Hi all, I leave for the Peace Corps in June 2013 and know that I will be in Sub Saharan Africa. It is most likely that I will be in West Africa (Ghana, Sierra Leone, or Burkina Faso). I will find out the exact country in a month or so and will be able to start thinking about this in more detail then. In the mean time though, I have started to think about food and exercise options to me while I am there.
To anyone who currently lives in west Africa or has in the past, do you have any advice about food options? I am very sensitive to gluten (When I cheat the result is diarrhea and intense nausea) so this really cannot be a daily part of my diet. I am not opposed to eating grains while I am there since this experience would be worth a couple years of an imperfect diet to me. Any advice on foods to eat and avoid? Also advice on exercise options is appreciated. My body does really really well on cardio so incorporating it a few times a week would be helpful. I am not sure if running is culturally appropriate or not and if it is appropriate, what clothing would be required? I know that women in general wear long skirts and shorts would definitely not be an option. Thanks!
asked byBritt_2 (436)
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on January 05, 2013
at 07:48 PM
I live in Cameroon now and have lived in Africa since 2006 (Cameroon, DRC, Namibia). I run in regular running clothes just like everywhere (though I've never been one to run in only a sports bra anywhere). I eat totally Paleo and find it much, much easier in Africa than in the West. In fact, Paleo should be much easier to do than trying to be vegetarian or vegan. Meat, chicken, fish, eggs, vegetables and fruit are the standard diet. West Africans do tend to fill up on starch which can mean "fufu" (which is usually made from corn or cassava and should be avoided) but also yams, sweet potatoes, and cassava/manioc. But you don't need to eat it as much as they do. A couple of tricky things will be a) peanuts (called ground nuts) -- they are often inside traditional dishes or sauces; b) industrial seed oils -- although red palm oil (good) is traditional, many people now cook with highly refined palm oil (not good) or "vegetable"/soy/sunflower oil (not good). When you cook for yourself you can avoid this, but you should basically assume anything cooked by others uses these and try to lower Omega-6 consumption elsewhere. The good news is that local meat is HIGHLY likely to be totally grassfed and there are a lot of choices (beef, goat, "bush" meat) and even chicken in a village will be free range (though maybe not in a town).
on February 01, 2013
at 05:59 PM
Moi moi (which some refer to as bean pudding) will probably be your best friend. I'm not a GF expert but I understand that black eye pea is GF free so you can enjoy lots of good moi moi while you're there. Have fun and don't advertise your specific arrival dates or where you'll be staying (just for safety). I'm not too sure about the other countries but if you're posted to Ghana, they'll have lots of rice based meals (jollof rice, fried rice, rice and stew, rice balls with peanut soup, etc). you'll most likely be placed in a hotel so once you get in, you can ask for their menu and either ask them what's in each meal or post the meals here and I'll be glad to break down the ingredients for you. If you'll be doing your own cooking, then the point is moot. Hope this helps