I am a full-time traveling registered nurse, fitness enthusiast, and nutrition expert. Every morning I wake up intending to bring awareness of the importance of health and spiritual wellness, especially to the traveling community. At Messy Bun Traveler, we promote travel that allows the traveler to either kick-start, maintain, or enhance a healthy lifestyle. So whether you're someone who travels for business, travels for pleasure, or new to travel and looking for health advice while on the road, this blog is for you!
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I know my story is enough for anyone not to want to touch street food with even a ten-foot pole, but there were several things I did wrong to cause myself to get sick. When taking the right precautions, street food can be rather safe and enjoyable.
If you go where all the locals eat, chances are they know the difference between good and bad food. Locals will lead you in the right direction of safe, delicious, and properly sanitized and prepared food.
When ordering street food, make sure the meat is cooked right in front of you. You have no idea how long that food has been sitting out collecting bacteria; you don’t want to risk it!
Sometimes even watching your food in front of you isn’t enough, you’ve got to make sure it’s fully cooked too! One example I have is when Dustin and I went to the Philippines. He ordered a chicken salad from our hotel restaurant. Being super hungry, he started chowing down as soon as the chicken salad as soon as it showed up in front of him. After several bites, I took one look at it and said, “babe, your chicken is still pink.” And sure enough, the chicken was not cooked thoroughly with the inside still being completely raw.
Generally speaking, you can determine the purity of the food by the cleanliness of the tools they use to prepare it. If you notice dirty cooking utensils or dirty food-preparation surfaces, you can almost guarantee that the food won’t be clean either.
In most places, tap water is not safe to consume. With that, be mindful of drinks with ice or sauces prepared with tap water as they can be contaminated too.
Also, it’s best to stick with ones that have peels. That way, you can peel off the skin that may be harboring bacteria, fertilizing chemicals, and dirt and get to the clean, untainted fruit.
Buffet-style food was the ultimate mistake leading to the incident in Laos. To avoid food poisoning while traveling, don’t do what my friend and I did. Stick to foods freshly prepared.
Before consuming any food, be sure to wash your hands with soap and warm water thoroughly. You don’t want anything on your hands touching what you’re putting in your mouth.
Dairy has a very high risk of being contaminated with harmful bacteria, as most of it is cultured with live organisms. It’s best to avoid dairy if possible.
When all else fails, and you can’t find a single place to eat that isn’t questionable, make sure to have at least a couple of travel snacks on you!
There are several methods to doing this, including LifeStraw and water purifying tablets. Although not particularly suitable for the environment, bottled water is a healthy alternative if you don’t have any way of cleansing the tap water.
Anything like runny eggs, raw oysters, sushi, and ceviche can be a significant source of foodborne illness.
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