General Diet Plans and Questions - World Cuisines: Ethnic and Expat Support Group




fiddler
03-24-2011, 01:47 PM
Indiblue and I thought it would be a good idea to have a support thread for dieters living in other countries and trying to adapt the native cuisine to their WOE, or dieters who simply prefer foods with an ethnic flavor over traditional bland diet foods. :barf:

So here it is! :carrot:

Feel free to share your dieting challenges and successes, and your WOE incorporating ethnic foods.

And, of course, we would love to trade recipes! :D


fiddler
03-24-2011, 02:45 PM
Here is a great article about the health benefits of coconut: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/foodwine/2014368447_goodappetite02.html It has some tasty looking recipes, too.

Now I can have my Thai curries without feeling guilty about the coconut milk in them. :D

I am seriously going to have to try coconut oil as an alternative to olive oil for cooking.

indiblue
03-24-2011, 02:55 PM
Thanks fiddler for starting this!

Expat dieters have unique challenges: not being able to access foods to which they are accustomed, limited food choice due to seasonal harvesting and import restrictions, lack of (or just plain incorrect) nutritional labeling, absence of health options at restaurants, cultural obligations (eating seconds or thirds to "save face" when a guest in someone's home) etc etc.

There are also MAJOR upsides to living in another country: eating more whole foods, access to a wider variety of fresh fruits and vegetable, fewer processed or chemically-altered foods, etc.

This thread aims to provide a chance to discuss those of us living outside our traditional food environments AND those dieters who seek to incorporate world cuisines into their way of eating in a healthy way.

EVERYONE is welcome to jump in- we all have a lot to learn and share about the amazing diversity of cuisines out there!


carolr3639
03-24-2011, 04:25 PM
I love coconut!!!

runningfromfat
03-25-2011, 09:46 AM
Great idea for a thread! We recently moved abroad and I've really been struggling trying to afford the foods that we're used to. Fruit/veggies are just so incredibly expensive here that it's been a real struggle for us. We're going to try some new grocery stores this weekend in the hopes of finding food that's at least affordable.

For the most part we can find foods that we like here but they are sooooo expensive. Sour cream, for instance, was $10 in the local currency (since we're paid in the local currency it's the equivalent of paying $10 for sour cream in the US). About the only thing that I don't like too much are the sweet potatoes here. They're a different color and there's something funny about the taste.

We always ate a pretty good whole foods diet but a lot of that has depended on me being able to find the ingredients that I'm used to (for instance, many cheeses here are expensive and certain veggies and spices too). I've had to revise a number of my recipes for better or worse. I'm curious how long did it take everyone else to adjust to this?

indiblue
03-25-2011, 09:59 AM
running That really, really sucks about fresh fruits/veggies. :( Are there at least local alternatives you can eat? Re. sweet potatos- they are weird here too (I'm in India)- long and thin and white inside, not nearly as sweet. If those are the ones you have, I think you can use different cooking methods to bring out the flavor. I can't remember off the top of my head which one is the best- perhaps boiling as opposed to baking, makes them more flavorful and less tough.

I haven't had to adjust too terribly much- I just can't make anything with fish/seafood, cheese, or grains other than pasta or rice. I'm pescatarian so that's not too difficult to do, but I really do struggle with getting enough protein. The hardest thing is not having my Whole Foods health foods- nutritional yeast, protein bars, quinoa, flax, greek yogurt, etc. My bf is a carnivore and not getting any beef in the land of the sacred cow has also been hard for him.

Yogurt makes a great substitute for sour cream! I think there are numerous recipes out there for homemade sour cream that involve yogurt + lemon or vinegar, something to that effect.

Do you mind sharing what continent you are on/country you are in? No worries if you don't, just curious :)

runningfromfat
03-25-2011, 10:11 AM
We're in Brazil. I've actually been using yogurt a lot as a substitute but I didn't think about adding vinegar or something to make it taste more like sour cream, that's a good idea!

You know, we have the same sweet potatoes and my MIL always boils her so I really wonder if that isn't the best approach? I do miss my sweet potato fries, though!

We normally eat a lot of cheese so that's been really hard for us. Things just don't taste the same (cue Dh complaining about my cooking). I tried to make apple cinnamon whole wheat pancakes once here and yikes they were yucky! I think there's something different with even just the flour that I'm having a hard time adjusting too. Unfortunately, the chocolate chip cookies I made once tasted just fine. :dz:

indiblue
03-25-2011, 10:39 AM
Things just don't taste the same (cue Dh complaining about my cooking). I tried to make apple cinnamon whole wheat pancakes once here and yikes they were yucky! I think there's something different with even just the flour that I'm having a hard time adjusting too. Unfortunately, the chocolate chip cookies I made once tasted just fine. :dz:

Ahhh I totally hear you. I'll make something to bring to a party or neighbor's house (oatmeal cookies, banana bread), and have to come armed with the usual "I promise it actually tastes better than this... I've made this a million times..." Sugar is the hardest thing- it's very unrefined here and really hard to incorporate into baked goods effectively. I've just had to play around with recipes... some work better than others.

runningfromfat
03-25-2011, 10:45 AM
Ahhh I totally hear you. I'll make something to bring to a party or neighbor's house (oatmeal cookies, banana bread), and have to come armed with the usual "I promise it actually tastes better than this... I've made this a million times..." Sugar is the hardest thing- it's very unrefined here and really hard to incorporate into baked goods effectively. I've just had to play around with recipes... some work better than others.

We actually don't eat sugar so whenever I'm in the US or someone is coming to see us I ask for them to bring blue agave or maple syrup. ;) But we also have the super-refined sugar here too so I can imagine that would be a pain to cook with! I bought a flour shifter and am going to try that out to see if that helps....

Rana
03-25-2011, 11:29 AM
runningfromfat -- you're in an awesome country, with amazing food! I lived there for many years.

I'm surprised you're having a hard time, but it can be that you're not used to the cuisine and you're trying to eat American foods in an foreign country.

You may have to round up the family and tell them that you guys decided to move to Brazil, so you're going to eat like Brazilians. Sour cream isn't part of the diet there.

There are also places where you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables that aren't expensive and you'll have to find the farmers markets. Where are you shopping? At Carrefour? Or Pão de Azucar?

When I lived there, Carrefour had the best prices.

The thing with Brazil is that it's an expensive country compared to the rest of Latin America. The reais is very strong there against the U.S. dollar, so yes, everything is going to be more expensive than in the US.

Food is incredibly cheap in the USA.

fiddler
03-25-2011, 12:36 PM
Amazon.com has several Brazilian cookbooks with very tasty-looking recipes. Maybe it would be worth investing in one?

fiddler
03-25-2011, 12:39 PM
I haven't had to adjust too terribly much- I just can't make anything with fish/seafood, cheese, or grains other than pasta or rice. I'm pescatarian so that's not too difficult to do, but I really do struggle with getting enough protein.

Indiblue, don't you have a lot of lentil dishes there to choose from for protein?

runningfromfat
03-25-2011, 12:51 PM
runningfromfat -- you're in an awesome country, with amazing food! I lived there for many years.

I'm surprised you're having a hard time, but it can be that you're not used to the cuisine and you're trying to eat American foods in an foreign country.

You may have to round up the family and tell them that you guys decided to move to Brazil, so you're going to eat like Brazilians. Sour cream isn't part of the diet there.

There are also places where you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables that aren't expensive and you'll have to find the farmers markets. Where are you shopping? At Carrefour? Or Pão de Azucar?

When I lived there, Carrefour had the best prices.

The thing with Brazil is that it's an expensive country compared to the rest of Latin America. The reais is very strong there against the U.S. dollar, so yes, everything is going to be more expensive than in the US.

Food is incredibly cheap in the USA.

Seriously, if you have any tips on good foods to cook here I'm all ears! I have to admit the food that the in-laws perpared I HATED. Like I said it was white rice, black beans and meat day in and day out. And then white bread+ham+cheese for breakfast/dinner + cookies for snacks. Now if you're talking going out to a churrascaria that's a different discussion entirely! ;)

Our closest grocery store is Pao de Azucar (sorry, I have no clue how to do the accents here!) and it charges an arm and a leg for anything (we have two others nearby too that pretty much have the same prices).

This weekend we're going to grab the bus and try either an Extra or Assai that a friend recommend to me so I'm hoping that I can find food that's affordable. It's crazy. Green peppers are something like R$4.99/kg and mushrooms are over R$10 if you buy them fresh! Besides beans (and I still need to pick up a pressure cooker so I have yet to make them) and lettuce I have yet to find any fresh fruits/veggies that aren't going to put us in the poor house. :dizzy: Going out to eat is definitely not an option either because everything close to us ends up being at least R$40-50 for the three of us. :mad:

indiblue
03-25-2011, 02:37 PM
Indiblue, don't you have a lot of lentil dishes there to choose from for protein?

Yes, and that is my saving grace! But even if I were to eat a bowlful of chole or daal each day (which I don't because I can't eat the same thing every day, usually have it 2-3 x/week) or other bean-based dish, that's generally no more than 20ish g of protein. I try to drink milk, yogurt, a bit of paneer, eggs, and oatmeal/peanut butter when I can, but it's hard to get more than 40g a day. Sometimes I have access to Keralan or Goan food (which means lots of fish and seafood) but that's not always possible either. I do splurge on cans of tuna at the import grocery store to try to boost my protein when I can, but it's still hard without Greek yogurt, protein bars, high protein pasta, etc.

fiddler
03-25-2011, 03:45 PM
One of the guys at work brought in a Dragonfruit to share today. Cool looking fruit; very aptly named. I hadn't had it before but I have been wanting to try it since I first saw one.

The edible part has a texture very similar to kiwi (complete with tiny crunchy seeds) but is white instead of green. Rather bland tasting, kind of like mild apple with some banana and pear overtones.

I was glad I tried it, but probably won't go out of my way to get it again.

Rana
03-25-2011, 03:50 PM
Order a Brazilian cookbook.

Something I did, that forced me to eat things that I wasn't used to (and you may have to create a "game" for your daughter and your husband) was to order a community supported agriculture (CSA) box. The box came with whatever was in season here (where I live). The box was great, it introduced me to vegetables that I would never eat, because I'm a creature of habits.

Since you're in Brazil and you probably haven't eaten half the vegetables you see on the stands (and go to Carrefour if you can) you make a "game" of trying out new things.

Brazilians are really healthy (the Rio ones for sure!) and one of the healthiest things you can eat are GREENS.... collard greens, for example. I still make mine, olive oil, minced garlic, and greens chopped up in slivers. Sautee them until they are done with salt, and I find it's delicious. Your husband may like them, because they retain the "green" flavor of salads and your daughter may like them because it's a cooked vegetable.

When you go the store, try new vegetables you haven't seen before. Make it a game, everyone picks something new (fruit or veg) and then you go home and try it out.

This site has what I think are good traditional recipes: http://www.maria-brazil.org/brazilian_recipes.htm

I've been meaning to try out their Brazilian Strogonoff.

Go looking for farmers markets too.

indiblue
03-26-2011, 12:13 AM
fiddler I love dragon fruit! YUM! I miss not having the tropical fruits I'm used to in Southeast Asia- rambuttan, dragon fruit, mangosteen, lychees... ooo I'm so jealous if you have those in Brazil. EDIT: Thought this was runningfromfat who posted this, dumb me. Still, jealous you got dragonfruit. You get lots of SE Asian fruit in CA right? Lychees, longans, etc?

Anyway if you're not a huge fan of the flavor I'd try it in a fruit salad. It tends to absorb a bit of surrounding fruits and is a good filler.

Do you guys also have little bananas there? I love the little fingerling bananas, though those also took some getting used to for me.

indiblue
03-28-2011, 07:19 AM
"Le sigh" moment many of you may be able to relate to... my housekeeper just told me I was chubby! GRUMBLE GRUMBLE. I'm in Asia where bluntness and language barriers can lead foreigners to be horribly insulted, but having lived and worked in Asia extensively I can generally take it in stride. Still, when someone tells you you're chubby, it's hard to be completely un-offended!

Ok rant over.

tomandkara
03-28-2011, 08:54 AM
:( I'm sorry, Indi. Why would such a thing come up???

And hi! I'm Kara. We live in Germany, right near France and Luxembourg.

runningfromfat
03-28-2011, 10:12 AM
Rana- we're going to try to go to Carrefour next week. We tried going to Extra this past Saturday (from a friend's recommendation) and were pretty disappointed. It was far enough away to be a really annoying trip, we couldn't find a taxi afterwards to take us home and the savings wasn't enough to make a real difference (and the fruit/veggie quality was pretty low there). Plus we couldn't find some things that I used often to cook with (like whole wheat flour).

I'm sorry, I had to laugh about your comment about Brazlians being really healthy! Granted, DH's family basically lives in a favela (or at least a neighborhood that's going to be one soon) so their food options are really, really limited but his family is from Rio and there eating habits are pretty scary. They all thing I'm insane for eating veggies!!

So far I haven't seen many new veggies here but I've also visited Brazil quite a bit in the past so maybe I've tried quite a few of them already? Ditto for fruit. I think my bigger problem is not knowing what is in season here at this moment so I'm not sure what veggies are cheaper. Oh, and I love mushrooms and they are just insanely expensive! :(

Oh, and I do actually like the local stroganoff, it's sweeter than ours but it's good.

indiblue- I feel you. I'm at the point where I'm no longer in the noticeably fat range here so I don't get comments. But DH does! :( We were in the elevator once and had a huge suitcase with us. Some other people got on that we didn't know at all and they made a comment about there not being enough space in the elevator because DH was too fat! :mad:

tomandkara- nice! I LOVED the food in Germany (well, at least what was available at the stores, I could only eat so much meat and potatoes at the Mensa where I studied). The grocery stores are so cheap there and the breast is just amazing (ditto for all diary products there too), yum! We lived in Frankfurt for a number of years...

indiblue
03-28-2011, 10:17 AM
Kara welcome!

Re the comment, she was trying to give me a compliment actually, saying I resembled a certain Bollywood actress, except as someone with a very tenuous grasp of the English language, expressing "She's stick thin, you have a much more healthy figure" actually is conveyed by saying ""She is thin, you are chubby." There just simply isn't the nuance of expressing a difference in size if it's not your native language. Plus, in the US, we would just avoid even commenting about weight, but not so in Asia. In Asia, there is no taboo about telling point blank someone they have meat on their bones, or that they are just plain fat. When I worked in Cambodia my coworkers told me I was "too thick" to look good in a particular dress!

So rationally I get that she was trying to give me a compliment and that the nuances just didn't come out right. I've lived throughout Asia long to know that cognitively. That said, if someone calls you CHUBBY it's not something you can completely rationally ignore! I mean come on, CHUBBY. Ugh.

runningfromfat
03-28-2011, 10:20 AM
Kara welcome!

Re the comment, she was trying to give me a compliment actually, saying I resembled a certain Bollywood actress, except as someone with a very tenuous grasp of the English language, expressing "She's stick thin, you have a much more healthy figure" actually is conveyed by saying ""She is thin, you are chubby." There just simply isn't the nuance of expressing a difference in size if it's not your native language. Plus, in the US, we would just avoid even commenting about weight, but not so in Asia. In Asia, there is no taboo about telling point blank someone they have meat on their bones, or that they are just plain fat. When I worked in Cambodia my coworkers told me I was "too thick" to look good in a particular dress!

So rationally I get that she was trying to give me a compliment and that the nuances just didn't come out right. I've lived throughout Asia long to know that cognitively. That said, if someone calls you CHUBBY it's not something you can completely rationally ignore! I mean come on, CHUBBY. Ugh.

Ah, ok, at least she was trying to be nice then. Actually that's a pretty good compliment if she's saying you look like someone from Bollywood! ;)

With our situation with DH they just were not trying to be nice at all. DH said it's pretty common here to have fat people get insulted often on the street (he grew up on the heavier side so I'm assuming he's had experience and he also has a friend that he grew up with who's very overweight).

indiblue
03-28-2011, 10:22 AM
running wow they really said that?? Your poor DH. Is it acceptable to comment on someone else's size in Brazil?

The thing that kills me is I'm 126 lbs at 5'2 1/2, I know in my head I am NOT chubby, fat, or even overweight. My housekeeper herself is hefty, it's not like she's a svelte, petite woman. I shouldn't be offended by this, but it is true that when you try to convey something across a language barrier if it carries offense it's impossible to totally write it off as "oh that person wasn't speaking their native language, it doesn't bother me" It still carries some sort of meaning that is impossible to write off completely.

EDIT: Haha I keep posting right after your posts without reading them... keep confusing myself... haha

runningfromfat
03-28-2011, 10:32 AM
running wow they really said that?? Your poor DH. Is it acceptable to comment on someone else's size in Brazil?

The thing that kills me is I'm 126 lbs at 5'2 1/2, I know in my head I am NOT chubby, fat, or even overweight. My housekeeper herself is hefty, it's not like she's a svelte, petite woman. I shouldn't be offended by this, but it is true that when you try to convey something across a language barrier if it carries offense it's impossible to totally write it off as "oh that person wasn't speaking their native language, it doesn't bother me" It still carries some sort of meaning that is impossible to write off completely.

EDIT: Haha I keep posting right after your posts without reading them... keep confusing myself... haha

I'm not sure I'd go so far to say it's acceptable but at least where he grew up it definitely happened.

Oh, and I totally get the language barrier, I have said WAAAYYY too many embarrassing things in my lifetime in both German/Portuguese that I couldn't even possibly list them here. :o

takingcontrol
03-28-2011, 11:05 AM
Hi all, What a great idea for a thread, I'd have loved to have found it sooner!

I live in Thailand, but am moving home to the UK in 15 days, yippeee! I've had a fab time here, but am ready for another change, and find dieting here really really difficult. Not so much if I cook for myself at home, but eating out is a nightmare, there is so little education on 'healthy' and the good ways to cook things. The availability of fresh produce at great prices is brilliant, but not after it's been deep fried or stirfried with way too much oil/sugar/msg/sugary sauce or whatever, n dumped on the top of a pile of white rice.

I'm also offending my Thai colleagues on a daily basis by no longer partaking in their office snack culture, I just can't do it to myself anymore! I think they're used to me saying no now, and understand why I'm doing it so aren't genuinely offended, but I know they don't truly understand or like my change of heart.

On the subject of being called fat, as I teach young kids here, I get it on a daily basis, literally. At first I hated it, but now it's just the norm n my skin is thick!

indiblue was in India before I came here. And can't wait to return, and hopefully stay a long while in the future. Even three years later, not a day goes by that I don't miss it! Just found the split mung beans in our local carrefour here, so daal is back on my menu, yippee!

fiddler
03-28-2011, 11:40 AM
indiblue, yes we have the fingerling bananas here. In fact, I just had one on Friday. The guy who brought the dragonfruit to work brought fingerling bananas too.

indiblue
03-28-2011, 12:53 PM
takingcontrol I LOVE Thailand!! I used to go there a lot for work and am actually looking at jobs in BKK right now. Want to switch places?

Yes, it's all about the thick skin. Even still I can't completely brush off comments like this one, there's still a bit of emotional side that wins out over the rational thinking :)

I do love the variety of produce in Thailand, but the crazy thick corn starchy oyster sauce-ness definitely overtakes it before it can get to you. I love fried morning glory but there are times when you just crave a fresh salad and I don't ever remember being able to just get a salad in Thailand. It's the same in India. The risks of e-coli are enough to deter even foreigners from making salad. I take my chances at home :-/

I hear you on the snack culture thing. I was working in an office in Cambodia and gave up my vegetarian-ness just to not offend while I worked there. I was only there 3 months though so it was doable, if I was there for longer like you are I would definitely have to get it across early that dietary restrictions may prevent me from indulging whenever they offer. You're right that even if they expect a "no thanks" there's still an element of offense, but at some point you have to do what's best for your health.

Do you or fiddler have some good healthy Thai recipes to share? I usually just do green or penang curries but they get old after a while and I'd love to introduce new dishes into my rotation.

Rana
03-28-2011, 01:05 PM
runningfromfat -- you may be right that it may be a neighborhood thing. You're in Sao Paulo now, right? What neighborhood? Each neighborhood will have a farmer's market and I can tell you that there's one in Santo Amaro that had good prices for vegetables.

The other thing that I wanted to comment on is that by pricing you'll know what fruits/veggies are in season.

Also, cheese like the one from Minas Gerais will be cheaper than Cheddar that has to be imported.

I spent a significant amount of time in Rio and I was at one of my thinnest thing.... my dinners were pure vegetables and a boiled egg as my protein. In Sao Paulo, I had a house, so we had a vegetable garden that grew xuxu (have you tried it? It's like a squash/zucchini type of thing). The meals were rice/protein/vegetables.

But things like sour cream, for example, aren't part of Brazilian cuisine, so they were hard to find or expensive.

Carrefour is great, it has everything.

runningfromfat
03-28-2011, 01:17 PM
runningfromfat -- you may be right that it may be a neighborhood thing. You're in Sao Paulo now, right? What neighborhood? Each neighborhood will have a farmer's market and I can tell you that there's one in Santo Amaro that had good prices for vegetables.

The other thing that I wanted to comment on is that by pricing you'll know what fruits/veggies are in season.

Also, cheese like the one from Minas Gerais will be cheaper than Cheddar that has to be imported.

I spent a significant amount of time in Rio and I was at one of my thinnest thing.... my dinners were pure vegetables and a boiled egg as my protein. In Sao Paulo, I had a house, so we had a vegetable garden that grew xuxu (have you tried it? It's like a squash/zucchini type of thing). The meals were rice/protein/vegetables.

But things like sour cream, for example, aren't part of Brazilian cuisine, so they were hard to find or expensive.

Carrefour is great, it has everything.

Definitely let me know where the farmer's market is there! We're in Moema so it's not that far. DH has been trying different local cheeses that he knows are good and I think we finally found one that the whole family likes (yep, it's from Minas :p). My favorite cheese here is the smoked provolone but I think I'll just have to save buying that for special occasions, which is fine.

I haven't seen xuxu but I'll keep an eye out for it. I know DH will veto it (he basically only likes salads or black beans) but I could make it for DD and myself with roasted broccoli and potatoes. :T

We only got sour cream once. Normally I just use yogurt here as a substitute but sour cream tastes so much better. Just my preference. ;) Oh, and one good thing I DID find at extra is that they have my favorite brand of frozen thin crust pizza from Germany! DH won't eat it (this is one of his trigger/binging foods) but for DD and myself it's great because I load up the pizza with veggies and am content eating a small portion at a time with a salad.

I haven't really found any cheap veggies yet... just lettuce basically :dizzy: but I'm going to keep looking. BTW, I really, really want to make a garden on our balcony with some basics (I was thinking lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and some herbs?). Any tips and where did you find gardening supplies? Any veggies/fruits you'd recommend growing in this weather????

krampus
03-28-2011, 01:38 PM
Oooh good, this thread is great!

I'm in my third year of teaching English in Japan. I am struggling quite badly with binge eating and have no counseling/therapy resources here in English which sucks. Before all this crap started, I lost about 30 pounds and taught myself to run and quit smoking despite the abundant and cheap supply of cigarettes here.

It's very easy to eat clean and healthy here. The traditional diet is very salty and carby and Japanese women are thin, with the "ideal" young female body being quite underweight indeed.

fiddler
03-28-2011, 02:04 PM
Do you or fiddler have some good healthy Thai recipes to share? I usually just do green or penang curries but they get old after a while and I'd love to introduce new dishes into my rotation.

Here is my version of Tom Yum soup: http://www.3fatchicks.com/diet-blogs/fiddler/2011/03/28/recipe-tom-yum-khoong-hot-and-sour-shrimp-soup/

goalgetta
03-29-2011, 07:57 AM
Hi Everyone!
I recently moved to Israel and would like to lose about 80 pounds before I turn 30 (about 16 months from now). I know it is very doable and I have already enlisted the help of some of my colleagues here. This thread could not have come at a better time!

The price of things here is a bit high relative to the US, but I actually use that to my advantage. I am not the type of person that likes to spend more than what something is worth, and have been using that theory for the few days I have been here to my advantage.

I have also gotten used the smaller portion sizes remarkably quickly and have noticed that I get full without wanting to clean my plate. Luckily, there is no pressure to do so. And I spend considerably more money per day eating out here than I would back at home, but the food is alot more rich. I was having very bad digestive problems before I left and that is no longer an issue. I also drink alot more water (and coffee), as well as snack less.

I have to go back home briefly for a week and I am not looking forward to not having the great healthy food in abundance (and cheap at farmer's markets) but I will try my best to keep up what I started.

How have people found working out in other countries? There are gyms, yoga studios, etc and people are into staying healthy/in shape, but it seems like people are just "naturally" thin so I don't every really see people talk about working out or going, but I know that they do. Additionally, the prices are very steep. I'm staying at a hotel and it costs the equivalent of almost $10/day to workout as a guest! I plan on joining a local gym, which I believe costs roughly $900/year to join as well as joining a local yoga studio, but I am trying to rationalize that as a low cost to be healthy.

Oh and an anecdote to the poster who was called fat by her cleaning lady: at a shapely US size 14, I am the fattest woman at my place of work. Luckily, I am not the biggest I've seen in the country, but when you know most everyone wears a US size 10 or less (or looks like it), you feel like you might as well be. But that is just additional motivation.

runningfromfat
03-29-2011, 09:39 AM
How have people found working out in other countries? There are gyms, yoga studios, etc and people are into staying healthy/in shape, but it seems like people are just "naturally" thin so I don't every really see people talk about working out or going, but I know that they do. Additionally, the prices are very steep. I'm staying at a hotel and it costs the equivalent of almost $10/day to workout as a guest! I plan on joining a local gym, which I believe costs roughly $900/year to join as well as joining a local yoga studio, but I am trying to rationalize that as a low cost to be healthy.

Oh and an anecdote to the poster who was called fat by her cleaning lady: at a shapely US size 14, I am the fattest woman at my place of work. Luckily, I am not the biggest I've seen in the country, but when you know most everyone wears a US size 10 or less (or looks like it), you feel like you might as well be. But that is just additional motivation.

I also drink way more coffee here. It's a good "snack" when I want to eat and shouldn't (I just put a splash of milk in, no sugar). ;)

As for working out and sizes. It really, really depends on the economic class you're talking about. We stayed with the in-laws for awhile and they live in a very poor neighborhood and people were definitely larger there. We've since moved into an upper-middle class neighborhood and people are quite a bit skinnier in general around here.

In our apt complex I'm definitely one of the large women around (not counting nannies, gardeners, and cleaning ladies). We have a gym in our apt building and I'm DEFINITELY the largest woman who frequents it. The other woman are all really skinny and walk on the treadmill the entire time while I'm there huffing and puffing and actually running. It's almost like woman aren't allowed to sweat or something because all the guys that go there are running so I just don't get it. :?:

Here I think it's really just about what money can buy. In my in-laws neighborhood it wasn't safe to go running, there was a gym that was cheap but it was very small and had little equipment in it. The vegetables available there were of a very poor quality and it was much cheaper to just buy white rice, white breads, meat and cheese than actual veggies. Where we live now the vegetables are still expensive but the quality is amazing and the white bread isn't quite as cheap anymore. :p

takingcontrol
03-29-2011, 10:34 AM
fiddler are you in Thailand too?

Goalgetter I find working out here really tough, mainly because it's boiling! Our town has a big sports complex with a massive pool (so many chemicals!) a big running track and badminton/basketball/tennis courts and football pitches. There is also a gym that only cost 10p to use, but it's non-AC and pretty awful! So, I either do running/walking cardio at the track, but more normally work out at home, using workout DVDs and my exercise ball/dumbells and resistance band for strength training. I do wonder how my exercise regime will change when I get home. I can't really imagine joining a gym, but I think I'll defo give it a whirl!

Indiblue I'd love to swap! Although, I'm not in BKK, it's way too hectic for me, I'm in a small town, very different from the big city! I also used to eat pad bung LOADS, but am pretty over it now!

I've not really got any healthy Thai recipes, I very rarely cook Thai food as I eat it everyday for lunch. I normally make Western Style Salads, Jacket Spuds or Indian food for dinner! Aubergines and Courgettes are really cheap at the moment so being doing tons of ratatouille type dishes, lovely :)

I'd love to hear from anyone else with knowledge the best sort of lunchtime choices I can make!

fiddler
03-29-2011, 11:28 AM
fiddler are you in Thailand too?

No, I'm in the US (CA). I just happen to not like typical bland/processed American food very much. I do a lot of cooking, almost all ethnic cuisines.

takingcontrol
03-29-2011, 11:39 AM
Ahhhhh OK, I see! I love Ethnic foods too, but after over three years of Thai everyday pretty much, it's fallen way down my list!

indiblue
03-29-2011, 02:08 PM
fiddler that recipe looks awesome. Thanks for sharing. I'm going to try it next week. What do you substitute for kaffir lime leaves? I used to have dried ones (that I bought in the BKK airport lol) but I ran out a while ago and I haven't been able to find them here.

goalgetta welcome! Working out is difficult here too. I am fortunate to have a gym in my apt complex, but the only equipment is a treadmill, elliptical, stationary, and some free weights. It's not bad, I rotate between the cardio and then get in some free weights and abs on my own. I do miss classes though. Gyms here are pretty pricey. I used to go to a yoga studio but it was very, very mediocre (can you believe it? a mediocre yoga studio in India??) and it is the ONLY good (as in clean, well-run) studio in my city. Ridiculous. They upped their fees by 50% last month though (!?!?) so I quit. Not worth it for such mediocre quality.

Running is a no-no, very not okay for women. I hate guys staring at me and I hate running in 90+ degree weather in big shirts and loose long pants. Seeing a woman's figure is taboo. Would much rather run on a treadmill inside due to these factors, though I do miss outside running.

takingcontrol I have some healthy ethnic lunchtime ideas for you! I'm headed to bed in a few mins but will post them tomorrow :D

Love this thread!!! So fun to discuss the challenges and opportunities with eating ethnic and/or living abroad.

indiblue
03-29-2011, 02:09 PM
ALSO krampus very interesting you raise the issue of English-language support groups for weight/diet/body image issues. I haven't even thought of that as a pretty big challenge for expats. Have you found ways to cope, in addition to 3FC?

Rana
03-29-2011, 04:08 PM
runningfromfat -- Have you joined the Newcomers group? They can be very helpful in adapting to Brazil and São Paulo: http://www.newcomers-sp.com.br/

I know the farmer's market in Santo Amaro (feria) but I don't know Moema. What I was able to find is that it might be located here:

Avenida Lavandisca Moema Sunday
Rua Joinville Moema Tuesday
Rua Marcos Lopes Moema Tuesday
Avenida Ben-te-vi Moema Wednesday
Alameda José Magalhães Moema Thursday
Rua Projetada Moema Friday
Rua Diogo Jacome Moema Saturday

http://www.encontramoema.com.br/f/feira-em-moema.shtml


If you're feeling adventurous, check it out.

runningfromfat
03-29-2011, 04:26 PM
runningfromfat -- Have you joined the Newcomers group? They can be very helpful in adapting to Brazil and São Paulo: http://www.newcomers-sp.com.br/

I know the farmer's market in Santo Amaro (feria) but I don't know Moema. What I was able to find is that it might be located here:

Avenida Lavandisca Moema Sunday
Rua Joinville Moema Tuesday
Rua Marcos Lopes Moema Tuesday
Avenida Ben-te-vi Moema Wednesday
Alameda José Magalhães Moema Thursday
Rua Projetada Moema Friday
Rua Diogo Jacome Moema Saturday

http://www.encontramoema.com.br/f/feira-em-moema.shtml


If you're feeling adventurous, check it out.

Thanks! I'm going to try one of those out this week. Do those things normally go on all day? There are no times listed there...

Rana
03-29-2011, 09:34 PM
I would go in the mornings to get the best fruit/veggies... 10ish is probably a good time, any time before noon unless you find out differently.

Don't forget to haggle!

runningfromfat
03-29-2011, 10:01 PM
I would go in the mornings to get the best fruit/veggies... 10ish is probably a good time, any time before noon unless you find out differently.

Don't forget to haggle!

Oh crap, that won't work out tomorrow then that's exactly the time that I'm going to be busy... grr! I'll have to see about Thurs. or Fri then.

BTW, did you see my question about your garden? Where did you find supplies and any good tips on what to plant?

krampus
03-29-2011, 11:21 PM
ALSO krampus very interesting you raise the issue of English-language support groups for weight/diet/body image issues. I haven't even thought of that as a pretty big challenge for expats. Have you found ways to cope, in addition to 3FC?

It's hard to say since I am a work in progress and every day is like opening a new box of chocolates (in the Forrest Gump sense, sometimes in the literal sense). I look to people I know who have healthy relationships with food for guidance. I go out and see waif-thin girls eating full meals and desserts. It's all about establishing and maintaining a sane and doable regimen right now.

It's interesting you mentioned the difficulties getting exercise as a woman in India, indiblue. I have it very easy in Japan, since the men here are all afraid of/ignore women I never have to worry about being stared down or wolf-whistled or otherwise really disrespected, aside from the occasional rude drunk. It's very normal to see joggers and walkers outside. There are fewer female joggers as most women here opt for powerwalking, but I am completely comfortable going for an outdoor run wearing short shorts if it's hot out.

Essentially, living in Japan isn't that different from living in the U.S. I chose not to buy a car or a bicycle and I walk everywhere and take public transit when I need to go somewhere too far to walk. I buy groceries 2-3 times a week, mostly fresh stuff. I like to think that if I lived in Paris, my lifestyle would be very similar.

I really want to live in Europe. I hope my boyfriend (American, pursuing a music career, undecided whether his future lies in Tokyo, the Netherlands or USA) goes for NL.

indiblue
03-30-2011, 12:24 AM
goalgetta Just thought of something else for your exercise- do you have a Hash House Harriers where are? I imagine in Jerusalem/Tel Aviv and the other big cities they have it. It's a running club for expats (usually Americans) but all are welcome, including non-American expats and locals. Lots of funny traditions, drinking, but the main part is laying out a trail somewhere in/near the city with lots of different dead ends. The people who actually race/run the whole way run down the dead ends and yell back to the others- who may be walking, mix of running/walking, etc it's the wrong way. Some Hashes welcome families, some are more intense than others. Anyway maybe check to see if there's a Hash near you- it's free exercise!

MiniFluffy I still am in awe of slender Europeans who drink lots of coffee, have wine by 11 in the morning, and have very rich meals with lots of bread and patisseries. Or even slightly heavier Europeans who do that, I would be HUGE if I ate that diet! Obviously it's all fresh, not as many chemicals and processing as we have in the US, but still. Amazing. Isn't there a book called Why French Women Don't Get Fat or something like that?

krampus I'm glad you are able to walk to get groceries, etc. That's sooo good for making sure you move around a lot throughout the day, in addition to structured exercise periods. When I lived in Southeast Asia where were tons of older Japanese men in track suits who would go to a park in the morning to do Tai Chi or make loud noises or perform very interesting walks and arm motions (lifting their legs up very high when they walk, swirling their arms around in circles for several minutes on end), so I assumed Japan is much more open to exercise, as different from our exercise as it may be ^_^

takingcontrol A few quick thoughts on lunch:
1. Taco salads: beans with cumin and chili powder or packets of taco seasoning if you have an import grocery store, shredded cabbage, lightly sauteed onion, diced tomato, shredded cilantro, squeeze of lime, pinch of salt
2. Hummus with pita bread/tortillas: typical hummus recipe with reduced oil, pita/tortilla made by mixing flour and water, rolling out thin, quick heat on each side of the pan
3. Sushi!! I imagine even if you are in a smaller city/town in Thailand you can get nori, so just prepared rice with rice wine, julienne carrots/cucumber/whatever else you can find.
4. Bibimbap, faux version: I made this accidentally once- chopped veggies with mirin/rice wine/fish sauce/brown sugar, over rice, crumbled nori, sriracha and a fried egg over it
5. Egg salad sandwich (can you get bread?) prepared with yogurt instead of mayo.
6. Frittata- egg beaten until frothy, mixed with diced veggies and baked.

Ok that's all for now... will be brainstorming for more :D What types of imported foods do you have access to where you are?

krampus
03-30-2011, 12:53 AM
I really admire the whole "French Women Don't Get Fat" philosophy. It seems very similar to intuitive eating and should be so straightforward - eat when you're hungry, don't eat when you're full, and if you eat a huge dinner have a light lunch the next day. French people in general just seem to have it right (aside from the smoking) - most of the women I've seen there have healthy slender figures, averaging around a US 4-6.

fiddler
03-30-2011, 11:48 AM
fiddler that recipe looks awesome. Thanks for sharing. I'm going to try it next week. What do you substitute for kaffir lime leaves? I used to have dried ones (that I bought in the BKK airport lol) but I ran out a while ago and I haven't been able to find them here.

You can omit them if you can't get fresh ones. Or maybe try a different kind of citrus leaf. They actually add more fragrance than taste to the finished dish. Kind of a citrus blossom scent. But I have made it without them before and it's not a huge difference.

indiblue
03-30-2011, 12:28 PM
takingcontrol I just realized you are probably looking for lunch ideas for when you get back home from Thailand... so hopefully you'll be able to make all of those!

fiddler good to know. I love tom yum but have avoided it because it's usually thick with oil- your recipe doesn't have any oil which is promising. I just got shrimp (albeit, frozen) and can't wait to experiment with tom yum goong.

Another quick, easy Asian recipe I usually do (takingcontrol this is a go-to for me for lunch too):
Vietnamese Spring Rolls
Julienne carrots, cabbage, and cucumber. Place fresh spring roll rice wrapper in hot water for about 10 seconds until soft, remove. Place vegetables, mint, coriander(er, cilantro! been in Asia too long :D), and small shrimp/chicken/pork (option, cook as you like) length-ways and roll spring roll. Dip in peanut sauce (peanut butter, water, soy sauce, rice vinegar (optional), heated to melt and mix) or Thai chili sauce. They should look like this (http://www.google.co.in/imgres?imgurl=http://phoandricesomerville.com/Vietnamese%2520Spring%2520Rolls.JPG&imgrefurl=http://phoandricesomerville.com/&usg=__DTkdKKa0lStyUabmyGPh3Tu5KNs=&h=375&w=500&sz=41&hl=en&start=0&zoom=1&tbnid=Zl3QA0-kP47HdM:&tbnh=120&tbnw=164&ei=CEyTTf_JBtTccM_-hYsH&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dvietnamese%2Bspring%2Brolls%26um%3D1% 26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26biw%3D1366%26bih%3D667%26tbm% 3Disch&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=936&vpy=72&dur=455&hovh=194&hovw=259&tx=161&ty=102&oei=CEyTTf_JBtTccM_-hYsH&page=1&ndsp=30&ved=1t:429,r:5,s:0). Nom nom nom.

fiddler
03-30-2011, 12:47 PM
indiblue, that spring roll recipe sounds really good! I'll have to try it soon.

fiddler
03-30-2011, 12:56 PM
Yesterday was an emotional roller-coaster.

Bad: I found out that my salary is being cut by 20% (actually already has been cut since they didn't have the decency to tell me until after they had already made it effective), plus another one of my employees is quitting because of not being paid enough (they didn't cut his salary; just never paid him what he was worth to begin with).

Good: I have been working out pretty hard for 4 weeks now. I don't weigh myself, but I have the lady at the gym take my measurements periodically. The last time I had been measured was three weeks ago. She took my measurements yesterday, and I had lost at least .5 inch on each measurement, and 2.5!!! inches on my abdomen. Not bad for 3 weeks :carrot:

indiblue
03-30-2011, 01:28 PM
fiddler I'm so sorry to hear about your salary. I had a similar experience- was supposed to start a new job on Monday and was told last week they wouldn't pay me an American salary. I declined the job. I know how stressful/panicky it can be when the rug is pulled out from under you so I definitely am sorry this has happened. On the upside, WAY TO GO on the measurement loss!!

The spring rolls are SO EASY and really forgiving too- feel free to experiment with different veggies and proteins. As long as the mint and coriander are there it's fine. You are familiar with Asian flavors so feel free to play around with the sauce too. Some people put sriracha, hoison, lime, ginger, etc. I keep it simple but there are tons of directions you can take it in. Spring roll wrappers (make sure you get those, not wonton wrappers as I once got lol... they should be super thin and made of rice paper) are pretty easy to find. I use this brand (http://www.amazon.com/Banh-Trang-Spring-Wrapper-12-Ounce/dp/B001EO5ZDI/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1301502385&sr=8-4).

takingcontrol
03-31-2011, 09:45 AM
Wow, this thread is great, so many people with different stories and insights on eating/living/dieting in different corners of the world. I love it! Even when I'm back in the UK, I'll still be hanging around, the recipes and ideas are fab!

indiblue I didn't make myself very clear on the lunch thing! I actually meant what I could order from the local little shack/restaurant I eat in on workday lunchtimes. I'd love to avoid it, but I can't come home for lunch, and with no fridge/heating facilities at work, it's eat out or be very limited!

However, thanks so much for that list, some delicious ideas on there I'll defo be trying out once back in the UK!

On the subject of lime leaves, if anyone wants them sending before I leave, I'm happy to oblige, send me an inbox message. I'll def be stocking up before I go home!

Oh and I love Vietnamese spring rolls, the Thai version is also lush. Will I be able to buy the rice papers easily in the UK, or should I stick some in my suitcase? I never saw them there when I was home before, but then, I never looked!

Fiddler sorry to hear about your salary cut, how on earth do they get away with that? But go you on the measurements, that's great! I've upped the owrking out this week after a couple of lazy weeks, permanently achy but loving it!

indiblue
04-01-2011, 01:18 AM
takingcontrol haha sorry about the misunderstanding. A little Thai shack sounds amazing to me right now. It's so hard to get good Thai food where I am. When do you go back to the UK? I don't know about rice paper wrappers- in the US they are prevalent in cosmopolitan areas (esp at Asian grocery stores or regular grocery stores in areas with high Asian populations). You can also order them on Amazon. Still, wouldn't hurt to pick up some while you're in Thailand of course. I grabbed a bunch of spices at the BKK airport last time I flew through. KING POWER! hahaha.

How's everyone's week been? Any good weekend plans?

pochamma10
04-01-2011, 07:09 PM
Hi everyone! I'm new to 3fc and a kind moderator pointed me to this thread earlier today. I'm really glad to find this thread and see that other people are facing some similar challenges and issues! I live in a rural area (Sub-Saharan Africa) and let me tell you, there is no such thing as a calorie count on anything! Food is cooked with a lot of oil, the most unhealthy kinds like palm and coconut, and there is very little variety. Fresh vegetables and fruits are limited to what's in season and the selection is sparse - I can usually find tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, onions, and sometimes garlic, as well as oranges, mangos, and occasionally apples. That really is about it. Oh, and sugar is HUGE here. People put it in everything, even the pasta! Tea is the favored drink and the saying in the region is that people here like a little tea with their sugar! I don't eat meat so that also limits my diet. Lentils are usually available which is nice, but the local way of cooking them involves a ton of oil!

I have lost some weight, maybe around 10 lbs?, because I was just so tired of eating the same thing all the time. I'm not sure of exactly how much as I wasn't able to weigh myself but some clothes that I had with me that barely fit are on the lose side now. An expat recently moved and left me her scale so I finally know my real weight!

I was really jealous to hear about the gyms and exercise equipment that people have access to - I actually like going to the gym but there are no gyms here. People do get a lot of exercise because there aren't many modern conveniences. Strangely though Live Strong does not tell me how many calories are burned riding a donkey through the desert! :) I'm sticking to some resistance bands I brought with me as well as exercise DVDs. I really enjoyed the commentary here about what is culturally acceptable vis a vis exercise. I live in a Muslim country and the dress is very conservative - it would not be at all acceptable for me to go jogging or expose that much skin. Considering that it is regularly 110+ F out, I'm not sure I even could without passing out!

Whew, this is a long post! Sorry, I guess I had a lot to say about trying to lose weight while living in Africa!! So, my goals are to continue to lose weight, try to eat as cleanly as possible, and get myself set for the challenge of moving back to the US in a few months. I'm looking forward to getting to know some of you on this thread and wish everyone luck with their weight loss goals!

runningfromfat
04-04-2011, 01:18 PM
Rana - We tried out Carrefour this weekend and loved it! Thanks so much for the suggestion. We also found out that they have discounted fruit/veggies on Sundays and Thurs. so we're going to start working our shopping schedule around that. We got some great deals and spent over R$60 less than the previous week!

Oh, and DH FINALLY let me buy a pressure cooker so now we've been enjoying our black beans, which helps us to save a lot of $$. ;)

Rana
04-04-2011, 02:22 PM
:carrot::hug:

I'm so glad you liked it and found ways to save too!!!!

The pressure cooker is a must have, when you cook the beans, add a bay leaf to the pot and they will come out tasting so good.

indiblue
04-04-2011, 11:26 PM
Pochomamma WELCOME!! It sounds like several of us face a lot of similar challenges, but you have it much more to an extreme! I know very little about sub-saharan African food. My only knowledge of African food is Ethiopian and Ghanaian cassava :). What are the staples there?

For food, are there a few packaged foods you can either have shipped to you or buy in a major city's export food whenever you go? Perhaps Nature Valley bars, fruit leather, Slim Fast, Luna bars? Those could be a good meal replacement from time to time if you need to cut down on the oil-soaked meal options. Is there a commissary or something available to diplomats/military/NGO people that you can jump in on to get a few things to keep around your place?

Also, do you have a place to cook and equipment? You could make your own lentils, especially if you have tomato and onion and garlic to spice it up. I don't know if you are in an area where housekeepers are the norm, but if you can splurge to hire one and make sure she prepares the lentils or other foods with a lot less oil (just watch her the first time she makes things and give her directions) it could be worth it.

Re. exercise, it sounds like you have found a good way to get in some movement indoors. Dumb bells are difficult to transport, but water jugs perhaps if you want to include strength training? Yoga, pilates DVDs? Just some thoughts, though the exercise DVDs and resistance bands sound great!

Anyway I'm sure you've thought of all of these suggestions! How long have you been in Africa and how much longer do you expect to be there?

indiblue
04-05-2011, 04:04 AM
ranna and running pressure cookers are AMAZING. I don't know why they haven't taken off in the US like they have in other countries (or at least where I grew up they weren't very popular). I love throwing a bay leaf in there too, good idea ranna.

running Do you like Indian food? I could post a few recipes for daal and chole (channa masala) that are low fat/high protein if you are able to access chick peas and lentils. So easy to do with a pressure cooker :) How do you typically use your black beans?

goalgetta
04-05-2011, 06:01 AM
Thanks for the responses!
indiblue: I was a hasher back in the states! I looked into doing it in Israel, but they hash on days I am scheduled to work, so unless I switched my schedule, doing that won't be a common occurrence.

takingcontrol: I brought a few workout DVDs and have some yoga books, so I will likely be doing that to supplement any gym I go to. On the days I work, I pretty much don't have time to do anything else but go to work and work out, so I am trying to get into a groove and do that. I brought Jillian Michael's Yoga Meltdown (or something like that) DVD, so I might just stick to doing that twice a day until I find a gym.

runningfromfat: I am in one of the larger cities in the country, but it is in the desert, so I am quite shocked at how available and cheap fresh produce is. I have coworkers who get food from back in the states shipped to them, but I promised myself that where food was concerned, I would eat off the local market. The women here eat all the same food and remain very slim, but there is also a pretty healthy range of options, especially when it comes to salad. I am just learning to tweak my palette (read:kill my sugar tooth) for success.

I did some grocery shopping yesterday for what I hope will be food for the week. It was very expensive to purchase things, so I am actually going to try and stick to a budget for food weekly and see how that affects my decision making at the grocery store. I have noticed that the processed foods tend to cost more than the fresh ones (yes!), which helps. I just don't want to be spending upwards of $100/wk on groceries and still having to purchase 3-5 meals at night (at roughly $25-70/meal) because I ran out of food. I guess portion control will have to play a major part in that deal.

slowrunner
04-05-2011, 10:22 AM
I've only just joined and discovered this thread, but I'm so happy to see it here. I've lived in Taiwan for several years, and face a lot of the same issues many of you have brought up. I don't think I can respond individually to each thing I noticed as I was reading through, but here are a few of my reactions (sorry for not attaching names to each!):

Dragonfruit: love it! Luckily, it's very cheap here. And I'm waiting for lychees to come back in season - my favorite!

Being called fat: though it's true, I really am fat, I cannot help feeling just awful every time someone says it to me without any trace of understanding that they are hurting my feelings. It's totally cultural, and Americans are admittedly a little too permissive about obesity, but it still hurts. It feels like my weight is the measure by which anyone judges me here. Every time someone comments on my weight here, I just want to shout: "Yeah, but have you heard me sing? Check out the screenplay I've just finished. Oh, and let's see you beat my LSAT score!"

Pressure cookers: I recently invested in an electronic one, and it's amazing. I make soup every week, plus applesauce and lots of other things that are full of nutrition. I like that I can make big batches of things and eat them for a few days.

Local food: I sort of hate rice and noodles, and really like meat, which is unfortunate since the food here is about 75% carbs/25% protein when I'd prefer it the other way around. I also hate the way vegetables are prepared - usually cooked in oil! And forget about fresh raw vegetables - the best you can get is a terrible salad from 7-11 with a few shreds of carrots and a couple of raisins. It drives me nuts when local friends or strangers try to argue with me that Taiwanese food is so much healthier than American food, which is only true when you compare it to American deep-fried foods (which I happen to hate). I've tried for over 5 years to love local food, and there are a few things I do love, but the vast majority of the foods just keep me fat and/or bored. I've now mostly come to terms with the fact that I'm never going to adapt well to local food and have started to cook almost all of my own meals (made easier by the large kitchen in my new apartment). Breakfast is easy - I make a trip to Costco once every couple of month for cereals and oatmeal, which I eat every day. The other meals mostly consist of meats and veggies, occasionally with some pasta or rice. I'm learning to be a better cook, and adapting my meals to what kinds of veggies are available at the traditional market nearby.

For me, one of my biggest challenges here has been exercise. In the US, if I went to the gym, I wasn't the only overweight person sweating away on the treadmill, and I certainly wasn't the only white person in the room. Here, people stare at me even when I walk on the street, so a trip to the gym is simply mortifying. Thus, I finally made the plunge this year and bought my own treadmill (it cost me about $850 USD), so I can exercise without embarrassment. Plus, I have to see it every day (guilt!) and I want to get my money's worth (guilt!), so I'm more likely to actually exercise each day. I don't have any current plans to leave the country, but should I ever leave, I could easily sell the machine online. I wish I had taken this step sooner, but now that I've got it, I'm putting it to use!

indiblue
04-06-2011, 12:30 AM
Welcome, slowrunner!!!

I love dragonfruit too, yum. So jealous you have that and lychees! Though I can't complain too much... mango season here is a few weeks away so that will keep me happy for a while :)

We have the same problems with veggies here. Salads are simply not available in restaurants. Do you end up buying fresh veggies and eating them at home, sans oil/sauce saturation? I do that almost every day, otherwise I'd have oil-infused limp vegetables for every meal due to the culture around me.

I hear you on the local meals thing. For me, I LOVE Indian food and could eat it almost every meal, but at that rate I'd be morbidly obese in a few weeks because it's so darn fattening. (More fattening than its equivalent in the US, they use SO MUCH OIL here on everything.) So for that reason I can only have a few small servings of local cuisine per week. Definitely requires cooking one's own meals, since fresh, low calorie, low fat food is just not widely available in restaurants or the grocery store.

I love your reaction to the "you are fat" statements. I read someone else, maybe on this thread I can't remember, would give back a sarcastic "Wait, really? I hadn't noticed! That's so interesting, thanks for telling me!" which I also love, but from my experiences in South and Southeast Asia sarcasm is not really a feature of comedy here so the joke may be lost ;)

I can understand how going to the gym would be a strange experience. When I lived in Cambodia I was the only white person and only female the gym and I definitely got stares. Please, please tell me that the gyms there have the fat jiggle machine where you stand on it and put a belt around your waste that "jiggles" the fat away. I have been to around 12 countries in Asia and have yet to see a gym without that machine and it still cracks me up every time!

indiblue
04-06-2011, 06:24 AM
Can I rant and pitch a whiny fit?

Another challenge to getting in shape abroad: POWER OUTAGES.

I tried to do a simple, 20 minute on the treadmill today and was interrupted 4 times by power outages. Nothing kills the adrenaline and motivation like the sudden jerk of a treadmill shut off and standing in complete darkness for a minute or two while the generators kick in. (oh yeah, and then the treadmill reading an error message for the next two minutes each time due to the electrical shock it received.)

I finally finished and switched to a battery operated bike, which prevailed through the next 3 outages over the following 20 minutes.

Grumble grumble.

It's bad enough I have to run inside due to cultural issues, but when you can't do that (or watch an exercise DVD because it shuts down and restarts every few minutes), it's so annoying. I know I have it easier than some people on this forum because I do have access to a gym and equipment at least, so I guess I can't complain too much. Sorry for the rant.

fiddler
04-06-2011, 12:06 PM
Please, please tell me that the gyms there have the fat jiggle machine where you stand on it and put a belt around your waste that "jiggles" the fat away. I have been to around 12 countries in Asia and have yet to see a gym without that machine and it still cracks me up every time!

Ohmigod, they have those fat jiggling machines there? My mom had one of those when I was a kid in the 1960's. I think it was the forerunner to what discreet ads in women's magazines referred to as a "personal stimulator." :rofl:

indiblue
04-07-2011, 01:22 AM
fiddler YES they do. EVERYWHERE. I live in an apartment complex in India right now with lots of NRIs (Indians who grew up abroad and returned to India as adults) and wealthy Indians and our gym has one. I've even seen people using it. Our gym may not have a stairmaster or rowing machine or a full set of dumbells but at least they have the fat jiggler....

tomandkara
04-07-2011, 05:37 AM
My parents have one of them at their house! It was my grandmother's. I don't think anybody uses it any more, though. :lol:

pochamma10
04-07-2011, 07:55 AM
Thanks for the welcome, Indiblue! Staples here vary depending on income level, but the most common are beans mashed with LOTS of oil and sometimes cheese, usually served on a roll or with bread (rice is not big here) and mashed yam, you may know it as fufu (west africa) or ugali (east africa). While I love beans, these have way too much oil to be healthy and both dishes are pretty bland. Could you post the recipe for channa masala that you mentioned? I LOVE that stuff and I can get access to chick peas here - they're canned but hey, better than nothing!

I do buy some packaged goods when I go outside - like packets of miso soup, nature valley bars, etc., but I don't much get outside of the continent so I am usually stuck to what I can get in Kenya or some other more developed country.

Good idea on the water jugs - I'm focusing mostly on being consistent with my cardio right now and planning to add in strength training later. I'm one of those people who is not good with many changes at once!

I've been in my current place for close to two years now and will be heading back to the States in summer. I do love it here but am really looking forward to being able to wear something that doesn't cover every inch of my skin or being stared at!

I also hear you on the power outtages! I was doing one of my exercise DVDs the other day and the power cut in the middle! I had to content myself with jogging around my apartment - or rat in a maze exercise!! :D

Lol @ the jiggler! It might not work but it still kind of sounds like fun!!

Slowrunner I completely understand how you feel about sticking out. I can be dressed like everyone else and doing nothing unusual but I seem to be the event of the day everywhere I go! Luckily I don't have to worry about being embarrased at the gym as there aren't any!

slowrunner
04-07-2011, 01:22 PM
indiblue The funny thing about the fruit, though, is that I most often eat the basic American staples: apples and bananas! I eat one or two bananas every day, and I make applesauce in my pressure cooker every week. But I do gorge on my favorites when they are in season. The guy at the fruit stand must have thought I was insane in the fall when I was buying bags of persimmons every day.

For veggies, I buy and cook my own. I make a lot of soup, but I do also sometimes fry them - like when I have pork chops with fried mushrooms on the side. Recently I've started getting organic produce delivery, though, and it's been forcing me to learn how to cook new things. The box comes full of stuff I don't recognize, as well as some recipes, so I've got to be creative.

And I haven't seen the jiggling machine, though I've only been to two gyms here, and one was more designed for men (the weight machines took up 2/3 of the space, and I saw only 3 or 4 women there ever, and never at the same time). One amusement I have gotten many time at the gym, however, has been using a weight machine right after another woman. Women here don't want muscle (too masculine), but still sometimes use the weights anyway, and it's always good for a giggle because more often than not, they're lifting one plate, even on the leg machines. It makes me feel like a titan to use the same machine and throw on another 50 pounds of weight!

pochamma10 Have you been back to the States since you've been abroad? I always get reverse culture shock when I go back, especially when it comes to "fitting in." One of my first visits home, I remember twice in the same day getting annoyed because someone was looking at me, and then realizing later that those guys were checking me out. I was so used to being stared at for my skin color here that I had forgotten what it was like to be stared at for my boobs!

sacha
04-07-2011, 01:39 PM
Interesting thread. I'm a bit of both, a great lover of ethnic food and I also live in an area with a different language/culture (but not a different country). I love lots of the local foods! Some are not so good for me but others are :)

fiddler
04-07-2011, 06:09 PM
Interesting thread. I'm a bit of both, a great lover of ethnic food and I also live in an area with a different language/culture (but not a different country). I love lots of the local foods! Some are not so good for me but others are :)

sacha, what area are you from? (If you're willing to share that info)

indiblue
04-08-2011, 07:20 AM
pocha oh yes, FUFU, I forgot about that. One of my good friends spent time in Ghana and she could not stand the food there. There were a few Ghanaian restaurants back when I lived in the US and I remember trying it. I have to admit, even as a foodie with a pretty easy-to-please palate I did not like one thing I tried. I love Ethiopian food but the rest of the food from Africa I've tried I have not enjoyed. Many, many props to you for eating it every day for two years!

I will post the channa masala recipe soon- let me find the one our housekeeper uses.

Another thought on exercises that don't require electricity (I had two outages today during my run... grumble): jump rope. There's fortunately one in our gym that I try to incorporate into my routine. Exhausting on the calves, great for cardio, and just a really terrific exercise all-around.

slowrunner Yes, when I lived in Southeast Asia the whole women-gaining-muscle thing was completely eschewed. When my female colleagues found I go to the gym they were really surprised and said "But aren't you afraid of getting fat?" They were the same ones who told me (kindly) that I was too "thick" to wear a certain traditional dress to our boss' wedding. Ohhhh Asian bluntness! (or, perhaps more accurately, American sensitivity to any comment about our size?)

sacha welcome! What kind of ethnic foods to you like to indulge in? Any great recipes you want to share?

geoblewis
04-09-2011, 04:00 PM
So happy someone started this thread! I love it!

I've repatriated to California (two years ago) but spent 11 years living in Indonesia, Kuwait and Kazakhstan. I had the opportunity to travel all over Asia and into Europe. I'm of Greek descent, so eating outside the American box is quite normal for me.

I had real health challenges when I moved overseas and it was difficult, at first, to figure things out. Being from California, I missed all my fresh produce. I had to learn to love the local veg, where they had it. Indonesia had loads of new veg and fruit to try. It was great! Kuwait didn't have much growing there, but an amazing assortment of imports at the supermarkets, with outrageous prices attached! Kazakhstan was really limited in selection, so I started growing greens hydroponically in my garage.

These days, my sons and I are missing some delicious Indonesian cuisine. There's one restaurant about an hour away that we can get pretty good Indonesian food at, but it's not quite the same as what our cook Mar used to make. I miss her so! Middle Eastern food is much easier to find, and my Greek cooking is so similar to it that I can easily replicate it. I can't say I miss ANYTHING about Kazakh cuisine!

I used to bring in a lot of things from the US when we lived overseas. I smuggled bacon into Indonesia, alcohol into Kuwait, and I recall filling my handbag with cheeses from the Amsterdam airport on my way into Kazakhstan. When we went on R&R trips, I hauled things back from Greece and Cyprus, Paris and London. I hauled in turkeys from Singapore for Thanksgiving and tritip from Jakarta for a barbeque. Not cheap! But I had more money back then.

I had to stop eating rice because I gained so much weight on it! Fell in love with young jackfruit and star fruit in Indonesia. Am happy to find Persian cucumbers at the local Trader Joe's, because my sons would only eat that in salads when we lived in Kuwait. We all love Indian food and I love to play with spices...the zatar in Kuwait was awesome!

Now I'm getting hungry!

sacha
04-10-2011, 07:37 PM
sacha, what area are you from? (If you're willing to share that info)

Hi :) :hug:

I'm Canadian. Originally from British Columbia and now living in French Quebec. Here, it's all about full-fat cheeses, wine, and Quebecois fast food (ie. poutine, Italian poutine, etc). I've yet to find a 3FC-friendly recipe though :( The French don't do low-cal. LOL.

indiblue
04-11-2011, 02:33 AM
Welcome geoblewis! Sounds like you've had a pretty incredible time overseas over the last decade. Were you with the USG as an FSO, or with NGOs, or businesses?

Indonesian food is amazing. Gado gado! I just love Southeast Asian cuisine, it's so diverse and so different from Western cuisine. It's really taught me to be creative with ingredients. It's also fabulous food to cook for people with dietary restrictions, vegetarians, vegans, and gluten-free especially. I hear you on the rice- as a SEAsiaphile I used to down cups of steamed rice with every meal and now I've all but eliminated it. I really miss it with Thai, Cambodian, or Malaysian food, but it must be done.

I'm in India now and we bring in turkeys from Singapore too! Also beef from Thailand... in the land of the sacred cow there is none to be had here ^_^

Kazakh cuisine... is that basically just a lot of meat? I would imagine with the arid environment there is not much vegetation.

indiblue
04-11-2011, 02:39 AM
And as promised, here's the recipe for Channa Masala:

Soak 1/2 kg chickpeas overnight. Cook in a pressure cooker with a handful of salt to taste, a bayleaf, until 3 whistles (or pressure cook/boil until desired softness)
In a deep pan sautee 2 onions finely grated in 4 tbs of oil until caramelized.
Add to chickpeas along with 2 tbs tumeric powder, 1 tsp red chili powder, and 2 tbs garam masala (can be bought in prepackaged form or by creating your own- mix equal parts coriander powder, cumin, black pepper, tumeric, salt, cloves, and dry ginger). Stir for 5-7 minutes.
Add 3 finely diced tomatos, simmer fo 5 minutes.
Add 3 cups of water, or to your preference (more or less water depending on how much gravy you want). Simmer for 15 minutes
Serve with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime.

It's very easy with simple ingredients except for the garam masala. If you can't buy that I'd just add the tumeric, cumin, etc powder to taste. It should be fairly similar.

pochamma10
04-11-2011, 03:39 AM
Indiblue Thanks for the props, though I'm not sure I deserve them! I don't love the food here but don't hate it either - with the exception of fufu (ugh! a glob of gooey dough, yuck) - it is pretty bland though, compared with west african cuisine. I am always putting hot sauce on stuff here! And low sodium versions? Forget about it! :) What's strange is that, in the capital, most of the restaurants serve fast food, burgers, pizza, etc., which aren't bad but again, not health food! I'm looking forward to heading home in a few months - we really don't appreciate the truly amazing variety of foods we have access to in the states!

Sacha Hi Sacha, I hear you on the struggles imposed by local food choices/eating habits. My mom is Italian and all of my cousins in Italy eat BUCKETS of food at each meal and are so thin! I can't say it's the genes because I certainly don't have them! lol

Geoblewis Really enjoyed reading your post - I wonder if Kazakh cuisine is anything like Albanian food? Meat, meat, and more meat? And horribly overcooked soggy veg?! The only thing I miss about Albanian food is this bread that is made out of dough that's something like croissant dough and has cheese inside, and sometimes onions. It was so delicious, especially when warm, but not exactly health food!

I also hear you about missing veggies and fruits - they are extremely limited here and I do shop in the local markets. Since we're landlocked, everything has to be shipped in, which makes it very expensive. Growing up with a huge garden and fresh (or home canned/frozen) veg and fruit trees, it was very hard to get accustomed to commercially canned veggies, which usually have salt and other things added. I rinse them off thoroughly, as they are frequently the only veg available, but they aren't the same!

pochamma10
04-11-2011, 03:42 AM
Thanks for the recipe, Indiblue! I am getting hungry just looking at this - sounds delicious! Will make it soon and let you know how it turns out.

pochamma10
04-11-2011, 03:46 AM
Ok, sorry for posting on here 50 times in a row but just saw your q slowrunner! Yes, I went back once to the States in the last two years. I know many of my friends/colleagues/fellow expats say they have reverse culture shock but it just doesn't seem to happen to me. I'm much more annonymous at home, which I enjoy immensely. Lol @ the being checked out! I don't notice subtle things anymore, I realized, because here everyone stares at you HARD and openly, even the adults. I think my radar has been busted :)

InControl2Day
04-13-2011, 05:01 AM
:D I'm so happy to find this thread. I'm not exactly an expat but I did live in Taiwan from 9 y/o 'til 18 y/o then I went to college and I go back every year to visit my family

I love travel so reading about food choices and availability from all over the world is SO interesting!


slowrunner: I think Taipei has a lot of available food choices but you are right that none of it is very healthy! The majority of people who lose weight there do it through starvation diets.

I really think it's a cultural thing for them to be so blunt. They blurt out whatever they think without biting their tongue. My mom does the same thing and I end up shocked and mortified. It's great when it's a compliment but not so much when it's rude. I can imagine the stares you get. I feel like staring is a problem in Taipei because I feel stared at too because I don't think I dress like a local. I've been dating my boyfriend who's Indian for the past 4.5 years now and he's going back to Taipei to visit my parents. I told him to brace himself for A LOT OF STARING. He doesn't care but I might lash out if someone says something rude to me in Chinese.

indiblue
04-13-2011, 12:28 PM
Hey international and ethnic food chicks! How's everyone doing??

takingcontrol have you left Thailand already??
goalgetta were you able to find a gym and exercise routine yet?
runningfromfat How's the challenge of feeding your DH and DD with their picky veggie habits going?
InControl welcome! Yes the bluntness is an Asia thing... I've gotten it in Cambodia and in India a lot. That's awesome your bf is going with you to Taiwain to meet your parents and learn more about your family's culture!
pochamma I hear you on the anonymous thing. I only experienced reverse culture shock once, when I came back from studying abroad in South Asia during college, since it was my first real time away from the US and in a very poor area of the world unlike anything I had seen before. I think once you've made the transition back and forth once it's not as big a deal to do it repeatedly.

All is fine here. I'm down to eating about one Indian meal a week these days, mostly prepared by our housekeeper. My boyfriend and I are generally eating all meals at home, with one or so dinner out or at a friend's house, though the cuisine is rarely Indian. This is partly because I don't want to have a standoff with every oily calorie-filled spoonful and partly because we are pretty tired of Indian food. Unlike Thai or Cambodian food, which I can eat for every meal, Indian food has about a once-a-week max for me.

Something coming up to look forward to here: MANGO SEASON! Only about two weeks away!

indiblue
04-19-2011, 03:30 AM
Hi everyone, just bumping this thread a bit!

Any new recipes or ongoing struggles anyone wants to share?

It's been one of those weeks for me... where everything about India is driving me completely up the wall. This country is by far the most bizarre and frustrating I've ever lived in. The point of traveling and living abroad is to gain a better understanding of other cultures, but honestly all that has happened in the past seven months is I've developed stereotypes about this city/country that are reinforced over and over and over again. :( Ugh.

slowrunner
04-19-2011, 04:19 AM
indiblue I understand what you mean about developing stereotypes and frustrations. I find that those things come up most often when I'm just trying to accomplish simple things like food shopping or commuting. However, whenever I go traveling around Taiwan, or even in a different part of Taipei than I'm used to, I find myself loving every minute of it. I think it's all about expectations. Those daily activities are supposed to be easy, but they're not always. On the other hand, I expect to run into trouble when I step outside my comfort zone and try new things, so I'm less frustrated when things don't go my way. Funny thing is, when I am doing something or going somewhere new, I tend to have fewer troubles simply because people around me can recognize that I am on unfamiliar turf and therefore treat me a little more kindly. But once those things become familiar, the little annoyances about them start to become inflated (kind of similar to being in a long-term relationship!).

I'll give you an example from today. This morning, I went to a butcher in the traditional market near my apartment for the first time. In fact, it's the first time I've ever gone to any traditional market for meat (in almost 6 years of living here), since I've always lived near grocery stores and felt less out-of-place when shopping in them. But my new apartment doesn't have any supermarkets nearby, and I'm determined to start getting more protein, so I made myself go to the butcher. I pass by the market every single day, usually several times a day, but have never gone in during the 6 months I've lived in my new place. During my trip today, I made my way over to the nearest butcher and fumbled my way through ordering - not because of the language, but mostly because of my inability to recognize meats without labels on them. I misidentified beef 3 times before the man helped me out and told me which ones were beef! The whole process took what felt like 10 minutes, between all the confusion, the slicing, and the fact that the man was interrupted 3 times by other people while dealing with my order, including a phone call and a delivery he had to make to the other side of the building. These interruptions happen often in Taiwan, and it usually drives me crazy when I'm in line first and others come and make whatever errand I'm doing take twice as long. But the butcher was friendly and I was forgiving, and I left feeling proud of the $10USD worth of beef, pork, and pork liver I had managed to get. The thing is, I know my forgiveness came from the novelty of what I was doing, and if I continue to go regularly, no doubt I'll start feeling as impatient as I do when I'm checking out at 7-11 and someone pops in front of me to ask for a pack of cigarettes.

I'm trying to be more patient with the cultural differences, but I don't really know any foreigners living in Taiwan (even those who have been here 10-20+ years) who don't still get frustrated sometimes with how things run. It's not a judgment on Taiwanese culture, exactly, but a frustration of knowing that there is a more efficient, polite, or fair way to go about things but being completely unable to change it. One thing that helps me be a little more patient with people, at least when out in public? My iPod. I listen to audiobooks whenever I'm commuting or running errands, and it keeps me patient and not so focused on little things that drive me crazy. It doesn't help with bureaucratic nonsense like taxes and immigration, but it at least makes the day go by more smoothly.

On a related note to the butcher story, does anyone have any experience cooking meat in a pressure cooker? I've just roasted some pork with vegetables, but won't have any till dinner, and already am a little worried it will be flavorless. I don't have an oven, so my only options are the pressure cooker and frying pan, really. I want to eat more protein (all the rice and noodles here are killing me!), but I'm at a loss for how to make nutritious high-protein meals. Any ideas?

pochamma10
04-19-2011, 04:36 AM
Hey all, just checking in! Indiblue Thanks again for the chana masala recipe! I had a rather interesting time trying to find all the ingredients as I'd never seen tumeric or garam masala (or components) here! Food here tends to be quite bland - they really don't cook with many spices, which is pretty disappointing for me. Anyway, after much adventure and finding some random Indian fellow selling spices in the corner of this weird hotel (!), I managed to get all of the ingredients! So those little chick peas are having a bath right now! I'll let you know how it turns out when I get around to making it.

Since we're on the topic of recipes, do you happen to have a recipe for aloo gobi? Probably my fave Indian dish and I just bought some cauliflower so I'd like to make it this weekend for my weekly meal! I googled some recipes but they all seem soooooo oily!

Indiblue and slowrunner I can empathize about feelings of annoyance/reinforcing of negative stereotypes. It's funny but I used to live in an even more remote part of the rural area and somehow it was much easier to deal with the challenges of daily life and my work, especially my lackluster staff! Maybe because I anticipated them? Now that I am in a bigger town, I find myself more frustrated by the small challenges of living in a very underdeveloped country.

I've also noticed that, as I get closer to my departure date, I am getting less and less patient. You would think it would be the opposite, that I'd be so happy to go home that nothing would effect me. I'm wondering if it's because I am so stressed out about getting everything done before I go? Not sure.

Some days though, I really just want to be annonymous. I am not interested in making 15 new friends on my 10 minute walk home from work. I don't need a taxi and I really wish you'd stop staring/shouting "foreigner" when I walk down the street. Then other times, I don't mind at all. Go figure!

indiblue
04-19-2011, 05:25 AM
Oooo slowrunner and pochamamma I can soo relate to all of these!

For me it's the Indian psyche. It was really well-described in this article (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/03/world/asia/03iht-letter03.html), written by an Indian in the New York Times: uncompromising practicality. It's the "this makes sense in this very moment so that's what I'm going to do." It's the maintenance man showing up 3 hours late because he decided to take a trip to see his parents over the weekend and the bus back to the city was late. See? That all makes sense as an explanation, why would I need to call you and tell you I'm going to be 3 hours late? I had to go see my parents and the bus was late. Now I'm here. What's the problem?

It just keeps compiling. I told my boyfriend last night that India did nothing right today (meaning everything I tried to get done or accomplish or every interaction I had was a complete disaster, and I was blaming it all on India as a country). Then just as we finished trying to laugh off our frustration and go to bed, the neighbors started this huge party outside, complete with a live Bollywood singer and stage. I have never, ever heard such loud music before in my life. In the middle of a residential neighborhood. At 11 PM at night. We had to take our pillows, close every door in the house facing the neighbors, and go into the far corner of our living room and sleep on the floor. In the US you can go talk to the neighbors or call the police to report the disturbance. Here, the police have already been paid off by the family to leave them alone and let them have their concert in the middle of the night during the workweek.

Rant over.

pochamamma YAY you found your ingredients!! Yes, let us know how the channa masala goes. Our housekeeper does aloo gobi with very little oil and sauce and I really like it. I don't know her recipe (she just estimates and we have trouble communicating so I'm not going to try) but I've seen her make it and this one looks pretty similar: http://www.indianfoodforever.com/vegetables/aloo-ghobi.html. If you can find ginger-garlic paste at the Indian market buy it, otherwise you can prepare fresh ginger and fresh garlic. She also adds peas in her version.

indiblue
04-19-2011, 05:26 AM
Also, slowrunner, I don't eat meat so I can't help you on meat in a pressure cooker, but how about beans? You can make lentil or black bean chili, black bean burgers, falafel, etc. I use this website to look up the proper times for beans and other foods: http://fastcooking.ca/pressure_cookers/cooking_times_pressure_cooker.php

geoblewis
04-19-2011, 11:31 AM
My family of origin is Greek, and Easter is coming up, so I have to do my share to contribute. My sister is making the lamb, but I'm going to bring a roasted salmon fillet. I plan to have a little of both, plus my mother's spanakopita (http://kalofagas.blogspot.com/2008/02/i-did-it.html)(spinach pie in filo pastry), salad and other veggies. My plan is really just to load up on veggies, a little protein, and avoid the really high carbs and fats. That's the plan...

Then there's dessert. I'm not necessarily partial to dessert, but there's this one, galactoboureko (http://kalofagas.blogspot.com/2008/04/galaktoboureko.html), which is basically the Greek version of flan, with a honey/lemon syrup. It's not something I make every year. Maybe once every five years. I plan to make a pan of this, only big enough to give everyone a single serving...because I know what will happen to the leftovers. They will go home with me, internally!

So, it's a single event, a "high holy day", as my godfather calls it, which, he says, gives us dispensation to go against what the doctor and his wife tell him to do and eat! Dang, we're Greek! We don't need special dispensation to eat like this! We're entitled to it!

(When my father used to urge me to eat something and I told him I wasn't hungry, he'd say, "What does hunger have to do with eating?" This is the mentality I have to work with!)

In a Greek home, eating is like...a requirement. It's a sign that you're intimately joining with family and loved ones in a sacred ritual. And if you don't fully participate, you're scrutinzed, questioned, someone feels your forehead to see if you have a fever, they look at your eyes, and then they give you something to eat so you can get over what it is that ails you. If you somehow succeed in avoiding the overeating, it is remembered, and somehow goes on your permanent record, with GOD! Or even worse, Jesus' mom's list of non-eaters!

And don't think you can put food on your plate, push it around, eat something while Yiayia is watching (my mother) and then dump the rest...Yiayia will know, and dumping food in the trash means you're going straight to he##!

So, basically, I'm screwed. But I can plan for it, take walks in between courses, accept that I will be showing a gain for that week and move on to healthy choices the next day. Just like regular, balanced, thin people do.

(I forgot about the grapeleaves! OMG!!! I'm so glad all this food is too much work for me to do the rest of the year!)

krampus
04-19-2011, 10:55 PM
re: culture shock I just wanted to say it was very interesting for me to read everyone's culture fatigue-related anecdotes - so much to deal with on top of just struggling to eat healthy and understand what's going on. I think that since I have a "deadline" and am leaving Japan in just over three months, my anger and frustration is all but dissipated - but in the past there have been so many little things that bother me, and occasionally still pop up. I'm lucky in that I look Japanese so I don't get stared at or pointed at or gossiped about in public, but god forbid I go out with foreign-looking expat friends. Every male friend is assumed to be my boyfriend or husband, gangs of kids follow us around going "Harro, I rike seksu," old people stare (and sometimes spit), and waiters/store clerks only speak to me because they assume these whack foreigners I hang out with can't speak Japanese. I don't know how visible foreigners deal - even these isolated incidents which only happen at most a couple times a week drive me absolutely insane!

Work culture is completely inefficient, with people clocking overtime every day for the same amount of productivity as if they just did things efficiently in an 8 hour window. Everyone at my office stays at work at least an hour or two past quitting time. Here it's not important how productive you are, but how much time you put in. That's the reason the subways close at midnight - to force businessmen to go home at night instead of just staying at work 24/7. Something is broken; the suicides here are through the roof, dwarfed only by former Soviet bloc countries with alcoholism problems and South Korea.

When I feel really fed up/homesick, I cope by immersing myself in American movies/TV, specifically "Forrest Gump." I went through a lengthy homesick period a few months ago during which I probably watched "Forrest Gump" five or six times. How does everyone else cope?

geoblewis
04-21-2011, 03:51 AM
Krampus - when my family lived overseas, we were moved every four to five years. We lived in fairly restrictive locations, so the frustrations of living in the fish bowl came up a lot. Different people coped in different ways, or not at all. We could leave for R&R twice a year, plus had the summers to come "home" to California, although we didn't have a home to come back to. Living with family during the summers had it's own set of frustrations.

I got pretty good at planning out the year with distracting activities, but there were times when I could have killed for an escape hatch! When I got really homesick, I had DVDs of all sorts to watch. We got some American programming, so I could keep up with American Idol or Desperate Housewives. I'd get the suitcases out and start packing a couple months in advance. I spent time on the computer buying things we were going to need the following year on Amazon.com and having them sent to my sister's house where I'd go pick them up later. I cleaned and organized the pantry, a lot. I picked through our clothes to see what had to go and what needed to be replaced.

When I lived in Indonesia, and it was almost Christmas, and we weren't going anywhere for the holidays, I'd turn up the a/c till it was really cold inside, and decorated the house, baked cookies and watched Christmas movies. I threw a lot of going-away dinner parties too, because the end of the school year meant there was another group of people leaving.

There are aspects of the expat life I don't miss at all. But when I chat with friends on Facebook who still live overseas, and they're talking about how anxious they are for home leave or their problems with not finding the right household help, I miss it just a little.

Tomorrow I'm going to have lunch with a group of women who all lived at my last overseas assignment, Kazakhstan. I don't miss that place at all! Leaving was a very difficult time because my marriage had fallen apart. There are no warm, fuzzy memories of that place. But the women who were there were the only support I had at the time, and none of them knew what was going on for me. I want to thank them for being such good friends.

That's what I miss the most about my expatriate experience. Moving back to my home town, no one has time to befriend me. It's been a long, difficult road to putting together a social life. I have had to change how I do everything, again! No one comes to dinner parties I plan. No one is available to just spend an hour at a day spa to get pedicures and drink a glass of wine. No one gets my jokes! They all so literal! And conservative! And have such narrow world views!

Going expat changed me. Not many in my family or hometown know what to make of me. Makes me want to renew my passport!

krampus
04-21-2011, 09:04 AM
geoblewis, renew that passport! I'm sorry to hear that building a social life has been such a challenge - what kind of people are too busy to go to a dinner party?! It's refreshing to hear that you are still in touch with the people who were your support network in Kazakhstan; unfortunate that your memories of that placement are negative, but it sounds like you made lifelong friends.

There is definitely something about the expat lifestyle that sticks with people forever. It's easy to tell who has and who has not spent an extended period of time living elsewhere. I'm a bit anxious about repatriation and its impact on my social life and ability to transfer my existing lifestyle to a different location. In a way I feel like I have become addicted to culture shock; I've already got grand plans to move my life from upstate NY to Austin, TX partially just because it's something new.

fiddler
04-26-2011, 01:39 PM
Does anyone have any good dolmas (stuffed grape leaves) recipes? My neighbors grape vines that hang over the property line are just starting to leaf out. Last year I made some stuffed with a brown rice filling that were really good, but I'm thinking of trying something different this year.

geoblewis
04-26-2011, 04:20 PM
With regards to dolmas, I'm your gal! Grapeleaf season is quickly approaching in Central California, and all the old Greek yiayias are out scouring the vineyard for the best leaves.

Here's a Turkish recipe for a lentil and rice (http://threepotato.blogspot.com/2008/08/dolmades-lentil-stuffed-grape-leaves.html) filling. You can use either ground lamb, beef or turkey with rice with this Greek recipe (http://kalofagas.blogspot.com/2008/02/dolmadakia.html), but while the author makes his with Arborio rice, I've used Uncle Ben's long grain rice with excellent results. I found a Persian dolma recipe (http://www.sookandcook.com/en/recipe/413-persian-stuffed-grape-leaves-dolma.php)on line too. I've made all these variations in the past. All good!

fiddler
04-27-2011, 02:42 PM
Oh my! The recipe for the ones with the Avgolemeno Sauce sounds heavenly. Can't wait to try them! Thanks!

geoblewis
04-27-2011, 11:19 PM
Yes, avgolemono = love in the Greek home. It makes you pucker up and makes your eyes roll back up into your head!

It just hit me that I could use the avgolemono method with some hot chicken broth instead of butter to make a sauce for asparagus...instead of Hollandaise. Same flavor, different fat content!

pochamma10
04-28-2011, 03:25 AM
indiblue Just a quick post to let you know I made the channa masala and it is yummy!!! I got inspired and made aloo gobi and chipatis too! I've been enjoying it for the last week and a half now! Thanks again for the recipe!

slowrunner
05-26-2011, 06:37 AM
I haven't commented in awhile because I've been back home in the US for a few weeks, and TOTALLY off the hook with my eating. I had really missed Mexican food! And Mountain Dew. And cupcakes. Let's just say I ate whatever I wanted, in whatever quantities I wanted, and I don't regret it.

Now back in Taiwan and readjusting - back to my normal WOE: a lot of cereal and homemade food mostly consisting of fresh vegetables, plus mostly water for drinking (I might have had like 3 glasses of water the whole time I was there!).

I weighed myself as soon as I got back and, as expected, had gained a fair amount, even though it didn't show too much in my clothes. To be fair, my friends in SF and I went on a huge binge day on my last day in the States, so my weight was probably up quite high partially due to the amount of food I was still digesting! A few days later, I think I've settled at a 2-kilo gain from right before my trip, which is manageable and really not so bad considering how bad I was eating. I haven't started exercising again yet (been having a little knee pain, though I'm not sure why), but I plan to get back on track within the next week.

Anyway, hope you all had a great month! Oh, and pochamma10, you're making me want to try the channa masala, too!

indiblue
05-30-2011, 09:53 AM
pochomamma I'm glad it worked out for you!! Yummm channa masala!

slowrunner Glad you had a great trip back home! I'm glad you got to indulge in food you've been missing. That and family are the best parts of being back in the US. I'm glad you were pleased with your weight when you came back.

I also made a trip back to the States last month. And it was OH SO GLORIOUS. The streets were clean, the sidewalks were wide, the cars drove on the correct side of the road (not that the right side is superior, I mean that cars did not drive into oncoming traffic as is par for the course in India)

And the food. YUM. I spent hours walking around Whole Foods. Ate lots of Skinny Cow, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, sunflower bread, Clif Builder bars, avocados, and all the other glorious things I can't get here. It was wonderful. And I got so much PROTEIN every day!

I am also happy to report two Expat Successes I've had in the last few days:
1. Found protein powder!!! It's a knockoff Indian brand but it'll do the trick until I can import some Optimum Nutrition.
2. Found a fitness store!! I bought a knee brace for about $5 to help with a recent knee injury I've developed, saw resistance bands, a scale (to replace mine, which went to meet its maker about two months ago now), and all sorts of other things that made me super giddy. Now I'm no longer 100% reliant on Amazon.

Hope everyone else is doing well!!