Crazy enough, I’ve been here in Belgium almost 5 months now! Can you believe it? ‘Cause, wow, I certaintly can’t! That also means I’ve been writing to y’all on here for almost 9 months.
I LOVE this blog and all of my followers. It’s a community I never knew I could have and I am SO honoured our story has touched & encouraged so many! I’ve received some really awesome stories that I wanna share in an upcoming post!
Let me know if I can share yours!
One of the most difficult challenges I’d say about living abroad is adjusting to the everyday things. Whether it’s learning to converse in a new language, obey new traffic signs, adhere to new cultural customs around the dinner table & etc., there’s a lot to absorb and learn about when you first arrive.
For me – one of the many challenges I’ve have to face is one I arguably also had to face in America is….READING FOOD LABELS! When I first began my journey of becoming healthier, and eventually losing 40KG or 100 pounds, was learning alllll the things about what kind of food I was eating and how much.
I remember pouring through articles, asking experts in my life, and asking “Dr. Google” what all this meant. I know, get the same challenge in Belgium, because my food labels are now in a language I cannot understand AND a system of measurement that’s completely different from what I grew up with in the States!
So, sometimes I come to a label like this, my almond milk carton, and I begin with trying to translate what everything is. Then, I try to figure out the portion size. In the USA, we have a measurement in teaspoons, or cups – based on volume, but here in Belgium, with using the metric system, everything is measured in Grams, or by weight. Sometimes, like this carton, it’s also listed in liners!
Besides reading the measurements and figuring out their equivalents in my head, ahem again thank you Google, I also have had to search for what many of the ingredients are on the labels.
Even in Europe, there are different names for certain artificial sweeteners and fillers that I need to research and look out for when trying to fuel my body and my family best.
One thing I’ve noticed that I absolutely LOVE is that SO much of Belgium’s food is actually grown…right here in Belgium! A lot of food proudly declares: “Made In Belgium.”
I’ve also come to love finding the “BIO” label across many stores – I’ve been told this is like America’s “organic” label.
It’s always a double bonus for me when there’s SOME English on the label! Typically, most labels have at least Dutch and French…and often German, Polish, Spanish and even Norwegian!
Most stores also have quite a good selection of vegetarian food – which makes my bonus daughter very happy as she has been one since she was about 5!
We’ve had a lot of fun incorporating more veggies and fruits into all our meals together. She’s very inventive when it comes to food – especially if cheese is involved! (Hello, pizza!)
And then, there’s labels I can’t read at all because they come in the form of HOME MADE FOOD! Kim often whips up his own fresh, home made soup in the kitchen and I like to joke- those CALORIES just don’t count!
Regardless of all these extra steps I now have to take (or the extra time it takes me in the grocery store – sorry, baby!), I wouldn’t have it any other way. I LOVE the challenge and discovering all these new things.
It’s actually CRAZY when these things become my new normal. It’s amazing when I am able to request most of our typical fruits & vegetables from the local store all in Dutch.
My Belgian family is continually amazing me in how kind, strong, sweet & patient they are with me. Good people, good food and lots of laughter – that is what life is all about. That is what we choose to focus on when times get challenging and tough.
Speaking of all the food, we get to go enjoy a picnic together now out on our terrace! No more looking at labels, but just enjoying what is going into our bellies!
Until the next blog, enjoy the summertime with your family & all of the beautiful feasts …table optional! XOXO,