Recently I and my wife went on a ten-day Pilgrimage to religious sites in Israel, Palestine and Italy. While I looked forward to the trip, I was worried about gaining weight. We went on a tour in which each moment of the day was planned to include where and when to eat. Hearing stories of how people gained 10 or more pounds on a tour had me worried. I was used to controlling my eating habits by eating primarily at home and tracking my food intake and timing consistently through the WW application. Having lost over 150 pounds on this regimen and keeping most of it off for 4 years, I was facing the unknown. I did not know what food would be offered nor did I know if I could even spell it to find in the application! Also, I knew the all breakfasts and dinners would be offered buffet style. I had avoided buffets since losing the weight because they always have been my nemesis. I had images of Golden Corral with numerous desserts and heavy American food and I was worried I could not control my eating habits.
Well, I should have rested easier, especially in Israel and Palestine (although Italy still posed problems due to its Pastas). The buffets at the Israeli hotels in Tel-Aviv, Nazareth and Jerusalem were a lot different than their US counterparts or those on cruise ships. There were five main distinguishing factors that made the buffets healthier than their US counterparts on the trip:
1. Vegetables, vegetables, vegetables! At each hotel there was an abundance of vegetables. They were fresh and varied. They also were front and center taking the place of the heavier entrees that are in US buffets. Another change were vegetables were available for breakfast along with fruit. For a devoted WW, it was a zero-point heaven and I loaded down with new and varied tastes. I loved the Israeli peppers and pickles that tasted different than those used in the US.
2. The best Hummus anywhere. Sorry Greece. Israeli Hummus is incredible and varied. In the morning there was about 5 types and the evening 7. In the US, I can tolerate Hummus, but it is not my favorite. In Israel, it is a different story! It tastes so fresh and tasty. Sorry American Greek restaurants, Israeli hummus it is where it is at!
3. Kosher food and whole foods. All the food in the Israeli buffet is Kosher and is prepared to exacting standards. It is not processed like its US counterparts and you can taste the difference. In addition, whole foods are bountiful. Nothing processed. Indeed, for the first time, I enjoyed a fish cooked whole from the Sea of Galilee (see below). I was a little nervous but was able to figure out how to eat correctly from a YouTube video! It was delicious.
4. Portion control. I was really worried about the dessert table, but I should not have been. Although I enjoyed a desert each meal, I did not have to worry about overindulging. No large ladles dipped in Apple cobbler or big slices of cake. The deserts were smaller so you could have a dessert and not be tempted by overindulging. The only problem on portion control was the coffee. We had to get up early each day and the coffee cups were small. Also, for some reason, Israeli’s love instant coffee and seldom could I find brewed coffee. Oh well, you can’t have everything.
5. Fish, fish, fish. I usually do not like fish but here it was varied, plentiful and the main offering. I even ate fish for breakfast! Had my first taste of salmon and pickled herring in the morning and it was surprisingly good!
At the end of my ten-day vacation, I had only gained .2 lbs. while still eating dessert each day. I think I would have lost wait if the entire trip was in Israel, but we also traveled to Italy for 3 days. I cannot resist Gelato and pasta. Also, an Italian cappuccino blows is cheaper than the US and is about 10 times better. Still, gaining only .2 lbs. while indulging in the Gelato’s for three days is quite a coup!