Subscribe to our Newsletter:
Healthy Diet Plans >>  Articles >>  Diet and Wellness

Difficulties With Foreign Food

Submitted by Stella Morgan on November 5, 2009

One of the joys of traveling is eating the food of a foreign culture. Not only can it be an intense gastronomic experience, but food is also an insight into the culture of a nation. At the same time though, eating foreign food can often be a difficult experience, and sometimes, can leave you with a rather upset stomach. If youíre only visiting a country for a short time, chances are that youíll eat all the local food you can in a few days, or only stick to international fast food. Americans often tend to do the latter, unfortunately. If youíre staying abroad for a while, then you may have no choice but to adapt to the food of that country.

Donít worry, though, it isnít that hard to do. Before you leave, start with doing a little research on the kind of food that youíll encounter. Every culture has its own food, some palatable to you, some not. For instance, Americans will usually get along alright in Western Europe, but may find it hard in other places like Eastern Europe or South East Asia.

Consider your allergies and compare them to local cuisine. If you have a peanut allergy, it may not be a good idea to eat street-food in South East Asia at all. If youíre staying for a while, or canít do without some things, consider taking them along. These could include vitamin supplements, peanut butter (which isnít available in many countries), and black pepper.

You may not be able to carry fruits across a border, though. The most important factor in eating abroad is actually drinking. Your body gets used to the water you get at home. In a foreign country, even if tap water is safe, it may contain minerals or substances that your body hasnít encountered before.

This may send your stomach into shock. Donít worry too much though, after a few days of (possibly severe) inconvenience, youíll be ok, and will probably have developed immunity. When living abroad, itís a good idea to try to embrace the eating culture. You could even learn to cook a few local dishes, as these make the best use of local ingredients. The point is to get over your mental block, and force yourself to eat the local food. Within a few days, your body will get used to it. Consider switching to a local eating pattern too. In many countries, breakfast and lunch are very heavy meals, while dinner is light, and eaten much later in the evening. This is usually because of local conditions like weather. When eating out, learn what the customs are. For instance, in many places in Europe, you need to ask for water, clear or sparkling. In many Asian places, though, youíll be provided drinking water without asking, safety is a concern. In some countries, it is normal to order a meal for the entire table, that everyone shares, as opposed to individual portions in the States. Most importantly, remember that food is an experience, and is one of the greatest joys of traveling. Be brave and explore all the available food. After all, it would be a pity if you went all the way to Cambodia, and came back home without tasting a fried Tarantula!
Read more articles from the Diet and Wellness Category.