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Siferiax

Eating in the US?

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Hi,

 

My BF and I have been successfully eating low-carb for 3 months now and we're feeling great!

(We don't identify as keto)

 

However living in The Netherlands, choosing low-carb food is relatively easy. Good cheese and good meat are easy to come by.

 

However next year we'll be visiting the US for a vacation and we're a little worried about our food options/choices there.

 

We're wondering about any tips or tricks you can provide, such as where to shop and how to read US labels. Our labels are super easy as they have per 100gr of food stuff. And I understand US labels are not that straight forward. We aim to eat foods that have no more than 5gr of carbs per 100gr of food stuff.

 

Also we'll be going to Orlando FL. Meaning we'll be visiting all of the theme parks. So anyone who has tips for those, we would much appreciate it.

 

Thanks for any help ^^

Sif

 

PS. We'll be staying at a house, so home cooking is an option we'll likely use a lot too.

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Low carb at restaurants is extremely difficult. However, if you are cooking, it's not that hard. The same foods that are low carb over there are low carb over there. Your biggest adjustment is probably going to be non-metric measurements on nutrition labels. Micro and Macro nutrients are usually metric, but serving sizes usually aren't. Use a unit converter on your phone.

 

Here's an info graphic. Ignore the sugar-industry propaganda about fat being bad.

8ND-17MI4kHG6PAdov-PRPr1e0sLaRDKgS4P4KhC

 

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Restaurants; If you order a meal that has meat, veggies and a starch (potatoes or rice) ask to swap out the starch for a second serving of veggies. If you are at a burger place , dump the bun

 

Grocery stores; usually have roasted chicken (if you are looking for pre cooked food) and a lot of them either have packaged salads or  a salad bar. The packaged salads may contain things that up your carb (craisins, sugared nuts) but they are usually in individual packets that you can dump

 

theme parks; nicer restaurants; the same as above. Grocery  stores also sell hardboiled eggs. I'm visiting DW next month, and I'm hoping that  I can grab some of these to stick in our fridge for breakfast. Also deli meat-, it may have some sugar added, but it is better. If you get a sandwich or hamburger, just dump the bread.  They usually offer  apples as a side, which dies have carbs, but it is a better choice then fries. You can get salads, but most are pre made, so any extra goodies are going to be on there (hopefully dressing is on the side) I've tried being super low carb while at Disneyland, and it was doable , but pretty hard( I was hungry). What worked better for me, was just to make the best choices I could (for example the apples slices) and not overly worry about it.

 

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Ah Nice, that's good to know ^^ thanks so much both of you!

Any grocery stores to specifically look for or avoid?

I do know there are differences, but I'm not sure what all the places are called :P

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Grocery stores are so regional it's hard to know what to tell you without knowing your itinerary, and then local people would need to give you tips.  When I see ask reddit threads about people visiting the U.S., people always mention a lot of European visitors are unprepared for how large the landmass of the Continental U.S. is. Our states are like European countries. Florida alone is four times the size of the Netherlands by surface area.

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I'm from the Orlando area so I feel pretty qualified to answer this question. I also almost never visit the theme parks so maybe not lol.

 

The main non member grocery chains here are Publix, Wal-Mart, Target, Winn-Dixie and to a lesser extent Aldi. Publix is usually the most expensive but I hate Wal-Mart and Target is too far away from my house and I always forget about Winn-Dixie so Publix (and BJs which is membership only) it is.

 

If you're buying a rotisserie chicken or any premade food, make sure to read the ingredients list (usually located under the nutrient label but not always). While we generally don't put outright poison in our food anymore (depending on how you define poison), the United States is still much less restrictive than Europe about what kinds of fillers we can put in our food, so we do. I once met someone visiting from Sweden who had a corn allergy and he couldn't eat much of anything here because they put corn in nigh everything here. In addition to corn we also put sugar, soy, sodium, food coloring, etc in everything to stretch the more expensive ingredients or make it more addictive (people generally like sugary and salty things) or extend the shelf life. Even certain produce has it - non organic apples often have a wax coating and that wax coating is often made from corn and they are not obligated to list it. (Some stores do it out of courtesy.) It is edible (food grade) so if it doesn't bother you then great. Refined seed oils are also in everything.

 

A few things to remember if you're trying to eat organic or nonGMO:

Even if Roundup isn't used as a pesticide in most of the plant's growing life, most farmers including non GMO farmers will spray their crops with Roundup just a few days before harvesting to dry out the produce a bit and make it easier to harvest on harvest day. I believe organic produce isn't allowed to do this.

 

It's pretty hard to find non vegetarian-only-fed eggs here (in my experience). Even organic free range chickens are usually vegetarian fed, which means corn, although in this case it has to be organic corn. Also eggs here are washed before they go to the grocery store so they must be stored in the fridge. No getting around that.

 

Raw dairy is hard to find in some places due to legal restrictions. General governmental consensus is that it is Really Ducking Bad For Humans but some states say it's okay to give to your pets. I think Florida is one of those states. You can find it in some pet stores maybe or in certain independent health food stores (Seeds, the one that used to be in this area, had it on a pre-order basis). Don't try to cross state lines or go through customs with it.

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I'm not sure what the weather is like in the Netherlands but Florida is hot and humid for most of the year so bring water and sunscreen. Also bring sweaters because our air conditioning is lit. Humidity drops in winter but still hangs around 50% so still kind of sticky depending on what you're used to. This is why (home grown) Floridians wear parkas in winter in 55 F weather. Those memes about Floridians wearing denim in winter are actually talking about displaced northerners lol. My denim jacket never did jack to keep me warm for anything lol.

 

Theme parks... Good luck lolol. DisneyWorld is definitely NOT the happiest place on earth. The commercials are LIES. Queues (we call them lines here) can be ridiculously long especially for new attractions. Best day of the week to go anywhere seems to be Tuesday. Traffic in the parking areas is pretty well streamlined in the parks (nowhere else lol). That's pretty much all I can tell you. People who live here are pretty much either annual passholders to everywhere or really jaded about the parks. You can probably guess which one I am lol.

 

I-4 is not under construction around Disney but if you go north (eastbound) of Universal (exit 74-75) then it most definitely is under construction and you should definitely try to avoid it when you can because not even the natives know where we're going at this point. I swear it changes daily. Even the toll roads have been obnoxiously crowded with people avoiding the construction (although they're usually still loads better). Toll stickers are absolutely worth it so make sure your rental car has one. Tolls are cheaper with the sticker too.

 

It is very rare for something to actually cost what the listed price is. Sales tax is different in each state and county and sometimes even city/town so instead of printing 501859572 different price labels for each store according to local sales tax they print the price before sales tax and that's added at the register when you go to pay.

 

Tipping is practically mandatory in most (not all!) places where a tip line is printed on the receipt. 18% of the bill (including any charges that might have been dropped - say a meal was compensated because it came out wrong - please tip as if this was still on the bill) is a pretty good rule of thumb. Places that cater to a lot of international folks tend to pre calculate tips at 15, 18, and 20% and list it on the receipt along with a reminder to please tip, especially since tipped positions minimum wage is less than regular minimum wage. (A lot of serving staff are okay with this because they earn more in tips than they would on a higher wage.)

 

Tap water is generally safe although it sometimes tastes like chlorine. We're away from the coast so there's not really any sulfur smell. Most places will give you a cup of tap water for free if you ask. Drinks are otherwise massively overpriced.

 

Please don't be dicks to the guest services staff. :D My best friend works in guest services at Universal and she has Stories.

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I totally forgot about this topic. /Hides in shame.

Thanks so much for all the info XD

Last time my parents and I were in Orlando was... Ehm... 2001 maybe?! Unsure. It was 2011, my mom confirmed lol. 

It was a fun time with tornado warnings blasting out of the TV. And we were staying in a motel. It was exciting lol.

 

This time we're going in May and staying at a villa in one of those community centre things?! IDK but it was a big hassle with all the documents they wanted, but then after arguing apparently didn't? Lol.

For example ID's without anything crossed out, which I can't legally do XD turns out it was actually fine to cross out a lot of info.

 

But yeah I have experience with the theme parks, so it's ok. Also been to Disneyland Paris wayyyy too many times, so I know about waiting in line. We have 8 day passes or something for Disney. And the benefit of not wanting to go into all the rollercoaster. I'm the only one of the party that actually wants to ride those. Single rider lanes ftw!

Also we have reservations for new Galaxy Edge stuff. Hooray XD it's ridiculous.

 

Thanks also for all the food related advice. I think over here you can only get corn fed eggs, sometime in combination with grass. So that's not a problem. We always keep eggs in the fridge even though it isn't necessary lol. I recently learned that little US fact ^^

 

I wonder what the food labels will be like to read XD over here all kinds of adding have "E-numbers" so it doesn't say what it is, just states a number. Which is European regulated / approved, but it can literally be anything. So you have to Google it to find out.

So I'm generally not too worried about ingredients. I don't really have allergies fortunately either. Only the sugar is probably gonna be a pain. 

They put it in nearly everything over here and I know the US is much worse.

I remember the time when Oreos and mountain dew was not in our grocery shops XD

 

I'm a little worried about the tap water. Just googled it, apparently it's safe, but tastes super nasty :P

as one person commented: "water is undrinkable, tastes too much of chlorine".

which for me would be like drinking from a swimming pool. Yikes. (Our water doesn't contain chlorine, the tap water here is basically the same as bottled water)

 

Also the weather in The Netherlands according to foreigners is "all seasons in one day". That is literally true sometimes, but mostly it's just quite unpredictable :P

and if it happens to be hot here, it's instantly also very humid, cause it's near always humid here. But yeah Florida weather will be a slight adjustment ^^

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On 12/31/2019 at 3:49 AM, Siferiax said:

I totally forgot about this topic. /Hides in shame.

Thanks so much for all the info XD

Last time my parents and I were in Orlando was... Ehm... 2001 maybe?! Unsure. It was 2011, my mom confirmed lol. 

It was a fun time with tornado warnings blasting out of the TV. And we were staying in a motel. It was exciting lol.

 

This time we're going in May and staying at a villa in one of those community centre things?! IDK but it was a big hassle with all the documents they wanted, but then after arguing apparently didn't? Lol.

For example ID's without anything crossed out, which I can't legally do XD turns out it was actually fine to cross out a lot of info.

 

But yeah I have experience with the theme parks, so it's ok. Also been to Disneyland Paris wayyyy too many times, so I know about waiting in line. We have 8 day passes or something for Disney. And the benefit of not wanting to go into all the rollercoaster. I'm the only one of the party that actually wants to ride those. Single rider lanes ftw!

Also we have reservations for new Galaxy Edge stuff. Hooray XD it's ridiculous.

 

Thanks also for all the food related advice. I think over here you can only get corn fed eggs, sometime in combination with grass. So that's not a problem. We always keep eggs in the fridge even though it isn't necessary lol. I recently learned that little US fact ^^

 

I wonder what the food labels will be like to read XD over here all kinds of adding have "E-numbers" so it doesn't say what it is, just states a number. Which is European regulated / approved, but it can literally be anything. So you have to Google it to find out.

So I'm generally not too worried about ingredients. I don't really have allergies fortunately either. Only the sugar is probably gonna be a pain. 

They put it in nearly everything over here and I know the US is much worse.

I remember the time when Oreos and mountain dew was not in our grocery shops XD

 

I'm a little worried about the tap water. Just googled it, apparently it's safe, but tastes super nasty :P

as one person commented: "water is undrinkable, tastes too much of chlorine".

which for me would be like drinking from a swimming pool. Yikes. (Our water doesn't contain chlorine, the tap water here is basically the same as bottled water)

 

Also the weather in The Netherlands according to foreigners is "all seasons in one day". That is literally true sometimes, but mostly it's just quite unpredictable :P

and if it happens to be hot here, it's instantly also very humid, cause it's near always humid here. But yeah Florida weather will be a slight adjustment ^^

 

Hi I live in Florida, previously in West Palm Beach (pretty south) and now in Tallahassee (basically south Georgia), Orlando is right in between --

 

Weather: right now we are currently in what the Netherlands might consider as spring or summer weather, because of course 22*C is normal in January. Nevertheless, if temps are lower than 26*C in Florida, you will see people in shorts and parkas, because Floridians.  In May, it will be almost surface of the sun hot plus pre-hurricane season. It's not really the temperature that is all that shocking, it is the sheer amount of moisture that lays on you like a blanket. The humidity will most likely be around 80 - 95% on your visit. You could get lucky, we could get a cold front and you would be in for very entertaining people watching as the day temps might get to 16*C.  

 

Tap Water: Central Florida tap water, while safe from biological contamination, tastes like sulfur, has a slightly greasy feeling to it (at least to me), and is quite possibly the worst water I have ever drank. It even makes coffee and tea awful. I don't know what is wrong with the aquifer -- but especially in Kissimmee where Disney is, omg, it's awful. While I really hate suggesting this because plastic is the worst, but you might want to bring some extra money along to buy bottled water to cook with and definitely to drink. 

 

Food Labels and Groceries: You've gotten some pretty awesome food advice already, I will plug Publix again as a grocery store since you can't go more than five blocks in Florida without seeing one. There are a few farmer's markets all around Orlando and Kissimmee though if grocery stores aren't your favorite. Prices and variety will vary. We do have a few grass fed farm operations in that area too so it is very probable that you could find some good quality fresh beef if you are into that.  Publix does try to source their meat and produce from Florida and you will be coming in at the end of strawberry season and the beginning of mango season (this state likes to raise fruit and beef).

 

Tank found a great explanation of the food labels we have on processed foods and dairy. A lot of the labels now also break down if a food has added sugar. Mileage will vary on that since the law to do this is still new and I think producers had some extended time to transition. Our produce, deli, and butcher items do not typically require nutrition labels, so if you get something like a fruit salad from the produce section, it may have a list of ingredients and it will tell you how much it weighs in pounds so you can get the price but not much else. The bagged salads Elastigirl mentioned will have nutrition labels though since they have been packaged in a factory rather than prepared in the store like the fruit salad... I'm actually really confused by this policy now, because most fruit in the US is packaged in factories, but still do not have nutrition labels on the packages. 

 

A lot of food labels try to work with 100 g serving sizes, but not all of them have caught onto this. It's great fun when they put items in volume rather than mass too, e.g. 1/2 cup of oats... what do you mean United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)? It's not a liquid, why would you do this?!

The USDA is in charge of coming up with our nutrition labels and health guidelines. 

 

Also most labels show calories... but we're American so we have to do our own thing and be difficult... but these calories are actually kilocalories... I think we are that afraid of the metric system...

 

:) 

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20 hours ago, Syren said:

Also most labels show calories... but we're American so we have to do our own thing and be difficult... but these calories are actually kilocalories... I think we are that afraid of the metric system...

We call kilocalories calories too, so that's not just an American thing 🤣 but our labels do say kCal though. They also have kilojoule listed, but I haven't ever heard anyone use that lol.

 

Thanks for the information. We tried planning outside of hurricanes and tornadoes. And also my parents' wedding anniversary is the reason we're going in the first place and that's in May.

(actually it's for the anniversary of 2018 (I believe), but delayed for Star Wars lol)

 

All previous visits to the US we drank bottled water as far as I can remember. In the Netherlands we're basically spoiled when it comes to tap water :P especially where I live now, as it's dune filtered water. Plus that our water gets filtered a lot anyway.

 

Guess I'll be scouting out those Publix stores lol. Knowing my parents we'd end up at Wall-Mart or whatever otherwise lol.

It'll probably be a fight between my BF and I and my parents and aunt. As the latter group will be fine eating wherever and my BF and I do want to be at least a little mindful of it.

Fortunately we have an actual home we're staying in, so BF will probably be cooking on those days we're not in parks for dinner :P 

 

For food labels only thing I'm worried about is understanding portion sizes :P  

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15 hours ago, Tanktimus the Encourager said:

Fear not. Food labels have ridiculous portion sizes. None of us understand them.

 After looking into it for way too many months now, I don't think the USDA understands them, and they make them up.  🐙

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