Undernourished in Honduras
My thumbnails are becoming textured with slight waves and ridges, I have gone for weeks on end without an adequate amount of vegetables or fruit – I feel tired, slightly weak, and prone to illness. I think that I am becoming undernourished in Central America. I need to begin frequenting the markets, rather than restaurants, to satiate my nutritional needs.
In travel, it is very easy to come by dishes that boast high protein, carbohydrates, and sugars, but outside of the southern Asian triangle, I have found that it takes a little effort to come by a day’s dose of plant food. I know that if I only eat in restaurants in many regions of the world that I could go for weeks without a good, properly cooked serving of vegetables, and, as far as fruits go, the only ones that I will consume will be the slices of lime placed upon my plate for appearance’s sake. This is not enough fruit and vegetable batter to keep a wanderer moving on. I want my five fruits and vegetables a day, just like I had when I was a kid raiding my mother’s vegetable garden.
I know that to become undernourished on the Road is to open myself up to an entire host of illnesses and annoyances that do not really want to face. I want to be alert, chipper, and ever ready to walk up any mountain or down any road. To stay healthy, I need to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. I think that I sometimes overlook fruits and vegetables as a part of my dietary needs, and, I must admit, that I put a lot more emphasis on protein and carbs. A day without meat or rice would definitely be noticed, while a day without a significant amount of vegetables could pass on without detection for weeks. I lament the fact that I seem to take fruits and vegetable for granted. A bowl of rice fills my belly, and, all too often, this is my main priority. I eat vegetables for snacks, not meals. I need to find the impetus to snack more often.
This is not a problem really, as fruits and vegetables are sold in the markets of most countries in abundance and for a pittance. But to seek out a market sometimes takes a little planning. All too often I have walked through a market just taking photos and amusing myself with the various curiosities that spring out of every stall. Sometimes it takes a jolt to become a participant rather than just an observer. I know that I should pick up a bag of carrots, a bundle of bananas, and a few oranges at each market that I walk through. I think I will make a new rule out of this:
Wade, pick up fruits and vegetables at all markets that you pass! You need them!
It is interesting how a little rule such as this will actually make me to remember to always carry out its directive. From now on, I really will buy a small amount of fruits and vegetables at every opportunity.
But there is a flip side to eating vegetables on the Road that is a real Catch- 22. As any doctor from the developed world will tell you, “Don’t eat the vegetables there, and only eat fruits with thick skins that can be pealed.” I cannot say how many times I have been told this. But, in spite of this professional advice, I know that if I do not eat vegetables, I will get sick. I am a traveler, I am in the “dirty” part of the world for most of the year. If I have a choice of getting sick from eating vegetables or getting sick from not eating a vegetables, I am going to eat away. I like vegetables. But I do take care to prepare my fruits and vegetables properly.
When I purchase vegetables in a market I am sure to wash them with anti-bacterial soap and dry them before eating. I also do the same with fruits, even those ones with thick skins. In restaurants, if my vegetables are cooked I eat them without a thought; if I am given a side dish salad then I use discretion. Sometimes I will not eat a salad if I have a suspicion that it has been sitting out with flys all over it for the entire day, or if I have a funny feeling about it. I trust my funny feelings, and I try to find out how my food is prepared in restaurants. A nosey peak into the kitchen can provide a lot of information as to what efforts are put into the preparation of your meal.
I grew up in a slightly health obsessed household. My mother taught me all about how to be healthy, and I like putting her wisdom into action. Every day, I must be sure to try to eat enough vegetables and fruits. I have been a little lazy about this in Central America, and I am feeling undernourished because of it.
Eat your vegetables!
Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
Copan Ruinas, Honduras
March 16, 2008