Studying abroad is a major life experience for most students; it can be daunting to leave home, leave friends, and your life to study in a foreign country. For those with special dietary needs, the challenge can be that much more intimidating. And while it is certainly a challenge to work around dietary needs, it can and has been done many times before. So if you are concerned about your dietary restrictions abroad, whether they are a lifestyle choice, allergy complications, or a religious restriction, there are ways around these challenges while abroad. Where there is a will, there is a way! We are offering some advice to help you experience another culture while continuing in your healthy/necessary eating habits. The following is broken down into two categories: what to do before departing, and what to do while in country.
The most important part about having special dietary needs abroad is preparing before you leave for the semester. Knowing country specific information can help you avoid going hungry or having a serious health complication. Here are some guidelines on how to best prepare before arriving in your host country.
http://www.triumphdining.com/products/gluten-free-dining-cards (This is a particularly good website full of information on how to eat with a gluten allergy, and they offer the card making service.)
If neither of these websites have your allergy or language specific information, doing a google search should take you in the right direction.
There is a lot to prepare for a study abroad experience, we know. But please be sure to do your research and obtain the necessary materials for any dietary restrictions. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress when you do arrive!
So, you have researched the local cuisine and learned how to ask for lasagna without meat sauce. Now what? Well, there are few things to keep in mind once you’ve arrived in your host country as you will want to stay on top of your eating habits.
*Remember to research your allergy/dietary specific information to be as thorough in your preparation as possible. Here is additional helpful website for gluten-free eating:
Traveling and living abroad with dietary needs can be challenging even for the seasoned traveler. But it is absolutely do-able if you plan ahead and prepare yourself appropriately. Hopefully these tips will help you to have a healthy and rewarding experience throughout your journey abroad!
Photos by Athena student alums Jessica Fix and Kate Bispham