How to avoid holiday health problems on a gluten-free diet

Nutritionist Kate Arnold explains how to avoid unpleasant issues while gluten-free abroad…

gluten-free diet on holiday

Over half of women who have been on holiday (54%) have had their holiday spoilt by a health issue, according to a new poll commissioned by constipation treatment Dulcolax.

Nutritionist and bowel expert Kate Arnold says: “It’s awful when you become unwell on holiday or something happens to spoil it – you don’t want anything to get in the way of your precious time off. Unfortunately, digestive problems like constipation or diarrhoea are common due to the change in your routine. Spending more time sitting in a car, or on a plane or by the pool and eating different foods at odd times can cause problems and really affect how you feel. Luckily there are many ways to prevent these problems. Sneak in a daily walk or swim to keep the gut moving. Eat and go to the toilet at regular times and ensure you are eating lots of fibre like wholegrains, nuts and vegetables.

If you’re gluten-free, you may be particularly at risk of constipation since lots of people get most of their fibre from wholegrain bread products, and unfortunately many gluten-free breads contain little fibre. It might be harder to find gluten-free products on holiday, so take some high-fibre snacks with you like gluten-free oatcakes, seeds to sprinkle on your fruit and yoghurt at breakfast, and nuts.

gluten-free diet on holiday

Making changes before you go away

Perhaps because of how common health problems are on holiday, over 3 in 5 (67%) women change their health and exercise habits in the run up: 41% eat more healthily, almost a quarter (23%) try to tone up, and about one in 10 (11%) cut out sugar in a bid to prepare for their holiday.

“A last-minute health kick before a holiday can produce short-term results, but making extreme changes fast can be bad for your health. To make sure you feel comfortable and confident during your break, optimising your gut health is the most effective way to bring long-term benefits. Having a strong, healthy bowel means you won’t feel bloated or sluggish, so you’re free to focus on your plans. All it takes are some simple changes like making sure you drink plenty of water. Reducing processed, salty and sugary food can also help keep bowels regular and reduce bloating.”

gluten-free diet on holiday

Pre-holiday gut detox

Don’t hit the gym before you go on holiday. Instead, focus on your gut health and try this pre-holiday plan to get your body into shape. 

1. Banish body clock blues

The gut is a creature of habit and loves routine, so if you’re crossing time zones it’s likely your bowel will be disrupted. Make gradual adjustments to your routine in the weeks before your holiday by going to bed a few hours earlier or later to help your body adjust to the new time zone slowly.     

2. Water is key

Dry airplane air and hot, sweat-inducing destinations can make us constipated and bloated. Making sure you’re properly hydrated in the days before can help counteract this and keep your digestive system working at its best.

gluten-free diet on holiday

3. Move it

It’s really important to get in even gentle exercise while you’re away to keep everything moving, so you might want to start with a short walk or by practising some simple yoga positions that you can do in your hotel room. Twisting moves might be particularly helpful for stimulating the bowels.

4. Fabulous fibre

High-fibre foods are vital to keep things moving through our guts, and luckily there are many gluten-free options. Make sure you’re eating fresh fruit, green leafy vegetables and whole grains every day before you go away so that your bowels aren’t bunged up. Products made from alternative grains like brown rice, chickpea flour and buckwheat are also good options.

5. What not to do

Certain foods and drinks can be particularly problematic for our guts, so it’s best to avoid or reduce your intake before the extra strain that holidays can cause. Sugary foods may clog up your digestion and alcohol can be dehydrating.

To help manage constipation on holiday and to make sure it doesn’t get in the way of your plans, Dulcolax has a free guide including tips and food swaps. Download it at

Kate Arnold

Common wisdom tells us we need plenty of fibre to avoid constipation – so how can you keep things moving when living gluten-free? Nutritionist Kate Arnold shares her tips...Kate Arnold is a Nutrition Consultant, gut expert and health writer with over 18 years’ experience specialising in gastrointestinal disorders. She specialises in gastrointestinal health and fatigue disorders, with a particular interest in the human microbiome. Kate Arnold does not endorse Dulcolax or any other medicine.