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Culinary Adventures Abroad: Infusing Your Travel Experience With Local Flavors

Traveling can be a great way to experience new cultures. From immersing yourself in an unfamiliar language to exploring the local cuisine, there are so many opportunities to gain a better understanding of the world around you. For those who are going abroad, trying traditional foods can be one of the best ways to learn about a new culture. 

Many traditional dishes are rooted in the area's history and way of life. For example, Greek cuisine revolves around the fresh ingredients found along the Mediterranean coast, like seafood, lemons and, olives. In comparison, northern European countries, like Germany, traditionally relied on heartier meals to get through harsh winters. 

Exploring new cuisines can be culturally illuminating. However, for those seeking to stay healthy and practice mindfulness while on their travels, keeping a balanced diet can be challenging. Particularly for people who have dietary restricions finding a way to enjoy new dishes may take some effort and research. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to enjoy new foods while still sticking to an overall healthy diet. We'll discuss some of the easy ways you can merge your love of travel and healthy eating for some truly memorable (and tasty!) cultural experiences. 

Eating Mindfully While on Your Travels

Eating healthy while traveling isn't that different from eating healthy at home. For example, you'll still want to practice mindfulness of your daily habits, like portion control, avoiding processed foods, and staying hydrated. While it may be tempting to overindulge while traveling, it's important to remain balanced. You can still enjoy new dishes, flavors and ingredients while still eating healthy. Drink plenty of water and eat a variety of nutrients to ensure you stay feeling your best for all of your upcoming adventures. 

Mindfulness while eating can also help you appreciate unique cultural experiences. Taking the time to savor each bite and appreciating the overall experience can help you have an amazing time. Avoid eating on the go , and instead, make sure to spend time enjoying your food.

Exploring Local Markets

One of the best ways to explore a country's cuisine is to take a look at the local markets. I always vist the local markets while traveling…they’e so fun! Visits to Les Halles in Lyon, France, Varvakios Agora in Athens, Greece and the Markthalle in Zurich, Switzerland are among my favorite travel memories.  You'll find fresh produce, native ingredients, and other popular local food products. If you happen to be staying in accommodations with an accessible kitchen, you can even try your hand at cooking a meal with local ingredients. 

However, if you're staying at a hotel, cooking a meal might be out of the question. If that's your situation, you can still find plenty to explore. Local markets typically have ready-to-eat foods and even restaurants inside as well. You may consider picking up some local foods to have a light lunch or snack, like fresh bread, cheeses, fruits, and vegetables. Marketets typically have great food options for picnicking and some will event create a basket for you. 

There is a lot of joy to be found in exploring local markets. From meeting and supporting local vendors to finding delicious new foods, spending time at a local market is a must for anyone who wants to explore the local cuisine. All across the world, there are many vibrant street markets with local delicacies. You can easily find the best markets online or by asking a local where they get their food.

Researching Local Restaurants, Ingredients, and Recipes

One of our top tips to eat healthy while traveling abroad is to research and plan your meals beforehand. This holds true anytime you’re eating out, but can be even more ciritcal when traveling in a country with different cuisine than your usual. Particularly if you have strict dietary preferences or needs, like a meatless or gluten-free diet, it's helpful to research your meals ahead of time. You can do this by looking up popular local restaurants online. Many businesses include an online menu, so you'll be able to choose something that works for your needs. 

You may also want to look up traditional recipes before taking your trip. If you plan on cooking your meals, you can find local fresh ingredients to prepare a traditional dish. With this option, you can also substitute specific ingredients that may not align with your dietary needs. For example, there are plenty of ways to switch out grain while still keeping the flavors of a given dish. Research local grocery stores in the area where you will be staying to ensure you'll find the ingredients you need.

Learning How To Adapt Traditional Meals To Fit With Your Dietary Needs

While it's great to find local dishes that already fit your dietary needs, you may find yourself wanting to try a particular dish with some modifications. Though you may have to put a little bit of effort and research into modifying traditional dishes, it can be a great way to practice creativity and resourcefulness. In some instances, swapping ingredients is simple. 

For example, you may be able to swap out a pizza crust with a gluten-free option. Or, if you have allergies, you may find substitutions for particular ingredients to ensure you still are able to enjoy traditional meals. Many times, you can also simply leave out ingredients that don’t work for you or ask for different side dishes.

Merging Wellness and Traditional Cuisines

Practicing mindfulness while traveling isn't always easy, but it's definitely worth it for your well-being. Plus, eating mindfully helps you fully appreciate your meals. For travelers looking to experience local cuisines, eating mindfully can help you feel your best and appreciate the cultural significance of traditional dishes. 
Fortunately, there are many ways to incorporate local flavors and ingredients while still adhering to your dietary preferences. From researching restaurants ahead of time to modifying traditional recipes to suit your needs, you can still enjoy your time abroad tasting new flavorful dishes. If you're looking for extra help practicing mindfulness or would like support for all aspects of your well-being, get in contact to learn more about our coaching services.