This little traveller went to market

By Hannah Silverman

So, you’re a backpacker and the only way you can afford to go to Spain is by adhering to a very strict budget. Boring right? Wrong.

Who says cheap food has to be fattening, unhealthy and tasteless? Not dietician Kate Pumpa.

Dr Pumpa, who is an Assistant Professor in Exercise Physiology at the University of Canberra and an accredited sports dietitian, says the good news is cheap food choices can taste great and keep you trim too.

Enter, the market discussion.

The colours and smells of this Durban market are delicious. Great inspiration for home cooking in your hostel.
The colours and smells of this Durban market are delicious. Great inspiration for home cooking in your hostel.

“The local markets offer fresh, cheap foods that are healthy, for example, the La Boqueria in Barcelona,” Dr Pumpa says.

“This market is a food wonderland – really cheap and really tasty.”

Markets are very common in Asia, too, as is street food, or you can stop into a restaurant and order a light soup to keep you and your wallet full.

If markets are too hard to find, or the seafood scents wafting through are too much to handle, supermarkets can be your new best friend.

“For example, Tesco in the UK and Ireland have a lot of healthy, ready made sandwiches, pastas and salad options,” Dr Pumpa says.

“If you’re staying at a backpackers, hit the supermarket and pick up some local produce and make your sandwiches at the hostel to take with you on your daily adventures.

“This keeps the costs down and you have more control over the food you have.

“Plus, it’s easily accessible when you get hungry, rather than grabbing the closest food available when you get hungry.”

Don’t feel guilty about indulging either, with a number of cheap fitness options at your fingertips.

Dr Pumpa says these could include running to explore new areas, swimming in the beach or hotel pool, stair sprints and squats/lunges/pushups.

She also suggests using park benches for tricep dips or step ups and using rocks for resistance training for exercises such as bicep curls and shoulder presses. Let’s face it, you aren’t exactly going to pack your favourite weight in your 23kg-limited suitcase.

“Tourists fall in to the unhealthy trap when they don’t walk that street or two back from the main tourist areas where you can find the real gems,” Dr Pumpa says.

Market, supermarket or restaurant, Dr Pumpa has a word of warning for hungry travellers.

“From a safety point of view, avoid eating salads or foods that may have been washed in the local water and not cooked,” she says.

“A lot of people stay clear from street food… but I must admit, I love to eat local street food when I am away – though it is probably not the best general recommendation, as you do take your chances in some places.

“As long as people always drink bottled water, and avoid foods that may have been washed in local water, they should be fine.”


What’s your cheap cheat healthy holiday meal?


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