So I need to be a little honest (and perhaps have a little vent while I’m at it) about the food situation down here in remote costal Ecuador. When I fantasized about our beach home in my mind the visions contained the cutest little fruit stand just steps from our front door, a garden in our back yard with fresh veggies just waiting to be picked, and even a quaint family owned restaurants overflowing with healthy whole foods. (Sounds great right!?)
‘ENTER REALITY’ – Attack of the SUGAR and CARBS in South America
We CAN walk to a restaurant about 5km down the beach, but their menus contain a main carb (fried chicken) paired with your choice of three other carbs (french fries, white rice, or fried plantains). One day, I asked for a salad. I got 3 or 4 shreds of lettuce, 1/8 of a tomato, all marinated in vinegar and salt. Uh, yum???
For fresh fruits and veggies, none exist in the town we live in. We need to plan a week in advance to hire a driver to take us an hour each way to get produce, and even then they are not always very ripe and sometimes on their way out already. This makes getting, keeping, storing and actually enjoying fresh fruit and veggies EXTREMELY DIFFICULT. There is no ‘Whole Foods’ here, no Fitness supplement store, no protein powders, no Quest bars, nothing like that whatsoever.
And there is no mail service. So you cannot order anything online. So be sure to order your adaptogen complex before you head out to travel.
Okay so have you had enough of my sob story? (Poor Trevor and Kashlee and their beach house problems, right?) I completely agree with you, we have nothing to complain about at ALL. But I had to be honest with myself and get this out of my system.
Since our career is based in ‘Health & Fitness’, I like to be a person who practises what I preach! I like to help my clients and challengers, offer them real support, and lead by example with no excuses in regards to healthy eating. Yeah…. well let’s just say I have fallen so far off the wagon I can hardly SEE it anymore!
If can be completely 100% real right now, this is what I would yell from the mountain tops:
“It’s so freaking HARD to EAT CLEAN in REMOTE LATIN AMERICA!!!!!!”
There. I said it.
So what I have been eating? (Oh my gosh I can’t believe I am going to tell you this….)
White bread, white rice, french fries, fried chicken, crackers, peanut butter, cheese, pasta, pasta, pasta, pasta, and then some more pasta, granola bars, chips, sugary desserts like Twinkies, chocolate. Some of the healthier things I can find are: Grilled fish at a local beach restaurant, rotisserie chicken from the street chicken vendor, cous cous, quinoa, bananas, apples, onions, tomatoes, almonds, green tea, almond milk (though it’s sugar added) and THANK THE LORD the Shakeology I brought (which is getting dangerously low)
Can you see me cringe as I write this?
The result of 3 months of heavy carb loading = major bloating.
I measured myself before we left Canada and I have gained 2 full inches around my belly button, 1.5 inches on my hips, and just an all over kind of ‘bread bloat’ look. I would love to say I am going to EAT CLEAN and go LOW CARB, but it’s not really going to happen here. If you know me personally, you know I LOVE to cheat on my clean eating and scarf down a pizza here, and some donuts there, but then I correct it with days of behaving myself. Feeling like I am out of options to do that is totally disheartening when I feel it’s my job to lead by example. No amount of sit-ups will cure the major damage you get from constantly eating white carbs and sugar loaded foods. Even my acne has flared up like crazy to add insult to injury.
Every vent and every story must come with a solution, right? So what am I going to DO about this!?
- Learn how to make more with the ingredients I have. I can get a few different fruits and veggies, oil, healthier grains, etc. It might not be the most exciting meal in the whole world, but it will work! A quick google of all the odds and ends we have in the house might give me some new, healthier alternatives
- Combat the carbs with working out. Staying consistent with workouts is the ONLY way Trevor and I will get out of here without doubling our waist size. We have access to Beachbody On Demand (which thankfully streams worldwide) so we have over 300 videos to pick from each day. No excuses.
- Remember this situation is not permanent. There are times when we cannot get access to all the things that we would LIKE in order to stick to our goals, but that is life. We are going to work with what we’ve got and do our best.
- Learn from this mistake. You best believe we will be asking better questions next time we stay in a foreign country we have never been to before. Getting info about the local markets, are they within walking distance, how often do they get new stock, how far is the biggest ‘chain store’ for groceries, how much does it cost to travel there, etc.
- Plan ahead. Bringing more of what we desire with us. TRUST ME on this, we have learned to live without MOST of what we used to have back home. I am talking about 90% less, but there are still a few basics I wish we brought more of (Shakeology, Quest Bars, you know… the important things! hehe)
- Enjoy. I guess I should just shut up, eat the carbs and the sugar, wear my pants unbuttoned and just ROCK the whole thing 🙂
As a side note, this is not everyones reality here. Some people live in towns with more access to fresh food, other ex-pats have their own cars or people that deliver food to them. Every situation is different. We LOVE our town of Puerto Cayo and we are so blessed to be able to call this our home for a few months. The good most definitely out-weighs the bad, but eating is what makes my world go round!
——> Have you ever been someone on vacation or extended stay that was similar? Did you find any healthy eating solutions?
Saturday 30th of December 2017
I totally agree with this article. We came to Ecuador last year and stayed 2.5 months. My body chemistry is such I have to eat primary veggies (salads, veggie juice, steamed veggies, fresh veggies) with light meats and fish. I too thought there would be plentiful vegetables available. In the restaurants they are virtually nonexistent, yet then again if they are available everyone I speak with warns against it due to improper cleaning. After our trip I gained 50 pounds even though we hiked and walked volcanoes, the cities, parks, instead of being driven. I ate the best I could but was starved for my veggies, my story is I gained close to 40 lbs in the end. Yikes!!! Yes my body loves to hold on to every piece of food that's consumed and put it on me. My friend said I knew you would come back skinny but instead you came back looking puffed up. I'm doing everything I can to loose the weight and feel good again but it's been a real struggle. We are here in Ecuador again, this time we are wiser and stay in places that have a kitchen so we can cook our own, I stay away from anything that's the norm around here...my body just won't do it not even once without me feeling I'll and gaining 5 lbs.
I got a real kick about you description on the food choices... Carbs and more carbs! You are truly correct!!!
Good luck in your adventures!