Street Eats: How to Eat Street Food With Dietary Concerns

Without doubt, my favourite thing about visiting new countries and discovering new cultures is getting to try the local food — and eat like a local. You just can’t beat it! Checking out the local street food scene is the ideal way to get your taste buds tingling. So-called ‘street eats’ are usually highly authentic, extremely tasty and freshly prepared. Furthermore, as eating street food is normally much cheaper than dining out in a restaurant, it’s a great way to keep spending to a minimum while travelling.

Street food is a great way to get a flavour for local cuisine while travelling all around the world, be it from street food trucks or market stalls. However, there are a few things to watch out if you want to avoid getting sick from eating street food. #streetfood #foodallergy #foodhygiene #foodpoisoning

However, not everyone can just tuck in freely. If you have any kind of dietary concern, condition or intolerance, here’s how you can get your fix of scrumptious street eats without making yourself poorly:

  1. The biggest queues

One of the best pieces of advice I could give anyone who wants to tuck into street food is to follow the crowds! If a street food vendor is extremely busy and attracts a seemingly never-ending queue, that’s always a good sign. Okay, so you may have to wait a bit longer for your food, but it’ll be worth it. Look for where the locals seem to be queuing up too, not just other tourists. These guys know which vendors can be trusted and which ones may be a little unsavoury!

Queuing for fries at Mannekenpis, Amsterdam - one of the most popular local street eats!

  1. Stand back and watch

Another top tip when it comes to telling whether street food is safe to eat, is to simply stand back and watch the vendors for a little while. Are they cleaning their equipment regularly? Is there any risk of cross-contamination? Are they keeping bowls of food covered and away from flies? Keep an eye on them for 5-10 minutes, and you’ll quickly pick up on any unhygienic practices the vendors are using. If they appear to be clean and there’s no risk of cross-contamination, dig in!

Poutine - a popular street eat

  1. Go veggie

If you’re not vegetarian already, you might wish to consider trying out a few meat-free meals if you want to experience the best street eats on offer. In many regions of India, for example, meat is not a staple part of the local diet and is often only cooked for tourists. When meat is left out in the heat all day, bacteria can multiply at an astounding rate – a recipe for disaster. Eating more like a local, and exploring all the veggie delights in sight, will ensure you avoid eating any infected meats, while also reducing the risk of aggravating any medical conditions or dietary concerns. Vegetarian food can be delicious too, you know!

Butternut squash and chickpea stew - vegetarian food is one of the tastiest street eats you can find!

  1. Avoid dairy

Again, this tends to only apply in particularly hot countries. Unless the vendors are using condensed milk, dairy products could have been sitting out in the sun for quite a long time. Consuming warm dairy products is a surefire way to give yourself a tummy ache, whether you’re lactose intolerant or not! Keep away from any fresh dairy products and learn how to say ‘no milk’ in the local language if you want to avoid all milk entirely, even condensed. The same goes for any other foods that you may need to avoid, like nuts or gluten. 

  1. Stock up on meds

Finally, if you have a medical condition like diabetes, then you’re definitely going to want to stock up on medication before you go away. It’s recommended that you carry twice as much as you need, just in case you lose your medication or it happens to get damaged. Sometimes you can be super careful with street food, but still find yourself coming down a little unwell, so ttock up on anti-dehydration tablets too, just in case!

Street eats are a real pleasure, but it’s essential to be careful about what you eat when travelling abroad. Follow these top tips and enjoy tucking into a variety of local culinary delights!

Do you have any favourite street foods or tips to add to my list? Let me know in the comments!

Street food is a great way to get a flavour for local cuisine while travelling all around the world, be it from street food trucks or market stalls. However, there are a few things to watch out if you want to avoid getting sick from eating street food. #streetfood #foodallergy #foodhygiene #foodpoisoning

 

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This is a collaborative post.< The content of this post should not be treated as strict medical advice. If you are travelling with a dietary concern or food allergy, please consult your GP prior to travel for further advice.

28 Comments

  1. June 11, 2018 / 9:06 pm

    This is a good post as lots of my family have food allergies ect so this is good to know.

    • June 12, 2018 / 11:28 am

      Glad to hear that you found my post useful 🙂

  2. June 11, 2018 / 10:03 pm

    These are some great tips. When in Cuba, we followed the locals and ate some really great food from places that look so sketchy outside … we’d never have gone in if it weren’t for the queues.
    C x

    • June 12, 2018 / 11:27 am

      I always keep my eye out for a queue – surefire sign that the food’s gonna be good! 😀

  3. June 11, 2018 / 10:50 pm

    This is a great post, Ash was diagnosed Type 1 just a few months ago so we are both trying to work out the new way things are when it comes to food and just eating on the go.

    • June 12, 2018 / 11:27 am

      Aww, sorry to hear that – but glad to hear that the post has helped, if only a little!

  4. June 12, 2018 / 6:07 am

    Great tips, when I went to Download festival last weekend I decided to go veggie just to see what was on offer without meat although I did have a lot of cheese x

    • June 12, 2018 / 11:26 am

      That’s a great idea. I bet you got to eat a much more varied range of meals.

  5. June 12, 2018 / 11:20 am

    Love the range of food options. Especially that they offer vegetarian foods x

    • June 12, 2018 / 11:25 am

      Very true. Veggie food always seems to be plentiful at these kinds of events.

  6. Yeah Lifestyle
    June 12, 2018 / 11:54 am

    These are great tips and I have to agree with you when it comes to looking at where the locals go to have their food as they know best. We do the same when we travel.

    http://www.yeahlifestyle.com

    • June 12, 2018 / 2:29 pm

      It’s one of my favourite travel tips 🙂 I love to eat like a local!

  7. June 12, 2018 / 12:02 pm

    It must be that much harder to sample / eat street food when you have dietary concerns. I think trying to go veggie can be a safer option in some places.

    • June 12, 2018 / 2:29 pm

      I know, I can only imagine how tricky it must be, even in restaurants at times.

  8. June 12, 2018 / 12:11 pm

    stand back and watch is something I always do, just to see how they cook the food and whether it looks nice enough to eat

    • June 12, 2018 / 2:28 pm

      That’s a really good point – it’s a great way to decide what you want to order.

  9. June 12, 2018 / 9:56 pm

    Great advice and we love sampling food from street vendors and it definitely is a good way to expand taste buds x

    • June 13, 2018 / 7:45 pm

      Me too! I always get to try a more diverse range of dishes at street food events.

  10. Jenni
    June 13, 2018 / 9:04 am

    Love the idea of seeing where the queues are and I always go veggie when I’m eating out x

    • June 13, 2018 / 7:45 pm

      It is a good way to play it safe when it comes to exploring street food in different countries.

  11. June 14, 2018 / 1:39 pm

    Aha well I am a vegetarian so that is a plus point for me. However I agree that avoiding dairy is something I should have done on my trip to Italy because I was sick pretty much most of the time and my stomach was very upset with me because its not good at digesting heavy food aha! Still street eats are always delicious aren’t they?

    • June 15, 2018 / 12:46 pm

      I do love street food. Such a great way to explore the local cuisine!

  12. ChelseaMamma
    June 14, 2018 / 7:58 pm

    My worst nightmare would be eating street food if I had allergies, it must be so tricky especially in foreign climes

    • June 15, 2018 / 12:44 pm

      I know, it must be so confusing knowing what you can and can’t eat.

  13. June 16, 2018 / 9:17 pm

    Some great info here – especially the queue tip, I’d not considered that before. I ate a fair bit of street food when I was in Mexico and Colombia, and thankfully didn’t have any problems with my tummy 😛 x

    • June 18, 2018 / 11:02 am

      I love street food, it’s just you have to be careful what you eat sometimes. I avoided it in India as I was only there for two weeks so I didn’t want to get ill and ruin my trip, but with hindsight, I wish I’d been a little more adventurous.

  14. July 17, 2018 / 6:58 pm

    There’s some great tips here! I don’t have any food allergies myself but it’s always useful to know

    • July 18, 2018 / 1:33 pm

      Yeah, I think even if you don’t have a food allergy, the tip about drinking bottled water in certain countries is really handy to know.

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