Moving abroad can be an exciting step to take in your life, especially if you're relocating due to a workplace promotion or a completely new job.
At the same time, moving overseas can also be stressful. Among other things, you might find yourself dealing with culture shock or find that your partner and children are struggling to adjust to such a significant change themselves.
Against this background, it's easy to quickly fall into bad dietary habits after an overseas move.
Follow these tips to help maintain a healthy diet and make better food choices in your new location.
1. Take care with your shopping list
After moving overseas, it’s easy to shop by sticking to familiar brands or opting for processed foods for convenience.
But both of these scenarios will undermine your desire to make healthy choices.
Depending on where you lived previously and your new location, there could be significant differences in the ingredients in anything from a loaf of bread to sauces and other common foods.
The best thing to do immediately after moving overseas is to aim to cook meals at home using fresh, unprocessed ingredients. This will help you establish and maintain a healthy eating pattern and, for example, help you avoid sugary foods and drinks that you might have previously seen as a healthy food at home.
2. Avoid throwing yourself at food chains and junk food
Another way it’s easy to look for the convenience and comfort of home is to eat and familiar food outlets.
With McDonald's in over 100 countries worldwide and other fast food chains increasing their global presence, there’s a chance you’ll always be able to find somewhere familiar to go and eat.
When settling into your new location, it can also be tempting to try all the local food chains and delicacies that are suddenly at your fingertips. But you often won't know what's going into the kebab or pizza you enjoy picking up on your way home from the office. And food hygiene standards may be different from what you'd expect, too.
Stick to simple meals like brown rice, fish and vegetables when you first relocate and give yourself time to discover the places where a "cheat day" will be worth it!
3. Try new things
Haven’t we just told you not to rush into trying all the new local takeaways?
We have, and of course, you'll want to throw yourself into trying new and exciting ingredients and tastes.
Just do it with fresh ingredients instead. For example, if you exclusively follow a plant-based diet and have moved to the other side of the world, you'll likely find local and seasonal fruits and vegetables that you've rarely, if ever, eaten before. And thanks to the internet, you'll find it easy to learn how to include those in recipes!
Likewise, if you eat meat, different countries and cultures may bring you the opportunity to try new foods that you'd never have been able to eat back home.
So, by all means, try new things, but do it as part of a healthy balanced diet!
4. Eat smaller portions
This is a great tip to follow if you’re using ingredients you’re unfamiliar with or struggle to read labels while you’re getting to grips with a new language.
If you feel like you want to try anything and everything in your new location, then simple tips like using a smaller plate at home, not going to “all you can eat” restaurants, and asking for sauces and salad dressings on the side rather than all over your food can help you be more mindful of what and how you eat.
5. Stay hydrated
Hunger is often thirst in disguise, so staying hydrated is an excellent way to control your appetite, especially if you've moved somewhere the local cuisine is incredibly tempting! Of course, hydration is a critical component of good health anyway, so moving overseas is an excellent opportunity to recalibrate your overall health goals and ensure you're drinking plenty of water.
In addition, if you've moved somewhere the weather is significantly different from at home – whether warmer or colder – it's vital to keep a close eye on your hydration levels.
If you've moved somewhere with a high risk of water contamination, ensure you always have a supply of clean water at home. And if you're unsure if tap water is clean, you can always boil it before you drink it.
6. Get plenty of sleep
It’s easy to reach for a sugary breakfast if you’ve had a lousy night’s sleep.
And it's even easier for this to turn into a vicious circle of highs followed by crashes, affecting your ability to sleep if you're reaching sugary drinks and foods later in the afternoon.
Sleep quality is also increasingly being shown to have a direct link to gut health. Make sure you allow yourself to get a good night's sleep so you feel refreshed and ready for a healthy breakfast in the morning rather than needing a sugar kick to compensate for the last thing you ate the day before.
7. Ensure you adopt a new exercise plan
There's nothing like a vigorous and ambitious exercise plan to motivate you to eat well. No one wants to put in all that effort at the gym only to waste the gains eating something loaded with added sugars and other hidden ingredients.
Whether you get a gym membership as a job perk or need to ask someone you meet for a recommendation, put this on your "to-do" list straight away!
Depending on where you're living, you might not even need a gym membership! Instead, you could have a gateway to walks in the park or on the beach or a cycle-friendly route to work. Both are easy ways to be healthy while also saving you money and supporting your healthy eating plan.
Maintaining a healthy diet in your new location
Moving abroad can bring a raft of challenges, from culture shock to ensuring you have adequate health insurance for you and your family.
Following these tips will help you to be healthier and happier in your new location while giving you plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in your new culture and way of life.