Written by Sophie
It’s taken me a while, but I feel that after two years in Asia and plenty of travelling I have finally worked out how to avoid stomach issues as much as I can! I’m not promising that these tips will ward off bugs or food poisoning but aside from avoiding dodgy food, unclean water and unwashed/cooked veggies and fruits….I hope that these tips will help you as much as they have helped me, as we do all like to indulge and relax on holiday!
1. Avoid foods/ingredients you know you’re allergic or sensitive to
The likelihood is that because you’re on holiday you will be enjoying a few cocktails at happy hour and wine with dinner (as well as a beer or two here and there). Therefore in order to not have to compromise on this you should be extra careful to avoid the foods that you are sensitive too and take the time to speak to the waiters about this too. It sounds like an obvious point but I’ve come to realised that often there are added ingredients you wouldn’t expect, e.g. be careful there isn’t wheat added to sauces you have if you’re sensitive to gluten; and sometimes there are a lot more temptations that you would have at home, i.e. try and resist that ice-cream if you don’t tolerate dairy well…and if you’re stomach reacts to spice then make sure you don’t go for the extra chilli!
Taking probiotics whilst you are away gives your stomach a fighting chance of warding off bacteria and helping your digestive system run as smoothly as possible when abroad. I use a brand called Optibac (you can buy this in UK, Singapore or online if you live elsewhere) and they’re great because they do different ranges for different kinds of problems. I tend to take the daily wellbeing probiotics but they also do immunity, travelling abroad and a few others.
3. Start the day with hot water and lemon
This another thing I swear by! I am a big coffee lover so sometimes it’s hard not to reach for the coffee pot when I wake up, but having a hot water and lemon is so soothing and I have noticed a big difference in how my stomach feels throughout the day if I make the effort to do this. If you don’t have lemons wherever you are staying, any other citrus fruit will do and hot water on its own still has benefits.
4. Peppermint tea
Continuing the hot drink theme, Peppermint tea is often my saviour when I haven’t listened to the below points and end up a bit bloated with stomach cramps! It is so soothing, really does aid the digestive system and I find that within a short time after having one the pain has eased up. Other herbal teas which are also great for digestion: fennel, ginger, nettle and dandelion tea. Often hotels will provide these teas, but best to bring some yourself just in case.
5. Alkaline foods – avoid Acidic food
Coffee is very acidic and one I find hard to resist, but among other acidic foods such as alcohol, sugar, dairy and ready meat which you are likely to want to enjoy, it is important to balance this out with alkaline food. The principle of Alkaline food choices is that it resets your stomach and ensures that it creates an environment within your stomach that promotes good health and helps your system to rid your body of bad bacteria. Your body naturally helps you to get rid of toxins so keeping your system as alkaline as possible gives it a helping hand in doing so….making sure you can enjoy your holiday even more! This is an article which explains in more detail if you’re interested in finding out more about it: http://www.marieclaire.co.uk/blogs/suzannah-ramsdale/543548/alkaline-diet-what-is-it-and-does-it-work.html
6. Fruit and Veg
Keep up your fruit and veg intake when you’re on holiday! This means your fibre levels will remain normal and therefore your intestine will continue to function well. Ways of incorporating it in your diet; fruit salads or mushrooms/spinach/tomatoes alongside your usual breakfast options; salads for lunch; a side of steamed/roasted veg alongside your dinner; fruit for snacks during the day.
7. Light lunch
Unless you are continuing a specific diet plan on holiday, I would say to eat lightly during the day and then have your bigger meal in the evening….firstly because that tends to be the norm on holiday so you can enjoy it more, and also because the lighter meals during the day won’t cause you any grief whilst you are trying to go about your day, be it lying by the pool or wandering around tourist attractions. Having the carbs at night will also help you to sleep better as when you eat carbs your body releases serotonin which relaxes you (another reason to avoid at lunchtime so you don’t get that afternoon food coma) I’m not saying stuff your face in the evening as being overfull isn’t good for you, but i just mean a few nights of having your bigger meal later on really won’t affect your health and could make your holiday daytimes more enjoyable.
Even including some light exercise on a daily basis is not only great for your health but really does help your digestive system, particularly if you are on a relaxing beach holiday when it’s likely that the rest of the holiday will be spent lying on your back by a pool or beach. The exercise will stimulate your digestive system, helping everything to continue processing through your intestine and generally functioning well. When you’re on holiday the best things to do are; walking, swimming, yoga (if it’s available its great because it’s particularly good for digestion) or just a quick session at the gym if there is one.
9. One treat a day
Try and limit your indulgences if you have a sensitive stomach. It’s really easy to overeat when you’re in ‘holiday mode’ (I know this better than anyone!) but try not to go overboard as overeating is bad for you. If you limit yourself to 1 indulgence per day it’ll help you make better choices and not make your system work too hard.
10. Water – drink lots of it but make sure it’s ok to drink as well!
As we keep being told by sources, it’s so important to drink plenty of water to keep hydrated. But when it comes to your stomach and being abroad, it’s really important to make sure that the water you are actually drinking is ok for you! It might be better to splash out and stick to bottled water if you find that the change in water affects you, particularly as in some restaurants and hotels the ‘iced water’ is just cold tap water so might not sit well with you.
Bonus tip (generally good thing to take): Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
This isn’t an obvious one to pack with you on holiday, but I promise you it is worth it!! From personal experience, having a tsp of ACV first thing in the morning, or more regularly when on holiday, I have found that if there is any cramping or bacteria then it aids this very quickly. When I first moved to Asia I had constant stomach ache for about 6 months, I even saw a nutritionist to try to work out what was wrong, and nothing worked! I then read about ACV and started taking it on a daily basis and along with a slightly restricted diet it got me back to normal. Now I take it when I can feel that my stomach is starting to go off course again so it is a great aid to have with you when you are away just in case. Here are some other more official reasons other than my recommendation as to why you should take it: http://bembu.com/apple-cider-vinegar-detox