Recently one of FODMAP Life’s fans Laura Cooper asked: “Any tips on how to combat bloating for traveling to the USA next week? I am genuinely so stressed about the plane journey and I love flying.. the pain I endure in the air is awful!”  Thanks for the question Laura!

laura cooper

Laura Cooper (at left) with friend

Of course I have tips!  I always loved traveling but in the last couple of years as I began to experience IBS symptoms, I started doing my homework.

Food & Drink:

“What would you like to drink?”  Oh so exciting to have choices when the flight attendants come around, but guess what – you need to limit those choices.  Don’t have anything carbonated because it can make bloating MUCH worse!  Carbonated drinks can lead to gas buildup in your intestinal tract = the blowfish look.

Limit how many fatty foods you eat.  When people travel together, they tend to eat foods higher in fat and fatty foods in your diet can actually delay the emptying of the stomach and cause bloating, because it causes food to move slowly through the digestive tract.

During flight, the tissue in your middle ear can get swollen from the change in cabin pressure, thus restricting the flow of air to equalize the pressure in your ear cavities.  Some people like to use chewing gum to help deal with the change in pressure (I haven’t touched Trident in years), but as you may or may not know, chewing gum can cause gas and bloating.  If you can do without gum, try drinking water and swallowing or yawning.

Limit salty foods – they can cause fluid retention.

DRINK plenty of water.  Keep yourself hydrated and help keep the “train” moving!

Remember to eat and drink slllloooowwwwllllyyyyy!  “Each time you take a breath, oxygen in the air enters your digestive tract. Normally, this oxygen gas is absorbed by your digestive tract, but when you take in too much air, some of the gas remains in the digestive tract, which can lead to bloating.”  Thank you for that explanation Johns Hopkins!  

travel quoteOther Foods to Avoid While Traveling:

If you follow the Low FODMAP diet then you should be in good shape to travel!  Take a look at these gas-causing foods – all high in FODMAPs!

  • Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts, as well as onions, garlic, mushrooms, artichokes, and asparagus.  Fruits like pears, apples, and peaches
  • Milk and milk products – cheese, ice cream, and yogurt
  • Packaged and processed foods
  • Whole grains – whole wheat and bran
  • Sugar-free candies and gums with sugar alcohols (sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol)

Moving:

Have some time to kill?  Instead of sitting in the airport waiting for your plane, you can help to stimulate the passage of gas through your digestive tract by going for a walk. And, instead of sitting in your seat for the entire trip, walk up and down the aisle of the plane (who cares if people are looking at you – you’re beautiful and people are easily distracted) 🙂 Traveling or not, I find exercise always helps to lessen gas.

What to Pack:

  • To help prevent and ward off bloating, bring a probiotic with you or digestive enzymes.
  • Often times it can be very hard to find healthy, clean, low FODMAP foods at the airport or on the plane.  Most everything is packaged, greasy or filled with sugar and chemicals.  You can bring your own salad, a bag of baby carrots and sliced zucchini, rice cakes, or take a look at my other snack ideas here.

One Last Thing:

I don’t know about you, but my feet, ankles and legs swell when I travel (looks pretty scary!).  So I use mild compression stockings (15–20 mmHg) and I have to say, it’s just one more thing that helps me feel better when traveling.

Bon Voyage!

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