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Can I Eat This? Tips to Stay Healthy While Traveling the World

What's the fastest way to ruin your dream vacation? Getting travelers' stomach and spending your precious days sitting on the porcelain throne or staring down into its white bowl. Staying healthy while traveling is more than just watching your waistline. Making smart choices abroad can keep you away from the inside of your hotel room--or making mad rushes to the nearest public restroom--and out exploring what you came to see.

Here are seven easy steps to avoid traveler's stomach.


1. Know how your food is being prepared. Of course this doesn't mean stalking the waiters, tracking down the chefs and watching exactly how they're cooking that chicken satay, but it does mean making smart decisions on the types of establishments you're visiting. While that hole in the wall place may be a favorite of the locals, it may also be a place where only their stomachs can handle how the food is prepared. By visiting well-established restaurants, and yes some of them tend to be more upscale, you can be confident the food prep is taken seriously. After all, their reputation is on the line if word spreads of people, especially foreigners, getting sick.


2. Eat only cooked food or things you've prepared yourself. Unfortunately, fresh fruit may be off the table for you while you're traveling. If you want to be extra, extra careful, avoid any uncooked fruits and vegetables. However, you may soon be finding yourself craving fresh food. All is not lost. Just be prepared be spend some time with food prep. Wash and peel any fruit yourself. If you wash something in tap water, make sure it's completely dry with a clean towel before you eat it. To take it a step further, don't eat the skin and peel it. Or you can thoroughly wash your fruits and veggies with filtered water, scrubbing and for extra measure use a veggie spray to make your fresh food squeaky clean.


3. Find the local foreigners. To truly experience a country, you want to live like a local. Seeking out the local foreigners may be your best resource in finding the amazing spots that showcase the local fare, but leaving the unhealthy bacteria and disease away from the food. Hostels are great places to find some local foreigners who have spent some quality time in the area. Even just seeing foreigners on the street and being brave enough to ask them their favorite local restaurant can provide some great insight on where's safe to eat. And if they're truly local foreigners, they'll know high quality restaurants that the true locals love as well.


4. Avoid the ice and the straws. Typhoid is serious business, and it's usually contracted by drinking the tap water. While one will usually avoid the tap water, it's often forgotten that ice is made from water, and if not careful, that refreshing chilled or blended beverage may contain the tap water you're so carefully avoiding. You can always ask your waiter if the ice is made from tap water or filtered water, and if they say filtered (and you trust them!), you should be fine. However, if they shift their eyes, are just replying with what you want to hear, or they don't know, ask for your drink without ice, or just order a bottle of water. If you're ordering a soda, make sure it's from a can. Often times soda bottles are more apt to be refilled and resealed more than water bottles. Straws too seem to be sketch in foreign countries -- they tend to go unwashed or not safely stored.


5. Bottled water is your friend. Ah, water bottles. You'll have to hope the country you're visiting recycles, because you'll be using a lot of them. This is the easiest way for you to stay healthy while traveling -- always, and I mean always, carry a water bottle with you. It's usually really cheap and it's expected that foreigners will buy filtered water, so don't be shy. If you detest the taste of plain water, pick up some water flavor packets before you leave. Remember that brushing your teeth is important to do with bottled water too. Keep a bottle next to the bathroom sink and get in the habit of using the bottle rather than the tap. Oh, and keep your mouth shut while you take a shower.


6. Be wary of the dairy. I know that cardamom lassi looks tempting and that vanilla milkshake would be so refreshing, but be careful. Dairy, while delicious and healthy, can be a breeding ground for bacteria and a surefire way to spend a day or two nauseous and on the toilet. However, cheese, cream, or milk cooked in meals are usually fine and safe to eat. If you see that the milk comes from a box or carton and is shelf stable, your bets are pretty good it's safe to consume. If it comes from a pitcher or a refrigerated carton, steer clear.


7. Come prepared. Even the most wary of travelers can get hit with a sneaky bacteria and get sidelined for a bit, however, there are things you can bring to be prepared. Pepto-Bismol chewable tablets are easily thrown into a backpack to ease an upset stomach. Anti-diarrheal pills help calm the spasms and cramping. If you want to be extra prepared, you can visit your doc, and he'll give you a prescription for the super-duper anti-diarrheal prescription that's used as a last resort. If you do find yourself down for the count, drink lots of fluids, take it easy for the day, get lots of rest and don't be too hard on yourself--it happens to even well-seasoned travelers.

Travelers' stomach is never a fun thing, and once you experience it, you never want to do that again, and you'll be even more cautious of what's going into your mouth. Being a smart traveler does not mean eating only at chain restaurants or hotel bars, you can explore and live like a local -- just take some steps of precaution and you, and your stomach, will fully enjoy the new scents, tastes, and experiences.


Source: and for the awesome photo :)
Annoying but necessary - I'm not a Healthcare Professional so please check with your Healthcare Professional before changing anything concerning your well being.

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