Food is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Sampling the local cuisines while traveling is, in turn, one of the greatest pleasures of vacationing. Instead of feeling guilty when you (again) eat a bit too much of local delicacies, head for the countries where food will do you nothing but good. See the world’s five destinations that will help you improve your frame of body and mind without big sacrifices. All you have to do is eat like the locals do.
We all know the advantages of holidays in Thailand. Sandy exotic beaches, azure waters, laid-back atmosphere, relatively low prices and intriguing culture – these are the main reasons most of us opt for the country. But the Land of Smiles is also a great dieting destination where you can lose a few extra pounds and improve you appearance. If you put aside alcoholic beverages, Thai cuisine is nothing but health. And it tastes good. So good.
Traditional Thai meals are a balanced mix of fruit, rice, small portions of meat, loads of vegetables and even more herbs and spices (ginger, chili, lemongrass, coriander) that increase your metabolism, improve the digestive system and are proven to be great remedies for various diseases. Moreover, the Thais do not really use fats for cooking and they put enormous emphasis on the freshness of ingredients. Last but not least, the Thai love fish and seafood, and they know how to prepare it in a thousand and one ways. And we all know that eating fish rich in Omega 3 is super healthy and nutritional. Thanks to their cuisine the Thais can boast some of the world’s lowest instances of heart diseases and the absence of obesity.
The benefits of the Mediterranean cuisine have been known for centuries. This delicious and healthy diet is based on local foods that have been grown in the pleasing climate of the Mediterranean Basin. Still, Italy and Greece have so many tempting and fattening delicacies such as pizzas, pastas, ice creams, moussakas, pastries…not to mention Italian pies, tarts, sherbets, you name it. At the same time, however, Spain has taken the best of Mediterranean food and gave up unhealthy- though mouth-watering- dishes to creat one of the most wholesome and tastiest national cuisines in the entire basin.
In Spain, it is all about olives and olive oil. Replacing unhealthy snacks with olives and using olive oil instead of other fats is the first step to shed a few unwanted pounds and stay healthy. Spain is the world’s largest olive producers and it can boast almost 300 varieties of these amazing trees. In turn, olive oil is a great source of vitamins, helps reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, regulate cholesterol, lower the severity of arthritis and asthma, and prevent the development of cancer.
Again fish and seafood are very important to the Spanish diet. Among most popular dishes on the Iberian Peninsula are also paella, a healthy pot made of shellfish (such as shrimp, clams, crab, and lobster) or poultry, vegetables, and rice as well as gazpacho, ultra light cold soup. You can virtually eat gallons of this soup as it is made of only tomatoes, a bit of bread and loads of garlic. Add to it a small glass of premium Spanish wine (which is good for your heart if you drink moderately) and you will easily cut calories without too many sacrifices.
Portuguese cuisine might not be as sophisticated as Spanish or Italian foods, but the country can still pride on one of the healthiest diets among the Mediterranean countries. In fact, Portuguese dishes are very basic and simple, but they comprise the most essential elements needed in a balanced diet, such as locally grown vegetables and fruits, fish and poultry.
Thanks to the prominent presence of the giant Atlantic Ocean, Portuguese cuisine is very much sea-orientated. The fish is of premium quality in the country, where, literally, every restaurant serves superb fresh fish and seafood. Dried codfish, grilled sardines, sole, red mullet, cooked clams and mussels are only a few examples of the abundant marine delicacies served. Another ultra popular meal is caldo verde, cold vegetable soup, perfect during hot days and extremely good for your body. Among dairy goods, the famed goat and sheep cheeses are the country’s flagship products. Apparently, these types of cheeses are much healthier and lighter than cow cheese, so you can gorge on them without feeling guilty. The Portuguese favorite spice is piri-piri that came to the country from Africa. The hot sauce made from chilli, served in every bar and restaurant, is as essential to the country’s cuisine as salt and black pepper. Piri-piri is rich in vitamin B6, C and A, and it is believed to be a treatment for chronic pain. A body of research also proves that chili helps fight obesity.
Last but not least, Portugal is home to amazing wineries that stretch from the North to the South of the country, offering excellent Port and Madeira.
The only seductions you need to be aware of are Portuguese pastries that come in many different variations, shapes, colors and sizes. But then again, you are on holiday so little pleasures, from time to time, are a must.
2. The Caribbean
The Caribbean cuisine varies from island to island, but it has one thing in common: fruit and vegetables grow through the year so they are always super fresh, juicy and aromatic. Moreover, Caribbean meals, which are a melange of various influences of Spanish, French, British, Dutch and African foods, have taken the best of these different cultures to end up as unique and healthy cuisine. The traditional dishes of the West Indies are composed of unprocessed
foods, always fresh ingredients, lots of fish and seafood as well as small amounts of meat.
Be it flying fish known in Barbados, cascadura fish and crab from Trinidad and Tobago, Belize’s onion soup, or casaba bread from Puerto Rico, the Caribbean dishes are amazingly good both in terms of taste and health values. Cassava is wildly known as the vegetable that helps prevent heart disease, reduces risks of cancer and is full of iron, magnesium and vitamin C. Another ultra healthy vegetable, popular mainly in Jamaica, is callaloo that is served with breakfast, lunch or dinner. The qualities of this leafy vegetable are invaluable: it has twice as much calcium, magnesium, iron and vitamin A and C as broccoli or spinach.
Dining right on the beach, with a plate full of wholesome products and the sun shining above, is a successful recipe for improving both the state of body and mind.
The Japanese diet is a powerful weapon in the fight against obesity. The Japanese are slim and healthy, and the problem of overweight has appeared only recently, when the international fast food chains invaded the country. Still, the people of Japan have the highest life expectancy rates in the world, and the society is very lean in comparison to other developed nations.
So try to eat as much of Japanese food as possible while you stay in the country, and you will soon discover the salutary effects of this unique cuisine. The Japanese diet is rich in vegetables, fish, seafood and other marine foods such as algae and seaweed, both a great source of minerals. Another important ingredient of Japanese diet is soy. Apparently, it reduces cholesterol and lowers the risk of cancer. Even sweets are made of soy in Japan. The list of healthy foodstuffs is long as virtually every ingredient of Japanese menu is wholesome for a human body.
It must be mentioned here that Japanese cuisine, besides its beneficial qualities, is a feast for the eyes. The portions are small, decorative, beautifully set and uniquely served. The Japanese food is pure health and pure art at the same time.
One of the best advantages of food is its portability. Go to weight loss holidays and take back home your favorite ingredients, or find out where to buy them in your town, incorporate healthy eating habits, learn how to cook Thai, Japanese or Spanish style to enjoy a wholesome diet and good shape all year long.