A lineup of fast food items including burgers, soda, fried chicken, and french fries.

Fast Food and Other IBS Travel Nightmares

Last updated: November 2022

I recently took a vacation that involved being on the road for more than 60 hours in total. Being on the road all day during a week-long road trip had a number of challenges. One of which was the food that was available at the end of they day.

We traveled for many hours most days and I couldn’t eat until I was going to be at the hotel for the rest of the night. This meant only certain restaurants were open, and the choices were all terrible for someone with IBS.

Fast food options are terrible for IBS

I ended most days on the road so late that only fast food restaurants were still open. Fast food does not sit well with me. Most of it is fried or beef. Many have salads as well, but salads cause just as many problems.

Fast food restaurants simply do not offer foods that don’t agitate my IBS. Unfortunately, that was often all that was available to me. Worry causes stress, and stress causes symptoms. I was terrified of what would happen.

Hoping to leave symptoms at the hotel

Since I ended each day starving, I had to take the risk. Sometimes it went well and sometimes I spent all night running back and forth to the bathroom and hoping things would be better before we needed to leave the hotel.

I started every day with a quick assessment of my symptoms. Leaving the hotels each day was hard because I feared symptoms would hit while we were in the middle of nowhere.

Choosing from a menu of trigger foods

Why are fast food restaurants a problem? Most restaurants offer an assortment of hamburgers. Beef is a major trigger for me. Chicken and fries are dripping in grease. Even the grilled chicken at most places is seasoned with something that triggers symptoms. Salads are a big trigger, too.

What does that leave? Nothing. My choices are to starve or eat and hope for the best. Since I could not fast for multiple days in a row, I had no choice but to choose from a menu of IBS triggers.

Trying to medicate away the symptoms of IBS

I did have some medication with me. When symptoms flared up I did take something and hoped it would help before I had to strike out on the road again. If you have IBS and have tried medication, you know it is hit and miss and you never know when it will or will not work.

Thankfully, I was fortunate that it calmed my symptoms when I resorted to trying meds during my trip. Only twice did I find myself hunting down a bathroom in unfamiliar areas. I also have mobility issues and need a family bathroom if possible, making it even more difficult to find a suitable place to go. Fun times.

Trying to find better options when traveling

Despite the challenges of it all, I feel lucky to have made it well over 2,000 miles without an accident. I ate more fast food in that one week than I have in several months and I could certainly feel the effects. Thankfully, the worst of it happened when I made it home. It took several days to calm the storm.

Before I take another trip, I need to better prepare myself for finding suitable foods while I am on the go. Fast food is the easiest to find, but it certainly isn’t what I need. It’s quite literally an accident waiting to happen. How do you manage when all you can find is fast food? I would love to hear your tips and tricks for dealing with IBS symptoms when you’re stuck with nothing but fast food.

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