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Flying With IBS: How to Avoid and Manage Bloating

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We all love traveling, but for those with irritable bowel syndrome, the physical impact of flying can be fear and anxiety-inducing because of the potential exacerbation of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms in flight. The bloating is real - it happens to all of us because of the change in air pressure. The air pressure in an airplane cabin is lower than at sea level. This allows for air and gas to expand in the intestines, causing the stomach to cramp.

Here are 8 travel tips to help you take better control of your bloating and enjoy a more comfortable flight without fear or anxiety:

 

1. Exercise before your flight

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Low impact exercises, such as yoga and cycling, are a great way to relieve and prevent IBS symptoms.  Be sure to repeat these exercises after you land. This will help mitigate any discomfort resulting from the flight.  Stay tuned for some upcoming tips on the best exercises for managing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms.

 

2. Start your morning with ginger tea or fresh lemon squeezed in hot water

These digestion-friendly, anti-inflammatory teas will help prevent IBS-related inflammation and mitigate the symptom of bloating during plane travel. 

 

3. Avoid consuming:

-Carbonated beverages (club soda/ soft drinks/ beer/ sparkling wine) expand in the gut and will result in more bloating, gas, and a tendency to cramp the stomach.

-Caffeine is a bowel stimulant and can cause an increase in diarrhea during the flight.

-Dairy products, broccoli, beans, brussels sprouts, cucumbers, radishes, cabbage, peas, and salads. While these foods, in certain quantities, are acceptable on a low FODMAP diet, it is best to stay away from them before and during your flight, if you want to avoid IBS attacks.

 

4. Stay hydrated

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Drinking lots of water will help maintain regular bowel movements and avoid constipation.

 

5. Avoid chewing gum

Avoid airport and airplane food to remain symptom-free - this is not the time to cheat! Epicured is not yet serving airlines, so in the interim, keep your gut happy and ensure you maintain a low FODMAP regime during this time by bringing a meal and some snacks with you. 

-Recommended Epicured Meals & Sides: Pad ThaiGrilled ChickenGrilled SteakHerbed QuinoaBasmati RiceZaatar ChickenCarrot PureeOrzo SaladWhipped PotatoesMashed Sweet Potato

-Recommended Epicured Snacks: Energy BitesTrail MixOriginal Granola 

-Bring your own herbal tea (e.g: lemon or ginger). The teas served on the airplane are often black teas, which have caffeine and are high in FODMAPs.

Chewing gum often increases the amount of air swallowed and bloating. Chewers beware: It is important to note that many sugar-free gums contain sorbitol, a sugar alcohol and type of polyol, which is off limits for a low FODMAP diet. Sorbitol increases gut fermentation and produces an osmotic effect in the large intestines resulting in diuretic and laxative effects. 

 

6. Pack low FODMAP meals & snacks

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Avoid airport and airplane food - this is not the time to cheat! Epicured is not yet serving airlines, so in the interim, keep your gut happy and ensure you maintain a low FODMAP regime during this time by bringing a meal and some snacks with you. 

-Recommended Epicured Meals & Sides: Pad Thai, Grilled Chicken, Grilled Steak, Herbed Quinoa, Basmati Rice, Zaatar Chicken, Carrot Puree, Orzo Salad, Whipped Potatoes, Mashed Sweet Potato

-Recommended Epicured Snacks: Energy Bites, Trail Mix, Original Granola 

-Bring your own herbal tea (e.g: lemon or ginger). The teas served on the airplane are often black tea, which has caffeine and is high in FODMAPs.

 

7. Eat slowly

We all swallow air when we eat. By eating at a slower pace, you can avoid drawing excessive amounts of air into your digestive tract and causing more gas.

 

8. Take a walk in the cabin

If your flight is greater than two hours, make sure to walk down the aisles every two hours for the remainder of your flight. This will help with gas movement and alleviating bloating, as well as increasing blood circulation. 

No more need for the anxiety and fear surrounding plane travel... Follow these 8 travel tips and feel confident and comfortable on your next flight!  Bon voyage!

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About Author

Renee Cherkezian, RN
Renee Cherkezian, RN

Food and medicine have always been Renee’s two great passions. As a teenager, in her Armenian-American household in northern New Jersey, she was side-by-side with her mother in their kitchen, figuring out the perfect blend of herbs for the tabbouleh or the perfect rub for the kebabs. But she decided that medicine would be her career and attended Georgetown University School of Nursing before eventually becoming an OR nurse manager at Weill Cornell Medical Center. Naturally, amongst her friends and family, she was always serving as a defacto health expert and navigator. This is how Renee’s clinical and culinary passions came first truly came into alignment: A close friend was battling cancer. His oncologist recommended following the complex neutropenic diet, so Renee took over his kitchen. She invented recipes, she cooked entire weekends, and she made sure that he had everything he needed to get back to good health. She continued to hone her culinary skills, working nights at David Burke Townhouse after shifts in the OR; she moved to Paris to study at the Ritz Escoffier. This, combined with her clinical experience, would become the foundation of Epicured--a company dedicated to creating delicious, healing food that helps people keep chronic disease in check and feel great.

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