I am not sure how many of my readings will be America, but for all of you who are, how freaking excited were you to come here and realize you can get avocado on EVERYTHING for no extra charge! (In your face Chipotle) Coming to Israel as a complete newbie and a complete food addict, I was like a pig in a playpen walking down the streets of Tel Aviv.
Eatmeat, Vintrina, Burakas, Falafel Gabbay, Tamara but not to mention; beer, beer, beer.
How can we it be expected to live in walking distance to many of the best restaurants I have ever ate at and still manage to look good in a bikini? Now I have always been a pretty healthy eater, but what I quickly learned here is how healthy food does not mean weight loss food. In the states, we are limited to eating fresh avocado and fresh hummus. Typically when we do, we do not feel guilty because we learn avocados are filled with more potassium than a banana, high in monounsaturated oleic acid which reduces inflammation, packed with a ton of fiber and can lower cholesterol. Hummus is a winning combination of fats, protein and carbs that will keep you full for long periods of time, with vitamins and minerals, we often hear it being used in many food prep and clean eating meals.
But still, those are the healthier of the examples at what I was told is healthy. If I could count how many times I was told that Bamba (the peanut cheese doodle looking snack) was healthy I could scream. Bamba is about 50% peanuts but still 50% crap. And my favorite "Drink Arak, it's good for you". I will admit I have tried, truly tried to become full Israeli and love Arak. I have even tried to use Arak's magical powers by letting a co-worker rub it on my belly to rid myself of cramps (thanks Korry), as well as using it for a tooth ache. Here is my advice- NO, NO AND NO. Unless you are the 1% of the population who likes black licorish, just don't.
But back to the healthy eating.
Three months after moving to Tel Aviv, I googled "can your legs get bloated from PMS?" All of a sudden I was experiencing chub rub like a mother and in 110 degree heat, that was the last thing I needed to worry about. I remember thinking that I couldn't be gaining weight because I went from driving my car down the block to walking miles in the heat to make somewhere in this city. Turns out I gained over 5 pounds my first summer. For a girl who is 5'2, it showed everywhere.
I found trying to diet here much harder than in the states. It was impossible to read labels and even what I could manage, I couldn't convert to the measurements I was use to reading. I bought less packaged good which also did not help me because how the hell am I suppose to know what 3 grams of strawberries are. Even those healthy juice and fruit stands at every corner can get you. Fruit, although healthy, are loaded with carbs and sugar.
What I wish I knew then:
Buy as fresh as possible. It was easy here to buy fresh rather than frozen, since the prices are insanely expensive for frozen food. Canned food is cheap but in the end, spending the few extra shekels on fresh food is still cheaper than having to buy new jeans.
Soak organic beans and lentils over night, cook them and freeze them so they are ready to go.
Hummus does not always need to be ate with Pita. Try with slices of white onion- you will be surprised.
Cava, although still has a ton of sugar, actually has less carbs than wine.
Portions are BIG here. Meals are normally double the serving your body needs. Wrap up half and eat it later.
Add some greens into your smoothies. Spinach and kale give little flavor to smoothies but can make the nutrition sky rocket compared to only eating fruits.
Stay away from the Juchnun. I'm sorry Juchnun lovers, but this is the absolute worst meal for you. Save it for a birthday or a real celebration.
... also Burakas (I'm sorry!)
Super co-fix is truly a life savior for eating healthy on a budget!