Eating healthy is difficult in general, but during a trip it becomes much more difficult. We all have an inner sense of what is good and bad for us, we just choose to ignore that feeling from time to time. To eat well while traveling, you need to pay attention to what common sense says more than ever. Unfortunately, the spontaneous nature of the backpack and its unfamiliarity with eating and foreign food practices often hinders its ability to hear that inner voice. Below are a few factors to consider and tips for you to stay healthy during your travels with a little history to draw attention to what you eat overseas.
The death of a friend:
Just over a month ago, my family doctor since I was a child has passed away. The reason? In his wanderings around his homeland, Peru, he ate something that did badly and ended up having food poisoning. I do not know if he ate anything more exotic if something was spoiled. I know it was his homeland, and yet his body did not hold out.
If this was not enough argument for you to be careful about your overseas food, I will introduce a few more along with some tips.
Outside, cook for yourself:
That way, you know everything that is going on in your food and you choose based on your own food requirements. This becomes more difficult when you are abroad, but it is not impossible. Many hostels and even hotels have kitchens as well. Also, it is cheaper and you start to pretend that you are a local when you go to the grocery store or supermarket, a great opportunity to know more about the culture of the region.
If you read labels at home, forget to do it abroad:
Portions have different sizes; the labels are in different units (like ounces or pounds) and are often in languages that you may not understand. Ignore the labels and focus on eating whole, unmodified foods, such as fruits, vegetables, cereals, and lean meats. After all, an apple in Cambodia is the same nutritionally as an apple at home. New exotic fruits should also be addressed with care, as you may have an allergic reaction to them.
Some regional foods can be greasy and full of calories and fat. This does not mean that you should not try, the same being true for weird fruits. Just see the portions you consume. Eat a little piece one day and see the result. If the next day you are well, you can eat some more again. Remember something very important too: Japanese food in Japan will be WELL different from Japanese food. If you exaggerate or do not take care, you may end up having to stop at a hospital.
Also remember that each country has its own junk food. Junk-food abroad is harder to spot. Usually what locals consider junk is cheap and widely available. Examples include pizza in Italy, croquettes in Spain and Chinese snacks. All these foods share a quality in common: less energy paired with more fat, filling. You will find some American favorites such as McDonalds and KFC. We suggest you run across the street looking for a supermarket.
Use healthy snacks:
Any exploitation of new territories will wear you out and make you get hungry. Hunger leads to poor nutritional choices. Fill yourself with snacks so you do not get tempted to buy some crap in the first place available. The best way to get healthy eating is through fiber (i.e., dried fruit / fresh fruit, nuts) paired with pure water.
Beware of those foreign germs!
Germs deserve an honorable mention. Being foreign means getting in touch with new germs (not necessarily the kind that are dangerous). Microorganisms exist in everything around them. Your body is accustomed to germs at home, but traveling exposes you to new ones. Eat anti-oxidants that help fight off foreign germs so that you are not sick while traveling. Good antioxidants to look for: blueberries, grains, anything integral, tomatoes and deep green vegetables like broccoli and spinach.
But can I eat outside?
Eating foods from the places you visit is a great experience and we encourage you to do so. But remember, people around the world eat differently. Reduce the damage and especially the risks using the suggestions above. You will want to try Italian pasta, so share a plate with a friend. Maybe you’ll feel good about an Argentine steak. Eat half for lunch and pair the other half with a salad made at the hotel or hostel. The healthier you feel, the better you will be able to move from one place to another and have fun.
Previous year, I visited Copenhagen. In-fact, I had travelled to many destinations but I love the food I had in Copenhagen.