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Eat well: Food trip tips from a food blogger

MANILA, Philippines – Anton Diaz has just returned from a short vacation from Guam. As expected from a food blogger like him, the delicious evidence is all over his Instagram feed: USDA prime steaks, chicken and pork ribs BBQ with red rice, and even a tin can of Tabasco-flavored chocolate. 

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If all the double-tap hearts became mouths, the photos wouldn’t be enough to feed the 18,000-strong crowd who vicariously follow Anton’s gastronomic adventures.

Anton has been writing about his love food and travel since 2005, when he launched his blog Our Awesome Planet (way before #foodporn and a mobile phone became an widely acceptable way of professing one’s love for eating good food). 10 years and thousands of plates later, he has mastered the art of doing the food trip. As it turns out, there’s more to it than just shooting a well lit, top-angle photo of a cupcake and eating it within 15 seconds.

“My favorite food trips are those where I discover new food, new culture,” Anton says in Filipino. “My way to understand the culture of the different country is through food.”

However, good stories and a full tummy are not the only things that he gains at the end of each trip. “One of the major problems [of bloggers] would be eating too much cholesterol, second is sugar and carbs,” Anton says. “That’s actually the hazard of our passion.”

Fortunately, he’s got more than a few strategies for keeping his health in check, without giving in too much to guilt from indulging. Here’s a serving of Anton’s choice tips for enjoying your next food trip.

Look (carefully) before you leap

According to Anton, Filipinos have a tendency to be “takaw tingin” (to feast with the eyes before the stomach). Faced with the possibilities of an unlimited buffet, we heap extraneous servings of everything on our plate, only to realize that we can’t finish everything off. According to Anton, sparing a few moments to carefully peruse the offerings will help us to avoid overindulging – and to enjoy only the really good stuff.

“I think there’s a correlation on how the food looks [and how it tastes],” Anton says. In a buffet or event, he checks out everything served first, and only goes for the food that look fresh or are cooked on the spot. “I would indulge first in what looks delicious, or I’ll ask other people what’s good,” he says. “The last thing you want is to be full because of mediocre food.”

Going for “tikim” is not a crime

“I grew up being told to ‘finish all your food,’” Anton says. However, if you have four different restaurant destinations in one day (as what happened when he was in London and Spain), it becomes a heavy burden – literally. Bloggers like Anton, then, aren’t shy about pacing themselves, and only doing “tikim” – tasting a little bit of everything and leaving the rest on their plates. But Anton clarifies that this doesn’t mean being wasteful: “Let’s say you’re given a burger… I try to [cut it] in half already, then I ask to take out the other half.”

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Take the necessary steps to stay healthy

Anton knows how to creatively inject calorie-burning activities into his hectic schedule. “I try to insert walking before or after a food trip,” Anton says. “I don’t go to the gym, but if I’m going to go on a food trip, I try to get exercise.” When he’s abroad, these post-meal walking sessions have an extra benefit: they allow him and his family to see more of the sights.

During his trip to Guam, Anton also took fiber supplements between his meals to help his digestion keep up with his food intake. “It doesn’t necessarily make me feel full, but it prevents me from overeating,” Anton explains. He also likes that it’s sugar free, since he’s trying to avoid sugar and he typically skips iced teas or other sweet drinks. “It’s just like orange juice,” he says of his chosen brand.

Just enjoy the adventure

Take it from an award-winning blogger: food trips are not just about eating well. It’s also about the joy of discovering something new all the time. “When you go on food trips, you also have to make sure you know the story of the people behind the food,” Anton says. “It's a good conversation, at the same time, you get a taste of the passion of the people.”  This is why Anton enjoys “food crawls” (organized food tours) best, where he gets to go to different places all in one time, and in the company of other people who enjoy good food as much as he does. “[It’s] always better especially if you have the right people with you,” he concludes. – Rappler.com