International Travel Fears #2 | 8 Tips to Prevent Food Poisoning When Traveling (Travelers Diarrhea)
“Yikes! I have food poisoning, what am I going to do now? My vacation is ruined!”
Stop right there! I am here to help. Not only have I been able to prevent getting food poisoning on most vacations, but I was able to recover and still have a fantastic time when I was finally a victim. I am here to help you. First, we will review the causes and symptoms, and then dive right into prevention and treatment.
Loss of appetite
8 Tips To Prevent Food Poisoning
1. Avoid Anything Raw or Uncooked
Raw food is likely a source of contamination. Be careful with street food. Street vendors do not always follow the same standards as restaurants, and it is important to be cautious. I know this is a hard one because you want to try street food- live your life, but please be careful.
2. Always Wash Your Hands Thoroughly
Washing your hands helps prevent the spread of germs that cause diseases. It is a good practice to carry hand sanitizer and wipes when traveling. I have been in situations where there was no water and having a plan B came in handy.
3. Eat Hot Steamy Food
Hot temperatures kill germs, and this is the best option when eating. It is also a good practice to eat at places where there is lots of traffic. High traffic normally means the food is fresher.
4. Eat Packaged and Dry Food
Bugs prefer moisture, so the likelihood that you will get food poisoning from packaged food is slim.
5. Drink Bottled, Canned or Hot Drinks
Check for intact seals on all beverages. If the seal is broken, do not purchase the beverage. Ice should have a consistent shape meaning that it’s filtered or delivered and not homemade tap water. It may be necessary to take a portable water filter on certain trips.
6. Fruits and Vegetables
Look for items that have peels because it is a safer option. The skin on fruit (apple) holds onto germs. If you choose to bite directly into a fruit or vegetable that has skin, please make sure the outside of it is cleaned thoroughly.
7. Always use bottled water to brush your teeth.
8. Monitor Staff at Restaurants
You are limited in this area because you may or may not be able to see the food being prepared, but you are looking for good hygiene practices. You may be able to observe things such as improper hand washing. Proper handwashing is imperative because it kills germs and bacteria. I was at a restaurant and saw the chef sneeze over food, and continued like he did nothing wrong. Always be observant because you never know what you will witness.
Natural Prevention Methods
Ginger in warm tea with brown sugar
Plain yogurt with blackberries
Activated charcoal (I carry it on every trip)
What to do if You Experience Food Poisoning
1. Stay hydrated because vomiting and diarrhea can cause you to lose lots of fluids. I carry an electrolyte solution on every trip because they help hydrate your body quickly.
2. In the first few hours after experiencing food poisoning symptoms, avoid food. Once you start eating, only eat small amounts.
3. Stay away from caffeine and alcohol.
4. Often, food poisoning has to run its course because your body is trying to get rid of what made you sick. Generally, taking antibiotics is not recommended because it creates antibiotic-resistant bacteria and a false sense of security.
5. If you are traveling, you do not always have time for food poisoning to run its course. For an immediate fix, you can take Pepto-Bismol or Imodium. I personally travel with Pepto-Bismol on every trip. It has saved me many times. Always check the laws of the country you are traveling to find out if certain medications are restricted.
Rule of Thumb: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it!
Note: Please see a doctor if your symptoms are not resolved in a few days, you are dehydrated, experience severe pain, have bloody or black stool, or a fever above 102.
Disclaimer: The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Have you ever experienced food poisoning when traveling. If so, how did you get rid of it?