What to Eat Here vs. Home

I went back to work Monday, and nobody thanked me for it. I got sent home. Dad has always said that I am the ugliest sick person, and Vietnam just learned that he isn’t wrong. Admittedly, I felt pretty gross, and I was excited to be sent back to bed. Maybe I should have just called off, but I feel like nobody really believes you are sick the first day after break unless they see you. Well, seeing definitely works for me since I always look at least as bad as I feel.

I did make it through work the rest of the days, and I am feeling better. I am still a little stuffy and my voice hasn’t quite grown back into its normal volume and tone, but I am making it.

Luckily, I took it pretty easy this week and this weekend, and I should feel good moving into this next week. I am excited to get back into the swing of a routine life. I miss the gym. Weird, right? I never used to love exercise, but the last few years, it has really been what I need most to have a good day.

Good thing that I feel this way because I just started something yesterday called the Whole Life Challenge which is a 56 day online game that has you log your nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle practices to help you create changes. Some of my friends from work did it last fall and were doing it again, and they had such positive results, that I was excited to join. Over Christmas, I even talked Kate into joining our Saigon-based team as a way of staying in touch across the seas and spreading better choices around the globe.

This seems like as good a place and time as any to change habits and get fit. The fresh produce available here is ample and delicious. There are some variations between what you could get in the States and here, but most things are similar. All I really miss is celery (here it is always soft and wilted), kale, and berries (nonexistent except some flavorless strawberries grown in Da Lat). The fruit here is delicious, and I am obsessed with a fruit called pomelo which is sort of like sweet grapefruit. I also love mangos, guava, and watermelon. At home, I was not a huge watermelon fan, but it is delicious here. The only drawback is that it does have seeds. At home, Mom always cut the watermelon and de-seeded it for us. My life has always been good. Here, Trang does cut most of my fruit, but she doesn’t take the seeds out. I think the fact that I have contemplated asking her to do so should be severely punished.

In Maryland, I made soups, salads, Mexican food, and/or roasted veggies most weeks, and these were staples in my diet. I would usually eat the same thing a few days for lunch and dinner and maybe splurge occasionally on going out. Here, I just got an oven last month, so I have started to do a little roasting, but it isn’t a habit yet. Soups here are harder to make. The lentils and black beans don’t soak as easily or cook as well as the ones at home. I haven’t tried split peas here yet, but I fear it will be the same. So here, I often end up buying lunch at work, some type of salad or sandwich. And for dinner, when I don’t eat out or order in, I have taken to eating far too much ice cream and/or cheese and crackers instead of actually cooking.

I think that learning to eat here will be what the whole life challenge helps me do most; I will have to learn to cook even though some foods, like quinoa and almonds have to be smuggled in by the suitcases of visitors. I will have to adjust to making healthier restaurant choices in a place where I could ostensibly afford to eat out every night. I will have to start to modify some food habits and eat what is available instead of what I am used to eating. Or I could commit to spending a little more planning ahead to find what I want and go to the places that have those products. There is no one-stop Wegmans here. However, life is not difficult. Trang buys me some fruit at the market each week, and I often have a vegetable service deliver produce for salads.

As I tackle the Challenge this week and head into my second week of spring semester, I hope that you are all sticking to the resolutions you made this new year and as excited as I am to get some exercise and eat some delicious food.




  1. Why wasn’t there a picture of you on Monday to go with your blog story??? Speaking of pictures, Megan had her passport photo taken today!! Glad to hear you are feeling a little better. Take care. Love you.


  2. how in the world can we have the same cold? i have no voice and am home today. no talking on the phone today,but at least i have a time to look at your blog! glad you are feeling better. Happy New Year! Aunt Jill


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