How to Live Healthy Abroad

abroadphoto1

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.

5 Energy Boosting Snacks

Watching this video inspired me to write this post about some additional energy boosting snacks that do not contain caffeine or processed sugars.

1. Apple and Peanut Butter

Apples are a great source of vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber. The natural sugars in the apple will be sure to provide you with energy fast. The peanut butter contains a lot of protein, which will help you feel full and satisfied.

2. Popcorn

Popcorn also contains fiber which will help fill you up in between meals. However, make sure you get the fat-free kind because buttered popcorn contains a lot of saturated fat that can be harmful to your health and provides your body with zero benefits.

3. Vegetables and Hummus

Again, vegetables are a great source of fiber and provide your body with various vitamins and nutrients. Hummus is personally one of my favorite snacks (I highly recommend the Trader Joe’s brand). Hummus also has lots of protein since it is made from garbanzo beans. Red peppers, carrots, and even asparagus all taste great with hummus.

4.  Plain non-fat Yogurt and fresh blueberries

Yogurt is also a good source of protein. Opt for plain yogurt because many flavored yogurts are packed with artificial sugars.  Adding fresh fruit like blueberries will give it a naturally sweetened taste.

5. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a great source of whole grains. Buy plain oatmeal to avoid processed sugars and instead add fruit to boost flavor. Blueberries, strawberries, and bananas all taste great in oatmeal!

An Apple a Day Keeps The Doctor Away

Apple

Yep, your mom really wasn’t lying when she told you that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Although apples are not the only fruit to contain health benefits, they seem to contain a larger combination of the health benefits. So if your looking for a fruit loaded with nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants, grab an apple.

First, apples contain significant amounts of vitamin C. Vitamin C not only boosts your immune system, but also promotes healthy gums which will ultimately help  reduce your visits to the dentist. Furthermore, the juices inside the apple have properties that can kill up to 80% of bacteria, preventing tooth decay. Another way to avoid the dentist!

Additionally, apples are rich in flavonoids, or highly beneficial anti-oxidant compounds. Flavonoids can help prevent heart diseases such as coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease. It has also been suggested that they may delay/prevent the onset of other diseases like cancer as well. A study conducted by the Canadian government found that apples, specifically red apples, can add  powerful antioxidant benefits to one’s diet. However, there is a catch. In order to receive the full health benefits from the apple, you must consume the skins. Apple skins are the most antioxidant rich part of the fruit. This study, which was published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, even brought to light the possibility of  developing a way to extract these antioxidant compounds to create and sell even more anti-oxidant rich “super apples.” Interesting thought.

Another study at the University of Nottingham concluded that people who ate five or more apples per week had lower respiratory problems, including asthma. So overall, people who ate apples had healthier lungs.

So now the next time you hear someone say “an apple a day keeps the doctor a way” you will know that it is not just a childhood phrase, it’s the truth!

Photo Credit:

Photo By <a target=’_blank’ href=’http://www.flickr.com/photos/10687935@N04/8725155913/’>Robert S. Donovan</a> via <a href=”http://stockpholio.com/” target=”_blank”>StockPholio.com</a>