Paleo in Afghanistan- Here’s Some Perspective!
Over the last two months, I’ve had the honor of working with an amazing woman. ‘Tonya”, who is currently deployed in Afghanistan, contacted me shortly before Christmas because she wanted to learn how to eat a healthier diet. She’s on week # 7 of her new Paleo Lifestyle and although she never complains, I will say on her behalf that it’s FAR from easy!
As much stress as I would imagine she is constantly under, she decided that now is the time to get her body as healthy as possible as it’s the one thing she can do to stay strong in such extenuating circumstances.
She can’t simply go off to the local farmer’s market or Whole Foods the way we can here in the US; granted in some places, like Los Angeles, it’s easier that others, but she has NO choice as to what the daily offerings are to her and her colleagues.
While there are selections galore as far as fast foods, fried options and sugary, refined items, the vegetable and fruit choices (if there are any!) are few and far between. At the onset of our work together, she sent me a list of what is available during a typical week. Here is one sample from a day’s lunch & dinner menu:
Chicken Noodle Soup, Crackers, Chili Mac, Corn on the Cob, Peas & Carrots, Brown Gravy, Cornbread
Tuna Sandwich, Ravioli, Corn Dogs, Buffalo Wings, Philly Cheese Steak, Italian Sausage
Chicken Noodle Soup, Crackers, Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Rice Pilaf, Succotash, Brown Gravy, Seasoned Green Beans
Chocolate Cake, Peanut Butter Cookies, Ice Cream, Pies
Yet, between the two of us, with a bit of creativity and an amazing determination and incredible mental fortitude on her part, it’s working. For the first time ever, she’s learning how to make the healthiest options for meals a part of her normal day to day lifestyle. There are veggies at breakfast to incorporate into an egg white omelet, and the burger station has lettuce, tomato and onion. Some fresh fruit, too- pears, apples- thank goodness!
If I might share just one of the more significant of the exchanges we’ve had….
On one occasion, the food truck couldn’t get through, because, oh, there had been another bombing! Period. That meant zero fruit and vegetables. She still stayed strong, and got by on some of her allowed staples- packaged chicken breast, canned tuna, egg white protein powder, just to name a few examples. While her co workers were making the most of pastries and candy, she stood fast and opted not to go down that road.
(Caveat for readers- yes, canned tuna and packaged chicken wouldn’t be indicated typically, but given her situation, they’re FAR better options than the alternative!)
In just over a month, she gets to go home for three glorious weeks and I couldn’t be more vicariously excited for her.
Again, I must just say that I continue to be impressed and inspired by you, Tonya- and can assure you that your story will be a source of light for others, too!
For any of my readers who are on the fence about whether you can make Paleo work for you- use this as your wake up call and remember how lucky we are to have all that we have access to!
More to come about this incredible role model of a woman on future blogs…