Should I Eat This? Top Tips for Staying Healthy Abroad

*You can view the original article on GivingWay’s website.

We often see amazing photos of unusual foods from other countries and read other travelers’ and volunteers’ stories regaling us with tales of the delicacies they tried. However, we also have heard of some really awful nights spent in the hostel bathroom after an unfortunate turn at the table. No one wants to miss out on an incredible experience, but where do we draw the line? And how to we avoid being out of commission due to food poisoning or other unfortunate related illnesses?

Check out the top travel tips for staying healthy abroad:

  • Ask your host family, hostel, or other travellers about the water. In some countries such as Switzerland, you can drink straight out of the public fountains! But other countries’ water supplies may generally upset sensitive stomachs, even for brushing one’s teeth. Instead of purchasing inordinate quantities of bottled water, however, try for a straw or water bottle filter. You can find these online for under 20 USD$. You’ll save money, keep the tummy happy, and be environmentally conscious at the same time!
  • Talk to your doctor or local pharmacist for some really helpful medications for typical upset stomach and digestion issues. Also, a daily probiotic and multivitamin will go a long way. It’s worth the space in your bag to bring these along.
  • Meat and dairy are some of the biggest culprits for food poisoning. Yogurt or ice cream in one place will not be the same as in another. They are different in every country and can really upset your stomach, even if you’re used to eating the product at home. I would make a big exception in Italy, ALWAYS have gelato in Italy.Tips for eating when traveling abroad
  •  Fresh fruits and veggie salads get a bad reputation as well, so remember that foods with “skin” on them such as oranges, bananas, and melons are much safer since the skin protects from any water. Cooked veggies are always safer than their raw counterpart.
  • Make friends! The people that you meet may have some great food recommendations. And invite them to eat with you because you never know when you’ll meet a lifelong friend and make some amazing memories across the table.Tips for eating when traveling abroad
  • Know your limits, because the foods and drinks that are fine for locals may not sit as well with you. If you’re unused to type of beverages and other foods, just try a little at a time and see what happens. If whatever you’re trying is really, really good, come back the next day for the full experience!

But keep an open mind and take some risks! Don’t let worrying about what’s on your plate take away from your volunteer or travel experience. Getting sick can happen and that’s okay. Sometimes those times may actually make for some of the best stories!

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Book Review – Crave Eat Heal

This is my favorite cookbook. No, I’m not kidding and they aren’t paying us to say this. In fact, I’m not even sure who the author is. However, to me it’s a revolutionary (although not unique) book on how we should feed and nourish ourselves.

Most cookbooks take the viewpoint of a particular diet, region, or tradition. But Crave Eat Heal takes an entirely different approach. The book starts with what our tastebuds scream at us to shove into our faces (tostitos and bean dip followed by chocolate mint chip ice cream, anyone else? Anyone?) and finds an alternative that isn’t “the healthy option!”, but that actually gives our bodies the nutrients, both physically AND emotionally, that we need.

We are the modern age of reduce reduce reduce reduce. Less sugar. Less meat. Less sodium. Less fat. Less gluten. Less oxygen. Wait, that one’s not right. I get these things mixed up sometimes. Sorry.

And while there are certainly foods that are more healthy or less healthy, beneficial or detrimental, etc to our physical bodies, aren’t we missing something? Or rather, while we’re taking all of these bad things out, what are we putting back in? Low calorie instant freezer meals kept in fallout shelters from the 60s and then repackaged?! (I’m looking at you, LeanCuisine.)

The book also bases its contents on the simple fact that our bodies are constantly providing feedback for what they need. We get thirsty, so drink water. Our lips get chapped so put chapstick on. Our eyes get itchy and we sneeze in polluted air, so fiche le camp! Why is our food any different? If we’re craving something sweet, our bodies could genuinely be needing something that sweet foods have in them. Here’s the kicker, what we need may partly be physical, but it can also be emotional.

When do we feel like ice cream? After bad breakups and getting fired. When do we like salty chips and popcorn? Movies and parties and other exciting events. Whatever you’re craving, there’s a good possibility that a connection between your emotional and your physical needs exist. And Crave Eat Heal answers what to do about it.

This cookbook lets you choose what your craving is and offers a variety of simple and truly nourishing, unprocessed stuff (re: with nutrients) that will give your entire being the physical AND emotional filling that you need, not just your stomach. A hardback cover and pretty pictures will get you interested but coupled with a charming and funny rogue-chef-gone-writer to take you along this culinary journey, well, I leave the next raving reviews for you.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with some ice cream, either. Cheers!