We get this all the time… “How do you guys maintain high food standards while traveling?”
I’m not going to lie, it’s tough, sometimes maddeningly so. But it can be done. And I’m about to show you how. First let’s back up a little bit. What exactly are high food standards? We need to define them a little bit before we can even get into how and what to do while traveling.
High food standards are simply that
Holding yourself to a standard well above whats considered normal or acceptable. Evaluating everything that goes in your body, how it was prepared, where it came from, and of course what is it in the first place.Is there sugar in the bread the waiter just brought you? Wh ere did the milk come from at the hotel’s breakfast? Did they use olive oil or canola oil to fry your veggies? All of these questions can be easily answered. Just ask the people preparing and bringing your meal to you. If they don’t know they will find out from someone else in the kitchen.
What are the benefits of eating healthy while traveling?
Just as in your normal everyday life the benefits are enormous. When traveling if you maintain super clean diet you will feel a million times better. Jet lag won’t be nearly as bad, you’ll have energy to burn, you’ll sleep better, you’ll wake up refreshed, you be more at peace and in the moment, have a boosted immune system, and generally be ready to tackle anything life throws at you.
It’s important to be clear about your food standards
Most people aren’t going to be as strict as I am when it comes to what they put into their bodies… but again, that’s sort of the whole point of this post in the first place. To help you raise your food standards and maintain them when you’re on the road.
A lot of people might go on vacation or to visit a certain place just to eat the food. While that’s all well and good you have to remember to ask yourself one simple question that I’m going to borrow from my friend Diamond Dallas Page…
“What do I want?”
Do I want to eat everything everything in sight because I’m on vacation and I deserve it? Do I want to maintain unstoppable health both now and in the future? Do I want to eat that sugar heavy diary laden gelato because that’s what you do when you’re in Italy?
The point is that you are the one that maintains your standards. I found diary-free, sugar-free, nut based gelato in Italy… and it was awesome.
There are a few simple things that I do while traveling that ensures I stay healthy and don’t compromise on what enters my body.
Set your expectations
One of the biggest things I do is to go in with right frame of mind. I don’t go to a country or destination thinking about the local chocolates or long for street food. I know I am not going to eat any of it. So why even entertain those thoughts beforehand? I cut off the distraction or possibility of eating something that I don’t believe in even before I set foot on the airplane. That way I’ve already made the decision… it’s over and done with.
Go to the farmers market
Every town in every corner of the world has one. Markets are your fast track to fresh local produce that you can cook yourself further ensuring the integrity of your food. If you don’t have accommodations with a kitchen just get tons of fruits and veggies that you can eat raw… your body will thank you for all those tasty enzymes. If you know you won’t have access to a kitchen beforehand then bring a small stove along with you. I never go anywhere without my alcohol stove and titanium pot. That way I can whip up fresh quick meals no matter where I’m at.
Ask questions, ask questions, and ask a few more questions
This is one that you’ll just have to get over. Most people don’t like asking questions at a restaurant. They feel weird, they feel out of place. Everyone we go out with just rolls their eyes when we start firing off our questions. If you are going to eat out you have to ask a billion questions. So get over it. Find out what the ingredients are in everything. If a language barrier is getting in the way try to work around it. If you can’t figure it out just politely leave, you don’t want to eat anything that you’re unsure about. Ask about the tricky things, like what’s in their sauces, what oils do they cook with? Is the produce local, better yet is it organic?
Restaurants, waiters, and chefs don’t get annoyed by this. Most of them like to take the opportunity to talk up their food and how it’s made. They are probably familiar with questions about ingredients now more than ever because of the rise in food allergies. If they don’t know or don’t want to tell, you take that as a sign and get your butt out of there.
This is a tricky one. Especially for most travelers. We like to fly by the seat of our pants and mingle with the locals and find out where they eat. The problem is just because the locals eat it doesn’t mean it’s healthy or good for you. If you don’t plan ahead you’ll probably end up starving miles from the closest health food store and end up going hungry, or worse, eating sketchy food.
Make sure you have multiple restaurants, markets, and grocery stores scoped out well before you arrive. That way you already know where you can eat, or how much food you should bring along on day trip. It might seem crazy but I know where I’m going to eat well before I have any idea what I’m going to do. If there aren’t any choices to be found, I don’t go there. Simple as that.
I know that almost everyone doesn’t agree with me on this one. Do not compromise. Just because you are traveling does not mean you should eat some local breakfast pastry with powdered sugar and chocolate all over it. I don’t waiver in the slightest. If I wouldn’t eat it at home I certainly won’t eat it when I’m traveling. Some people immediately think that c’mon live a little. The whole live a little thing just doesn’t make any sense. Sugar is poison, I don’t eat it at home, so why would I willingly poison myself when I’m traveling because it supposedly tastes good? No thanks. I don’t eat super healthy most of the time. I eat super healthy all the time. That means I don’t compromise when traveling.
There are the tons of different ways to maintain high food standards when traveling. These are some of the ways that seem to work for me. Like almost everything in life, it’s all about making conscious decisions and then acting accordingly. If you decide that you are going to set high standards for what goes in your body then that’s exactly what you’ll do when you’re traveling.
About the authors:
Brock and his wife, Kathleen, are nomadic travelers and health food enthusiasts. Together they have been traveling around the world since 2012, and are currently slowing their pace and hanging out in Arizona for most of 2014. Brock has thru hiked the Appalachian Trail, biked across the United States and fell in love with the country of New Zealand while house sitting there last year. You can read more about his shift in food standards and travel adventures at Our Favorite Adventure, and connect with him on Twitter.