Eating Well as an Expat

Food Global Mobility Int'l Health Insurance Lifestyle

The life of international travel can put a damper on eating well. No matter where in the world you are located – in your birth region 0r beyond – it takes intentionality, wisdom, and discipline to truly take care of your body and what you eat.

If you have already past the point and have gotten sick or have habits that should be broken then sessions are recommended from Monique Jhingon, a functional nutritional and lifestyle coach that specializes in expats.

Regarding the expat diet, she says “Being an expat and living in parts of the world very different from the one you grew up in can add to the confusion. Do you hold on to your traditional diet and go out of your way to find ingredients of your native cuisine or do you embrace local foods? None of these questions troubled our ancestors. They just ate according to what was locally and seasonally available. We, however, have access to foods from all over the world at any given time. Given all these factors it is no surprise that there is growing confusion around food. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that it is next to impossible to answer the question of what to eat in a simple and straightforward manner. The truth is that it depends. What you need to eat is influenced by many different factors such as your state of health, personal taste, genes, age, physical activity, culture, tradition, beliefs, and the environment.”

First Steps

  • Increase your water consumption (include green tea as a source of water adding antioxidants)
  • Eat food…real food that you can identify when you look at it. Whole items, cooked as little as possible, that means eating things that do not come from boxes and are minimally processed and with few ingredients.
  • Eliminate MSG (other names for it: Glutamic Acid (E 620), Glutamate (E 620), Monosodium Glutamate (E 621), Monopotassium Glutamate (E 622), Calcium Glutamate (E 623), Monoammonium Glutamate (E 624), Magnesium Glutamate (E 625), Natrium Glutamate, Yeast Extract, anything “hydrolyzed”, any “hydrolyzed protein”, Calcium Caseinate, Sodium Caseinate, Yeast Food, Yeast Nutrient, Autolyzed Yeast, Gelatin, Textured Protein, Soy Protein, Soy Protein Concentrate, Soy Protein Isolate, Whey Protein, Whey Protein Concentrate, Whey Protein Isolate, anything “…protein”, vetsin, Ajinomoto, Knorr.
  • Reduce sugar intake.
  • Eliminate artificial sweeteners, including corn syrup.
  • Eat out less.

When you are working in Chad with a humanitarian organization and have little opportunities to eat out and your options are limited to what you can buy then this list may seem irrelevant. It is not. Having lived in a remote setting in Africa myself for many years I caught myself indulging in imported snacks as a reward way too often, then living in Liverpool and Rio de Janiero enjoying delicacies that I should have eliminated.

Next Steps

Doctors may not be able to diagnose what you picked up in one of the places you got exposed to something that brought on a dis-ease. If that is the case, and you have exhausted all other options then you should consider the team at the Hansa Center for Optimum Health. They serve patients who fly in from other countries every single week with their non-traditional methods and see incredible results!

Get good health insurance! If the foods you are eating are making you sick, make sure you can see a doctor. International health insurance plans are a critical aspect of living overseas. DO NOT live without it. If you don’t know where to start then contact the Expatriate Specialist team member that is a specialised broker representing individuals, families and group plans to find the ideal option for you.

If you have health insurance that includes a wellness counseling feature then given them a call or ask your broker or hr representative. Cigna Global plans often include this service, get a quote with Cigna. Find out more about their wellness programs click here.

Dig deep into this topic with this academic piece: Food Consumption and the Expatriation Experience: a Study of American Expatriates in France




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