6 Ways for Eating Clean on Vacation

( - Who doesn’t dream of seeing the world? Traveling can be a fun and rewarding experience. But between all that soul searching and boundary opening that we all expect to find, all travelers worry about one thing — food.

Making sure you’re eating clean, sustainable food is difficult enough when you’re at home. But it can be a nightmare in itself trying to eat clean while on vacation. Luckily, it can be done and it’s a lot easier than you might be led to believe.

From doing your homework to knowing who to ask, here’s how you can eat clean while on vacation.

1. Know Where You’re Going

Before you even procure your passport or step on a plane, the most important step you need to take is doing your research well in advance.

Don’t stick with a brief Google search the night before you leave. What you need to know is what to expect when you get off the plane and have a somewhat intimate idea of what kind of cuisine you can expect while traveling around.

If you’re traveling to China, what region are you going to be spending most of your time in? Chinese cuisine, unlike the impression you might get from Panda Express and other Americanized joints, is amazingly complex, with over eight unique culinary cuisines available around the country. Cantonese food is a far different beast from Zhejiang cuisine.

Consider visiting your local bookstore or library and taking a look at cookbooks centered around the country and culture you’re hoping to experience. For example, our Chinese tourist above might benefit from taking a look at Fuchsia Dunlop’s Land of Plenty : A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking should they plan on staying in the Sichuan province.

Some tourists book restaurant reservations before they even think of boarding the flight. While you should be open to unexpected delays, weather conditions, and other changes in plan, try to have a good idea of what your dining options are a few months in advance. Consider your proximity to the local grocery store and what restaurants stand out to you.

For example, some restaurants are booked for months in advance. While you could wait until your trip to try and book in person, you can’t guarantee that there will be a table available for you, especially if it’s a particularly popular restaurant.

2. Take Food With You

Don’t take your entire kitchen with you. But if you have allergies or special dietary needs, it may be helpful to take things like vitamins and snacks abroad with you, just so you won’t have to worry about finding a pharmacy that carries everything you need.

You may be able to take some food abroad with you. Just be mindful of what your hosting country’s customs policies are. For example, if you’re traveling to a country within the European Union, you can refer to the Border Force guide, which lists restricted items.

But in general, avoid taking liquids and be wary of taking dairy products and meat into certain countries. Packaged foods, nuts, fish, honey, and eggs, on the other hand, tend to be accepted in most countries.

If you’re anxious about food and have certain natural supplements you like to take, don’t leave it up to chance. In general, bring enough to subsist on for at least one day if you’re not sure you’re traveling to a country where you’ll be able to find something you can eat.

3. You Don’t Know the Language (But That’s Okay)

Not all of us can easily pick up on languages. But don’t worry. It won’t be impossible when it comes to talking to waiters and bazaar stall owners.

If you know a few words in the main language spoken in the country you’re traveling to, but you’re unsure of proper pronunciations, be wary. You’re better off using hand gestures and simple, direct English to get your point across than trying to wrangle together your memories of that French class you took in high school. The last thing you want is to accidentally call your waiter a goat sucker while trying to order a cheese plate.

Consider taking a picture book along with you that has pictures of some of the cuisine you’re hoping to find. You can point to pictures of things you need or want, easily letting wait staff or hotel concierge know about your needs without making a fool out of yourself.

Don’t be too self-conscious. If you’re visiting a popular tourist destination, locals are used to dealing with tourists who don’t speak the language and most should be accommodating enough so long as you’re respectful and not obnoxious.

4. Take Tips From the Locals

As the old saying goes, when in Rome do as the Romans do. The key to mastering a trip abroad is thinking like a local. You can, for instance, join Facebook groups and Reddit sub reddits centered around the city or country you plan on visiting. While other tourists may join these groups, generally the people in these groups are either locals or well-versed with the culture of the city or country in question. Feel free to ask questions about the cuisine and places to visit. The question you don’t ask keeps you from finding the answers you need.

5. When in Doubt, Stick With What You Know

Worried about what you can eat or whether you’ll be able to find the clean foods you rely on? When in doubt, stick with what you know.

Learn the names of your favorite foods (or find a picture to take with you) in the language of your hosting country. If your diet is limited (for example, you may have allergies), consider eating at global chain restaurants where you know you can find food that’s safe to eat, or solicit the help of a tour guide who can help you ask about ingredients in particular dishes.

6. Boost Your Immunity, Avoid Bad Water, and Remember to Wear Sunscreen

It’s easy to catch a cold while traveling. Between the airport, your hotel, drinking the water, and anything else you might catch, your immune system will be under a lot of pressure from everything you encounter.

In general, there’s several easy and natural ways to boost your immune system while traveling abroad. For example, consider taking Asian ginseng and eleuthero as herbal supplements in order to protect yourself from allowing a virus to get the best of you. A cayenne pepper cleanse can help clear out any toxins you might accumulate from air pollution and local cuisine. These have also been found to protect your heart and boost your energy too. They’ll keep your defenses strong and keep you charged as you make your way around.

Try to avoid drinking local water when in doubt. This isn’t to say that the water in your host country is dirty — but water abroad may have microbes your body isn’t used to. Consider purchasing bottled water or bring a water filter along with you.

In some cases, if you have a stove or microwave in your hotel room, you can even consider boiling the water before drinking if you’re especially concerned about the water quality or your immune system.

Most importantly, be generous with the sunscreen, especially if you’re traveling somewhere particularly sunny. Make your own sunscreen and take plenty of vitamin D and astaxanthin in order to help mitigate the effects of UV rays. Never use commercial sunscreen — they’ve been found to cause cancer.

Eating clean on vacation doesn’t have to be a difficult process. While it can be tricky figuring out what’s safe to eat and what’s not, eating well isn’t impossible. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, take natural herbal supplements to boost your immune system, and do plenty of research before you travel. Once you’ve mastered that, you’ll be good to go no matter where you travel.

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