Keeping up a nutritious diet can be challenging while going abroad for several reasons. Not only is your diet changing as you’re exposed to new cuisines and cultures, but it can also be easy to get into a cycle of “treating yourself” to new treats.
The purpose of this article is not to deter you from eating gelato or cannolis. You’re only abroad for so long, so try as many new foods and treats as you can!
Here are some suggestions, tips, and the best places to get a healthy meal to keep you on track while also enjoying yourself.
1. Create a Routine and Schedule
One thing that helped keep me on track was planning dinners.
I got this little pad of paper that stuck to the fridge, and it listed each day of the week with who was cooking what. This way my roommates and I could plan ahead for what nights we would have time to cook.
Even if you’re not a great cook (I mean what better place is there to learn than in Italy?) it’s fun to get together with your roommates and try to coordinate meals. Two of you on kitchen duty makes it go a lot quicker.
2. Keep Each Other in Check
The list on the fridge was an easy way to see an outline of meals. If we’re having pasta on Monday night, then maybe I would choose something with fewer carbs for the meal I make the next day.
This doesn’t just have to be for dinners either.
Simply talking to your roommates or other friends about what you’re getting for lunch and where you found that yummy salad is helpful.
The best way to keep healthy? Encouraging words from friends.
3. Take Advantage of Amenities
My semester at FUA was very unusual due to COVID, nation-wide restrictions, and school requirements. One thing that the rest of you who are studying abroad will get to do is go to the school’s gym.
If you aren’t comfortable going to the gym, try a home workout. I love doing at-home workouts on YouTube by The Studio by Jamie. She has mixed cardio, dance, and HIIT workouts that are surprisingly fun.
4. The Easy Given: Walking
Let’s say the gym is off the table, what else could I do to keep active? You’ll never believe how many calories you burn a day just by walking.
My walk to the Ricasoli school by the Duomo was about 12-15 mins. When you do that everyday, 2 to 4 times a day, you already have maybe an hour of exercise. The art building was even further, about 25-30 minutes from my apartment. Wednesday morning walks to Foundation Painting weren’t the most fun, but if you’re late to class, take a bike. They’re everywhere around the city for a rent-by-minute price.
If you have a watch or anything else that tracks your activity, you’ll have fun watching your step count every day. That’s one thing I love about Florence: its walkability!
Where Should I Eat?
Here are my favorite places to hit for smoothies, protein bowls, wraps, and healthy snacks.
This cafe is hands down my go-to place in Florence for a smoothie bowl.
They have an array of healthy items on their menu, from smoothies and smoothie bowls to deli wraps, immune boost shots, and coffees.
One of my favorites was the Green Smoothie Bowl. This smoothie is made with pineapple, mango, avocado, almond milk, spinach and kale. It’s topped with whatever you like, from fresh fruit to homemade granola, shaved coconut flakes (these are so tasty, and different from the smaller, thin coconut flakes I was used to at home), chai seeds, almonds, and goji berries. It’s sweet, and complimented perfectly by peanut butter on top.
Another favorite is the Black Charcoal Bowl, which contains activated charcoal and is totally Insta-worthy with its dark appearance.
Their wraps are healthy and fresh, and they have some bakery items such as overnight oats, fruit cups, small sandwiches, and croissants.
Base V. Juicery
Base V is just a couple doors down from Shake Cafe, and offers similar products. They also have delicious smoothie bowls, including their Cacao & Peanut Butter Bowl. This was my other favorite!
They also have avocado toasts, as well as their take on quinoa bowls and bruschetta with avocado. Their salads and homemade hummus are the perfect lunch combo.
For your morning detox, Base V offers SuperLattes, which contain the antioxidants and vitamins you need to boost your day. Yum!
Brunch galore! From Eggs Benedict to a gluten free pastry item and a cute little cappuchino, this is a great spot for your Sunday brunch.
For lunch, they have some unique seasonal salads as well as yummy tacos! During fall time, they even had a pumpkin benedict, with slices of fresh pumpkin, poached eggs and a base of salad greens.
They also have a delicious Mimosas. Shhhh, those are healthy too, right?
Sogni E Sapori Avocaderia
From poke bowls to sandwiches, this avocaderia has your perfect lunch options.
What is a poke bowl? It’s a hawaiian dish, served over rice or quinoa, and usually includes salmon or other fish, but can be replaced with chicken or tofu. It’s usually topped with a dressing like teriyaki or spicy mayonnaise, with avocado, seaweed, wasabi peas, cucumbers or other green vegetables.
This avocaderia’s focus is freshness, and poke bowls are their best-selling product. While there are several poke bowl places in Florence, this is the first place I tried one, and is a smaller business so it deserves the spotlight.
Balance Your Meals, and Don’t Be Afraid to Treat Yourself.
The best key to keeping healthy, not just losing or maintaining weight, is moderation.
Had enough of the smoothies and avocado toasts? Try making something at home, or treat yourself to a new panini place.