America is undoubtedly a food lover’s paradise, with diverse cuisine and endless options from sea to shining sea. But when you travel, especially to a developing country, your options can become quite limited. In many destinations, it is highly advised to avoid all raw vegetables because there is no clean water to wash them. No salad for three weeks is a real bummer. Learn how to eat healthy even when there are serious food restrictions when traveling. Get your passport ready.
How to Eat Healthy While Traveling
Peel your own fruits and vegetables. You can’t be sure that chopped fruits and vegetables haven’t been tainted with dirty water. But if you peel that banana, apple or orange yourself, you’ll know exactly what has or hasn’t contaminated the fruit inside. Fruits and vegetables that you peel before eating are generally safe to eat wherever you go. Just be sure that the knife you use doesn’t have any kind of funky residue on it.
Talk to other travelers. If you’re staying in one town for a while or posting up in the tourist neighborhood of a big city, it’s easy to meet other travelers. Talk to people who have been there for a while. Have they gotten sick at any restaurants? Are there cafes known for being safe eating for tourists? Get the low-down.
Eat local foods. Local chefs know how to cook local foods, but for Western dishes they may not be as aware of safe preparations. You’re usually safer eating the local cuisine than trying for a pizza or sandwich.
Do your research. Learn about the culture, people, food and safety of the destination you are traveling to. Tap water is perfectly safe in some countries, such as Costa Rica. In Egypt, you don’t even want to brush your teeth in it. Prepare for your travels to feel more comfortable, and to get more out of your trip.
Don’t assume what’s safe for locals to eat and drink is safe for you. People from different parts of the world have different combinations of bacteria in their guts. The Nepalese drink from mountain streams, Thais eat street meats and Moroccans sip mint tea poured from wells. They won’t get sick, but you just might.
Hire a guide. Guides are great for leading the way towards restaurants with safe food. The last thing they want is for their clients to get sick and be unable to get out of bed. They’ll usually steer you clear of questionable restaurants.
Look for restaurants that advertise food safe for tourists. While this isn’t a sure thing at all, many tourist-oriented restaurants in developing countries wash their fruits and vegetables in water purified with iodine. They know that you are craving a fresh green salad. It’s best to ask around about the safety of the restaurant instead of just believing the advertisement – but it can be a good place to start.
Eat it anyway. There’s a particular breed of traveler out there that eats anything and everything, claiming that they are building up their immune system and/or gut bacteria. They are usually hardy types that bounce right back from a bout with food poisoning. If this sounds like you, then take your chances and eat it anyway. Just be sure to pack plenty of anti-diarrhea medicines, antibiotics and rehydration powder.
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