Summer is a wonderful time to do a cross country road trip or add a new stamp to your passport, but traveling to new locales can be pretty hard on your stomach. You probably have a pretty steady diet at home, but when you’re in new places and oftentimes doing less cooking for yourself, it’s easy for your stomach and gastrointestinal system to get thrown out of whack. New foods and certain exotic cooking practices can lead to gastrointestinal problems commonly referred to as traveler’s sickness. In today’s blog, we share some tips for keeping your stomach at ease when you’re eating abroad.
Preventing Traveler’s Sickness
Traveler’s sickness, also known as traveler’s diarrhea, is pretty easy to manage and control if you are aware of the potential issues that dietary changes can have on your gastrointestinal system. However, many people aren’t thinking about how new foods will affect their stomach until it is too late. It’s understandable to want to try new foods and indulge in the local food scene when traveling, but be aware that all these new foods could shock your system. Here are some tips for preventing traveler’s sickness and still enjoying the local food scene.
- Stick To Bottles – If you’re traveling out of the country to a more exotic location, the water may not be as clean as what we get here in the US. In many places, it is recommended that Americans stick to bottled water or canned beverages, and you also need to be mindful of where the ice comes from, because if the ice comes from the tap, you don’t want it in your drink.
- Avoid Buffets – Buffets are a common option on many resorts, as it allows the resort to feed a large amount of people on their own schedule. However, food can also sit for a long time on a buffet, and the longer it sits out, the more likely it is that bacteria develop that could make you sick. Stick to freshly cooked options if possible.
- Go With What You Know – Odds are you’ll be familiar with some of the food options wherever you travel, so always have a few food stables on your plate. Cooked vegetables and peelable fruits are usually pretty easy on your digestive system, so lean on these reliable options when you’re craving a snack instead of opting for an exotic option.
- Beware Of Fish – Even when cooked, certain exotic fish can cause problems for your digestive system based on the toxins in their body. Do some research based on the location you are traveling to, and again, make sure that these options are freshly and thoroughly cooked.
- Stay Hydrated – If you do get a little sick and are having more frequent bowel movements, it’s imperative that you work to stay hydrated. Diarrhea can dehydrate you and intensify gastrointestinal issues, so stay hydrated from a safe water source.
- Wash Your Hands – It’s always a good idea to wash your hands before you sit down to eat, but that’s especially true when you’re traveling and exposed to more germs and bacteria. Wash your hands with soap and water before each meal.
- Medication Management – If you know you will be traveling, consider having a conversation with your primary care physician or your gastrointestinal specialist. They can give you some additional tips or talk with you about a prescription or over-the-counter digestive aid. It’s easier to plan ahead than to try and self-medicate when you’re on vacation, so prepare for the possibility that a new diet could lead to some digestive discomfort.
- Stay Active – We understand that you may want to kick your feet up and relax while you’re on vacation, but a little activity will help with the digestive process. Go for a walk on the beach after lunch or get up and move after dinner to make it easier for your body to begin breaking down foods.
- Limit Oily Options – Greasy or high-fat foods will be harder on your stomach no matter whether you consume them at home or while traveling. You may have more access to these unhealthier options if you are dining out more on vacation, but try to limit your intake of these harder-to-digest options.
- Mind Your Alcohol Intake – Finally, you also want to be cognizant of your alcohol intake while traveling, as this can throw your GI system for a loop. Mix in a bottled water to help yourself stay hydrated, and limit your consumption of local alcoholic beverages, as these may not be as refined as some products you find in the states, and that can cause issues for your body.
We want you to enjoy your travel and sample some local cuisine, but know that big dietary changes could cause a shock for your gastrointestinal system. Be mindful of your diet so that gastrointestinal issues don’t hamper your vacation. For more tips, or to talk to a GI specialist about your upcoming trip or a different stomach issue, give Dr. Bhatti and the team at Bhatti GI Consultants a call today at (952) 368-3800.