07 Feb How expatriation has changed my diet:
Before going to Australia in 2015, I learned about Australian eating habits, and I quickly realised that their food standards were not the same as in France and that I would have to pay attention to what I was going to eat because I didn’t want to put on weight during my stay. Between burgers and fish and chips it is sometimes difficult to keep a healthy and balanced diet.
My first year in Brisbane, my main concern was to stay healthy and slim. So I paid attention to what I ate, I avoided fast food chains, and especially I kept the habit of eating a proper lunch and a light dinner. Australians do the opposite. They do not take the time to eat lunch, it’s usually a quick snack, but then they tend to eat a lot for dinner and particularly a lot of red meat.
I was quite happy after this first year because I did not put on weight. On the other hand, I started having really bad headaches and migraines that I did not use to have when I was in France. Being on the pill I thought it was a side effect. I did not really worry.
Last year with Julien we started to inform ourselves about how we could reduce our impact on the environment and how we could do our bit to fight against global warming but also how to be healthier. It was after watching a very interesting but alarming documentary that we discovered that we could combine both by reducing our read meat consumption. It is also a way to refuse participating in the way animals are so poorly treated in slaughterhouses. We started by reducing our consumption of red meat to once a week. We also stopped drinking cow’s milk to consume only soy or almond milk, and we also reduced our consumption of cheese. I won’t lie to you, it was not easy. Julien and I used to love eating a good steak from time to time.
Living far from our families and friends, it was easy to set up this new way of living though and without having to answer too many questions. Our friends in Australia are pretty relaxed, they never asked us too many questions about why we decided to change. It was another story when we came back to France for three weeks last year. We were so happy to see our families and friends and we didn’t want to bother them with our new eating habits so we did at times, eat some meat and cheese. It was so good to enjoy some really yummy french meals. So we ended up eating red meat and cheese more than we were expected. We were in France for three weeks, so we wanted to make the most of our trip.
The breaking point:
There was a side effect to this yoyo balance and it had bad effects on my body and my well-being. My body had started to get used to a new eating routine with less fat and less chemicals before I stopped and ignored my body for three weeks. When we came back to Australia I did not feel good about myself, my migraines were back, and I was very often bloated.
For me, being a vegetarian is not just about not eating meat, it’s a way of living. The ideas behind are the following: standing up for animals and refusing to participate in the terrible way they are treated and killed, reducing global warming but also reducing our absorption of hormones that our body does not need. I only realise now that my migraines were surely coming from my diet. I remember last year I talked to one of my friends about the way I was feeling and I had to do something because I felt that my body could not stand these extra hormones. I learned that it is important to listen to my body when it gives me big warnings like this.
It was at the end of the year that my body reacted and forced me to make a decision I had troubles making. I woke up one morning with horrible itchiness on my legs and arms. For more than three weeks I scratched my body, it was unbearable. I then understood that the food yoyo I had inflicted on my body between September and December had been the last straw that broke the camel’s back for my body. I now have to eat a balanced diet without red meat. I have not eaten red meat for more than two months now, and everything is back to normal. It is still a little early to see the effect on my migraines, but let’s stay positive I have not had one in two months, just headaches.
What I started to do slowly but surely last year is now a part of my everyday life such as: the cleaning products that I use to clean up the apartment, the products I apply on my face and body, and what we eat with Julien. To give you an example, before when I had migraines I used to take a tablet to relieve the pain, now I use essential oils. To clean up the apartment I use natural disinfectants and white vinegar. For food, I have completely banned red meat, I still eat chicken from time to time, fish and a lot of vegetables. We pay close attention to the quality of the products we buy too. We are still in the process of learning with Julien, but we are happy with the changes we have already made in our lives.
Now, even when we are invited to someone’s, I am no longer afraid to say that I do not eat red meat anymore, and that I am gradually becoming vegetarian. I will no longer impose on my body, food that does not suit me!
I am curious to know what you thought of this article but especially if expatriation has also changed your diet and how.
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