View as you land in Biarritz, France

View of Biarritz, France.

I think I understand why the French are notorious for being arrogant after the last few days. Not to say that justifies an attitude, however when you are surrounded by the natural beauty of surf beaches and mountain sides, fantastic produce with fresh seafood, dairy and clearly a natural aptitude for baking delicious gourmet treats; and you have a large pool of good genetics from a health and aesthetic viewpoint, it comes as no surprise that ones head may begin to enlarge. (Again, I still don’t applaud or condone this, I’m just saying!)

Peta and I at the beach in Anglett

Spending the last few days with a fantastic young woman who is also a dietitian living abroad this year, I can say we really did make the most of our time, even given the unlucky nature of my streak of bad weather across Europe (I’m told things usually get worse before they get better..I can only hope that means the sun will come out to play in Barcelona, Italy and Finland).

I found that being in a non English speaking country really tested me. Little things such as reading a bus timetable or a menu became a challenge. I was very impressed by the help I received, and warm nature of the French people, as I attempted to get through my few days here with such a big language barrier! (I did learn a few words so as to attempt to be polite..but I’ll be honest..I’m still utterly useless when it comes to French and totally could have done with my sisters assistance!)

Fresh bread at the market

Fresh bread

Fresh produce at the market

Highlights of Peta and my  last couple of days included:

Being roped into a bucks party weekend with a big group of Englishmen that I had seen on the plane ride over and making our way around the many little outside wine bars through out the cobbled streets of Biarritz (cute men always travel in packs as my friend put it, so why not join in the fun?!).

Driving through the French and Spanish country side as we made our way to San Sebastian (I do find it strange that at an airport you must go through passport control, yet you can simply pay your 2 Euro toll and cross the border in a car with no other worries).

Crossing the boarder- Spain (and they don’t check your passport..weird!)

As you approach San Sebastian

San Sebastian

San Sebastian, beautiful!

San Sebastian- one of the many tapas bars

Enjoying the natural beauty that San Sebastian had to offer, and watching Peta totally confuse herself as she attempted to speak in French to the waitress, and then realise she was no longer in France and that we actually had no way of communicating given the choices were Spanish or English, of which neither party knew the other!

Delicious seafood dinner in San Sebastian

Visiting local supermarkets, weekend markets and organic food markets to see the difference between the countries I had previously visited.

Supermarket food!

French Supermarkets- “ready to go” meals being prepared on the spot

“read to go” meals that are packed

Small range of “diet” products- All quite high in sugar, but still more fibre and protein than in England

Running along the coast with the wind on my face, water by my side and nothing but a strong mind about where my head and heart have come this year.

Great view as I went for my run

view continued

View continued!

The food situation could be summed up in a few statements:

1. Portion sizes are WAY smaller than anywhere else I have been thus far, they almost portion things out in line with dietary guidelines style serve sizes.

Large coffee is similar in size to a USA small

2. There are A LOT more refined carbohydrates and saturated fat in this diet proportionally to other nutrients (breads, cakes and full fat cheeses are everywhere).

Insanely cheap cakes at the markets- Between 6-13 Euros for the whole thing!

Organic market stalls

3. There is a lot of shell fish / seafood on the menu (meaning if people actually tried to follow guidelines of sticking to a certain amount of dietary cholesterol per day, they would be working quite hard and may be unsuccessful!).

4. Dietary formulated products at the supermarket are minimal, and they too, like in England, contain a bit too much sugar for my liking..but I’m guessing based on the small range, they are not so popular here anyway.

5. The supermarkets have HUGE fresh produce sections, including huge meat and fish, cheese, and bakery sections, rather than being as heavily populated with packaged goods as some of the other countries.

6. The ‘ready to go’ meals in the supermarkets, are actually packed on the spot from huge woks/pans on site, where you can see your food being prepared (meaning they are avoiding all the preservatives).

‘Organic’ symbol in France

Frozen yoghurt- 50% fruit 50% yoghurt..nothing else!

All in all I think what we can take from this basque country area (where I did not see any obese people may I add!), portion size is key (I think I’ve been saying this the whole time, but it does sum it up quite nicely!).

Lured in by the marketing…who wouldn’t want a wholegrain bread roll in the shape of a heart?

Keeping the smile on my face even as Im stuck inside a coffee shop due to the never ending rain

I think the take away messages from my time spent here with Peta, after the many long and open discussions we had have got to be:

1. Be yourself, always, you can adapt, but don’t conform or you can lose yourself and not be eternally happy.

2. Trust your gut, it usually knows best if you are relatively in sync with yourself!

3. Live with the same attitude you have as a traveller, when you are at home, meaning, don’t worry so much about what others think, the people that are judging you are usually jealous or not worth your time. Just find the ones that support you, and continue to be confident within yourself.

4. Set your goals, figure out the steps you need to get there, then simply make it happen (one way or another!)

As of tomorrow I am off to Barcelona where I again will be sure to have an interesting airbnb experience, sharing a room with another Pakistani man (this is actually becoming quite comic as I look back on this), and be shown around by a local, my friend Eduardo, who I had met on  the exchange program I was just on.

If San Sebastian is anything to go by, I think I might like this place!

Until next time,

The Travelling Dietitian x

About The Author

Kara Landau aka "Travelling Dietitian" is an Australian Accredited Practicing Dietitian based in New York City. She is a world explorer, healthy foodie, social butterfly, and barre class lover. When she isn't trying new cuisines, researching new product innovations in the health food space, or speaking to the media on behalf of her food industry clients, she can be found quietly conjuring up her next idea in how to make this world a healthier and better place.

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