Arriving in London just in time for the cities celebrations of the Queen having not passed yet, I certainly came at a time to see the English put on their patriotic show (just as I have seen for the past few months America do so well). The flags were flying from people’s door steps, jet planes flew loudly over my head, and the music was blaring from the nearby street festivals.

Broken Umbrella

The weather as per usual (at least from my experiences here) was dreary, with luck clearly not working on my side as two days in a row I had umbrellas break on me as a result of gusts of wind and rain! Getting drenched from the rain multiple times, one of which was when I paced the streets with my suitcase looking for my accommodation, was certainly not the highlight, although was something I could laugh at myself about nether the less.

Standard food situation around London

Standard options at convenience stores

I was extremely curious to see what the food situation was like over here..and lets just say I have been appalled. I never in my life have seen more “ready to eat” meals than I have here..yes thats right, England takes America in this situation! Predominantly being meals that are pastry or bread based, high in one or more of either sodium, saturated fat, refined carbohydrates or calories.

Ready made meals went on for isles on end

The highest fibre bars they had were nutri-grain bars with 1g! Everything else was a chocolate or sugary bar.

When you walked down the isles of the food that comes in boxes (which is pretty much everything here!), you could see that there was literally one, or no, brands of high fibre or protein bars, and even the cereals had more sugar in them. I looked at a box of All Bran as my comparison to the USA and Australia, and per 100g it had over 20g of sugar..from memory, that is a lot more than Australia!

Ready made meals

Every yoghurt had added sugar, and even the greek style yoghurts were just mimics that weren’t high in protein! Only one product, Fage, which I had found in NYC was available here as a higher protein variety of yoghurt with out added sugars.

All sorts of flavour varieties of sugar filled drinks (and this at a health food shop)

Never ending packaged refined carbs

I even went into a few health food shops (as they don’t really have a section for this in supermarkets here), and even their protein bars had up at 20g of sugar! I couldn’t believe it. There literally wasn’t one option that didn’t have sugar or another version of ‘sugar’ as the first or second ingredient. It was interesting to walk into a popular supplement chains shop that usually has so many varieties of products in Australia and the USA, and to see that they simply didn’t stock any of the same products here. I’m guessing that is dictated by the customers and what their taste buds prefer.

Benecol cholesterol lowering formulated food

Pro-activ as a yoghurt shot

The only positive I found on the foods here were that they had a few products with added sterols for cholesterol management that I haven’t seen before in Australia, one being a small yoghurt style drink / shot that was small, 100 calories, and contained 2g of plant sterols (so you only need one serve of the food per day). Unfortunately in Australia I believe at the moment you can’t offer foods that have 2g per serve, but my guess is that some of the big name brands would be petitioning that with FSANZ as I type this.

Slightly amusing that the one product that I found they had in a positive light, was actually one that acts as a medicine for disease..not a good sign of the food system! (No wonder Jamie Oliver can make such a stand in this country!).

Classy- the waiter told me that everyone who eats the hot and sour soup needs to wear a bib!

My friend Danny who I haven’t seen since we were like 15 years old!

Dinner is served- yum!

I did manage to sneak in a couple visits to friends from life times ago, being from a sporting event I took part in when I was back in high school, to a high school friend who has moved here. Just goes to show you can always maintain a connection with people if you want to! It is always nice to see how people’s lives continue to pan out as they get older, and how even from the opposite sides of the globe people still find themselves facing remarkably similar situations and hurdles. Again, just goes to show, you are never alone at facing a challenge, wherever you are in the world.

My hole in the wall of a room in London

Me in my crib!

My next airbnb experience was somewhat amusing, finding myself in a Pakistani mans home, sharing with a Spanish couple and another Spanish woman, and my ‘room’ being nothing more than a sectioned off area in the living room, surrounded by crates and a hanging drape! Lets just say this is not something I will ever forget. I certainly was laughing at myself as I heard them all speaking Spanish and cooking their dinner at 11pm at night from the ‘room’ next to me!

On a different note, I have always liked English men, being that they usually are well mannered (and from my experience, quite cute), I found I was shown nothing to oppose that viewpoint this trip, not having men scream at you from the other side of the road (as you get in America) was refreshing and appreciated! I strongly suggest if there are women that want a good-looking gentleman (not sure who wouldn’t), that don’t mind the gloomy weather in this country, come over here!

Central London at Night

It was amusing having one salesman attempt to play his charm on me as I walked past his brands make-up stall. Lets just say you could have thought I was in south-east Asia as I bargained him down to get 200 pounds worth of make up for a measly 25 pounds (and I even got an extra mascara thrown in for good measure). I don’t think he knew who he was up against when he started his little sales speech!

Mini Times Square? I don’t think so!

On my last night here I was taken on a sweet mini tour of central London by my friend after dinner; Being shown London’s version of Times Square was somewhat amusing, and from what I could see, London should probably stick with their strengths and keep hold of the glamorous older heritage listed buildings and town houses, cute cobbled streets, and classy wine bars, rather than trying to mimic a mini America.

Central London

As of tomorrow morning I’m off to Biarritz in France to visit another dietitian friend who is living there this year. Lets see what this whole “French women don’t get fat” idea is all about shall we!

For now,

The Travelling Dietitian x

You know your in London when you see the signs that look like this one

Waiting for my train

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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