Trying out local cuisine is no doubt one of the best ways to be acquainted with a new country when you’re travelling. Sometimes, the local cuisine alone can say more about a country’s culture than all its tourist hubs ever could.
However, if you’re following a strict diet for health reasons, it can be hard to enjoy a country’s cuisine. You won’t be too familiar with dishes’ ingredients or origins, so you won’t know what to avoid!
The good news is, we’ve discovered a few things that allow you to enjoy local cuisine without completely ruining your diet. As long as you combine these with a little bit of discipline, you should be able to eat fairly healthy fare in other locales.
Let’s go over the tips now!
1. If Possible, Avoid Hotel Food/Restaurants
If you’re staying at a hotel, it’s easy to get lured into its all-day buffet menus.
But let this be a reminder that most of the food offered by hotels isn’t too healthy, especially if it’s found in the buffet section. Besides, if you’re going to have a cheat day, you might as well use it to try out local restaurants for a better sense of what local cuisine has to offer!
Some hotels also come with their own restaurants… but it’s better for you to stay away from those too, generally. It’s no secret that food offered at hotel restaurants tends to be insultingly expensive as well as generic.
2. Bring Snacks
Since you’re going to do a lot of walking and exploring, you’re bound to get hungry and tired easily. It’d be better to be prepared with snacks to drive away the temptation of impulsively eating unhealthy food.
If there’s a grocery near your place, you might want to drop by it to buy snacks like fresh fruit. In our opinion, fruits are the ideal snacks for travelling because you get a taste of the country’s fresh, locally grown produce — which often differs from what the produce back home.
Some other snacks you can purchase at the local grocery store are unsalted almonds, fresh veggies, yogurts, skim milk, granola bars, and even hard-boiled eggs. All of these can give you a nice shot of energy without piling on calories!
3. Research About Local Restaurants
It’s always in the best interests of a traveller to do in in-depth research about the country he’s planning to visit. If you want the trip to go as smoothly as possible, then you need to do some research beforehand.
According to World Executive Digest, if you have a strict diet to maintain, going online and looking up some local restaurants that offer healthy food is an ideal solution.
What’s more, it will definitely cut down impulsive, often unhealthy food decisions. If you know which restaurants you’re going to, you won’t be tempted to check out other restaurants just to satisfy your cravings.
If you’re in need of help looking for healthy restaurants, by the way, you might want to check out the food travel blog 2foodtrippers. Posted on their blog are food reviews of restaurants all over the world!
4. Commit to Eating Healthy, Even During Dine-In
Now, this is where your self-discipline and commitment to your diet will get tested. Knowing which restaurants serve healthy food and ordering healthy from their menu are two completely different things.
When dining at a local restaurant, try to make sure that more than half of what you will order will be vegetables. It’s better than pigging out on proteins, carbs, and fat!
Not only are vegetables healthier by comparison, but they’re cheaper as well. You get to enjoy local delicacies without feeling guilty about breaking your diet or your wallet.
5. Don’t Overeat for Every Single Meal
Lastly, it’s advised to keep portions down. Overeating can prevent you from sampling as many local dishes as you’d like, for example, because you’re likely to binge on just a few dishes. That can be a shame when you want a small taste of a lot of local delicacies!
Besides that, overeating can be unhealthy as well. As per the doctors of Gastroenterologist Singapore, overeating can cause the stomach to expand beyond its normal size, pushing it against other organs, which results in extreme discomfort.
It can even make you feel tired, drowsy, and even sluggish. If the discomfort gets bad enough, you may end up needing to see a gastroenterologist — and that will interrupt your travel plans. Obviously, you don’t want to risk that!
So, the ideal way to enjoy local cuisine without overeating is to limit yourself to balanced meals that include protein, vegetables, and healthy carbs. These are the types of food every traveller needs in order to have the energy to explore a foreign city.
Another way to prevent overeating is to use salad-sized plates so you can sample more food while eating less. You can also size the components of meals this way: allow vegetables and greens to fill more than half of the plate, a palm-sized protein, and a healthy fat no more than the size of a thumb.
Anyway, that’s it! Those are some of the tips that every traveller should keep in mind while travelling to avoid having to break their strict diets.
If you have other tips we may have missed, don’t hesitate to share them with us! We always love to hear about what other travellers have experienced while trying out a country’s local food scene and how others stay healthy while doing it!