I have grown up traveling a lot with my family and moving countries since birth. I was extremely lucky, and even now looking back, I am so grateful for all the adventures I have had. I still get an itch every few months to just pack up my suitcase and go explore a new city or country. The best part for me about visiting beautiful places is the food. I love trying local cuisines. There is no better way to get to know the culture than when you are enjoying baklava at the spice market in Istanbul, fish and chips on Oxford Road, and chaat from the man on the street in Goa. I love to take local cooking classes to really get to know the historical background of a cuisine. I am forever spoiled from a Thai cooking class at the Blue Elephant restaurant in Bangkok - eating Thai food in restaurants is never the same!
When traveling a lot, the main key for me is to stay healthy. I love to try the food, yet I also know that when my digestion is off, my mood and energy levels take a dive. Striking the right balance between enjoying local foods and still managing to have a healthy lifestyle to balance out is important. Here are my top 5 tips:
1. Water, water, water
The tendency is to eat more than you usually would when you are on holiday. Often breakfast buffets can be included, so why not enjoy an extra helping of pancakes? Plus when you want to try so many different things, visiting several restaurants throughout one day can be normal. The easiest thing to balance this with is drinking more water. I make it a point to always carry a water bottle with me when I go wandering around a city to sight see. Every time I pass a convenience store, I stock up on more water. Water helps to flush out some of the not so good food choices I am making, plus keeps my energy level high. The water fills me up, so I don’t start craving more and more food.
Having walked around dehydrated through Bangalore because I was worried about not finding a bathroom made me so moody and gave my such a bad headache, there was no way I was enjoying the ongoings around me. So now all I can say: drink up!
2. Choose vegetables for every meal
This can be harder. For whatever reason, finding vegetables in Japan in your food is a lost search. However, when you can, choose plenty of vegetables for every meal. When you are filling up on some goodness, it will be hard to overeat on the unhealthier choices. This means you still get to try everything, you just don’t have to overdo it.
And another plus point, I usually bring along my mini blender, go to the local supermarket, and make myself a green smoothie in the morning. Yes, that is how addicted I am to them! 😜
3. Pack snacks
If you are not sure where you are going and what will be available, pack some simple snacks. I always bring a bag of mixed raw nuts. Healthy granola bars or dried fruit are also great options. I have come back from several holidays not needing them. But you never know, and it’s always better to be overly prepared. This way you are never stuck eating something you don’t even want, just because you are starving.
4. Learn the language
If you have certain dietary restrictions, learn a few words in the local language to explain to the waiter what you are looking for. I am vegetarian, and once I explain I don’t eat meat, they usually give me great options of what I can order. Yes, there are places like in China, where vegetarian still means plenty of minced pork rolled into your vegetables. But mostly, you can find a good solution.
If you don’t eat certain meats, don’t like seafood, you can probably explain this. But don’t expect someone in Cambodia to understand that you live gluten free. 😄
5. Enjoy yourself!
Most of all, enjoy yourself when you travel. So many of my clients worry, that they will gain weight on holiday. The reality is, we all have a tendency to overeat and try new things when we travel. Nevertheless, don’t underestimate how much you walk around to really get to know the place. I like to explore everything by foot, and when I fall into bed in the evening, I know that I will not wake up magically having put on 10 kilos the next day. A holiday is all about enjoying the time you have away from your daily stresses, so make the most of it!
As this blog develops, I will share some of my favorite local food finds with you. Keep your eyes open!