exploring, examining, exchanging, expressing
Monday, April 02, 2007
Need to Feed

I've given myself a month of freedom to try a variety Costa Rica's food and beverages. It's been fun sampling the new tastes, but a bit scary watching the scale climb. Now it's time to get my nutrition in order.

So I have a decision to make. As part of this experience, do I go with the Tico way of eating? Or do I stick with a plan that I know will keep my physique in check?

Some of you may not know that last year I lost a lot of fat. I have more to lose in order to get a beach-worthy body. I've always had a problem with my weight. So the issue of nutrition is important to me. In the months before I came to Costa Rica, in particular, I had been experimenting with diets to keep my blood sugar under control. They worked very well. But they relied on abundant healthy fats and proteins. That flew out the window when I arrived here, the land of a dozen bread stores for every one butcher.

On one hand, it seems right that I should eat as the locals do. It would make life easier. Rice and beans are cheap and plentiful. They would certainly stretch my food dollars. I could continue to take advantage of the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables here. And I wouldn't have to explain to everyone: "Estoy en una dieta especial."

On the other hand, I feel like my health should be a priority. There were some days last month when I felt like I was starving only a few hours after a meal. I know that was because of fluctuations in my blood sugar. I never felt that way when I ate more protein/fat meals. But meat and healthy fats are expensive here. Some foods are outright impossible to find. It would mean a lot more trips to the Hipermas. And it would mean awkward social situations.
I thought I could look at the people around me and get a feel for what the typical diet yields, but that hasn't been very helpful. There are plenty of fat Ticos and there are plenty of thin Ticos. I know they're not all living off rice and beans. I see too many KFCs and Pizza Huts around. So much for easy answers.

For simplicity (of both shopping and socializing) and economy, I am leaning towards a "traditional" Costa Rican diet. It will require more vigilance to keep it healthy. For instance, I should probably limit or eliminate the natilla and queso that I've enjoyed with breakfasts here. More veggies and less bread might be a good idea. Whole grain breads and brown rice, unfortunately are not an option. Fruit will be a treat. Meat will be a rarity, served in small portions when available. I'll practically be a vegetarian, quite a nutritional turnaround from what I was doing back home. But it's worth a shot.