Do I avoid the nitrites or sugar?

Asked on March 09, 2015
Created March 01, 2015 at 12:18 PM


I live in Okinawa (military) and I'm struggling to find food at the stores that are paleo.  However, today I came across Chorizo that has no sugar, but has nitrites.  I am actually starting to notice more food that has either sugar or nitrites.  My choices of finding food without either are slim. Which of the two evils should I avoid the most?


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3 Answers



on March 06, 2015
at 12:28 AM

I grew up on Okinawa.I remember that we were warned against eating "on the economy" (this was the 60's) but that should not be such a problem now. And we did anyway, and didn't die ;o).

As Raydawg says, buying raw and cooking yourself will always be the best choice. There should be an abundance of fresh fish and seafood--is it affordable for an American? What a shame it would be to eat canned fish on a tropical island surrounded by the most incredible fresh fish and seafood! Vegetables should be readily available, too (I dare you to try goya--bittermelon). And sea vegetables. Pork, chicken, and eggs should be easily found as well. And you should be able to get any "American" meat or veggies at the military commissary, though probably not grassfed or organic.

I see there are tons of American restaurant chains on the island now.?? When we left in 1970, there was one A& W on the entire island--that was it for American style chain restaurants in 1970 (not recommending that, just commenting).

If you eat out, ask them to prepare your food without "Ajinomoto"--it's pure MSG. The soy sauce there should be the real thing, at least. Fermented and no wheat, but it is soy. Kikkoman is the brand I remember.

These local foods may be a bit outside your comfort zone if you are new to the island. If you can possibly find a friend or co-worker to show you the ropes of local foods, you'll have a much richer experience while you are there.



on March 06, 2015
at 12:29 AM

I don't know where all those question marks came from!  What gives?

Medium avatar


on March 06, 2015
at 04:08 PM

The rawer the better. Since fresh meats are at an uber premium I'd forego ketosis for purple sweet potatoes, napa and bok choy cooked with lots of lard and bacon.



on March 01, 2015
at 03:41 PM

Depends on your goals and needs.  If you're trying for a low carb diet, avoiding the sugar is a great idea.  (Even if you aren't, sucrose is best avoided due to the insulin rise from glucose and the detox steps the liver has to do to dispose of fructose).  You're better off eating fruits and safe starches instead, as they're self limiting, where as things like juice, soda, etc. do not satiate and will tend to get you to consume far beyond what you'd need.


Nitrates aren't necessarily bad or hamful to us, there's a lot of nitrates in our saliva as well as many veggies such as celery.  In fact, the food industry is fond of advertising "Nitrate Free*" foods with the asterisk legend in fine print saying "except for naturally occuring nitrates from cellery."  I'm not so much pointing out that nitrates are bad, they aren't, but rather that the food industry will lie to you every chance it gets and in every possible imaginitve way: they still get to use them as preservatives, and at the same time, fool you by falsely, but legally, advertising no nitrates. 


They do the same thing with MSG - instead of MSG, they use other stuff like yeast extracts or better worded "vegetable extract" or "hydrolyzed vegetable protein", which surprise, surprise, are high in MSG.


In terms of preserved meats, the sugar is there in large amounts to prevent moisture from spoilling the cured meats.  It's really hard to make something like jerky without it.  If you make yourself at home, you'll find it only lasts about a week before it goes bad unless you store it in the fridge, and even then, if you do, it will absorb moisture and go bad a while after.


The best thing you can do, when you can, is to buy the raw ingredients yourslef and cook your own meals.  This is certainly very difficult in your situation, but perhaps instead you could find local restaurants that cook in traditional ways, and you can avoid some of the objectionable ingredients.


Any chance you could switch to canned fish in water?

Medium avatar


on March 09, 2015
at 03:06 AM

Okinawa is a great place to be if youre trying to live a healthy life.??

Okinawans are huge on pork - you can find a huge array of pork dishes at any restaurant, including mimiga (ears) ??and pig feet. Fish is a daily thing. Its hard to live in Japan and avoid rice, but Okinawans also eat a lot of sweet potato. They have a deep purple variety that is extra-sextra-sweet and delicious! If youre a fan of pickled veggies, try Daikon (pickled radish) or Umeboshi (pickled sour plum).??

They eat a ton of vegetables as well. If you get the chance to try a dish called Goya Chanpuru, its a local favorite made of eggs and chopped goya melon. Its supposed to be one of those foods that will add years to your life every time you eat it :)

Soy is one of the non-paleo items that is hard to avoid there. They eat a lot of tofu, and soy sauce is in everything. I think that will be your biggest challenge.

Despite their high carbohydrate and soy intake, Okinawans frequently live past 100 years of age, and most of them are still running, gardening, and climbing trees. If you succumb to the Standard Okinawan Diet, it wont have anywhere near the same repercussions as the Standard American Diet.

edit: Chorizo is a mexican food, is it not? Your best bet for being healthy is to eat according to local tradition while youre there.

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