Recently, I returned from a 10-day tour of China. The highlight, unsurprisingly, would have to be the Great Wall, but I was also blown away by the wonderful “hidden treasures” this county has to offer as well as the exceptional hospitality of many locals I encountered.

On this tour, my group was chaperoned around various cities from Beijing to Shanghai. Breakfast was provided at the hotels, which was a challenge for many of my fellow travellers.

Not being adventurous, they would opt for foods they felt safe with. By day four, however, many were suffering from digestive issues, mostly in the form of constipation.

I decided to take note of what my fellow Westerners were eating. Thus, I was able to share trade secrets on what they should be eating instead and what they should be avoiding if they wanted to alleviate their symptoms.

The Westerners’ Food Choices

The most common food choices I saw on people’s breakfast plates included processed meats and foods, battered and deep-fried. Examples would be fried eggs, sausages, battered meats, etc.

We were also offered a variety of processed breakfast cereals, and I didn’t fail to notice that this was the second most popular breakfast choice.

While tourists often consider these foods the safest choices, most cereals are devoid of nutrients and much-needed fibre.

Travel Breaks Your Routine

When you travel, there are various factors that can make you predisposed to constipation, especially when you reach the age of 55.

These include a change in your normal routine, changes in the types of foods available, lack of hydration, increased time sitting, lack of your usual exercise. All of these stress your gut flora, which can easily get upset, especially if your magnesium levels are lowered due to air travel.   

What Food Should You Be Eating?

I walked around the breakfast buffet with anyone willing to listen, sharing with them professional advice about the types of foods they should be eating to relieve them of their constipation woes.

Nuts

Nuts are a filling food that is also high in fibre, and you need fibre when you’re fighting constipation. The exact type of nut is irrelevant, unless you have food allergies. 

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods are extremely good at promoting the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut. You only need a very small amount, just 1-2 teaspoons per meal.

Greens

Greens, in their glorious variety, are rich in fibre and help to add bulk and weight to stools. During my trip, they were abundant at every breakfast.

Fluids

Staying hydrated is very important, especially since dehydration is often a major cause of constipation while travelling.

Being on a bus all day, not knowing when the next toilet stop may be, and feeling uncomfortable using a toilet that doesn’t look like anything you’ve seen back home (using a squat certainly challenged some of my fellow travellers) also add to the fray.

Whenever you travel next, don’t forget that your comfort is largely dependent on the food you eat!

What health issues do you experience when you travel? How do you handle them? Do you have a certain formula that works? What tips can you share with our community? Please start the conversation in the comments below.

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