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Guest Post: Healthy Eating Strategies for the Traveling Fitness Addict

Posted Jan 25 2011 7:33pm

This is a guest post from Lisa Shoreland. Lisa is currently a resident blogger at Go College where recently she’s been researching student grants and blogging about student life. In her spare time, she enjoys creative writing and hogging her boyfriend’s PlayStation 3. To keep her sanity she enjoys practicing martial arts and bringing home abandoned animals.

It’s tough enough to find healthy food on the go in the States, but when you’re in a foreign country, finding something that’s good for you at an American fast food restaurant seems like child’s play. Often, you don’t have access to a kitchen when you’re traveling, and that’s one of the few places you can guarantee getting a healthy meal. Making your own food is the best way to know what’s in it, how it’s cooked, and how many calories and nutrients you’re getting out of it. At home, you can do this as often as you like, but in a foreign country, it can be tough to get your hands on a kitchen. You’re not about to change your mind about eating healthy food, so check out these strategies to help you keep your health standards high while eating abroad.

Making Your Own Food

It might seem difficult to get to a kitchen, but there are a few ways to make it happen. If you’re a student, it’s especially easy if you can arrange to stay with a host family. Simply offer to help make dinner, ensuring that your food is healthy in the process. You’ll know what’s going on in the kitchen, and that can help you determine what you should and shouldn’t eat at the dinner table. You can also volunteer to make dinner one or two nights a week, but don’t neglect to include your host mother in your plans. She can probably help you find fresh ingredients and give you pointers when it comes to inventing and cooking meals. Of course, this works best if you speak the dominant language of the country you’re visiting so you can communicate with your host mother and vendors. If not, you can work your way through with a phrase book or bring a friend who’s more fluent and can help you communicate accurately.

Another way to get your hands on a kitchen is to travel strategically so that you always have access to a friend or family member who’s willing to let you play chef. As long as you share what you make, most friends are more than happy to let you use their kitchen. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try to set up a deal with a friend of a friend – as long as you have a kitchen at your fingertips, you can take charge of making your own healthy food. Similarly, if you’re going abroad for a significant period of time, you can make friends once you get there and hope for kitchen access. You can lead in by saying you’d like to observe your friend’s traditional cooking techniques, and then you’ve gotten your foot in the door. Once in a kitchen, make yourself useful and make sure you’re invited back.

Restaurant Meals

When you’re ordering food at a restaurant, your first priority should be to know exactly what you’re getting. If you’re not sure what’s in the dish based on what you’re reading from the menu, ask the waiter or the people you’re eating with to help you understand what the ingredients are and how it’s cooked. Don’t be afraid to ask for a modified dish – being in a foreign country shouldn’t stop you from getting a fried item broiled instead.

Another strategy is to order two or three small appetizers if you’d like to enjoy some variety while making sure you get at least one healthy dish. That way, you can try something new without compromising your dedication to healthy eating. You can also arrange to split dishes with a friend who’s willing to enjoy a healthy, low-calorie meal, allowing you to try two different options.

Finally, you can ask the waiter to tell you about the freshest ingredients being used in the kitchen. Request a dish that uses them and isn’t fried, and you’re likely to receive a healthy and delicious meal.

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