Lifestyle Benefits Of Nutrition
Living abroad poses an exciting chance to experience new environments, cultures and people. But on a longer trip or assignment, it’s hard to avoid becoming ill at some stage. To increase your chances of staying healthy, it’s important to consider nutrition and your diet.
Wriiten for Expat Network by Rebecca Freer, Head of Global Healthcare Marketing of AXA Global Healthcare
According to AXA’s recent research, analysing expat conversations on social media about health and wellbeing, there are a wide range of problems and challenges affecting those living abroad. Most of the expats struggled at some point during their time abroad with anxiety, worry, depression and managing chronic conditions. However, when it came to proactively managing these issues, many cited exercise and nutrition as helpful tools, alongside healthcare and mindfulness.
Here are some pointers that expats may find helpful when it comes to managing their nutrition:
Strengthening your immune system
Moving to a new place can often mean adapting to a new climate or time zone. The body has to adjust, and the immune system can easily take a hit during this period. Being ill on top of this adjustment, can quickly make the task of settling in overwhelming. Proactively investing in the immune system with a nutritious and balanced diet can help to make things less stressful.
Adapting to a new culture and diet
Trying new wholefoods, as well as fruit and vegetables, is an effective way of maintaining a nutritious diet while at the same time experiencing a new culture. There are also emotional benefits of eating a wide variety of food, with good nutrition having been found to maintain positive mental health.
On the flip side, cultural attitudes to food can certainly be a cause of anxiety. For those expats who have specific requirements, such as a vegan diet, finding plenty of food that’ll be suitable can be a worry in certain parts of world. However, more and more people are embracing plant-based diets, to the extent that there are now plenty of countries, such as the UK, India or Israel, where it’s very easy to find vegan and vegetarian options.
Meeting new people and trying to kick-start a brand-new social life can sometimes result in weight gain as a result of eating out and drinking more than usual. Your settling in period might also restrict your time to exercise, making it even more important to watch what you eat. Even if the restaurants you’re visiting while bonding with your new friends and colleagues, aren’t the healthiest, try choosing a healthier option on the menu.
Preventing emotional eating
One of the most appealing ways to relieve stress is often to eat comforting food; a habit that can be very easy to fall into when you’re feeling isolated. But emotional eating, when left unchecked, can lead to weight gain which can have a significant impact on both physical and mental health. To help avoid emotional eating, it’s important to find healthy ways of managing stress.
Keeping health conditions under control
A health-related issue is likely one of the most troubling situations you could face while settling into a new location, especially if it’s associated with a chronic condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Having medication to hand and registering with a doctor are, of course, incredibly important. But a nutritious diet can be helpful too. If you’re going though treatment, a period of mental illness or even pregnancy, nutrition can play a key part maintaining your wellbeing.
Living in a new place requires a lot of adjustment, leaving little energy for exercise or making healthy choices. A bit of research can help, either by speaking to a nutritionist, in person or over the phone. AXA is trialling a way of connecting customers with qualified nutritionists, who will provide a consultation to assess your situation and goals, personalised recommendations and even follow-up sessions to track your progress. However you approach it, it’s important to acknowledge that nutrition is one of several crucial elements when it comes to maintaining a healthy expat lifestyle.