Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Ukrainian Diet to being Skinny

One thing that I always heard from other people, before we left for Ukraine, was how beautiful, made up, skinny and fancy the women that lived there were.  Part of this is due to the Slavic culture, high cheek bones, defined facial features, light skin. . . and part of it is due to the lifestyle.  Fashion is the mecca of the Ukrainian culture, as it probably is for most of Eastern Europe.  In fact, people say that fashion is more important than family there--which explains why I never saw any family with more than one child in tow...and children were rarely seen out and about.  And why the orphanages are overflowing with children...but that's another story for another time.

Anyway, being a personal trainer, my perspective of the women of this culture and their beauty is attributed to other things as well.  I won't lie, they wear lots of make-up and their hair is sprayed tight!  But...also, :

1) The Ukrainian women walk everywhere.  Not only do they walk everywhere, but they walk everywhere in high heels.  I never saw anything under at least 3 inches.  I asked someone and most people average 3-5 miles of walking a day to and from work, to and from picking their kids up from school, to and from the grocery store, etc.  Therefore, their legs are firm and tight--as are their arms from pushing strollers, carrying groceries, carrying briefcases or bags, and coats.  And there are no elevators...so after walking 3-5 miles they then walk up 5-10 flights of stairs to their flats. 

2) The Ukrainian women go to the grocery nearly everyday.  People rarely push a cart around the store, they carry the arm baskets and buy enough food to get them through the evening's meal and possibly lunch the next day.  This means there is rarely food lying around to snack on between meals.  I'll explain a few reasons why they do this next...

3)  The Ukrainian food does not contain preservatives and added chemicals (for the most part).  People do NOT buy processed food in Ukraine, and it is not readily available.  Bread lasts 2 days tops before it molds or becomes stale.  Wheat is not enriched and processed, it is sold 'as is' in bulk.  All vegetables, grains, oats, fruits, fish, poultry, pork, beef, etc. is sold in bulk.  You actually choose the fish you want swimming in the gigantic fish tank and the lady behind the counter fishes it out and chops its head off right in front of you...now that's fresh!  (if you like carp)  All food is locally grown, or grown nearby.  This is why people have to shop so often and probably why people there do not have food allergies, AND why food is so cheap. They eat real food, not chemicals and added fillers.
**On a sidenote, my mom is allergic to gluten/wheat, and she ate pizza and bread while we were in Ukraine and was able to tolerate it.  Now this was either because of the grace of God or because the preservatives were not in it...what does that tell you about what we eat??

4) Ukrainian women rarely eat red meat.  It is just not readily available for purchase or to eat.  And if you do buy red meat at the open air market, you buy the cow's head and all...that would be enough to deter me from buying a side of beef.

5) They use real sugar in their drinks, not zero calorie chemicals and artificial sweeteners.  The juice and Coke/Sprite available in Ukraine tasted so different.  I am not a pop drinker, I cannot even finish a can of pop here in the US because it burns my throat and just doesn't taste 'good.'  Well, I tried Coke while in Ukraine, and I normally hate the taste of it, but did not have the acidic taste on my mouth afterward.  And the juice was SO good.  Again, it would only last a few days before it had to be thrown out...no preservatives...and SO tasty!

6) People eat large breakfasts and light lunch and supper.  We would go out to eat in the evenings or at lunch and people were nowhere to be seen.  If they were, they were just having drinks or a light salad. We asked someone finally, and they told us that people don't eat much for lunch and dinner there.  They have 'strong breakfasts' according to a local person.  We always felt like fat slobs eating our large pizzas at meals for lunch and dinner while everyone else poked at their lettuce salads. 

7) People do not drink cold drinks.  There is no ice to be found in that country.  Everything is room temperature, even most beer.  The body has to work harder to digest cold/frozen food or drinks, so if the drink is already warm or at room temperature it doesn't have to work so hard to warm it up before breaking it down to digest and be used for energy.

8) People drink filtered water.  People cannot even brush their teeth with the water that comes from the faucet in Ukraine.  People carry around glass or plastic jugs they fill with water at their local grocery store to drink from.  They do not use faucet water, it is very contaminated.  People only drink filtered, fresh, clean water.

9) People rarely use antibiotics.  Prescriptions are hardly written in that country.  There are pharmacies on every street corner, and people can just walk in and get what they want without any prescription or FDA regulations.  Homeopathic, nutritional remedies, and herbs are most commonly used to treat common illnesses and ailments.

10) People drink a lot of wine, beer, champagne, and liquor.  Not sure if this is a completely healthy habit, but it does help people wind down of an evening.  And less stress.

11) People everywhere, of any age, smoke.  By the looks of the fancy cigarettes most women smoke, it is definitely a 'fashion' statement.  And it contributes largely to the slim figures of most women (not that I'm recommending it)...but people's taste buds are shot from smoking as is their sense of smell--2 contributors to hunger and eating for enjoyment, their digestive systems are shot because of all the nicotine, and people use their lunch breaks to smoke, not eat.  They also use their money to buy cigarettes (which are VERY cheap by the US standards) instead of food.

12)  People have social get together's to drink alcohol, not as an excuse to eat.  Celebrations, etc. are not centered around a feast in Ukraine.  People don't celebrate food and eating nearly as much as Americans.  Again, it's all about appearance, slim figures, and fashion.

13)  People rarely eat out.  Fast food is not an option in Ukraine.  McDonald's are around but not as easily accessible as here in the US...and if people go there, they walk to and from the restaurant.  Most people are poor and eating out is expensive, so they stay home and cook fresh meals.  

14)  Most chocolate is made with real sugar and cocoa.  Chocolate is usually found in percentages of cocoa, or dark.  It is very tasty but hard to overeat because of the bitter dark chocolatey taste.

So I'm not recommending all of these points as suggestions to a healthier lifestyle, but I do think there are some things we could learn from how Ukrainians do life that could better improve our American lifestyle and health.  Walking more, eating less processed foods, eating our largest meal in the morning...are probably the biggest ones.  Anyway, just wanted to share my observations of the Ukrainian diet to better health!  (minus all the smoking!)  And a few key pointers to help you lose weight and be skinny like the Ukrainian women...all I know is I have a lot of practice before I make walking around in 4" high heels a daily occurrence!


  1. Ohhhhh....the juice. How I miss the juice.......!!

  2. Love this post and the glimpse into Ukraine

  3. I do have to say that I met several middle-aged Ukrainian women who appeared to be elderly. They easily looked 15 years older than they actually were. Sad.

    The last time I was in Ukraine, I stayed with a Tatar family and food was constantly offered to me. The level of hospitality was impressive.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Have just recently started reading some RR blogs... I have bookmarked a few families (yours is one of them) to hear about their experiences and to see how God is working in the lives of these precious little angels on RR. Why the Lord led me to your site, I am unsure, but know that I am praying for your family and your sweet little Blake.

  5. I guess it depends what part of Ukraine you go because I know that in some parts like in small villages for example there they are very focused on food not much about drinking and fashion. And they get mad if you don't eat their food. :)
    Yes, some look old because they work very hard labor all day in the fields no matter of the weather is or the situation they are out working to provide for their families. I guess some are all about fashion but some barely survive from day to day. Which is very sad...

    thanks for sharing...

  6. Ukrainian food is one of reasons to visit this country. Meals in Ukraine are both tasty and beautiful.There are numerous restaurants and bars where you can try local meals. Most of them are not very complicated so you will be able to try to cook them at home. Welcome to Ukraine and enjoy delicious local food!

  7. long article for nothing.The simple true is that ukranian ladies are slim because dont have the money to buy the food.I have had many ukranian girlfriends and once they came to visit in Italy I can assure that at the restaurants they eat ........triples portions

  8. so true, dude... so true..

  9. "Light skin" hmm I agree that many eastern European women are beautiful... light skin isn't a prerequisite for beauty. Beyonce, Kim Kardashian, Lupita Nyongo are examples of gorgeous women who are perceived to be "dark". Regardless... nice post. I miss living in Europe. Now I'm stuck in the Carolinas. Smh

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