When we travel we are our most indulgent selves, especially when it comes to new culinary experiences. But at some point in your travels, particularly if you’ve been travelling for a while you begin to notice you’re feeling poorly, a bit lethargic, and realise the last time you ate a vegetable was 5 days ago. We’ve all been there. In my opinion, eating is one of the best parts of travel. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in a different culture and to try something new. However, I’ve found that the longer I travel the more I start to feel the effects of over indulging on the local cuisine. Our health when we travel is not usually on the minds of most people but it is something that can greatly affect our experience when abroad. In my case, more often than not, it catches up to me and I start to notice I’m no longer feeling 100% and need to pick myself up so that I am happy and healthy enough to enjoy the rest of my travels. So here are 5 of the most common challenges faced when attempting to stay healthy on the road.
Not Drinking Enough Water – We all know we need water to survive and to drink approximately 8 glasses, or 2L, a day. Yet somehow we can find ourselves drinking the bare minimum when we travel. Often times drinking enough water is the solution to many traveller’s health complaints like a stubborn headache, a nasty hangover, dehydration in hotter-than-what-you’re-used-to weather, and is vital in the recovery from a bout of food poisoning. Drinking enough water is a challenge while travelling because reaching the daily quota isn’t necessarily at the forefront of many traveller’s minds.
Quick Solution: Depending on where you’re visiting drinking enough water may not be as simple as re-filling a drink bottle from a tap. In countries where you need to drink bottled water it may be helpful to buy larger bottles like 1L or 1.5L bottles rather than small 600ml ones so its easier to track how much you’re drinking in a day. The same goes for countries with safer drinking water where you can refill from the tap. The easiest way to ensure you’re drinking enough is to drink from 1-2 large bottles rather than counting glasses or calculating how many small bottles you need to drink from.
Not Eating Enough Colour – Picture this: You’re in Europe and going to town on the pastas, pizzas, chocolate, cheeses, pastries, sausages, and beer. Now have a think about what the common colour of all these dishes are. They’re all mostly brown with very little colour and by colour I mean a variety of other fruits and vegetables. Carbohydrates are staple in every diet but eating them 100% of the time doesn’t do anyone any good.
Quick Solution: It sounds obvious but trying to get a variation of colour on your plate will help. It’s the easiest way to make sure what you’re eating is more balanced and you are feeling good that you can continue enjoying your trip.
Rich or Creamy Sauces and Dressings – So we’ve established we need to make sure that even though we’re enjoying ourselves, we need to get a bit of colour on our plates. However, sometimes even this is a challenge because many restaurants and cafes will offer up such dishes with either creamy sauces or heavy dressings. Having such rich dressings on your ‘colours’ probably won’t help you to feel any better either. For some people this doesn’t really bother them but for me personally, I know that sometimes I just want some simple, steamed veggies, not coated in anything fancy to keep me feeling my best so I can really enjoy where I am. The longer you travel is directly correlated to how much you crave a home cooked meal.
Quick Solution: In this scenario sometimes the best thing to do is to go to a local grocer or market and buy some fresh fruit or vegetables to snack on. It’s also quite easy to ask for dressing on the side if you’re eating out but this can prove difficult to mime if you’re somewhere where you don’t speak the language.
Completely Different Diet – Sometimes the places we travel to have very ‘exotic’ diets and dishes to what we’re used to at home. This is in no way a bad thing, immersion is the best way to experience a different culture but for those with sensitive tummies, a little too much difference may induce some unpleasant reactions.
Quick Solution: I believe it’s always a good idea to be prepared with a some gastro-relief medication before you begin on your adventure, especially if you know your tummy is a little on the sensitive side. An alternative is to take it slow in the beginning. By all means dig and try something new but starting with a dish more simple and familiar and then gradually increasing the experimentation might help you adjust better and not overload your system.
Catering for Dietary Requirements – This becomes increasingly difficult if where you’re travelling to is remote or speak a different language to you. For people with dietary requirements whether it’s an intolerance, allergy, or a sensitive tummy, travelling to somewhere with very different foods to what you’re accustomed to back home can be daunting. But it needn’t be.
Quick Solution: The only way to get around this is to research your destination. Having a small list of cafes or restaurants that you know if okay for you to eat at may be a hassle to put together but can be a lifesaver when you’re overseas.
Are there any challenges to staying healthy while travelling that you’ve encountered?