The Foreign Service Journal, March 2019

diseases. And for children this can mean better health, better concentration and better behavior. Here are the pillars of this approach to eating well. Skip the Processed Stuff Refined sugar, grains and industrial vegetable oils entered the modern diet only in the past 150 years. Our bodies did not evolve to consume vast quantities of processed foods. Com- missaries are convenient and comforting (we spent six Mos- cow winters grateful that we had a commis- sary), but remember that nutrients are often lacking in anything that comes premade in a box, can or plastic package, or that has a multiyear shelf life. • Watch out at receptions and par- ties. Caterers and restaurants often use low-quality ingredients and cooking oils to save money, and many hors d’oeuvres lack nutri- tional value. • Need a snack? Have beef jerky, salami slices, cheese cubes, veggie sticks or raw, sprouted nuts handy instead of chips. • Drop the soda and juice habit. It can be a comfort at a far- flung post to have a taste of home in your favorite soda or juice, but you’re better off drinking plain water. Sodas that contain sugar substitutes harm the delicate balance of microbes in our gut. Sweetened drinks can spike your blood sugar and lead to drowsiness and cravings. And the expense of buying imported American drinks adds up! Hard to find clean water at your post? Many posts have water purifiers or bottled water delivery available on the economy. and returning from high-stress posts, there is little guidance on nutrition for members of the Foreign Service. I began delving into cooking and nutrition during the three years I spent in Bordeaux, where my spouse was the American presence officer working to advance U.S. interests in a region of six million people in southwestern France. Bordeaux is known for its wine, but it is also a region where you can still find traditional ways of growing and preparing food. Through learning to cook with French chefs, farmers and grandmoth- ers, apprenticing with a Basque butcher and studying with wine- makers, I began to see how their “ancestral” approach to food can bring greater health and balance to our hec- tic modern lives. The traditional French recipes I learned were based on unprocessed, nutrient- dense foods. Contrary to recent conventional wisdom, the ener- getic chefs and spry grand-mères embraced traditional fats—but- ter, lard, duck fat—as the foundation of good cooking and nutrition. Moving away from the low-fat paradigm is also a tenet of the primal, paleo and “real food” movements that have gained popularity in recent years. In the Foreign Ser- vice, we do our best to feed ourselves and our families well, often in challenging circumstances. Whatever your situation, there are ways you can draw on ancestral traditions to make your diet more nourishing and satisfying. The benefits from even the smallest changes can be significant: greater energy, sharper focus, fewer cravings, better sleep, loss of excess fat and weight, not to mention reducing your risk of chronic THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MARCH 2019 29 PHOTO:TANIATESCHKE. FOCUSSECTION ICONS–CARYNSMITH/ISTOCKPHOTO.COM.ALLBACKGROUNDS: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/ ЭдуардЕвстигнеев. Fresh ingredients.