Chances are if you clicked on this article you’re either curious what I mean by “soft stomach” or you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’re the latter we’re on the same page, and if you’re not: welcome to our world.
As weird as it probably is to talk about, it’s sort of an essential topic. Have you ever been on a trip and spent the entire time stuck in your room because of stomach issues? If you haven’t, ask around… it’s not that hard to find someone who has. It’s certainly no one’s ideal vacation to be sick the entire time, and while it’s impossible to predict what’ll cause it and avoid it completely, there are some things you can do to lessen your chances!
- Eat Street That’s right! Probably not what you were expecting was it? But hear me out. In many foreign countries they don’t have food standards similar to those ofwestern countries. Food can be left for days, unrefrigerated, before it’s consumed. If the bacteria etc. that builds up on these foods is not something you’re conditioned to, it’ll likely make you sick. An easy way to avoid it is to buy food on the street or elsewhere where you can SEE it prepared in front of you. Many street carts have an open flame over which the vendor will heat your food in front of your eyes! When food is heated to high temperatures it kills much of the bacteria that can make you sick, ergo hotter is better! Don’t be fooled by fancy looking restaurants abroad – read up on what people have to say about them. If you don’t see your food prepared you can just as easily be served something that’s been sitting out for hours, no matter how luxurious the place looks.
- Avoid Meat This is a sad day for all of you meat lovers, but the truth of the matter is that it’s easier to avoid dangerous food borne illnesses by just avoiding meat in general. Again, food practices are not the same globally, and it’s possible that the meat you’re eating has been slaughtered months ago and stored in conditions not ideal for the consumer. This isn’t always the case, but for those of you with very sensitive stomachs, it’s probably better to avoid. Also, many countries outside the United States have a very vast vegetable cuisine, so you won’t be missing many of the indigenous flavors by forgoing meat. If you can’t resist, refer to rule 1 and make sure it’s hot when you get it!
- Spice May Not Be Nice If spices are not something you’re accustomed to, staying on the mild side can prevent stomach upset. If you’re planning on staying in a country that eats spicy food for a long time you can practice getting progressively spicier with your food and working your way up to a higher caliber of spiciness!
- Bottled Water It’s wonderful how many countries can provide safe drinking water these days and certainly something you should look into before visiting a country. That being said, if you’re of the very sensitive nature, sticking to bottled water from trusted companies may be your best bet. It’s possible that unfamiliar minerals or compounds in the water can cause you upset, while others will be fine.
- Whole Food Recommending someone eat whole foods is sage health advice, but it’s also great tender-stomach advice. When choosing whole foods for snacks etc. you’re reducing your instance of cross-contamination. For example, if you buy a whole mango instead of a sliced mango there’s no chance that someone used a dirty knife, or a knife that may have collected bacteria from another bad fruit. If you’re selecting a banana instead of a banana smoothie, you can see if the banana is bad, rather than guessing all of the pieces that were put into your smoothie were good.
- Probiotics Whether it’s kim-chee in Korea, Jun Tea in Guatemala, or Yakult in Thailand, for those weary of their stomach, probiotics can be your best friend. Putting good digestive bacteria into your system while you’re experiencing different foods can be extremely beneficial to help your body make the necessary adjustments without getting sick!
At the end of the day, using your best judgment and keeping safe food practices in mind are going to get you through your day. Abiding by all of the rules is quite useful for those with very easily upset stomachs, but for the general population might be overkill! Don’t be afraid to explore!