My Delhi belly prevention plan
I pride myself on being an adventurous eater with a strong stomach.
There’s also a part of me that gets a perverse pleasure in eating foods others won’t try, especially while I’m travelling.
However, since we booked our flights to India, I’ve been obsessed with avoiding food poisoning.
I think my anxiety traces back to a few things:
- I’ve had the stomach flu twice this year. The second time was while I was on vacation in Oaxaca, Mexico.
- People giving me all sorts of warnings about food, water, and hygiene in India. Historically, the only precautions I’ve taken are drinking bottled water and packing a bag of miscellaneous meds. I don’t know if this makes me willfully dumb or very chill.
- Going down Internet rabbit holes for more advice as a result of #2.
So if you’re wondering what the product of diving to the depths of internet and mental hell looks like, have I got an orderly list for you!
Before leaving for India
● We topped up on vaccinations and got a prescription for Dukerol
● We’ve been drinking kefir and taking probiotic pills daily
A few people online suggested drinking a lassi in India to help with stomach issues. I thought doing this ahead of time might help build up our stomach cultures, and if not, it wouldn’t hurt.
Things we’re bringing to India
● SteriPEN and two 1.5L collapsable waterbottles
The internet will tell you to only drink bottled water and never go near an ice cube. The internet will also tell you that people refill water bottles with tap water and sell them on the street.
While I can deal with vetting a water bottle cap, I wanted a solution that didn’t involve me producing a garbage bag full of empty bottles every day.
The SteriPEN is a battery-operated UV light that kills viruses and bacteria in water. You just turn it on and stir it in the water for a minute or so.
I debated between this and the Grayl, a French press-style purifier in a water bottle. The pen won because a lot of reviews said the Grayl gets hard to push after a while and I wanted to avoid a bottle taking up space in my bag.
I bought the SteriPEN pack that included a filter and 4L resevoir so it could used on camping trips too.
● Hand sanitizer
I kind of hate myself for this one.
After a trip to Bath & Body Works, I have a collection of fun scents and a fashionable dispenser holder.
Who am I kidding? I’ll probably add a pack of Lysol wipes to this collection too.
We already have Sistema cutlerly sets to cut down on using disposable plastic utensils. By bringing them to India, we can ensure that our cutlery is clean too.
I thought I was a genius for thinking of this until I realized my Mom has been doing a form of this for years! She always washes chopsticks, cups, and bowls with hot tea whenever we sit down for dim sum.
● Two tubes of oral rehydration solutions (Gatorade in pill-form) and two packs of Immodium (aka chocolate-rain plug)
While in India
● We’ll avoid food that could have been washed in tap water and hasn’t been cooked (e.g. salad, pre-cut fruit)
● When we can, we’ll choose to restaurants where we can see how the food is cooked and makes food fresh-to-order
● We’ll wash our hands more frequently and try to avoid touching our faces. (I’m really bad the second one.)
● The jury is still out on whether we’ll avoid frozen treats like home-made popsicles.
The gung ho attitude I created to deal with the paranoia has passed, and now I’m just tired of thinking about it.
It took five months, but finally I’m ready to go and can accept that we may get sick.