6 Destinations Where Overindulging Is Good For You

Fact: Traveling and eating healthy don't always go together. After all, you're on vacation and stuffing your gullet with buttery, cream-filled pastries in France and three helpings of soul-satisfying fried food in the American south just feels right. But for some, with that overindulging comes days of inevitable post-trip guilt. Instead, sidestep that wretched feeling and consider heading somewhere where gorging is actually good for you. Yes, good in the healthy sense, not just the delicious sense. 

Mike Fenster, M.D., cardiologist, professional chef, and author of "The Fallacy of the Calorie" told Shape in that it's "okay to binge every now and again," as reported in their piece titled "How Bad is Occasional Binge Eating?" He also said, "All things in moderation, including moderation. However, two important caveats do apply: intensity and frequency." In other words, don't eat yourself sick, but do take the occasional vacation opportunity to eat -- and then eat more. To help, we've rounded up six destinations that serve up tasty (and nutritious) fare.

1. Japan

Photo courtesy of Flirckr/Yutaka Tsutano

The Japanese have the highest life expectancy of all of us (women live 87 years; men live to 80), so mimicking their diets is definitely encouraged. One reason for their long lifespan might be that they consume more fish and less pork and beef than Westerners. (The fats from the latter can clog your arteries and lead to heart disease). The Japanese also have one of the lowest obesity rates in the world, if you needed more evidence that they're eating right. Another staple in the Japanese diet: soy. Miso soup and tofu (as well as soy sauce, of course) are common in Japanese meals, so you'll get your fill of lean protein. And believe it or not, it's not all about sushi and teriyaki. You'll want to slurp up ramen broth by the trough-full -- the slow-cooked bone broth is packed with collagen, which is great for your skin and will leave you returning home to questions like, "What did you eat over there? You look radiant!" Yeah, you do, and no need to give away your slurping secrets. 

Must-try restaurant: Check out Tokyo's Himawari Zushi Shintoshin, where you can fill up on all the raw fish you can handle without blowing your entire travel budget.  

2. Greece

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Titanas

Greece, a country set on the Mediterranean Sea, is all about, well, Mediterranean fare. Some of the basic tenants of the Mediterranean diet include eating mostly plant-based foods like vegetables and legumes, using vegetable oil instead of butter, seasoning food with herbs and spices rather than salt, and not loading up on red meat. Fresh fish, quality olive oil (none of that bland supermarket stuff), olives, vegetable mezze, and more are all pretty much made for feasting -- and feast you should when you're visiting Greece. Foodstagram away!

Must-try restaurant: Kastelorizo Varkiza in Athens offers extravagant seaside views alongside seafood and traditional Greek fare. 

3. Italy

So here's some news: Most Italians don't stuff their faces with pasta. Pasta is the primi course, or the first course, followed by more nutritious meats and vegetables. Italians also have some of the world's highest life expectancy rates, so trust that they're doing something right with their diets. While cured meats and cheeses make for great snacks, feast endlessly on tasty grilled antipasti vegetables and salads that are served before dessert. And did we mention that espresso has exactly three calories? So go on and satisfy any cravings.

Must-try restaurant: For high-quality, creative Italian fare served at an impressively long communal table inside an old sawmill, head to Milan's Carlo e Camilla. Here, shareable plates and plenty of veggie dishes and salads ensure that diners get their pasta and meat fix with plenty of fresh produce in between. 

4. California

Photo courtesy of Flickr/T.Tseng

Whether you're headed on a tour down the coast or just enjoying city life in San Francisco or Los Angeles for the week, feel free to eat your heart out. California cuisine is known to appeal to the wellness and fitness-obsessed. While visiting, eat like a Californian and fill up on fresh fruits and vegetables, which are pretty much always in season in The Golden State. 

Must-try restaurant: Stop by Los Angeles' Sqirl, home to some of the most delicious avocado toast on the planet. Expect a long line outside the small cafe, but that just leaves more time to build up an appetite for the crunchy, healthy concoction.

5. Iceland

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Jennifer Boyer

Iceland was recently ranked the world's healthiest country, so while overindulging may not be part of daily Icelandic vocabulary, we're going to encourage you to do so. Although the country may not be your top culinary destination, hear us out. Iceland is known for products like Skyr, a creamier version of yogurt with 33 percent less sugar and 20 percent more protein (at least, such is the case with Icelandic Provisions Skyr, which is available in the U.S. if you want to taste test some before your trip). And fermented foods like yogurt are packed with health benefits. Along with Icelandic milk products and whey-pickled foods, Icelandic cuisine also includes plenty of fish like salmon and trout, snacks like Harðfiskur (dried fish that's healthier and just as crispy and salty as potato chips), and rye products, including rye bread and pancakes (a healthier, whole-grain alternative to America's white wheat breads and baked goods).

Must-try restaurant: At Grillmarkadurinn in Reykjavik, folks can feast on grilled vegetables and seafood. Food served here is also purchased directly from local farmers, so you can feel good about supporting local Icelandic agriculture. And the more you eat, the more you're helping the farmers, of course.

6. Australia

Aussies also have one of the highest life expectancies on the planet (82 years), so strongly consider filling up on everything they're eating. While Australians are big on barbecued meats and seafood, we recommend also saving room for what has recently been proposed as Australia's national dish: avocado toast. Avo toast, as it's called, is found in countless varieties throughout Australia, and features healthy whole grain bread plus toppings like feta cheese, eggs, or tomato. And don't leave without trying the similarly trendy brekkie bowls (breakfast bowls packed with veggies and protein) either. 

Must-try restaurant: Luxe, an adorable cafe and bakery in Sydney, serves smashed avo toast alongside seasonal veggie dishes like green beans with pomegranate and Bombay cauliflower. The freshly-baked pastries are a must-eatit, too.

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