It is important to try to maintain a healthy lifestyle no matter who you are, how old you are or where you are in the world. However, it is much simpler to do this when you have a routine and there is no better routine than working a nine to five job in your home country. This isn’t for everyone though as some of us yearn to be free of routine and to live a location independent lifestyle. In the absence of routine, how do we stay healthy and what happens when it all goes wrong? This series covers staying healthy and dealing with illness whilst travelling.
Every place has a different mix of foods which may or may not be to your liking. In addition, some cultures are naturally more healthy than others – I know I certainly miss eating mixed salads back in Europe and even I am getting bored of constantly eating fried chicken and instant noodles here in China. However, some of this is due to my own limitations. If you want to learn to eat healthy then you need to learn to cook! Or at least learn more about the food on offer. If you don’t challenge yourself to try new vegetables, experiment with inventive recipes or translate alien writing on food packets then yes, you will forever end up eating the same meal. No matter how much you may like that meal or how healthy it may appear to be, you WILL eventually get fed up of it and it certainly won’t provide everything your body needs. A colleague of ours eats Subway (that’s right, the sandwich chain) for his evening meal almost every night. He claims there is variety as they rotate the ‘sub of the day’ but who is he kidding?! Even when he defers from this (as healthy as it may be as yes there is at least the option of plentiful salad), he only moves as far as having another Western fast food brand such as KFC or pizza (with the occasion Korean meal to spice things up – literally!)
No one is suggesting going on a cooking course (though we have found these to be an excellent way to learn more about: the food you are eating; how to shop for local produce; and how to cook local dishes) but everyone with access to the internet should be able to follow a simple recipe. Even if you can’t find/follow a recipe then experiment – take something you can cook and swap out some of the ingredients for new vegetables or try having a different accompaniment – instead of chips, how about cous cous? Just the simple change to cooking at home instead of eating out every night will allow you to think about what it is you are eating and how it is being cooked – for example steaming is much healthier than frying. Where a home-cooked meal isn’t an option, try to select where and what you eat carefully. You don’t have to be a vegetarian to eat in a vegetarian restaurant or order a vegetarian meal. Even if you prefer the focus of you meal to be meat then vary the sides – is it really the best option to order the classic XXL cheese and bacon BBQ burger with extra onion rings every time you eat out? (Though I would consider killing for one of those right now having been eating rice and noodles on an alternating schedule for months now).
For more details on buying local food and cooking abroad then check out our: “We can now cook rice” post. It includes lots of top tips for getting started in buying local food and cooking at home.
There are a number of things that you can do to maintain a healthy lifestyle even when on the go. This is not an exhaustive list and we are certainly no medical experts so this is all from personal experience. If you would like location specific advice then please ask in the comments section. Furthermore, if you have any of your own top tips specific to the places you have visited then please feel free to send them to me so I can add them for others to benefit from.