Over half of women who have been on holiday (54%) have had their holiday spoilt by a health issue, according to a new poll commissioned by constipation treatment Dulcolax.
It's awful when you become unwell on holiday or something happens to spoil it - you don't want anything to get in the way of your precious time off. Unfortunately, digestive problems like constipation or diarrhoea are common due to the change in your routine. Spending more time sitting in a car, or on a plane or by the pool and eating different foods at odd times can cause problems and really affect how you feel. Luckily there are many ways to prevent these problems. Sneak in a daily walk or swim to keep the gut moving. Eat and go to the toilet at regular times and ensure you are eating lots of fibre like wholegrains, nuts and vegetables."
Making changes before you go away
Perhaps because of this, over 3 in 5 (67%) women change their health and exercise habits in the run up to their holiday: 41% eat more healthily, almost a quarter (23%) try to tone up, and over one in 10 (11%) cut out sugar in a bid to prepare for their holiday.
A last minute health kick before a holiday can produce short-term results, but making extreme changes fast can be bad for your health. To make sure you feel comfortable and confident during your break, optimising your gut health is the best most effective way to bring long-term benefits. Having a strong, healthy bowel means you won't feel bloated or sluggish, so you're free to focus on your plans. All it takes are some simple changes like making sure you drink plenty of water. Reducing heavily processed, salty and sugary food can also help keep bowels regular and reduce bloating.
Pre-holiday gut detox
Don't hit the gym before you go on holiday. Instead, focus on your gut health and try my pre-holiday plan to get your body in top shape.
• Banish body clock blues: the gut is a creature of habit and loves routine, so if you're crossing time zones it's likely your bowel will be disrupted. Make gradual adjustments to your routine in the weeks before your holiday by going to bed a few hours earlier or later to help your body adjust to the new time zone slowly.
• Water is key: dry airplane air and hot, sweat-inducing destinations can make us constipated and bloated. Making sure you're properly hydrated in the days before can help counteract this and keep your digestive system working at its best.
• Move it: it's really important to get in even gentle exercise while you're away to keep everything moving, so you might want to start with a short walk or by practising some simple yoga positions that you can do in your hotel room. Twisting moves might be particularly helpful for stimulating the bowels.
• Fabulous fibre: high-fibre foods are vital to keep things moving through our guts. Make sure you're eating fresh fruit, green leafy vegetables and whole grains every day before you go away so that your bowels aren't bunged up.
• What not to do: certain foods and drinks can be particularly problematic for our guts so it's best to avoid or reduce your intake before the extra strain that holidays can cause. Sugary foods may clog up your digestion and alcohol can be dehydrating.
To help manage constipation on holiday and to make sure it doesn't get in the way of your plans, Dulcolax has a free guide including tips and food swaps. Download it at https://www.myconstipationrelief.com/uk/need-to-know/holiday-health
About Kate Arnold
Kate Arnold is a nutritionist with more than 18 years' experience specialising in gastrointestinal disorders. She works with a range of organisations and individuals from her clinic in Sussex.
Kate Arnold does not endorse Dulcolax or any other medicine.