Does the fear of getting sick put you off travelling to exotic places? Do you worry that your health won’t stand up to the potential barrage of diarrhea-causing bugs?
Does your regime of regular business travel leave your energy sapped and your waistline expanding? If so, check out these strategies to help your gut survive the rigours of travel.
For those of us with chronic gut issues, travelling can present some very real challenges. The stress on our system of exposure to different food and bugs can potentially make our condition much worse.
This is one half of a two-part post on keeping your gut safe while travelling. The other part is Gut-Healthy Travels: 3 Strategies to Survive Any Destination.
This issue is fresh in my mind as I recently went to Bolivia, South America and it took 36 hours of traveling to get there from London, UK.
There’s no question that a long journey or frequent trips can take a toll on our gut. Here are my 3 top strategies for making sure you arrive with your gut health intact.
1. Plan Your Eating
While you’re planning what to pack and how much time you need to get to the airport, you also need to build in some time to think about your food strategy.
It’s important to put some planning in! You need to consider how your food and diet situation is going to fit in with the journey you’re about to take.
If you’re following a strict dietary protocol right now like Autoimmune Paleo or GAPS, you particularly need to plan carefully.
I travelled to South America whilst doing the GAPS Intro diet and it worked out just fine. This diet is notoriously strict but I managed to stick to it, and I continued to heal myself while away from home. You can too!
Before leaving the house, cook up some food that fits with your current gut-healing protocol and put it into some plastic food containers that you can take with you on the journey. Yes, it takes a little time to prepare but it’s worth it.
Make sure the food containers you use are the 100% sealable type, so that they won’t spill out into your hand luggage.
If you can afford to be a little less strict, depending on where you are with your health and diet situation right now, another option is to buy some healthy food at the airport.
But this is only an option if you’re using a major airport like Heathrow in London. where you’ve got a huge selection of food outlets and you can be sure to find something that fits with your current diet.
2. Avoid Food Black Spots
During your journey, you need to avoid what I call food black spots, for example:
- Any food served in economy class on airplanes. It’s mostly terrible, processed crap!
- Quick-grab airport food like pastries, donuts and poor-quality sandwiches
- Junk food from outlets like McDonalds or KFC
These are the kinds of things that 12 hours into your journey, when you’re feeling tired and hungry, you might be very tempted to reach for!
You may feel like you need a sugary hit and you start looking at the donuts and thinking, ‘A couple of those won’t do me any harm.’, but don’t give into those cravings!
Why? This kind of poor-quality food will not give your body the nutrients it needs. Instead it will:
- Irritate your gut and feed the bad bacteria
- Cause inflammation in your body
- Leave you feeling tired and weak
- Worsen any existing health problems that you have, slowly but surely.
Be aware in those moments and be ready, be prepared! Instead of reaching for the processed, crappy, coach-class plane food, you have your food container of fresh, home-cooked food ready to go.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Fast
If there are no good-quality food choices available in front of you in the moment when you’re feeling really hungry, it’s okay to have nothing. In other words, don’t be afraid to fast!
Here at GG we’re into fasting as a method of healing our gut, although it’s not for everyone. Check out our Fasting Quick Guide.
Fasting is partly a mind-game. You may need to tell yourself firmly, “I can go without food until my destination. I can ride through this hunger and these cravings. My gut and whole body will thank me”
Fasting gives your body a chance to detox, something that’s particularly important for folks with gut issues. Your digestion is allowed to switch off and your body can instead devote resources to healing, repair and eliminating toxins.
Fasting also gives you a chance to lose some weight, if you that’s one of your objectives.
I don’t recommend fasting if you’re underweight or have the kind of severe gut problems that leave you malnourished on a day-to-day basis. In that situation your gut isn’t absorbing nutrients properly and going a long time between meals can feel really unpleasant.
If you’re in a relatively healthy place and have some fat to burn, a period of fasting while you’re on the road is a better option that eating crappy-quality food.
So, if you don’t have a decent food choice in front of you right now, it’s not the end of the world. Just wait until you find some better options or you reach your destination.
Go check out the other half of this two-part post: Gut-Healthy Travels: 3 Strategies to Survive Any Destination and learn how to keep your gut healthy and safe in even the most distant, exotic destinations!