I just returned from a trip to Florida where I visited family, friends and clients. Since people are traveling a lot right now (summer), I get asked about healthy travel tips and how to socialize with people who do not eat or value health like we do. ... and there are some cool photos too…
American Alligator, affectionately known as El Lagarto. These bad boys have been around since the Age of Dinosaurs. Do not mess with El Lagarto.
The wildlife in Florida is truly amazing. My cousin, visiting from New Zealand, shot this while we were boating on Crystal River, near Tampa.
Overall, the people in Florida, like most southern states are pleasant and friendly. But do not assume anything when it comes to Americans and their lack of food/nutrition awareness: plan and shop or you will at the mercy of others who think they know something about health (which they don't).
I do the same thing every time I travel: bring snacks, plan my meals and go shopping once I arrive. This is my favorite bar, it's easy to travel with, and with a piece of fruit (apple, banana, berries), makes the perfect snack:
Socializing & Your Health
We are social animals, so there are a few tips you should know about ... if you want to be healthy, you will have to work a bit harder (intellectual & logistically) than most, as the default position for food in this country is really, really bad.
You don't want to be neurotic or orthorexic, but you will - and should - make more of an effort than most.
Somewhere between these two extremes, you have to draw your own lines: 90/10 Rule at home and 80/20 when traveling. I still don’t drink beer or eat gluten, but when traveling, I will eat out more often & at less than ideal places like chain restaurants (cuz sometimes, that’s all there is). So get clear on making your own rules or you will live according to the rules of others: and guess what they have planned for your health? Not much.
Often, when socializing, when a health topic will come up, most people will pay lip service to it. When in a discussion and you share simple ideas – even when asked – you will inevitably challenge someone’s ideology, food addictions, emotional attachments or habits, and they get defensive. No matter what you do or say or how careful you are, someone will almost always get offended by something you say about food…keep that in mind.
This is the first time in my life I have said this: sometimes it’s best to say nothing.
If you are visiting family or people you don’t see that often, I find it’s better to enjoy the short time together and not argue even when they are blatantly wrong and obnoxious on a topic (think red meat). I have an article on dogma coming out next week and I explain the difference between challenging dogmas & staying quiet: in these social circumstances where you visit once in awhile, & the people likely know nothing & are truly not interested, it’s best to say nothing.
In fact, people will lure you into a conversation just so they can prove or defend their beliefs (as ill informed as they often are). Keep that in mind so you can maintain your sanity when traveling, socializing or visiting old friends & family.
Sometimes, it is better to socialize & not vocalize, than it is to isolate yourself and eat the ‘ideal’ diet or spend your dinner time arguing with people who have never read a book on the topic, but seem hell bent on proving (to themselves mostly) that they are an expert.
This trip I went to Ft Myers and stayed on the beach: I either went out to eat or ate whatever my mom cooked. My mom is well-versed in what foods I eat: meat, eggs, fruits, veggies, coconut oil, butter, water. No hidden secrets or surprises. My mother is awesome and unlike many people of that generation, she can communicate & isn’t afraid to ask questions and has no fear of people who eat/live differently.
Keep that in mind when dealing with people – they often do not know as much as we do, they have been led to believe faulty information and they live life according to popular dogmas & fears that are instilled by the medical industry & society. They will even criticize you, out of fear or in defense of their lifestyle, so…
Do not take anything personally – ever.
Eating out can be healthy & easy, you just have to make the right choices. I don’t want to be neurotic about food, so yes, I go to regular restaurants when traveling.
99% of the meat I buy comes from local, grass fed sources, in NYC, mostly from Grazin’ Angus Acres at the Union Square Farmer’s Market. You can also mail order from US Wellness Meats and have it shipped to your destination.
I typically get red meat (steak, lamb) & seafood more so than chicken. Even though they may not be organic or grass fed when traveling, red meat has a better fatty acid profile than poultry. Lamb can be grass fed though, especially if its New Zealand lamb, which you can often find at restaurants. If I don’t know whether a fish is farmed or wild, I just stick to shellfish. I do not care so much about mercury content like I used to since most fish contain selenium, which binds to the mercury – and the benefits to eating seafood outweigh the risks. http://fishscam.com/fselenium.cfm.
Oysters are a very good source of protein, vitamin D, vitamin B12 & rich in zinc, iron, calcium, copper, manganese, selenium, magnesium, phosphorus.
Clams are a good source of protein, vitamin C, vitamin B12, riboflavin, niacin, potassium, zinc, iron, phosphorus, copper, manganese and selenium.
Mussels are similarly nutrient dense, although I don’t care for the taste so much, but…
Butter makes everything better.
Shellfish are good sources of cholesterol, best eaten raw.
Food & Eating in America
Although real food & sustainable farming are get more media coverage these days, let’s be honest…Eating is not a priority for most people. It is an inconvenience. They really don’t value health or real food, in fact, many people can’t even define ‘real food’. Yes, Americans occasionally talk about what they heard on the news or what their doctor mentioned, but most Americans, not just Floridians, are clueless.
They skip meals often, many are drinking soda and ice tea throughout the day and their primary meals consist of cereal and sandwiches. When they do go out to eat, they don’t make the best choices.
Eating out – outside of NYC – I’ve found the amount of food served is typically massive. Nicer places have smaller, closer to what I’d consider normal, amounts of food. In NYC, some of the more upscale places have portions that are just way too small. I usually like to eat a lot of food and I enjoy going out to eat, but these chain restaurants that can be found all over Florida are straight up wasteful. This culture is one of excess and waste.
If people would slow down and be present with their meals, they would reach satiety sooner than when fully distracted from their food, engaged in conversations at a loud, busy restaurant; meaning, they wouldn’t need the massive portions. Try it, slow down and be quiet and chew your food thoroughly. Not only will you enjoy it more, but you may find you reach a point of satiety sooner.
When I got to Miami, I went to Publix grocery store to load up on supplies. This place was humongous…except for the tiny area that had food. The produce isle was small, really small. So I got the best of the best:
I typically eat more fruit during the summer. Since I grew up in Miami and traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean, I was exposed to tropical fruits all the time and I love it. Just to be clear – I have never advocated a low carb diet as a panacea for all – and this juicy deliciousness is the primary reason why. I still hold that PEOPLE REQUIRE DIFFERENT DIETS. Some tolerate carbs better than others, some do better on more protein than others and saturated fat rules for all people.
I do, however, recommend the no crap carb diet.
The more fruit I eat, the less I crave sweets.
I eat a lot of Pineapple which is an excellent source of vitamin C & manganese and a good source of thiamin & vitamin B6. And Papaya, which is a good source of potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C and folate.
Most pineapple & papaya is GMO, so I do make an effort to get these organic.
I often (almost everyday when home) have a shake with coconut milk, one or two fruits (banana, strawberries, blueberries, papaya, mango), 4 egg yolks, vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom and sometimes gelatin.
But what was frightening, is the endless isles of packaged stuff, I wouldn’t call ‘food’.
When you see all this stuff everywhere you go, you may thing it’s normal, but it is not.
To be fair, my good friend Jaime Rogers of Doxa Design Firm in Tampa, did mention that not all Publix grocery stores are like this Warehouse of Inflammation. And I have been to Whole Foods in Tampa and Miami Beach, which are HUGE and pretty awesome, so don’t get the wrong impression.
If you want to learn about the dark side of grocery stores, a $500 billion money machine, check out Supermarkets Inc.
And if you haven’t yet, make sure to check out these documentaries as well:
The Future of Food
Fitness & Nutrition Expertise in Miami
I had dinner (grass fed lamb, asparagus) with clients who used to live in NYC; Lily just had her first baby at 38 with no IVF, no drugs or complications. Part of the reason I take a strong stance AGAINST cardio, dieting and extreme exercise (like metabolic conditioning, Boot Camps, Crossfit, etc) is that these workouts are not conducive for fertility in a female population with a history of dieting or chronic stress (read: most American females).
When Lily moved to Miami, I introduced them to my friend & wellness coach Ruben Serrano. Ruben is a nutritionist, strength coach, massage therapist from WorkoutMaster. WorkoutMaster has over 200 fitness & nutrition videos at their website, check it out.
I hung out with Ruben & Aram one night in a trendy Miami hotspot, Time Cafe. I gotta say, the cheese factor in Miami is deep. It’s like Jersey Shore, just not as tacky. If you are in the Miami area, these guys are a lot of fun & two of the best fitness/nutrition & golf conditioning coaches in south Florida.
Getting Old, Dysfunctional & Diseased
No, it is NOT normal or inevitable to age painfully and diseased – it is common, but not normal, nor necessary for most. This seems to be the accepted attitude when you are surrounded by overweight/obese, sick, decaying & dying people.
Have you noticed how many people you know are taking pharmaceuticals for something that is preventable and/or reversible, yet have been led to believe it’s a normal part of life/aging and are AFRAID TO QUESTION AUTHORITY?
Have you seen the commercials that say ‘when diet & exercise are not enough…’ ???
Statins are the world’s most prescribed class of medication. Anywhere between 11 and 30 million Americans take statins (cholesterol lowering meds). Statins generated $34 billion in sales last year and have raked in a quarter of a trillion dollars since they were introduced two decades ago.
To learn more about the dangers of statins, go here:
It seems everywhere you go, the freakin’ TV is on; what’s up with that? In homes, restaurants, bars, gyms, gas stations and airports. It seems like you can’t escape it in Florida – which sucks. There are many consequences to this; when you hear/see garbage food advertisements (even when you are not paying attention), you will think nothing unusual of creepy grocery stores, fast food places, violence in society or the fact that most people are sick, on meds & decaying slowly.
This is part of the reason why Americans are so sick & addicted to a self-destructive diet & lifestyle of convenience: TV. We are bombarded from every angle, at every moment with scientifically designed super-stimuli that few humans can resist. And if you have kids, and care about their health, you have your work cut out for you…
Children often recognize the McDonald’s logo before they recognize their own name.
McDonald’s web-based marketing starts with children as young as 2 at Ronald.com.
American children now get about one quarter of their total vegetable servings in the form of potato chips and French fries.
The typical teenage boy in the United States now gets about 10% of his daily calories from soda.
This year Americans will spend over $110 billion on fast food – more than they’ll spend on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos, and recorded music combined.
The rate of obesity among American children has doubled since the late 1970s.
Children and adolescents viewed more ads for fast foods than for any other food category.
The average U.S. child viewed 2.9 TV ads for fast food every day; adolescents viewed 4.1 per day.
These marketing efforts begin as early as preschool: 66% of child-targeted advertising during preschool programming promoted fast food restaurants.
I love the beach. I went to South Beach with my dad and 13 yr old nephew; I grew up on South Beach and it brought back a lot of nice memories, except these days, South Beach is topless :-)
I do not slather on sun block before I go outside like many do…I wear clothing & hats as my first layer of protection. I bring (or rent) an umbrella, and most times I also bring some food, a good book and I chill.
I use a high quality organic or mostly natural sunscreen product. When I go surfing in Costa Rica, I will get the hardcore commercial stuff as I am out in the blazing sun (that’s closer to the earth the closer one is to the equator) for upto 5 hours at a stretch. To learn more about the dangers of commercial suncreens and which brands are safest, go here: http://breakingnews.ewg.org/2011sunscreen/all-sunscreens/
Conclusion (explicit language)
Overall, staying healthy -whether at home or away – requires a little more thoughtfulness and a little less television. But whatever lines you draw for your 80/20 and 90/10 Rules, don’t sweat it. It just takes a little planning and knowing some strategies for dealing with people who don’t eat & live like we do.
Don’t take anything personally and love your family, no matter what kind of crazy sh*t they (or their neighbors) believe. You will only be there for a moment and then your back home surrounded by people who share similar values.
When you go to a restaurant and the server is a jack ass who has no idea what gluten is, be polite and patient.
Remember that most people are clueless, and that is not an excuse to judge them. It is a reminder to know the truth about the big picture: the food industry doesn’t give a sh*t about your health and especially that of your children. These foods are scientifically designed to be addictive and the propaganda starts at an age when humans are vulnerable and parents are too distracted by bullsh*t to notice or care.
And no, the US government will not save you – the policies are driven by the corporations that control them. And no, childhood obesity disappear.
You and your kids will never get healthy until you learn to cook for yourself, plan in advance and have some sort of education in this area.
Yes, people will think you are crazy if you eat like this, and that’s just how it is. So don’t sweat it.
I have an article coming out on dogma where I not only reveal some popular dogmas in nutrition, exercise & medicine, but I explain the when’s & why’s of SPEAKING OUT and challenging dogmas.
I would love to hear your feedback in the comments below – how do you deal with friends , family or social situations where you care about food and others do not get it.
Fast Food F.A.C.T.S. (Food Advertising to Children and Teens Score) Fastfoodmarketing.org