He Said/She Said: Eating Well

He Said/She Said: Eating Well


My friends may say I have a weak stomach, but I disagree.  My body is a precision instrument that knows what needs to be expelled, quickly.  The great thing about about my finely tuned organism is that if my body doesn’t like something, it gets it out immediately, no wallowing in pain trying to digest something.  I can handle my spice as well as anyone while traveling, eating well on the road, to me, is all about food safety.

My needs date back to 1998 when I spent 7 weeks living in rural Honduras.  We were the only house in the village with the luxury of running water.  While not having to go to a town spigot or the river when you need water is a real luxury, the fact was, it was dirty water.  At some point that summer I contracted giradia and my stomach has never been the same since.  Even if you have never had a bad stomach issue like this, I think we all would rather travel without getting Delhi Belly or Montezuma’s Revenge.

First off, there are very few places in the world that finding safe cooked food will be difficult.  Even though you may not be able to drink the water, cooked food will generally not make you ill, even if you are buying it from a gloveless street vendor with raw meat sitting in the sun.  Western food safety standards and refrigeration needs are over the top, even our “standards”  E. coli and other food-borne illnesses still make us sick.  The reality is that even if the preparation isn’t up to what you think is right, a good cooking will kill many things.

If you have wandered a town and still worry about finding safe food, look for two things: deep frying or boiling.  Find a vendor that will fry the food while you wait or has a heating element (gas, coals, etc) continuing to heat their broth.  Remember though, boiling water does not kill all bacteria and viruses, especially at higher altitudes.  If you see a person getting water from a river, you should not eat there unless you are working your way towards having an intestinal disease named after you.  Grilling is another great option, have things grilled all the way through to a much-too-comfortable to eat temperature.

If you look for these simple things, the world can be your epicurean delight.  Eat away and enjoy, but occasionally you will find yourself ill, same as you would at home.


Something that we all struggle with whether we are on the road or not is eating healthy.  The more I talk with people and observe people’s eating habits, particularly when on vacation, I am lead to believe people are not clear on what is healthy.  For example white rice is not actually good for you and fried chicken is not your only option for protein on the road.  From a food safety standpoint these are good bets, but copious amounts of white rice is not going to do much for your health or your figure, same goes for fried chicken.

Sticking with the white rice example, it’s not bad for you, but doesn’t offer many essential vitamins and minerals. One cup of medium grain white rice contains about 240 calories (according to the USDA), but people forget that there is a lot more to health than simply calories in versus calories out.   If you are travelling in Asia you will be hard pressed to avoid white rice, but make sure you are making up for the nutritional void and eating your fruits and veggies.  One of the most important parts of feeling good on the road is eating a balanced diet.  When it comes to the fried chicken, it can be great in moderation, but you can also get protein from eggs, nuts and beans, which are all safe to eat and based on experience easy to find.

Another key to healthy, balanced eating is not skipping meals.  A long day of travel regardless of how comfortable will be unbearable if you haven’t prepared for missed meals.  We have spent many a days and even nights on buses that don’t stop even for you to go to the bathroom. Without planning ahead and packing a sandwich or at least some snacks we would have been in tough shape. Don’t be caught without food, because you will often over-indulge once it is available or end up eating something that’s not good for you just because it’s available.

Finally, be smart about how much you drink and never skip a meal for “dinner in a bottle” as I see so many people do while they are on vacation.  This is an easy way to derail any diet or plans for healthy eating.  Not only will you feel horrible, but the alcohol will go right to your brain clouding your judgement in an unfamiliar place.  Be smart about eating enough food and a variety of food to keep yourself healthy while you travel.

While I agree with thinkCHUA that food safety is important it is equally important to stay hydrated with clean water, eat a variety of foods and never go without food or replace food with alcohol.  These simple tips should be a good recipe to healthier travel, even if the bulk of your travel right now is between home and work.

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» Mom A :
May 11, 2011

I love those tips, especially because it means you are following them for the most part! I am already planning to take some favorite energy snacks that will give me the right kind of energy in the Canadian Rockies. A hike in the mountains isn’t the place to loose steam! Especially if I have to push Bruce up the path!!

Hope the food is good in Myanmar!

Love you two!
Mom A

» dad :
May 15, 2011

every time i read your food articles i think of you and nick eating fresh octopus on the grill in japan at ages 4 and 7…..pretty sure, i passed, but you just asked if this was lunch, i said yep and you both proceeded to grab a 3 foot tentacle and “knawed” it to the bone and or ligament…..never will be as good a eater as you guys……be safe…..love you dad

» Jill A :
Jun 2, 2011

Great tips! Wisdom and I are glad to say that we avoided any major tummy illnesses on our trip doing much the same thing as you two are doing. I totally identify with thinkCHUA and his experience with giardia. I came down with something nasty 6 years ago in Morocco and my stomach has never been the same. There was a time or two on this trip when we felt like some new bacteria was passing through our body that we were “fighting off”, but other than that occasional slight discomfort, our tummies stayed in great shape! I was so relieved that we never had to spend days hovering over those asian or middle eastern toilets! May your own health continue to hold as you adventure around the world!

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About the Author

thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.

About the Author
thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.


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