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What to eat in a foreign country?

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  • What to eat in a foreign country?

    Hi all,

    I'm currently a little over half way through the PB book and wanted to start transitioning my eating habits while reading the book. I've been in Hong Kong for a little over a week, I wanted to wait until I finished reading the book to start making changes... but I just can't do that any longer, I want to make life changes asap. Before moving here I had gotten into a habit for the past 6 months or so of eating out just about every day... two or three times a day. I know, terrible stuff... but I found this way of life and really like it and the philosophy.

    My main question, I now live in a country where everything is written in Chinese.. so half the time I have no idea what i'm buying at the store. Currently in the book, Mark is talking about if you have the option to buy fruits/veggies... try to get as local as possible. I can shot at the local market, but there is no guarantee that it's not the exact same stuff as the grocery stores.

    After searching for over a week, I finally found bacon... It's from the US, and probably not the good stuff... I really want to convert to this lifestyle but I just don't see any way of getting the organic, grass-fed, good for you foods here in Hong Kong.

    If i just try to stick to the Primal type foods will I still see progress? I'm thinking yes, mainly because my body is use to going out to eat all the time... tons of pasta and all that...

    What are your suggestions, does anyone live abroad who can offer some advice?

    Much appreciated,


  • #2
    Hey Marshall,

    I am new to PB, like you, but I DO live in Japan, so maybe I can offer some advice. If Hong Kong is anything like where I live, it can be really hard to get organic anything, but here are some things I'd try.

    1) If you have any friends/coworkers etc who are native speakers, ask if them if they could do a little research and see whether they can find details of any organic shops/butchers/farmer's markets in your area. A friend did this for me and it was really helpful.

    2) Head onto one of those online Chinese dictionaries, and search for the most important terms and print out a reference sheet. Or you could ask the aforementioned friend whether they could compile a list of ingredients and so on that you want to locate in the supermarket. You could also try asking people in-store whether they stock organic, and get them to show you the best products for you.

    3) Just do the best you can and resign yourself to the fact that you simply can't get everything you'd like to. Figure out what Hong Kong does the best, and go for that. There are some things that are basically impossible to get hold of in Japan, so I guess it might be the same for you too.

    In any case, don't let yourself get discouraged. Do the best you can in the situation and don't worry that it's not perfect. At least, that's what I do!

    I hope this is helpful.



    • #3
      Just eating meat and veggies will be better than eating rice and sugar, even if they're not grass-fed organic.
      Most people don't realize how much energy it takes for me to pretend to be normal.

      If I wanted to listen to an asshole, I'd fart.

      Twibble's Twibbly Wibbly


      • #4
        Appreciate the feedback. I just started working so asking co-workers didn't really cross my mind (only been here a week). I'm not going to let it discourage me, I just wanted to see if I could still get some decent benefits from just eating the meat veggies I say around.. (until I can find some organic stuff)

        Thanks once again!


        • #5
          Go for it. I think your general rule will probably be, "If I recognize it as meat or veggie and it isn't grain, I'm gonna eat it. Add butter/lard/coconut oil."

          Most people don't realize how much energy it takes for me to pretend to be normal.

          If I wanted to listen to an asshole, I'd fart.

          Twibble's Twibbly Wibbly


          • #6
            I'm really interested in this thread as well. I've just recently gone primal and am very excited about it and feel great, but I'm also concerned because I'm moving from DC to Japan this summer. Thank you Kat for your advice. Any other tips are welcome. I have no ideas about what foods will be available.


            • #7
              usmcwife, where are you moving to in Japan? Where you live will really depend on what you can get hold of!

              I live in a mid-size city (600,000 people), so my food choices are pretty broad. I think you'd have steadily more choice the larger the city you live in, and steadily less if you live in a small town. However, as fresh produce is incredibly expensive in Japan, living in a rural area has its blessings. Small grocers and roadside stands are in abundance there, and it's probably easy to get fresh meat/fish!

              Seasonal eating is fairly big in Japan, so expect to see certain things appear and reappear at certain times of the year, and for prices to vary drastically.

              Other things I've noticed are that
              - it's hard and expensive to get hold of good cheese and dairy, BUT it is possible to get it shipped to you
              - the bacon is awful here
              - organic fish and meat can be hard to come by, though it's not impossible
              - you may have some trouble eating primally in restaurants, because substitutions are not the norm at all here and aren't always allowed
              - there are lots of exciting new things to try that are really easy to find, such as seaweed (so many varieties!), tofu, Asian vegetables that aren't available elsewhere and dressings such as black vinegar

              It takes a while to get used to it. Everybody here says that when Western women come to Japan, they gain weight, whereas men lose it to begin with. I found this to be true, because I did the whole muesli for breakfast, rice and veg for lunch, noodles/rice for dinner spiel, which is very popular here and seems to work very well for the population, but did not for me at all. However, if you stay on your toes and make sure you scope out your area well, you'll find all kinds of exciting eating possibilities that won't have you going into carb overload

              You're particularly well set if you like sashimi! I used to be a vegetarian, so I'm a bit of a wuss when it comes to that, but many of my friends go into raptures over it.

              If you've any more questions, I'll be happy to try and help


              • #8
                i think that i would do as the PP mentioned, and ask coworkers about butchers and just stick to the produce section or green grocers. i might ask friends/family to send herbs/spices until i got a handle on that particular process in the foreign country! you might ask spice blends.


                • #9
                  Yes, eat food that looks like food. Avoid packaged food, so no need to understand labels. Order spices online if you can't find help with translating.

                  Good for you! I bet you'll have so much fun with the adventures of buying/preparing/eating new foods!
                  The more I see the less I know for sure.
                  -John Lennon


                  • #10
                    Asking co-workers and doing a google search for the store locations has been very helpful so far. Just waiting to get paid and to get settled in to try going as organic as I can... but until then i'm going with real food (meat and veggies)

                    Last night I had Chicken wrapped with BACON... and some steamed veggies. It was amazing!

                    Breakfast and Dinner are pretty easy for me... but figuring out what to do for lunch is difficult (mainly because my apartment kitchen is very very tiny and my fridge is smaller than a college mini fridge. I'm thinking fruit/nuts/jerky would be best for bringing to the office for lunch.


                    • #11
                      Funny thing is, I clicked on this thread - because I'm visiting America! I'm going to a computing conference in a few weeks and wondering what to eat over there. The hotel has the usual 'contintenal' breakfast of bagels, cereals, fruit etc (I guess I'll just pay extra for eggs and bacon!) but knowing the geek penchant for pizza, cola and beer, I'm wondering what I'll eat the rest of the time. Pizza isn't an option due to wheat sensitivity (normally I'd just go with the flow, and make up for it later) though if we do that, I'll just eat the topping, and I'll keep some suitable nut bars or something with me.

                      Most American food seems so sweet and full of additives, so I'm hoping the airport will have some bags of nuts or something.

                      I figure most guys don't take much persuading to choose a steakhouse though!
                      If we’re not supposed to eat animals, how come they’re made out of meat? Tom Snyder


                      • #12
                        a friend of mine who is a food addict in recovery finds a place that does a decent job and sticks with it when she travels.

                        for example, "Outback Steakhouse" which is a fairly ubiquitous, Aussie-themed restaurant *will* make you a plain steak and broccoli and baked potato. you can order it for take out (you do have to pick it up) -- i'm not sure if it's available for delivery.

                        my friend also does well with chinese food. she finds a place that doesn't use MSG and orders the most simple dishes of meat/veg that she can find. sometimes this is delivered. she asks them to hold the rice, or immediately throws it away when it arrives.

                        when staying in a hotel, it is often difficult to find good foods, but we have done ok finding a good asian take out place or perhaps a place with kebabs or shish. these places are (sometimes) within walking distance of hotels, and so you can often get good food ok.

                        if there is a diner or restaurant near the hotel (like Dennys which is low-end diner food), then you can easily order very simple breakfasts with meat and eggs, hold the toast, might be able to roder fruit, not likely a veggie with the meal. but, enough to tide you over, and usually cheaper than the hotel itself.

                        good luck at the convening of geeks.


                        • #13
                          Outback has also been very accommodating in my experience with a request for double veggies and hold the potato.


                          • #14
                            Cool, Outback Steakhouse sounds like the go!! I wonder if they'll give me a discount for my aussie accent

                            There's a Denny's in the hotel. If i get a decent breakfast (couple of eggs and bacon, mushrooms etc) I'm pretty good for most of the day.
                            If we’re not supposed to eat animals, how come they’re made out of meat? Tom Snyder


                            • #15
                              I don't know about a discount but I'm sure they would offer you a job if you asked for one. Your accent would give the place that authentically aussie allure.