Eating a healthy, nutritionally sound diet can be difficult enough when in America. However, when you are talking eating when abroad, the challenge gets even greater. No longer is your worry about caloric intake and protein. Instead, when eating abroad, you have to worry about the very safety of what you are eating and whether or not consuming something will result in a nasty sickness. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can reduce your chances of getting sick when eating and drinking abroad by following the tips listed below:

Tips on Keeping Yourself Safe When Eating/Drinking Abroad

  • Plan Ahead, Do Your Research: Some locations in the world are worse than others when it comes to foodborne illnesses. Therefore, before you leave for your destination, check food safety issues. Also, find out if there is a drinkable water supply available. To learn more about your chosen destination as it relates to food safety and water safety, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Be Careful When Eating Out: Obviously, when traveling, you will end up having to dine in restaurants. It almost can’t be helped. Therefore, make sure that you at least avoid any dirty, run down looking restaurants.
  • Avoid Tap Water: Remember, ice is often created using tap water, so when abroad, you might want to hold off on the ice. Also, be sure you don’t swallow tap water even when brushing your teeth. In developing countries, water can easily be contaminated with viruses, parasites, and bacteria, which can lead to the development of typhoid fever, cholera and hepatitis. You should also avoid fountain drinks as they often contain a small amount of tap water.
  • Avoid The Following Foods: Raw vegetables and fruits should be avoided when eating abroad as should salads. These types of foods can be easily contaminated by tap water. It’s also wise to avoid the following foods when traveling abroad:
    • Any food prepared by street vendors.
    • Prepared foods that have not been refrigerated for some time, such as dairy products, eggs, poultry or any food containing meat.
    • Unpasteurized milk products or milk, such as soft cheese.
    • Undercooked or raw eggs, seafood, poultry or meat.
    • Bushmeat, which is the term given to local wild game. These are often animals that would not be eating in the United States, such as rodents, monkeys, bats, etc. Bushmeat is often a source of SARS or Ebola and should be avoided.
  • You Can Eat These Foods: You might wonder what you can eat after looking through the aforementioned list. The following are considered ideal when traveling abroad:
    • Dairy products from reputable, large commercial dairies, including hard cheeses, as well as ultra-pasteurized milk.
    • Thoroughly cooked fish, eggs, poultry, and meat.  Be sure you have the words “well done” translated into whatever language is spoken in the area where you’re traveling to ensure the restaurant staff understands your request.
    • Fruits with thick skin that you then peel yourself, such as melons, bananas, and citrus fruits. (You need to ensure they have been cleaned with safe water before you peel them.)
    • Thoroughly cooked vegetables or fruits.
  • Drink Only Safe Beverages: You still need to drink something when traveling abroad, but of course, this can also be a scary proposition, especially in developing countries. However, by keeping the following in mind, you will ensure your beverage is safe:
    • Boil Your  Water: You can successfully disinfect almost all water by boiling for the recommended three minutes.
    • Treat Your Water: You can purchase chlorine tablets or commercial iodine to add to water to ensure the water you’re drinking is as safe as possible.
    • A Hot Beverage: You can also drink hot beverages made using boiled water like coffee or tea.
    • Drink Canned Beverages or Bottled Water: You can always avoid the problem of safe drinking water altogether by drinking and cleaning food with only bottled water or by drinking canned beverages. Be sure what you are bottle has not been tampered with, though. Not all locally bought bottled water is safe. Believe it or not, according to Mother Nature Network and The Centers For Disease Control, some vendors will refill bottled waters with unsafe tap water, so make sure the seal is in place before drinking. It’s also a good idea to wipe off the outside of the bottle or can before drinking. In general, carbonated drinks like sparkling water or sodas are the safest type to consume, as the presence of the bubbles ensure the bottle was properly sealed.
  • Keep Common Sense in Place: A lot of what will keep you from getting sick when eating abroad is simply having common sense. Eat foods that are supposed to be hot, only when they are hot, and if a food that should be cold isn’t, avoid eating it.

Why It’s Important to Follow the Above Rules

The tips listed above are offered to keep you from getting sick eating or drinking while traveling abroad. You might wonder how big of a deal this problem is anyway, though. Well, according to the World Health Organization, food or drink borne illnesses are nothing to take lightly. In fact, they estimate some 2 million people die each year from consuming contaminated drinking water or food. Other risks, which are less severe than death include the following:

  • Typhoid and Hepatitis A.
  • Travelers’ diarrhea.

Suffice it to say, you want no part of an illness brought on by contaminated food or drinking water. Thanks to the information above provided to you by AirEvac International, you can ensure you remain safe eating and drinking, even while traveling abroad.

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