How to Live Healthy Abroad

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With a new year arriving we all know what everyone’s new years resolution will be. It usually is something along the lines of “I need to tone up” or “I need to lose weight”. However, the mistake that most people make when making these promises to themselves is that they set their expectations too high and end up only being able to stick to their goal for about a month or so. It is very difficult to stay true to new years resolutions when there are so many situations and temptations that can set us off track. For example, I am now living in Rome, Italy for a semester and staying fit and eating healthy here has become even more difficult then I had imagined it to be. The amazing gelato, pizza, pasta and wine are everywhere and trying to resist the temptation to indulge is harder than I thought it would be as you can see from my pictures above( especially since food and wine are essential parts of the Italian culture). The hardest part is that a lot of the food either a) does not come with nutrition facts or b) the nutrition facts are hard to understand. So, what I have managed to do in order to stay healthy  here is to use common sense. So, a few tips:

1. Always try to eat whole grains. Believe it or not Italy as well as many other countries do eat whole grains. So, if you are going to eat bread and pasta ask if they have whole grain. Don’t know how to ask for it? Look up the word online. Not only will the host country appreciate you trying to speak their language, but you will be educating yourself as well. For example, in Italian say “integrale” when asking for whole grains.

2. Use common sense. If you can’t read the package and are unable to decipher how much fat or sodium is in the food you are about to consume, play it safe and opt for an apple or orange instead of the mystery chips. We all know that no matter where you eat an apple it is always going to be healthy and good for your body.

3. If you are living abroad, cook for yourself. I have had many nights where I have been out all day and running into the nearest restaurant seems very tempting, but I also realize that eating out constantly will not keep me fit. By eating at home you will know exactly what is going into your food and you can substitute ingredients to make a healthier dish.

4. Walk, walk, walk. If you are traveling or living abroad, you are obviously going to that country for a reason: to explore. So, instead of taking a ride on the touristy buses, walk around on foot yourself. Not only will you feel more immersed into the culture, but you will be burning calories without even knowing it!

5. Always pack a snack. If you are constantly walking everywhere, you are bound to get hungry and that tasty pizzeria may start calling your name. But, if you pack a healthy snack, like dried fruit and nuts or a granola bar, you will be able to kick your hunger pangs and hold off for a healthier dinner option.

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