Relief tips for traveler’s constipation

Picture this: You’re away on vacation and you’re having a great time, but soon realize that you haven’t had a bowel movement in over 3 days! Yes, over 3 whole days. Keep in mind, constipation is generally described as having fewer than three bowel movements in a week. By now, you might be feeling the discomfort, bloating, and gas associated with constipation. And this might make you anxious because your bowel movements are usually regular when you’re back home, so why now?

Don’t worry, you are definitely not alone. In fact, many people, as much as 40% of travelers, can relate to this scenario. It’s called traveler’s constipation. The key to winning this stressful battle is knowing what it is and preparing ahead of time. To start your preparation, let’s review some reasons WHY we get traveler’s constipation

  • Reason 1: There’s a sudden disruption to your usual meal times.
  • Reason 2: Traveling can cause a shifted sleeping schedule, or jet lag kicks in and changes your body’s circadian rhythm and affect your digestive process.
  • Reason 3: You experience anxiety of being in a new environment/bathroom or even being around new people and not being able to relax enough to relieve yourself.
  • Reason 4: Common travel factors including dehydration and/or alcohol consumption can contribute to constipation.

Now that we understand why we get traveler’s constipation, for your future travels, follow these recommendations to keep you regular while traveling:

  1. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and clear liquids, even more than you usually would because traveling, especially on a plane, tends to dehydrate you. Try to keep a reusable bottle or stop for frequent water breaks every 30 minutes or so to keep the fluids flowing through your body. While all fluids count toward your fluid intake, water is your best choice. Pay attention to your urine, mouth, skin and lips. If your urine is dark colored, mouth is dry, skin is cracking and lips are chapped, it may indicate that you are already dehydrated.
  2. When you’re traveling on the road, it might be tempting to keep driving for long stretches without enough breaks so that you get to your next destination quicker, but this may be a factor contributing to constipation. It is important to stop and stretch because long periods of sitting can cause strain to your bowel. In addition, incorporate physical activity while traveling to keep your digestive system moving.
  3. Take in plenty of fiber. Pack convenient, fiber dense snacks or supplements for your travels. Examples are fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, chia seeds, low sugar granola bars, psyllium fiber, Metamucil, flaxseed, whole grain breads, dried fruits and beans.
  4. Add some probiotics into your diet. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that can be added to your gastrointestinal tract and are essential in our digestive health and immune system. You can try probiotic supplements or eat/drink foods that contain probiotics such as yogurt with live strains or a fermented beverage such as kombucha. Remember to carefully review the instructions for care as some products will require refrigeration.
  5. Get plenty of rest. Traveling can be a strain on our sleeping schedule, so make sure you schedule at least 6-8 hours of sleep each night. You can also take mini power naps while you travel. And don’t forget to pack ear plugs and an eye mask if you are sensitive to noise or light.
  6. If you find that you continue to have a long, difficult battle with constipation even after trying several relieving techniques, consider packing some laxatives, but I would suggest checking with your primary provider before use. Make sure to use them wisely, as directed and only for a short period of time. Keep in mind, certain foods can be natural laxatives so if you would rather stay away from medications, try prunes, prune juice or papaya.

Health benefits of ginger

Did you know the ginger plant, also known as Zingiber officinale, is a tropical flowering plant? Yes, a flowering plant! You’re probably thinking ginger looks nothing like a flower. And that is because the part that we use is the underground stem of the plant, otherwise known as the “ginger root” or simply “ginger”.

Ginger is one of the most widely used spices in the world! Beyond cooking with it, it is often used in traditional and alternative medicine. Ginger can be used fresh, dried, as a powder, oil, extract or juice. The unique fragrance of ginger comes from its natural oil called gingerol. Gingerol has been extensively studied and studies have found that gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger that provides much of its medicinal properties including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

Here are some healthful and interesting benefits of ginger:

1. Ginger can help alleviate nausea. 

You can chew on raw ginger or brew warm ginger tea as a home remedy for nausea during cancer treatment, motion sickness or morning sickness during pregnancy. It  can also be found in the form of ginger lozenges or candies. Keep in mind that it may help alleviate nausea, but not necessarily prevent vomiting.

2. It helps provide relief to the common cold and flu.

If you have come down with a cold or flu, you might want to try drinking ginger tea by slicing up a few pieces of ginger and soaking it in a cup of hot water. The warmness you will feel after drinking it promotes sweating and works to keep the body from within warm. This is both a simple and amazingly soothing natural remedy for a cold or flu.

3. Take a detox bath with ginger.

By mixing ginger in a bath, it creates a diaphoretic effect, meaning it opens up your pores and promotes sweating, like a sauna. You can use either freshly grated ginger or ginger powder. Add about ½ a cup of ginger in hot or warm water and soak for 15-20 minutes. As you are sweating out the toxins, a ginger bath is also known to help improve the blood circulation, so you may come out more energized (and slightly more flushed). Make sure you drink plenty of water after your bath as you will likely sweat profusely.

4. Ginger can help with indigestion.

Ginger contains phenolic compounds that are known to help relieve gastrointestinal (GI) irritation and stimulate natural fluids such as saliva and bile to help digest and move food and fluid through the GI tract. It also relaxes the smooth muscle in your gut lining and helps speed up emptying of the stomach. Adding ginger to your dietary routine can  promote regular digestion and metabolism of your food and contribute to a strong immune system.

5. It can help reduce inflammation and pain. 

Gingerol found in ginger provides natural anti-inflammatory effects that has been found to help relieve pain associated with osteoarthritis. It can also be effective in reducing soreness and pain associated with exercise. In addition, ginger may also help reduce the symptoms of dysmenorrhea, the severe pain that some women experience during a menstrual cycle.

Top 5 self care tips

Happy new year, everyone! I still cannot believe how fast last year flew by. Nonetheless, it was a year filled with learning, good memories, new friends, new experiences and new ways to take care of myself! As busy as each of us may become in the year, don’t forget to take time for yourself. Remember, we make time for things that matter. You, being the most important person, should be made a priority. Here are some self care tips. Cheers to 2018!

  1. Feed your body with the proper nutrition to keep it healthy, energized and feeling good. Incorporate more lean sources of protein and whole foods into your diet. Choose foods that have gone through zero to minimal processing and basically still look like what they did when they were first harvested. Focus on adding tons of vibrant, colors to your diet. No, I’m not talking about food dye. I’m talking about trying a variety of fruits and vegetables because each fruit or vegetable with their own unique color brings their own unique set of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants.
  2. Hydrate yourself with low to no calorie drinks wherever you go. Plain ol’ water is always a good choice for hydration, but if you’re not too crazy about its plainness, then try sparkling water (look for ones without sodium added). You could also spruce up plain water with some cut fruits and vegetables to make it a tasty, infused water. Get yourself BPA-free reusable bottle for convenient access.
  3. Schedule yourself at least 6-8 hours of sleep each night. Whoever said sleep is overrated is not truly practicing self care. When you sleep, your body has the opportunity to rest. During the day, you’re walking, running, thinking, stressing…whatever it may be, your body works hard for you day in and day out, so make it a priority to let it rest and rejuvenate.
  4. Squeeze in physical activity into your daily routine. Whether you schedule time to hit the gym or a fitness class, or maybe you are a busy mother without much free time, try to use usual routines in your day as an exercise platform. For example, take the stairs rather than the elevator, purposely park further away to get in more walking steps, do stretches while waiting, practice chair exercises if you have a desk job. These are a few suggestions and there are still way more out! Be creative and make sure to not stop moving.
  5. Take care of your skin with proper cleaning, moisturizing and sun protection. If you wear makeup, don’t forget to remove it before you go to bed. This will free your pores, let it breathe and prevent breakouts. There are plenty of skin regimens out there and if you find one that interests you, make sure you stick to it for a period of time (consider 4-6 weeks) before switching to something else. Your skin needs time to adjust, so results may not happen immediately.

Tips on how to avoid letting others influence your eating habits

When it comes to eating healthy and maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle, it’s usually easier when you have a like-minded person (or persons) with you on this journey. By working with others, you are able to share ideas, concerns and encourage each other. The other person may not have to be your friend or family, but it might be a professional such as a dietitian or health coach you are working with. This is an example of the power of influence and the impact our social surrounding can have. If you making healthier food and lifestyle choices, try to talk to someone about it! It CAN help make the journey more enjoyable!

Whether you have been incorporating healthy eating habits all along or are just starting to, ideally, the goal is to maintain them. Check out these tips to help you sustain healthy eating choices:


Contribute a healthy dish or drink

When attending a potluck or party, try to bring something healthy you can eat and share with others. Balancing food choices is a good thing and don’t be afraid to be a healthy contributor.  Others will appreciate it!

Choose smartly at the bar

This is a common question I have received: What should I do when I’m invited to go out to the bar with friends, but don’t want all the extra calories? Start off by knowing certain alcoholic drinks can be packed with calories and sugar from juices, sodas or sweeteners. Try to avoid those. Instead, choose a low calorie drink like a gin and tonic, vodka seltzer, a ultralight beer or a wine. Or if you choose to not have any alcohol, ask for a low calorie mocktail, sparking water or unsweetened tea.

Location matters

If you know that certain places have endless temptations to eat unhealthy, try suggesting an alternative. For example, if you and friends are planning a dinner party, consider hosting it at your house, where you have more control over the food environment. At least in your kitchen, you know what foods you have in your cabinet. This is just a method to help control our environment which in turn helps control our food intake and choices.

Eating out

When going out to eat at a restaurant,  take a moment to look up the menu ahead of time, so that way you have already chosen a couple of healthier choices that you’d like to try. This will not only help save time, but it also helps mentally prepare you. You will be less likely to choose unhealthier food options from the menu because to spur-of-the-moment decisions or from hearing what others are ordering.

Learn to say “No”

In social settings, people may offer food and drinks that you are not interested in having. They may even pressure you and make you feel bad.  A situation in which this might happen is during holidays when families may gather for big dinners and they may insists that you get seconds, but you know this is going beyond what your planned portions would be. Simply decline and say “I’m really full” or “I need some time to rest”. Try stepping away from the table to check your phone, excuse yourself to the restroom or sit elsewhere in a different room if it makes you feel uncomfortable.

 

Be portion proficient

Hello! Yes, it’s that time of the year again! The holidays are here and what tends to come with holidays is celebration, food and LOTS of it. Follow these 5 tips to help with portion control during this holiday season.

  1. Sharing is caring! Split an entree with a friend or family member.
  2. Swap out big bowls, plates and utensils for smaller versions to help with portion control and help you eat smaller bites.
  3. Don’t forget to get creative! Utilize measuring tools, your hands and everyday objects such as a deck of cards, a tennis ball, a golf ball, etc  to help you understand portion size.
  4. Plan ahead! Before eating out at a restaurant, make sure you look up a menu to see what healthier food options they offer.
  5. Try drinking water before meals. Drink 4-8 oz of water, wait 15 minutes before eating.