managing an LCHF lifestyle in Israel
I’m a member of a Swedish organization for licensed LCHF consultants and this week the organization’s site has “a week abroad.” That means that I and a few other consultants who live outside Sweden are writing about our experiences. Here is my story and further down here the translation. What do you say? Do you agree?
Israel is a land of contrasts, whether in nature and culture, definitely in politics, and of course when it comes to food. The cuisine ranges from Western European and American, through the Mediterranean and the Arab countries, to the Eastern Indian and Japanese. There’s everything from McDonalds fast food to the Druze hand rolled large flat pita bread baked on a tinplate over an open fire. And if that’s not enough for the “ethnic” food range, even religion has a saying in food. Each festival with its own special dishes and pastries. Jews sometimes joke about how throughout history one or another people wanted to destroy the Jews by various wars, “every time we survived – come and eat!”
But one thing is common for all Israelis, regardless of their origin and religion: the food is bread-based … Furthermore, “everyone knows” how beneficial fruits and vegetables and fibers are, and that fat is the villain … No one here knows what LCHF is. Part from the ones I’ve talked to … 😉
Sometimes you meet someone who’s heard about Atkins (“… he who died of too much fat in his diet?”) or might have been in the U.S. and tried low-carb dieting, so “sure maybe there’s something to it that we eat too much cakes and buns”, but when you mention the “high fat “, they get a very skeptical and almost frightened look in their eyes. And woe the one who tries to take away their daily bread. Or burekas or chocolate croissant …
Having said that, it’s actually pretty easy to eat more or less LCHF in Israel – Land of opposites as I said!
Many restaurants in Israel are, because of kosher, either meat or dairy restaurants. The meat restaurants are usually grill places where you can order meat and salad only, without the usual side dishes such as rice, fries, etc. Other tasty dishes you can order at meat restaurants are a plate entrails (“Jerusalem mix”) or some skewers of chicken hearts. Chicken liver can also be easily found and if you’re lucky, there’s grilled mutton fat on the menu. Most barbecue places often, but not always, serves salads as an appetizer. It can be of all kinds, frequently there are variations on tahini, cabbage salads and aubergines. Though sometimes you have to watch out so they don’t contain bulgur, corn and such. And of course refrain from the pita bred that’s served with the salads.
With milk restaurants it may be a bit trickier as they base most of their menu on pastas and quiches. However, even here you can find LCHF options, such as Shakshuka – a very popular egg dish in tomato sauce, or good hearty salads such as tuna salad. There are almost always some fish dish but oh so expensive. Very popular is to order a “breakfast” (which often is served till late night) where you get two eggs scrambled or as an omelette, served with various salads and cheeses, bread, butter and jam, and juice and coffee too. One can usually replace the sweet dishes to more of the others and I always ask for a bigger cup of coffee instead of the juice. Luckily, they almost always use butter and one can usually get real cream. Although they look a little puzzled on you when you ask for “coffee Americano with cream”, “yes the one you usually whip but non-sweetened”. But in this country of opposites, there are also restaurants that don’t care about kosher and where one can find both bacon and shrimps if one wants to eat that.
When you go shopping in the supermarkets one can find among all the light products, some full-fat dairy products too, and it’s a delight to choose from all the greens in the market. Nowadays, there are also two food chains that specialize in organic products of all kinds, as the average health-conscious Israeli gladly buys expensive organic vegetables and fruits, even if he or she is fat phobic and only ingest light soft drinks and yogurt with 0% fat in them.
So, welcome to Israel, a country where everyone can find their own way to eat!