Five IBS Travel Tips

Last week I attended an energizing entrepreneurial event in San Diego and one of the takeaways was to make a commitment to ourselves to "play a bigger game" in our business. For my career goals, this partly meant that I needed to get over myself and my anxieties about learning a new social media platform, specifically Instagram. I feel so old school in certain ways, cause "The Gram" feels like it's for the youngsters (even though I'm not that old). I'm sure some of you feel my pain. But I think it's good to push ourselves into new realms and go outside our comfort zones for the sake of growth!

This week on Instagram, I've been talking about one of my favorite topics, which is how to travel with IBS and dietary restrictions. I get asked that question a lot from clients who are concerned about going on a business trip or who want to take a vacation but are worried about it. I've written about this topic before regarding international travel but today I'm going to share five simple tips that help me, whether I'm traveling domestically or to another country.

Tip 1. Prepare in advance and bring some low FODMAP snacks and essentials along with you! Man was I glad I brought some gluten free bread and Owyn low FODMAP protein shakes with me.

The first day of the conference, we were running late so we went to the buffet because it was much faster. For $24 I had watery eggs, fruit, and dry cornflakes. Yikes, ok so lesson learned there. The next day I grabbed a banana at the Grab-N- Go cafe in the resort. I had brought from home individual peanut butter packets so I spread the PB and some banana slices on my gluten free bread. Along with half an Owyn protein shake, it sufficiently filled me up for quite a while and gave me the energy I needed to sit through morning meetings.

Tip 2. Get your booty moving! Oh I know it is so hard to exercise when on vacation, but it doesn't mean you have to go to the boring old hotel gym. In our recent travels, we were at the beach in a warm location, so my hubby and I went out for morning walks on the beach and did a little swimming in the pool. I have fibromyalgia along with IBS and other health issues, so I have a lot of fatigue and pain and I understand that it's easier not to exercise sometimes. But I really feel so much better if I move my body in some capacity every day, especially if I'm going to be sitting in a conference for hours. And research shows that exercise can reduce the severity of IBS, so it's an important part of your IBS management!

Tip 3. Check out restaurant menus ahead of time. Before I venture into a new restaurant I tend to stalk their menus online. If they don't have the menu on their website or don't have a website (which can be the case in certain countries), Yelp often contains photos of menus. Though I'd suggest checking the dates the photos were taken on Yelp and choose the more recent one, since I've definitely been disappointed a few times to find the menu had changed! In general, I have found that places with gluten free options tend to be more accommodating to dietary requests. This isn't a hard and fast rule by any means, but just an observation and that's how I tend to choose a restaurant since I need to be gluten free.

Tip 4. "Ask and Ye Shall Receive!" I mentioned that I went to the hotel cafe to buy a banana. They didn't actually have bananas on display but they made smoothies there so I assumed they had bananas. Sure enough they did and were happy to sell me one. But I never would have known if I hadn't asked.

Here's another example: for one dinner we went out to a wonderful Thai restaurant and I had leftovers that I would have liked to have for lunch the next day but we didn't have a microwave in our hotel room. I called the front desk to ask if there was a microwave on the premises for me to use somewhere, but they said there wasn't. However they asked if I wanted a microwave delivered to my room and promptly brought me one!

The point is that you have to ask for what you need sometimes. The same is true when going out to eat, where I feel I've become a bit of a pro at asking for modifications. I used to hate this and I'm not saying it's entirely comfortable ever, because no one wants to be "that guy" who has a million dietary requests and makes the waiter roll their eyes at you. But eventually I said "screw it!" because I'm not willing to be sick or in pain for the sake of avoiding someone's possible negative opinion of me. If they want you to come back to their restaurant and leave a positive review (and they do!), they will do their best to accommodate your dietary preferences. I have written about this ordering at a restaurant topic before so check it out!

5. Finally, don't forget to relax on your vacation! Yes it seems like an obvious goal, to relax on a vacation but how many times have you heard someone say "I need a vacation from that vacation?!" It's seriously a thing; over-scheduling yourself with too many touristy activities, constantly being on the go, making sure everyone else's needs are met, which can ultimately be exhausting. We know from research that there's a mind/gut connection, and stress can make IBS worse. So make sure you schedule yourself some downtime on your next vacation, whether it's reading a book by the pool, strolling down the beach, taking a yoga class, or chilling in the hot tub- whatever it is that you makes you feel calm and happy!

PS would you give me some Instagram love and follow me @katewatsonrd? It would be so awesome to connect with you there!