In my previous post, I mentioned that the 2 key elements of keeping in shape while travelling are exercise and diet. Having shared my top tips regarding exercise, it is now time to dive into the second component: our diets.
The most important thing to remember from this whole post is: Instead of agonising over what to restrict, think about what to INCLUDE in your diet.
Travelling is a time where we explore the different delicacies and cuisines, satisfying both our tastebuds and tummies. It would make absolutely zero sense to go to a foreign country and eat nothing but salad for every meal. Having to constantly worry about what food to eliminate from your diet is also going to take a toll on your mood, and reduce the overall quality of your holiday experience.
Instead, eat to your heart’s content, treat yourself to all sorts of tasty food and drinks, try as many new dishes as possible! Just remind yourself to also include healthy options every day. Remember, it is all about balance. So, how exactly do we achieve that balance while travelling?
The answer is simple. Always ask yourself: What can I do to value-add to my meal? Rather than adopting a restrictive mindset, change it to an inclusive one. If you’re travelling as a group, it would be a good idea to order a plate of vegetables to share while dining in a restaurant. If you’re going solo, things might be slightly trickier. For instance, during my solo trip to Japan, I must admit it was a challenge to get enough vegetables in my diet. Restaurants and food markets do not typically sell individual portions of vegetables, and the amount usually given in a set menu is minimal (aka too little).
To overcome this problem, I would purchase packets of salad vegetables from 7-11 and dump them in together with my cup noodles. Of course, I wasn’t eating cup noodles every night, but whenever I did, I always made sure to add extra vegetables for myself to make the whole meal more nutritious. In this way, I am compromising by indulging in cup noodles but also balancing it with a hearty serve of greens.
Another way to get more nutrients in your diet is to look for vegetable/fruit juices from convenience stores! On days that I know I am lacking in fibre, vitamins and minerals, I’d pop by Lawsons or 7-11 to grab a packet of green juice. One important thing to note is that when deciding which brand to go for, always always look at the nutrition label. It’s great if the ingredient list is written in English, but if it’s not then it’ll be good to instead focus on the sugar level and choose the one that has the lowest amount added.
Personally, I got this particular brand of vegetable juice. Not exactly the most delicious tasting, but it has the least amount of sugar added compared to the others I saw. And indeed, it was not sweet at all. In fact, it tasted like vegetable soup to me.
This is a highly convenient, easy and cheap way to balance out the not-so-healthy food consumed during the day. Just grab a packet, and take it either in the morning before heading out or at night after dinner.
If you’re looking to increase your consumption of fruits in Japan, there are both cheap and slightly more expensive options available. If you’re looking at cheap fruits, the best would be to buy a bunch of bananas from convenience stores. I love buying them because bananas are a good snack to have during the day when random bouts of hunger strike, and they’re easy to carry about as well. For other fruits, they’re typically more expensive and you can find them in supermarkets or Isetan’s food section. Apart from these, food markets (e.g. Nishiki market, Kuromon market) also sell fresh fruits like strawberries, either fresh or in juice form.
Whenever possible, it is ideal to consume fruits and vegetables in the whole form rather than juice form as some nutrients may be destroyed during the blending process. But juice works fine as a substitute if you really can’t find whole fruits and vegetables. After all, something is better than nothing.
Lastly, always remember to drink plenty of WATER! If you’re worried about toilet accessibility, I’d recommend drinking small amounts of water periodically while you’re out sightseeing. Then during mealtimes, load up since you can use the restaurant’s bathrooms. When you’re back in the hotel room at night, remember to continue to drink water and compensate for the smaller volume consumed in the day.
In essence, eating while travelling should be fun, not stressful. With the right mindset and choices, you’ll be able to eat good and eat well.