When we move to a different country as an adult, there are millions of things to take care of. But often we forget about one of the most important changes in our lives- food. And I am not talking about just the change in culinary norms, but I am talking about the difference in food production culture.
How food is produced is as important as how food is prepared. Of course, we all know the importance of organic food and we are slowly moving towards healthier produces, but when you move from a country like Nepal, where almost everything is organic, and come to a country like the Netherlands, where almost everything is mass produced, then our body can suffer in many ways. Case in point, me.
I moved to the Netherlands in January 2016. Along with everything else in my life, the food that consumed also changed drastically. We eat rice, lentils and vegetables everyday, twice a day in Nepal (sometimes three times a day). In my family, my mum grows her own vegetables and also the local shop that we use sells mostly locally produced food. We get lots of greens and variety of vegetables that is produced by local farmers using animal dung and compost. On top of that, we use spices such as turmeric, cardamom, cloves, ginger, garlic etc while preparing our food. Meat is considered to be a special dish, so most of the families do not consume it everyday.
Now, if I look at the Netherlands, it is mostly a bread country. People consume sandwiches and bread for breakfast and lunch. And of course with the busy lives that we have here, it is the most easy food to take along to work. The meals here typically comprises of of meat, carbs (potatoes or pasta or rice) and a little bit of vegetable. So meat is an integral part of the normal food culture. Also, the spices here are limited to salt and pepper. So there is a huge gap in terms of the food culture. But also in the way food is produced here is different. Due to the climate, most of the food is grown in greenhouses and produced with chemicals.
So when I moved here, my body reacted to this difference drastically. My thyroid started functioning very slowly and I gained 20 kilos in a year. This was really shocking to me as I have refrained from eating any junk food or overeating. I was extremely tired all the time. Although I do take medications for my thyroid now, the meds can only stop me from goring bigger. I had to identify the main cause of the problem, food.
To address the issue, I have started buying less meat and whatever I buy comes from farmers that believe in letting the animals move around. I buy my fruits and vegetables from the local organic market. Also, I try to grow my own vegetables in pots whenever I can, according to the season. I have to say that I do feel the difference in my body compared to six months ago.
I think that I neglected the food aspect of moving to a new country and my body had to suffer in vain. So if you are moving somewhere else, please add "research about food" in your "to do" list. It might help you a lot.