Paleo Lessons from Abroad—Part Three
Bruce Lee famously said, “Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it.”
This could not apply more accurately to my time living abroad and still continuing the Paleo lifestyle. When my stay in Scotland passed the two or three week mark, I knew I was on more than just a vacation, and it was clear I’d have to make some adjustments to my Paleo approach. Like Mr. Lee said, going with the flow and being like water was the way I found success.
When you’re on a vacation for a week or two or three, you may have access to a kitchenette in your hotel room or perhaps in a condo you’ve rented. It’s likely, though, that you’ll be eating out a fair amount or most of the time. When you’re living somewhere on a more long-term basis, going out to eat for every meal is probably not on the agenda.
I learned pretty quickly to adapt to my new Scottish surroundings and here are some of the lessons about doing Paleo when you’re living somewhere long-term I’m passing on to you:
Paleo Travel Lesson #1: Be Accepting
When you live in a different country, food availability is likely to be different than what you’re used to. If you walk into any market expecting to see speciality products such as coconut aminos and chia seeds, you’re likely to be disappointed. Be accepting that some familiar products may not be available at all or if you can get them, it may be from an online retailer. Just don’t be surprised if you have to pay international shipping costs.
By accepting that I wasn’t going to be able to find some of my favorite foods or products, I found it less stressful. Another adjustment I had to make was the size of the refrigerator and oven: Everything was just so much smaller than I was used to. Instead of doing two big cooking days a week, I changed to three medium-sized cook-ups so there was less food to store. Viewing these new differences as challenges rather than obstacles kept me from getting frustrated about my new surroundings.
Paleo Travel Lesson #2: Creature Comforts
If you’re spending a long period of time in your location abroad, equipping your kitchen with some creature comforts will make cooking at home more enjoyable. I’m not saying you need to pimp out your cooking space and spend hundreds or thousands of dollars. But if the cutting board is tiny, the knives are all dull or there’s only one pot to cook in, it’s not going to be very enjoyable. Make sure your new kitchen space is stocked with the essentials to help you create simple meals at home.
Suggested essentials: a sharp chef’s knife, cutting board, baking sheet, a few pots of different sizes, some kind of grater, can opener and mixing bowls. Anticipate what you’d use almost daily and focus on that. If it’s a piece of specialty equipment or something you’d rarely use, skip it.
Paleo Travel Lesson #3: Get Acquainted With Local Food
When I was browsing the meat section in the market, I consistently wasn’t finding anything labeled grass-fed. Turned out, all the beef was grass-fed. D’oh. If you can do a little research on local / regional / national meat or veggie production / imports, it’ll help you more easily navigate and make choices aligned to your budget and ideals.
Be willing to try new / unfamiliar foods and make the most of what’s locally available.