How I treat food poisoning when I’m overseas
Getting food poisoning sucks.
Getting food poisoning overseas sucks even more.
Getting food poisoning for the first time ever when you’re a seven-year-old kid overseas sucks the most.
But that was how yours truly first experienced the tragedy that is food poisoning. In the back of a Transnasional bus that was in the middle of a six-hour-journey from Genting Highlands to Singapore.
Six hours and countless bags of puke later, I swore to never travel overseas again. Life, of course, had other plans, and I ended up becoming a travel writer. Still, it didn’t solve the problem of my digestive system becoming as sensitive as a Gen Z-er’s feelings every time I left local soil. After multiple trips filled with soul-crushing agony, I finally figured out the remedies that best work for my ailing tummy when I’m overseas.
Charcoal Pills: The only thing you really, really need
“Bro, wanna try eating charcoal?”
My friend, CJ, was comforting me as I hunched over a drain, spewing out two days’ worth of food against the scenic backdrop of Mount Fuji. Earlier that day, I had eaten grated daikon that was rancid. This was the aftereffect. More specifically, the tenth hour of the aftereffect.
Despite feeling like absolute s**t, I still remember the incredulity I felt upon hearing his question. You’re asking me to eat the thing I use to grill my steaks? Nonetheless, I was desperate. So after what seemed like a never-ending walk to our ryokan, CJ passed me two foreboding-looking black pills and we called it a night.
I had been suffering for 10 hours and those two black pills worked their magic in less than two. I know because I distinctly remember waking up in the middle of the night—with my soul and bowels getting new leases of life—turning to CJ, and saying “Bro, your charcoal worked.”
He just gave me a thumbs up and continued sleeping.
Apparently, charcoal pills work by binding to toxins. The side effect, however, is that your sh*t will be black for the next few days. Personally, I couldn’t care less. My sh*t was more than welcome to look like a Power Rangers team if it meant no more food poisoning.
And let me tell you guys; the day I was introduced to charcoal pills was the day I stopped getting food poisoning overseas. It simply works for me.
Honestly, if you’re still packing your luggage, just stock up on some charcoal pills and leave this article.
However, if you’re currently reading this on a toilet bowl in an exotic country with no charcoal pills in sight, stick around to see what other foods I would recommend.
Bananas: The fruit that will ease your tummy
“Don’t eat so much street food! And make sure you only drink bottled water.”
That was the advice my then-colleagues gave me as I prepped for my maiden work trip to India. I was taken aback. I wasn’t going to dignify such harmful stereotypes; I wanted to experience everything India had to offer, so I elected to ignore them.
I ended up getting food poisoning on Day 2.
To my Indian readers, don’t get me wrong. I love your food and the Indian people I met overseas were some of the friendliest bunch I’ve had the pleasure of working with. But yeah, s***t happens.
Anyways, I still had to work in India for three more days which meant I had to get better ASAP. So I asked our hotel receptionist if she had anything that could ease the pain.
“Would you like some bananas? We can send it up to your room!”
Sure thing, sis.
Turns out, India produces a lot of bananas. My hotel sent me two entire hands of bananas FOC. First off, A++ service. Second of all, the bananas somehow worked! I mean I still had to run off to the bathroom every now and again. But it was at a much lower frequency and intensity.
Bananas are high in potassium and help by replacing lost electrolytes due to food poisoning. And help me they did! Speaking of electrolytes, remember that Genting Highlands story in the intro? Here’s how I solved that one.
Glucose Powder: The best way to rehydrate
Despite what my mother would have you believe, puking your guts out for six hours doesn’t necessarily expel all the toxins in your body. By the time our bus arrived in Singapore, I was still feeling wretched and had lost enough water to fill up Bedok Reservoir.
Bless my aunt because the moment she found out her favourite nephew was suffering, she summoned our family to her house where she proceeded to feed me a cup of Glucolin Orange.
The electrolytes in that concoction immediately went to work and I was finally cured. Plus, the orange flavour was incredible.
Obviously, I wasn’t gonna lug a whole tin of glucose every time I travelled. As such, I brought mini sachets of glucose on my travels. But here’s the thing, although their efficacy is respectable, glucose sachets are simply way too expensive. That’s why I’ll always stick with charcoal pills.
Finding the best cure for food poisoning
These three items are simply what have worked best for me and are by no means an exhaustive list. I’ve learned that the best cure for food poisoning is through constant hydration and replenishing of electrolytes. Hopefully, this has helped you plan for your next vacay now that borders are easing up.
What’s something you’ll always bring on your travels? Tell us below!