Grunting with effort, the man lugs the heavy sack up the stairs to our kitchen. He lets the bundle down on the floor carefully, pleased to be free of his burden. I’m an observer and glad that this job did not fall to me. What impresses me is the man’s strength and the size of the bag which represents one week’s fruits and vegetables for our family of four.
A benefit of living in Peru is the abundance of wonderful fruits and vegetables. The prices are reasonable. For example, that huge sack, at least 50 pounds of edibles, costs about $25.00. We are not vegetarians, but we limit the amount of meat we consume. I estimate that our lunch, the major meal of the day, typically comprises 80% vegetables and 20% meat carefully measured. Then, two days a week are meatless and one day of fish.
My wife is a nutritionist and a good one. She lives by what she preaches and our family benefits from this.
One thing she tells me: look at the colors on your plate. If all your food is one color, that is not good. Guess what? My plate is always multi-colored.
All this represents a change in lifestyle for me. I arrived in Peru overweight and with rising cholesterol. In fact, the first time I applied for health insurance, I was denied. Years later, my doctor asked me why my test results were so good. My answer: a change of lifestyle by moving to a different culture and altering some habits.
I realize that it is difficult to change habits. Moving to a new culture can do it if you are motivated. I saw it as an opportunity. Not all can do this. Some expatriate Americans insist on maintaining their previous food habits. This makes life difficult for them. Favorite foods may not be easily available.
I’m not saying that you have to go native. You can modify your habits. For example, in California, I was a frequent customer of In and Out Burgers. So I had a burger several times a week. It wasn’t good for me. In Lima, I have a one burger a month policy. Since it is only one, I make sure it is a good one and I really enjoy it. It is a treat I look forward to.
In the meantime, I am enjoying my fruits and vegetables. They are tasty and well prepared by my wife. Actually, you don’t need to move to another country to do this. Just pretend that you moved to another country and change your diet accordingly. It is worth the effort.