Cambodia, Travel Advice

Tips and Tricks for Food Poisoning

So this came about out of necessity. Recently I (Daniel) came down with good poisoning (just before Christmas). We generally try to be careful but, generally speaking, I have a fairly strong stomach and don’t worry about what I eat too much.

With this in mind, I chose to order blue cheese tagliatelle from a Cambodian restaurant called “Ecstatic Pizza”. This was an obvious poor decision not least of all because:

  1. Cambodia is not known for their blue cheese exports. This may not be obvious to some of you but enlightened travellers like ourselves come to know this minutiae of culture and pallet.
  2. Ecstatic Pizza, and that is the real name (sorry for the name check but, if you eat in a restaurant by this name, you probably aren’t thinking about food safety standards either), is not known for their pasta. As the name suggests, pizza is the primary order in this eatery.

P.S. What’s more, Rachel thought it would be fun to film me eating the tagliatelle and then time-lapse it to watch back with amusing Benny Hill style music. Thinking of the video still makes me feel sick. It is like seeing a heard of puppies bounding over a hill and then losing control and starting to roll as the gradient allows gravity to take over their limbs. Before you know it, the puppies have reached the bottom of the hill in a crumpled mess with bones and gizzards strewn about the once pleasant meadow like haggis confetti.

Anyway, tips and tricks for surviving food poisoning:

  1. Liquids: you may not be able to eat when you have food poisoning, and drinking might also be a challenge. The most important thing is to drink. Worry about food as a secondary but always make sure that you are drinking. Slow and steady, keep going. Water is obviously the go to but flat soft drinks are also good as they can settle the stomach a bit and give you some sugary energy. Smoothies sound like a good idea, but they are actually very heavy going, stick to more viscous liquids. In my case I tried a smoothie but this was really difficult. Stick to water most of all and, if your stomach can handle it, something with electrolytes.
  2. BRAT Diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast): this is standard medical advice. If you have trouble keeping food down you need something plain and easy to eat. Any of these foods is a good option. Take it easy. Don’t be disheartened if you have a couple of mouthfuls and then paint the porcelain with it, just keep trying. Any food you keep in is a bonus. Keep it simple with bread or rice to begin with and then try adding in bananas as well if you can. For a while during and after my food poisoning (hereafter known as “my poisoning” because it sounds more badass and I am a dramatic chap), my sense of taste went mental. As such, keep it simple until your stomach can take it.
  3. Rest: obvious again but you need to take it easy and make sure that your body can work through some stuff.
  4. Meds: keep some pain killers, Dioralyte (or similar), anti-acids/heartburn relief and diarrhoea relief in you backpacks. All of this can come in very handy. However, be warned, your body is trying to purge itself of some pure evil. Diarrhoea relief will prevent that evil from coming out for a while (perhaps long enough to complete a bus journey if you have no other choice) but it will not make you feel better. Only use it if it is absolutely impossible for you to spend the next day or so within sprinting distance of a toilet.

We were actually set to take a bus to Sihanoukville the day I woke up at 2 am with more poison in me than a Trump tweet. Thankfully Rach sorted out another bus and another night of accommodation. We missed a trip to Sihanoukville but, as it turns out, Sihanouhville is the worst place on earth so we’ve not lost any sleep.

If the poisoning lasts for more than a few days, or you are worried, go to a hospital and get checked.

Food poisoning generally lasts between a few hours and 5 days. My poisoning was around the 5 day mark. Luckily I have a mom who is a nurse and so I skyped her, like a little sickly weasel, and begged for advice. If you are in an area which has malaria, for example, and you’re worried that the fever etc that you are suffering is more than dodgy pasta, get it checked out.

Sleep on a towel
…no story to accompany this. Use your imagination.

2 thoughts on “Tips and Tricks for Food Poisoning”

  1. OMG – 5 days?!?! I once got food poisoning here in the US and the acute phase was 4 hours but I still thought I was going to die. If it lasted much longer than that I surely would have begged for an ambulance to take me to the hospital! What a terrible experience. Glad it’s over.


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