December has been a month of a lifetime in so many ways! For those of you that know me, I love to travel the world or as I call it “taste the world”. I love to explore and absorb every detail possible while I travel to new countries every year. I travel quite a bit for work as is but this year I decided that Covid would not keep me from meeting my goal of visiting 1-3 new countries every year. I stopped traveling like many others after Covid due to fear of the “unknown” but this year was the beginning of my trips abroad. Thanksgiving came about and I am proud to say that I was really inspired to try new veggie recipes to bring to our family dinner. It helps a ton when you have a sister in law that is vegetarian and can help you eat some of those large veggie plates I tend to cook. Thanksgiving was very healthy overall. The challenge started the day after Thanksgiving when I took off to Cuba for a week. This trip was more eye opening than any other trip I have ever taken in more ways than one. Food was one of the shocking experiences during this trip. I am not clear yet if we were limited in finding “good” food or if the country overall is really limited in supply. It was somewhat surreal what we experienced during breakfast as there apparently is a shortage of eggs in Cuba and when ordering an omelet, it is not what you get here in America. Portions here are exaggerated and somewhat unhealthy but over there, they are so small, that it almost also seems unhealthy as well. The assortment of vegetables, or lack thereof, consisted of lettuce, carrots and tomatoes in very small portions. As much as I planned to base my lifestyle eating salads, I quickly realized that would not work in Cuba. I went back to eating animal protein for the entire trip. My meals consisted of small portions (not by choice) of rice, beans, fish, plantains, and beef. There was plenty of sweet adult drinks filled w/ rum which is not ideal for a diabetic like me. Mid-week we visited Viñales, which is a growing region for tobacco. While visiting the area, we explored an organic farm. There was more of an assortment of veggies there and the food was plentiful to say the least. We had assortment of pork, beef, fish, soup, veggies and yet again…RUM.
My trip ended mid-week and a quick turnaround to Costa Rica is what happened next. WOW…seeing the amount of food and options there may be the norm but coming from such a struggle to find healthy options for a week to having an array of options at our fingertips almost felt unreal. The challenge there was that salads are pretty simple as well. Not much assortment as we have here in America, but then again, this may just have been in the restaurants and areas I visited. The assortment consisted of plenty of rice, beans, plantains and your choice of animal protein along w/ a small cabbage or lettuce salad with carrots and tomatoes. Food in CR was a bit carb loaded so that presented yet another challenge for the week while visiting the area.
2 weeks passed and my 70% vegetarian 30% animal protein lifestyle change was quickly modified into more protein than I originally planned. Then a trip to Arkansas came the following week and fortunately there I had no issues stuffing my face with every and any vegetable I could imagine. I am back home and excited to cook some vegetable platters for Christmas and I am even more excited to have at least one salad a day to fill that veggie craving of mine. Overall, I realize how blessed we are here in America and the health issues I have, may have been caused by my lack of wise choices that are readily available. I have also come to realize the amount of junk food options there are in every corner. I am happy to say that these trips were amazing in helping me realize how simple it is to stay healthy if you chose to here in this country so I am even more inspired now to continue this healthy lifestyle change. I am happy to say my step count during my trips was 12K+ every day so at least I stayed active but was also hungry most of the time. Now my goal is to get back to the gym, keep working on lowering my A1c, keep working w/ a nutritionist to ensure my blood panel stays healthy and continue on this veggie journey up ahead! Wishing everyone a Veggie Merry Christmas!