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Eating Disorders Abroad

For many students, food is a significant part of experiencing another culture when studying abroad. Partaking in another culture's food can offer insights into local flavors, as well as rituals, etiquette, and experiences of belonging.

However, studying abroad and being exposed to new and different foods can also be a challenging experience for people with eating concerns or who are recovering from an eating disorder. If you are concerned about how you might experience food abroad, we encourage you to seek resources and prepare plans to cope and manage your experiences ahead of time.

(If you have religious, lifestyle, or medical dietary restrictions, review the Dietary Restrictions Abroad page.)

Learn About Food Customs in Your Host Country

It can be helpful to learn about the cuisine, common dishes, and food rituals of your host country/city:

  • What types of foods are most common?
  • What time of day are meals typically eaten?
  • Which meals tend to be bigger or smaller?
  • What cultural customs are associated with food and eating?

You should also consider what your food experience may look like depending on your housing and meal plan:

  • If you are responsible for preparing your own meals, will you have access to a full kitchen?
  • Where are nearby grocery stores likely to have ingredients for foods you may wish to cook?
  • Will your host family provide most/all of your meals?
  • Are there certain foods you wish to avoid that you can communicate to your program director or host family ahead of time?
  • What cultural traditions or expectations exist around eating out?
  • What snacks or food preparations can you make for any weekend travel?

Connect with returnees, read student blog posts, speak with your GLO adviser, or search other websites to find answers to the above questions.