want to go, your body just doesn’t want to cooperate. Be patient with your digestive tract and try simple tips to stay relaxed, like reading or listening to music. Your primary care providercan also offer helpful tips to maintain your healthy habits while traveling and to prevent constipation all together. A good rule-of-thumb to remember: if you don’t have a bowel movement within 10 minutes, try again later.