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Enjoy dining options in exotic locations
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A few tips can make dining in an exotic honeymoon location as enjoyable as the scenery and the company.
Eating different foods can be a challenge for people who usually stick with the same foods and the same restaurants to avoid stomach troubles. But when visiting someplace new and exciting, part of the fun is in trying the local cuisine.
Brent Fountain, nutrition specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said it is possible to enjoy the local cooking and still be kind to the digestive system.
“Be an informed consumer. Do some research on the culture to see what kinds of foods are served and how they are prepared,” Fountain said. “When you plan a honeymoon or vacation, research the place you're going. Make the food and dining experience part of that search.”
Fountain said the seasonings, not the food itself or the preparation method, cause most gastric problems.
“Some spices are less common in the United States and may cause a problem,” Fountain said. “Ask questions about the food, and look at what others are being served. As more and more people travel, it is common to find traditional American fare even in remote places, making it easier to avoid foods that may cause problems.”
Fountain said travelers with known allergies should make sure those items are not in the foods they consume. A food allergy can cause a wide range of problems from relatively mild symptoms, such as a minor rash, watery eyes, an itchy or runny nose, and a scratchy throat, to a very severe reaction that can be life-threatening if it makes breathing difficult.
Food sensitivities may have similar symptoms to mild food allergies, but these simply indicate the body is not tolerating a food well. Food sensitivities can reveal themselves as gastric problems such as bloating, nausea, vomiting, gas or diarrhea.
“These symptoms generally are not life-threatening, but they are uncomfortable,” Fountain said. “Treat these with over-the-counter medications for indigestion or heartburn. Be sure you can use these medications safely before trying them for the first time on a vacation.”
Fountain suggested that people with a serious allergy consider travel insurance to cover potential medical expenses.
“If something serious were to happen, you would have a way to get back home and get assistance,” Fountain said.
Being cautious about trying new foods does not mean it is impossible to find a good meal in an exotic location.
“Traveling is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the food in a new culture. That should be a big part of the vacation experience,” Fountain said. “When you're ready to go eat, ask at the hotel and other visitor services for suggestions on where to go.”
Judith Ward, Extension nutrition and food safety area agent in Union County, urged vacationers not to neglect basic food safety practices.
“Always wash your hands. I can't stress that enough,” Ward said. “And when you get to the restaurant, check to see that the servers are wearing clean aprons and don't have long fingernails. Check out the restroom to see how clean it is, as this can give you an indication of the overall cleanliness of the establishment.”
Never take leftovers from a restaurant unless they can be refrigerated immediately. Dairy products and seafood quickly become dangerous if not stored properly.