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Study Abroad and Paleo

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 01, 2013 at 5:35 PM

In exactly two weeks I'll be boarding a plane for Spain, the land of serrano ham (win!). I'm going on study abroad for about five months, staying in Seville. Of course I plan on keeping up with paleo for the duration of my stay and I'm pretty familiar with Spanish food so I know there are things that I CAN eat. I'm staying with a host family though, so I won't have total control over what I'm eating. I'm more concerned with being polite and a good guest, yet not eating something that is detrimental to my health, as I cannot tolerate legumes of any kind or wheat. Both dairy and rice are fine.

Are there any PaleoHackers out there who have managed to keep up their eating while on study abroad? I'm hoping to pick your brains a bit ;). Also, anyone ever been to Spain? I've wanted to go since I was about fourteen. I've love to hear your insights as well, paleo or otherwise.

Cbda678b2a6bf0537d8c4ea0ce8aa9ad

(4319)

on January 02, 2013
at 06:59 AM

I googled it and came up with this: https://www.google.com/search?num=20&hl=en&safe=off&tbo=d&site=webhp&source=hp&q=watch+flamenco+in+sevilla&oq=watch+flamenco+in+sevilla&gs_l=hp.3..0i13i30.1866.7462.0.7625.25.20.0.5.5.0.163.2458.1j19.20.0.les%3B..0.0...1c.1.z-f3MNcO95A However, I would simply ask my hosts to direct me to a non-touristy flamenco "club".

C4ed6ba382aed2eefc18e7877999a5de

(1579)

on January 02, 2013
at 03:03 AM

I'm going to New Zealand! Looking forward to some grass-fed lamb :) I'll be in an apartment cooking for myself so I'll have a bit more control over what I eat. Yay for studying abroad; it's so exciting!

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on January 02, 2013
at 12:51 AM

I cannot imagine my study abroad experience in Belgium without my daily pint at the pub, midnight fry shop runs, and sugar waffles before and after classes. Hell, if I made it back, I'd be gorging on all 3!

50a12c595436b7620224676a2ae4acb9

(128)

on January 01, 2013
at 11:52 PM

Koren moms sound a lot like Italian moms!This is very good advice; I just need to take a deep breath and see what happens first. I guess I just wanted it both ways. The food is actually what I'm most excited for, seems a little hard to believe from my original post haha, but I've had tapas here in the US and I'm just itching for the real deal.

50a12c595436b7620224676a2ae4acb9

(128)

on January 01, 2013
at 11:12 PM

Hi Eric, thanks for responding! I guess that question was a little vague sorry. I've heard that about you Andalusians and your hospitality, good to know. Actually, I really love to cook so I was hoping to do some while I'm there, food shopping included. I'm assuming "gluten-free" isn't as visible and trendy in Spain as the US. but I don't consume too many gluten alternatives anyway. I do have one specific question. It's about flamenco. I've been dancing it for about five years and was wondering if you knew anywhere to catch a good live show?

50a12c595436b7620224676a2ae4acb9

(128)

on January 01, 2013
at 10:55 PM

Matt, I do believe you are right. I'm not super strict paleo to begin with (see rice and dairy), but I wanted to maintain at least some of my eating habits while I'm abroad. And that being said, I'm looking forward to the food "experiences", namely the hot chocolate and the real serrano. Blur, that's very exciting! Where are you going?

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on January 01, 2013
at 07:03 PM

As someone who has spent a lot of time overseas & with other cultures, it is NEVER a good idea to try to please your host family at the expense of your health. They would be appalled to learn that you were sick because of something they fed you.

C4ed6ba382aed2eefc18e7877999a5de

(1579)

on January 01, 2013
at 06:04 PM

I'm curious about this answer as well, since I'm studying abroad next semester as well! Do make it clear with your hosts that you can't tolerate wheat and legumes, and I'm sure they'll be accomodating!

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on January 01, 2013
at 05:59 PM

I have a feeling paleo requirements would wear out your welcome pretty fast. I always cringe when folks start diminishing experiences to fit in a silly diet framework.

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3 Answers

2
Cbda678b2a6bf0537d8c4ea0ce8aa9ad

(4319)

on January 01, 2013
at 06:42 PM

I live in Spain, in the Sierra about 125km from Sevilla. I would respond to any direct questions you may have. Just asking for insights leaves me tongue tied, or keyboard tied. Don't know what to say exactly. I could possibly give you some tips about food shopping, if you will be shopping, I don't know.

As you're living with others as a guest, i reckon all you would have to do would be make your "alergies" known to your host family. Spanish people [ read: Andalusian :) ] are generally very hospitable.

Cbda678b2a6bf0537d8c4ea0ce8aa9ad

(4319)

on January 02, 2013
at 06:59 AM

I googled it and came up with this: https://www.google.com/search?num=20&hl=en&safe=off&tbo=d&site=webhp&source=hp&q=watch+flamenco+in+sevilla&oq=watch+flamenco+in+sevilla&gs_l=hp.3..0i13i30.1866.7462.0.7625.25.20.0.5.5.0.163.2458.1j19.20.0.les%3B..0.0...1c.1.z-f3MNcO95A However, I would simply ask my hosts to direct me to a non-touristy flamenco "club".

50a12c595436b7620224676a2ae4acb9

(128)

on January 01, 2013
at 11:12 PM

Hi Eric, thanks for responding! I guess that question was a little vague sorry. I've heard that about you Andalusians and your hospitality, good to know. Actually, I really love to cook so I was hoping to do some while I'm there, food shopping included. I'm assuming "gluten-free" isn't as visible and trendy in Spain as the US. but I don't consume too many gluten alternatives anyway. I do have one specific question. It's about flamenco. I've been dancing it for about five years and was wondering if you knew anywhere to catch a good live show?

1
32be195157f00ad15a933b8bb333dcc4

(379)

on January 01, 2013
at 06:53 PM

I spent a month in France with my high school French class. A week or so of that was with a host family. I would say try your best to avoid eating things you are sensitive to and aren't paleo, but don't do it at the expense of experiences and upsetting your hosts. I turned down a lovely tomato salad (I used to hate tomatoes, how things change) and it really disappointed my host mother. I would rather spend a few days feeling a little off than see her face like that again. I felt really bad after that. They will want to share their culture, which will include a lot of food related experiences. I would say the best way to approach it is to try to explain your allergies, try everything but focus on loading up on the fresh veggies and fruits they are sure to have. Good luck, have a great trip!

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on January 01, 2013
at 07:03 PM

As someone who has spent a lot of time overseas & with other cultures, it is NEVER a good idea to try to please your host family at the expense of your health. They would be appalled to learn that you were sick because of something they fed you.

0
42cd0feeeda5fa2e2fe1c4fd8255073a

on January 01, 2013
at 11:19 PM

I spent 3 months in Korea living in a homestay a couple years back. Whilst I wasn't eating paleo at this time, I still ate pretty 'clean'. When I first arrived, my host mum thought she'd try and make me feel welcome by preparing a cream cheese bagel for me. haha... little did she know I've eaten probably 1 bagel in my life. But I sucked it up and ate it since I don't react to gluten but if you are gluten intolerant, be sure to let them know prior to your arrival so they can make the appropriate preparations. I'm sure they'll understand when your health is of concern. Mention any other 'allergies' you might have as well.

I was very lucky though as I love Korean food and it was so darn good. I've never really enjoyed rice but my host mum was so hospitable and was happy to see me enjoy other dishes she prepared that I gulped down with much gratitude. So I would simply fill up on all the other delicious foods that I did love and made a point to always compliment her on those and the fact I never finished my rice bowl never seemed to be a problem. Koreans are so hospitable that they want you to just keep eating and eating until you explode so you have to insist about 3 times that you are full and cannot possibily fit anything else in but that's all part of their culture and totally normal. So whilst things may feel weird to start with, just observe what everyone else does and take that on board. Things will start to normalise after a couple weeks and you'll feel more comfortable politely declining something if you are full or do not wish to eat it.

It's unrealistic to expect to be able to maintain the same lifestyle and eating patterns as you do at home when you are in a homestay situation as you would loose out on the whole experience. But you'd be surprised that you can still maintain a fairly paleo diet without trying that hard. Apply the 80/20 rule here.

As a side note, the Spanish for one eat at what I consider to be ridiculous times of the day. But that's a culture difference there. It's not uncommon to eat breakfast as lunch, lunch as dinner and dinner at midnight. Don't be surprised if a business decides to close for a siesta at random times. Family is a big part of Spanish culture too and my oh my... the tapas! I'm sure you'll have fun exploring what's on offer in this regard and don't worry, there's always plenty of paleo options!!

We are humans, so we can adapt. Be open to the new experience, show your gratitude, be courteous, and I'm sure you'll have a fantastic time. ENJOY! :)

50a12c595436b7620224676a2ae4acb9

(128)

on January 01, 2013
at 11:52 PM

Koren moms sound a lot like Italian moms!This is very good advice; I just need to take a deep breath and see what happens first. I guess I just wanted it both ways. The food is actually what I'm most excited for, seems a little hard to believe from my original post haha, but I've had tapas here in the US and I'm just itching for the real deal.

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