Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Eating Well in Dominican Republic

I recently had the good fortune to visit the Dominican Republic for a full week. I stayed at a beautiful resort, and figured I'd return home fat and happy. Wrong!!! The restaurant at the resort was up several flights of stairs, plus there was a two flight climb to my room, so I spent lots of time climbing. Plus, the food choices always had many vegetables to choose from. Finally, the meat dishes were simple, with little in the way of sauces, but lots of flavor - again from a variety of vegetables. I had no idea that I'd be eating so healthy for my vacation week. And, it was tasty!

Here's a little of what I learned. First off, choices. The variety of choices was always bountiful - but all the choices were healthy. For example, lunch choices might include two soups, one a vegetable soup and the other a fish or chicken and vegetable soup. Other choices would be several kinds of salads. Final choices would include broiled fish kebabs or meat and vegetable kabobs. Desserts? None on the menu. There was a small stash of cookies on the bar, but cookies in the Republica Dominicana don't have nearly as much sugar as those in the US, and they are smaller by far.

So, point number one. Limit the choices for meals and for snacks.
Second, include large amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables. Fruits were available as cut fresh fruit mixtures, single pieces of fruit, or single kinds of fruit cut up and served in a bowl. All of the fruits were just fruit - no sugar, no toppings, no cream - just fruit. Fresh fruit, very fresh, and very delicious. Vegetables were available as mixed vegetables or single kinds of vegetables. Most of them were very lightly cooked. They were cooked long enough to set the color, but not so long that they were soft. If a sauce was used at all, it was usually just the vegetable broth used for cooking, lightly seasoned. Fresh vegetables, lightly cooked, with little or no sauces, and again, very delicious.

So, point number two. Use very fresh fruits and vegetables to capitalize on their fresh tastes.

Finally, the meat and fish dishes included generous amounts of flavorful veggies. For example, fish kabobs included pieces of vegetables between each piece of fish. Slices of meats were generally thin, perhaps 3 or 4 ounces, with large sides of vegetables, baked or broiled with minimal amounts of oil.

Point number three. Include sides of vegetables cooked with small amounts of healthful oils.

One more important point. All of those stairs! I pride myself on being in good shape. But, the first couple of days! Oy!!! My calves ached after the third time I'd have to climb those stairs. By the end of the week, I was skipping up them. So - final point. Exercise. It's important!

These are ways to eat that I'd like to follow every day. Do I? No, but I try. And, in my favor I do follow these ways more often than not - perhaps 80% of the time. The local residents I saw in DR who worked, ate, and constantly climbed the stairs at the resort shared several characteristics. They all had clear, healthy looking skin and they all were height/weight proportionate. All those healthy foods and exercise work for them. I hope I'll bring some of the lessons home and put them to regular use!

1 comment:

Liz said...

Well, my mouth is watering at those pictures, that's for sure. I've successfully gone on many vacations and not come home fat and happy. I am fighting 10 pounds right now, but it's my own stupidity. Just need to make better choices, as you say. I need to remember my own dedication to healthy eating, which is pretty strong. I just like a glass of wine at dinner too much... Take a look at "The Perfect Formula Diet,"which is an eating plan based on 6 kinds of whole foods. You rotate the whole foods to work with your body -- and b/c you work with your body the plan is easy and natural to follow. And most people who try a plant-based food plan love it.

There's also lots about nutrition, and studies, and includes the best of the best nutrition research.