On a recent trip to India, I succumbed to the worst bout of traveler’s diarrhea I’ve ever suffered … worse than my jungle weight loss program in Belize, far worse than altitude sickness in Nepal and stranger than whatever I got in China which resulted in a trip to a Beijing hospital and moxibustion treatment…
This devastating round of “Delhi Belly”, to be fair to Delhi, actually hit in Shimla, and had me well acquainted with our host’s toilet bowl. Fortunately my room had a private bathroom… great for violent vomiting, not so great if you pass out on the toilet. 24 hours and two cipro tablets later, the aggressive upchucks had subsided but my gut was still churning. Unable to stomach any food, I hadn’t eaten all day and wouldn’t be able to eat for another two days. The rest of the crew were also taken down and a very miserable car ride from Shimla to Amritsar ensued, as we tried to guess which end it would be coming out of.
Everyone is quick to share their home remedies, ranging from squashed bananas to burnt toast (apparently the carbon lines the stomach…). Perhaps there’s a little truth in all of them, but the common factor I have discovered on my travels is bland yet nutrient key foods. The first food I was able to eat was a natural energy gel from a company called B-LINE. It was a mix of honey, molasses, chia seeds, raspberry and maple. You could make it at home, but it came in this handy packet that I’d thrown in my bag, not even anticipating this is how I’d use sports nutrition. We’d thrown in some other products from Feed The Machine which we were quickly retrieving from our bags. We had a range of meal replacements and electrolyte powders traditionally advertised for sports recovery and performance… turns out they’re a great way to replenish salts and fluids when you’ve vacuated your entire system.
And so we discovered sports nutrition ticks all the boxes for intrepid travelers. The packaging is designed to be lightweight for athletes to carry up mountains, so a few select products could be thrown in your bag along with your travel medications to complete your travel sickness recovery pack!
Here are our choices which you can buy at Feed The Machine (www.feedthemachine.com) for your convenience, but we’ve also included “homemade” alternatives.
1. Hydration - Dehydration is the next problem you’ll face after surviving a violent vomiting session. It’s a good idea to hydrate with water that contains electrolytes to replace the salts that your body is dumping.
Feed The Machine option: Core or Nuun
Homemade option: Water, coconut water, add salt to diet (ideally sea salt)
2.Easy Energy - Easy to eat and digest such as natural sugar! But find the good sugar… from fruits not candy. Sugar will give you a quick energy boost, useful for getting through security before crashing out on the plane!
Feed The Machine option: B-LINE Natural Energy Gels, Waffles
3. Immune Support - In an effort to rid your gut of the nasty bacteria, your system has thrown out the baby with the bathwater, sacrificing electrolytes, salts and good bacteria for the cause. You’ll benefit from replenishing your vitamins, minerals, amino acids, etc.
Feed The Machine option: SportMulti - vitamins & minerals, Performance Tea, Nuun Immunity, and CORE
Homemade option: Oranges, bananas and green vegetables (careful washing these or you’re back to square one!)
Now, our biggest concern about writing this article is striking the fear of God in your hearts about travel to foreign lands! Food is a big part of experiencing a foreign culture we encourage you dive into it. Travel Diarrhea affects westerners because we simply don’t have the bacteria load the locals do. With some care however you can still enjoy the local cuisine - trust your senses, if it smells off it probably is. Eat thoroughly cooked foods - A char-grilled scorpion isn’t going to do much but undercooked chicken will! Drink bottled water, wash your hands and avoid the street food (although Erik would encourage the iron glad guts out there!) Carry a basic kit of travel medication from your doctor (cipro or other antibiotics) and knowledge of good recovery foods like we’ve listed above will help. But remember, you can get food poisoning right as home, so don’t let it stop you enjoying the world … maybe just squeeze a “down day” into your schedule!
Comment below if you have any questions or other suggestions and check out our video on the topic.