April 5

If you found the most beautiful island in the world would you tell others about it or would you want to keep the location of this paradise to yourself?

I recently discovered the most beautiful beach and place in the world, for me at least. I remember sitting on the beach and telling my friend, “I’m not telling anybody about this place.” But I’m going to tell you about it today!

Some simple pictures taken with my phone camera, without any editing:




After reading a number of books on the South Pacific, I really wanted to experience living in a remote location for a week or two and really feel this slow rhythm of life that can be experienced only on a remote island.

Now there are different types of islands. Most of us are familiar with high islands that are created when a volcano erupts over the sea and then cools down and then as the volcano starts to fall into the ocean or creates valleys. This creates the geography of the islands that we know and love, like the islands of Hawaii, which are volcanic islands with one volcano as we know is still quite active on the big island of Hawaii.

Islands have a life-cycle like people, but their life-cycle is in the millions of years. Coral reef will form around many islands and when that happens the middle part of the island or the volcanic part of the island, the dead volcano itself, will start to fall into the sea at a very slow but steady rhythm.

This is accentuated by tectonic plates and their movement. The first stage of this type of island is the typical island that we know like Maui and so on.

Then, if a coral reef forms around the island, the next stage might be an island like Bora-Bora where a lagoon is formed around the island but the lagoon itself is surrounded by a coral reef where islets form. Eventually, this happens:


In Polynesian language these islets are called motus. If an island like Bora-Bora continues its life-cycle eventually the island itself will fall to the bottom of the sea and all that will be left is the lagoon, the coral reefs and some of the motus.

An atoll looks like this:


An atoll is the last stage of a coral reef volcanic island and it is a unique place in the world.

I’ve always been fascinated by atolls. I didn’t even know what they were until my first trip to French Polynesia.

In French Polynesia there is an archipelago called the Tuamotus with over 70 different atolls and each of them is unique. From Google maps:


Atolls themselves have a unique kind of life because very little grows on these motus. You have coconut trees and breadfruit and other kinds of vegetation but plenty of life, lots of birds.

It’s an incredible thing looking at an atoll lagoon and seeing how much life is happening at any one time. There are dolphins, sharks, turtles, whales, every kind of sea life imaginable.

The feeling that you get when you’re on a motu and an atoll is incredible. You really feel like you’re at the end of the world. You might walk from one side, the lagoon side, to the ocean side in just a few minutes. It can be a hundred, two hundred meters wide, and that’s it. Sometimes the villages will be organized around a road. Sometimes there are no main roads, no cars. It depends on the population of the atolls.

The atoll I visited is called Fakarava. This is a beautiful atoll known for its scuba diving.

I discovered that an amazing guesthouse or as we say in French, a pension, is situated on the southern side of the motus where there are no roads.

It’s far from the village so in order to get there you have to first fly into Tahiti and then take another one hour or so flight to Fakarava and then take a boat, which is going to take an hour and a half to get to this point of the atoll, the southern part of the atoll where the pension, Raimiti, is located.


In the pension, inside of the bungalows, there’s no electricity, only gas lamps. It is sort of a Robinson Crusoe experience.


However, there is electricity on the premises themselves, provided mostly by solar energy; on the restaurant side and inside of the reading area and so on. There’s no Internet either, but cell phones do work. For me it was not only an escape away from the modern world, so to speak, but also a digital detox  – just you and the ocean and the quietness of it all.

My “Digital Detox”

I’ve been wanting to get away from the Internet for a long time, but I don’t think I’ve ever done it for more than one or two days at a time, even while on vacation.

I think the last time I completely disconnected from more than one or two days of was in 2008, and every time I tried to to disconnect a found myself extremely bored and just unable to to do it or missing that connection.

You want to text somebody, you want to tell them how it’s going. You want to check what’s going on elsewhere.

Instead, I spent a lot of time listening to the sounds of the ocean, reading, listening to music, chatting with people, and of course enjoying the lagoon.  You can always meet new people that are coming in.

At first I was going to bed around 10, 11, and then I just started falling asleep at 9, and getting up before 6.

It seems like at some point when you remove all the distractions that your body requests some of the sleep it’s been missing for a while.

I felt an incredible sense of relief. There’s so much more to life than being connected and getting a Google answer whenever we need one.

We lost this habit of waiting. When I was younger, I used to order books in the mail and because I lived in Canada, they would take weeks to arrive.

Now we have Amazon, Prime shipping, two day free shipping, and Kindle books can be had instantly.

The same for movies. We used to have to drive to the Blockbuster or similar establishment to rent movies and DVDs and then return them. Now it’s all Netflix and downloadable movies.

When you add wait to your vocabulary something else can fill the void during the wait.

Boredom is another concept that we associate with negative things.

“I’m bored.”

“There’s nothing to do.”

We’re used to filling all of our time with exciting things that we tend not to get bored too often.

I rediscovered the joys of boredom.

Every time I ask people who lived on Fakarava: “Don’t you miss the big city? Don’t you get bored here?”

And they always looked at me with this puzzled look on their face. “Bored? Why? I have everything here. It’s so beautiful. What when I go back to the city I miss it. I miss this.” And they point at the lagoon and the immensity of the ocean with the beautiful colors and I understand them.

Life can be simple. But the more complex it gets, the more we need to fill every minute of our time with something increasingly exciting and interesting.  We forget how the little things can be fulfilling, like having an afternoon to yourself or listening to the sounds of the ocean.

If you ask me, “Would you have stayed longer? Are you eager to get back?”

To be honest, I would have stayed a lot longer than a week.

A part of me was eager to get back, but it’s only the part that wanted to tell others about this experience.

At the end of the trip, I felt like the island had shared something important with me — the atoll way of life started to become part of me.

IMG_4611 2

So what are your thoughts? Have you ever done an Internet “detox”? Have you discovered any benefits from it? Share them below in the comment section.

February 4

People often ask me, “How do you survive in the wintertime eating this diet, given the limited availability of fruits and vegetables?”

I just spent a month on Maui and came back to Montreal to freezing temperatures.

And I still think that you don’t need to live in a tropical paradise to follow a high-raw diet!

It’s a common myth to say that living in a tropical country necessarily makes the raw food lifestyle easier.

I know, I know. It sounds like a contradiction. What could be better than living in a country where your fruits can be picked fresh and ripe right off the tree?

Unfortunately, the reality is a little different. That’s what I found out by living in different tropical countries at different times throughout my extensive traveling around the world.

Costa Rica

I spent roughly two years of my life in Costa Rica, spread out between a few winters.

I got a pretty good idea of the fruits and vegetables that were available there throughout the seasons.

Yes, there is a LOT of fresh fruit available. Yes, it is much cheaper than what you would pay for the same fruit in North America. And yes, the weather is great, most of the time.

But whenever I came back to my home in Montreal after a long trip in Costa Rica, I was always shocked by the variety and quality of fruits I had available to me in my hometown.

Part of this is due to fruits in Costa Rica being very seasonal. You will find papayas and bananas year-round, but even the mangos are fairly seasonal.

As for vegetables, that’s where it gets a little trickier.

Typically, vegetables don’t grow very well in tropical countries, specifically greens, and the availability is limited due to this reality.

Vegetables such as kale or romaine lettuce, for example, just don’t grow well in these areas, and you won’t find things like this as often.

You’ll find things like cabbage and some lettuce, but nothing near the variety you’ll get in the organic stores everywhere in North America or Europe.

There are a few more things I missed while living in Costa Rica as well.

Like: good roads.

For physical activities throughout Central America and other countries, the roads are not properly set up for walking or running.

They can be dangerous if you’re not watching out, and Costa Rica specifically has high rates of accidental traffic deaths involving pedestrians.

You do get beautiful weather, a proper “tropical paradise”, and you get great fruit at a great price. But you do not get all of the modern amenities of North America that many people have grown used to and take for granted.

Modern health-food restaurants, gyms, and roads that are suitable for walking and cycling just are not the common thing in Costa Rica and many other countries.


Fruits of Maui. However, these goodies from Ono Farm are difficult to purchase...

Fruits of Maui. However, these goodies from Ono Farm are difficult to purchase…

Hawaii offers a beautiful array of landscapes and microclimates, and I find myself wanting to move here every time I visit. I love the Aloha spirit, the people, I love the water, and I love the islands.

But as most people know, the cost of living in Hawaii is much higher than in other parts of the country.

For someone living on a standard American diet, you could probably get by shopping at Costco, going to the farmer’s markets, and growing some of your food.

For most people, however, if you’re going to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, it’s going to get expensive.

Surprisingly, the variety isn’t all that great either. Last month, while I was on Maui, I made a few runs to Costco for pineapple, as it’s the only place I could find it for a decent price!

The fruits I was eating were : pineapples, bananas, papayas, and apples.

The only exotic thing I was able to get was freshly picked starfruit, which were amazing, but in short supply.

You can get a lot of great greens and other produce imported from the Mainland, but they are very expensive.

Everything else involved with following a raw food lifestyle is perfect in Maui, but it comes at a price.

Other Tropical Countries

I’ve visited the Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Fiji, the Philippines, and many others.

Out of all those places, the place that I would say that is most appropriate for the raw food lifestyle would be Thailand and Southeast Asia, in general.

The variety and amount of fruits available there is just astounding. There aren’t as many greens, but it’s the place to go for fruit.

It’s hard not to feel like an outsider, and it’s difficult to be really accepted into the culture, however. The language can be difficult to grasp, and many people find it difficult to feel like home.

The same goes for the rest of Southeast Asia.

As for the South Pacific, this is the part of the world that I find the most beautiful.

The islands of French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, and Fiji are simply stunning.

If you think Hawaii is beautiful, you need to go to the South Pacific to be truly blown away!

Surprisingly, although these islands are more remote and less accessible, I found a better variety of fruit in French Polynesia than I did in Hawaii. Although Hawaii has more shopping available, they seem to grow more local produce in the South Pacific.

Of course, it’s expensive to live in these places. Immigration is not possible for most people, and there’s a good chance you’ll miss home, being so far away from everything.

Conclusion: The Grass Is Always Greener….

So whenever I come back to my cold city of Montreal, which has great weather for parts of the year, but not-so-great for the most part of the year, I always feel happy because I know I live in a great city.

It’s not a tropical paradise, but I do have better access to produce than almost anywhere else I’ve been. It’s also a great place to live a healthy lifestyle, like many modern cities in North America. Especially on the west coast!

We have farmer’s markets, modern gyms, bike trails, places to run and exercise, and a temperate climate that isn’t conducive to the spread of many tropical diseases.

So there are a lot of great advantages to living in more Northern latitudes. I don’t think we can say anymore that a lack of produce is an issue in almost all of North America, with the exception of maybe extreme northern areas.

You’re likely going to find a better variety of produce in major cities than you will in many tropical paradises. Bigger cities have better infrastructure, and more people demand more luxuries that can be imported from all over the world.

More people are living healthier lifestyles in these areas of the world, so there are simply more resources available to provide for this.

The Weather

Finally, I think the only major drawback to living in a cold climate, is the weather.

It can be truly difficult to get through six months of winter, or three months depending on where you live.

The lack of sunshine, the shorter days, and the cold are factors that do add up and make living in these Northern climates a little less enticing and make living a high-raw diet and lifestyle more difficult.

What’s the solution?

Being active and exercising is one.

I think more realistically, having the option to travel to a “tropical paradise” from where you base out of is probably the best of both worlds.

That way you get to soak in the sunshine, get your fill of island life, and then go back home.

I know traveling can be difficult and expensive, so that’s why I recommend figuring out how to do it on the cheap.

For example, my entire trip to Maui was incredibly affordable, even though I live on the east coast; I was able to fly all the way to Maui in business class for $66!

How did I do that?

Well, I used the system that I describe in my course, “How To Travel The World For Free”.

If you’re interested in this program, make sure to check out the NEW version of the course “How to Travel the World for Free.” Check it out here:


This new version contains over 2 hours of new material, including brand-new programs on “How to Get to Hawaii” and “A Trip to Italy,” showing you exactly how to plan a nearly free trip to those destinations using the system.


December 30

A couple of weeks ago I was out of town on business and needed to grab a bite to eat. I spotted a health food restaurant that offered a giant buffet, including a salad bar where you could pay by plate size instead of by weight. Perfect!

They had two different salad prices: small and large. Of course I went for the “large” plate, but even that could have been bigger!

Whenever the deal is “fit as much as you can on your plate for this price,” my caveman instincts kick in, just like everybody else. So I started to pile crazy amounts of salad on that plate, filled with all kinds of veggies, some slices of avocado and other good things.

When I made it to the counter to pay, I thought I had a pretty big salad, but I still felt I could have piled even more on top of it all.

When the cashier saw my salad, he started laughing like a mad man.

The guy actually started to laugh uncontrollably! He just could not contain himself and started laughing and laughing while making comments about my salad between gasps for breath.

“Wow, that’s a really big umm….wow that’s a salad…..”

You get the idea.

I wasn’t quite sure whether to take it as a compliment or if I should feel slightly insulted.

But as he kept laughing more and more, I ended his party by looking at him straight in the eye, and with the most serious Poker face I could muster I asked him, “How much do I owe you?” trying to sound like I was a high-paid CEO talking to a low-class subordinate.

At first, I was wondering if he was laughing so hard simply because I was taking advantage of their $7.99 plate of salad by piling more than most people would fit onto such a plate.

But then I kept thinking of other buffets where you pay by the plate, and all over the world I’ve seen people do the same thing: pack as much as they can onto the tiniest, cheapest plate possible.

There’s a restaurant in my city called the “Mongolian Grill” where you can get a pretty good vegetarian stir-fry. You take a bowl and pile as many vegetables as you can onto it, and a guy will cook it in front of you on a giant hot plate.

At all of those restaurants, I’ve always witnessed people pack in as much meat as possible, and if they’re vegetarian, as much veggies as they can possibly fit onto that plate, so much that sometimes stuff starts falling off it as they bring it to the counter.

So after this health food store employee laughed uncontrollably at my salad, I came to the conclusion that he was actually laughing because I was going to EAT such a big salad, not because he though I was ripping off his store.

In his mind, eating such a giant salad would be the equivalent of someone else eating a three-foot sub sandwich! It’s all relative.

A local Montreal newspaper that was doing a feature on raw food diets once interviewed me. When I told the reporter that I was often eating 8 to 10 bananas for lunch, he also started to laugh uncontrollably, as did the filming crew. It seemed so odd to them that a single person would eat so many bananas in a sitting!

The Importance of Caloric Density

Caloric density is one of the most important concepts in health and weight loss.

It’s simply a value of how many calories are in a certain weight of food, either by pound or kilo.

If you eat foods with a low caloric density, you get full much faster because you have more volume to deal with, and more fiber to keep you full.

If you eat foods of high-caloric density, you tend to find it easier to consume more calories, and for some people this causes some issues for their waistline.

Study after study has shown that caloric density is the most important factor in making a diet work long-term.


Because if you eat foods of low caloric density, you get full much faster, and it’s incredibly difficult to overeat and gain unwanted weight.

For example, lettuce has a caloric density of only 100 calories per pound, while olive oil has 4000 calories per pound.

Now you’ll say… yeah, but nobody just eats olive oil!

Of course. But whenever you add olive oil to a food, you increase the overall caloric density significantly.

One famous study showed that when they fed a group of people the same food but without the added fat, people ate the same amount of food, but consumed fewer calories, and lost weight. But, the other group being fed the same food but with extra oil sneaked in gained weight. They were taking in extra calories without realizing it!

At the same time, if you add lettuce to any meal, you lower the caloric density.

That’s why they’ve found that when people had a large fat free salad or a big apple before their meal, they ate less at the meal and were able to lose weight. All because of applying the concepts of caloric density.

Let’s take a look at the average caloric density of different food, in terms of number of calories by pound.

Food Caloric Density Per Pound
Fresh raw or cooked veggies 100
Fresh raw fruit 250-300
Cooked Starchy Vegetables, Intact Whole Grains 450-500
Legumes and Beans 550-600
Meat Products 900-1000
Dried Fruit 1200
Processed grains and Flours (even if made from whole grains) 1200-1500
Cheese 1800
Nuts and Seeds 2800
Cheese 1800
Oil 4000


Keep in mind that this is an average across a category. For example, we know that bananas contain more calories per weight than apples, but overall fruits have a similar caloric density.

Looking at this table, you’d be tempted to only eat vegetables if you were interested in losing weight, as they contain only 100 calories per pound.

It’s important to note that nobody can live on just vegetables, and that you’d get so hungry on a diet of just vegetables that you’d eventually break down and eat something else!

However, you do want your diet to contain plenty of raw vegetables, by weight.
The concept of caloric density applied to your overall system of eating is to look at the overall caloric density of your meals.

What have been your experiences with eating since being aware of caloric density? Let us know in the comments below!


December 2

If there’s a country and culture that is universally admired and despised somehow at the same time, it’s France.

French is my first language, and most Americans I meet confess to having taken French in high school. They seem really proud of the fact, even though they couldn’t order an orange juice in Paris to save their lives.

But they took French. Not Spanish, but French. It’s strange because Spanish is practically the second language of the United States, yet most Americans would rather learn French.

If you ask an American what is one city they would like to visit before they die, you can bet that the vast majority would answer, “Paris”.

Read an American novel and you’ll be surprised how often the writer likes to boast his knowledge of French culture by sprinkling a few French expressions here and there, without bothering to translate them, implying that he probably speaks fluent French (even though he doesn’t).

France is THE number one most visited country in the world by tourists. And the Eiffel Tower is the most visited building in the world.

Something like 30 to 40% of the English vocabulary comes from French.

It’s even claimed that they invented modern gourmet cuisine as we know it today.

At the same time, the French people catch a bit of a bad reputation. It’s said that their manners could use a bit of an improvement, and unless you are speaking perfect French to them, they’ll turn their nose up at you and about their way.

Are these things actually true however?

When it comes to diet and nutrition, it’s said that French people eat a diet of rich, fatty foods (buttered croissants, cheeses, meats, etc.) yet are actually thinner and healthier than much of the rest of the world.

Is it the wine that’s protecting them? Maybe we were wrong all along about fatty foods causing heart disease?

Why French People Stay Thin

It is true, French people are much slimmer than Americans overall. I’ve traveled all around the US and spent time in France and can confirm this from my experiences too.

Yet, they eat some of the most decadent, fatty foods known to mankind, and they do so on a regular basis.

I’m talking about butter in everything: sauces, croissants, meat… everything contains a ridiculous amount of fat, enough to make any nutritionist cringe.

They have hundreds of types of cheese, and they love to talk about them. Being vegan here is a laughable idea, as almost no traditional meal is vegan.

The wine there is dirt cheap, being taxed less than most countries in the world. And French people definitely appreciate their wine!

With all that fattening food, you’d expect the French to be at least fatter than Americans, but the contrary is quite true. Obesity rates are less than 10% there, compared to 30% in the US.

The rates of deaths by heart disease are also almost a third lower in France than that in the US too.

Cancer rates are even lower, but not dramatically so.

Qu’est-ce qu’il se passe!? (What is going on!?)

Some have said that the reason French people stay relatively healthier is that they drink so much wine, and wine somehow protects them and “cleanse their arteries”.

There’s a lot of debate on whether or not the alcohol that the French drink (or anyone else for that matter) is actually doing them any good, but I’m still willing to say that I’m doubtful that it’s the wine that’s France’s saving grace.

What is clear now is that French people stay slimmer and have less heart disease because they eat less in general than most other Westernized countries, and they care more about what they eat.

In French, the word for lunch literally means “breakfast” because it used to be the first meal of the day.

However, when people started eating a little something in the morning, they called that meal “little breakfast” (petit déjeuner).

The average breakfast in France is still pretty light. Maybe a croissant with some coffee, but many people skip it entirely.

Lunch is a big thing. They take their lunches seriously, often taking 2 hours or more to eat and chat.

Dinner is traditionally simple, and many smart French people eat almost nothing for dinner — maybe some fruit and yogurt. However, it’s becoming popular to have bigger dinners nowadays.

My other theory on the French Paradox is the love of food that people have here.
People still like to shop like in the old days, buying their bread at the boulangerie (baker), their produce at the fruit shop or the market, their meat at the butcher, and so on.

Food is a big topic of conversation, and don’t be surprised if you get caught in a conversation with a French person where they spend half an hour to describe their particular method for picking the best wild mushrooms, or making a particular recipe.

Because of this obsession for food, they also tend to care a lot more about food quality, by buying local products they can trust, and even harvesting and growing produce themselves as much as possible.

Also, the SOCIAL aspect of life is extremely important here.

People here tend to spend more time together. When they eat, it’s not the same rushed experience you would get at a fast-food restaurant or your typical café most places back in the west.

Taking two hours to enjoy your lunch with your friends will certainly enhance your digestion, as opposed to angrily and hurriedly eating a burger alone in the twenty terrible minutes most people get on their lunch break.

In the end, it’s nothing magical that makes French people slimmer and a bit healthier, in spite of all that fattening food.

It’s a combination of:

  • Healthy social lives
  • Reasonable food quantities
  • Placing an importance on food quality

*Are French People Truly Healthy?*

In spite of everything I have said, we should not conclude that French people have found the secret to a good life or the fountain of youth by eating buttered croissants and red wine all afternoon.

Cancer rates are almost as high there as they are in North America. The medical industry still thrives, and all the ailments that are common in Western countries are still common there, but the situation is not as out of control as it is in the USA…at least for now.
So, it’s likely there isn’t some sort of magical concoction or combination of things that protect the French, it’s likely just the result of living an overall healthier lifestyle, something we all can do yet rarely take the time for.

Here are some final points of advice that you can use to improve your diet and health no matter where you are:

  • Spend more time to enjoy your meals, and in good company.
  • Make your meals look beautiful in order to enhance the appreciation of the whole experience, which can even improve digestion.
  • Care about what you eat. Discover as many new foods as you can, and become an expert on what you know.
  • Grow as much of your own food as you can, or buy from local farmers in your area.

Let us know your experiences and thoughts in the comments below!



July 15

French People Don’t Get Fat

Filed under Traveling in the Raw by Frederic Patenaude

You may have heard of the French Paradox.

This is mysterious statistical fact that although French people eat a diet rich in saturated fat, they have relatively low levels of cardiovascular disease, compared to Americans.

Is it the wine that’s protecting them?

Are fatty foods actually bad for us?

Before I get into that, I must first say that I’m not French, even though it is my first language. I’m French Canadian. Big difference in culture and food. However, I have been half a dozen times to France and have spent enough time there, along with French expats in Montreal, to have a good idea.

Why French People Stay Thin

It is true, French people are much slimmer than Americans overall, even in 2014.

And yes, they eat some of the most decadent, fatty foods known to mankind, and they do that on a regular basis.

I’m talking about butter in everything: sauces, croissants, meat… everything contains a ridiculous amount of fat, that would make any nutritionist cringe.

They have hundreds of types of cheese, and they love to talk about them too.

Wine is popular, although much less so, in recent years.

80% of French people eat baguette with every meal.

With all that fattening food, you’d expect the French to be at least fatter than Americans, but the contrary is quite true. Obesity rates are at around 10% here, compared to 33% in the US.

France is the 128th fattest country in the world.

And also rates of heart rate disease (by number of deaths every year) is almost a third of what it is in the US.

Cancer rates are also a little lower, but not dramatically so.

So…. qu’est-ce qu’il se passe!? (What is going on!?)

Some have said that the reason French people stay relatively healthier is that they drink so much wine, and wine somehow protects them and “cleans their arteries”.

However, further research disproved this theory.

What is clear now is that French people stay slimmer and have less heart disease because they eat less in general, and they care more about what they eat.

One of the main factors is QUANTITY.

In French, the word for lunch literally means “breakfast” because it was the first meal of the day.

However, when people started eating a little something in the morning, they called that meal “little breakfast” (petit déjeuner).

The average breakfast in France is still pretty light. Maybe a croissant with some coffee, but many people skip it entirely.

Lunch is a big thing. They take their lunches seriously, often taking 2 hours or more to eat and chat.

Dinner is traditionally simple, and many smart French people eat almost nothing for dinner — maybe some fruit and yogurt. However, it’s becoming popular to have bigger dinners nowadays.

Another important fact: French people rarely eat in between meals. You will rarely see people snacking on the bus, train or metro.

My other theory on the French Paradox is the love of food that people have here.

People still like to shop like in the old days, buying their bread at the boulangerie (baker), their produce at the fruit shop or the market, their meat at the butcher, and so on.

Food is a big topic of conversation, and don’t be surprised if you get caught in a conversation with a French person where they’ll literally spend half an hour to describe their particular method for picking the best wild mushrooms, or making a particular recipe.

Because of this obsession for food, they also tend to care a lot more about food quality, by buying local products they can trust, and even harvesting and growing produce themselves as much as possible.

Also, the SOCIAL aspect of life is extremely important.

People tend to spend more time together. When they eat, it’s not the same rushed experience you would get at a fast-food restaurant.
Taking two hours to enjoy your lunch with your friends will certainly enhance your digestion, as opposed to angrily and quickly eating a burger alone.
In the end, it’s nothing magical that makes French people slimmer and a bit healthier, in spite of all that fattening food.
It’s a combination of:

  • Reasonable portions
  • Food quality
Social context

Are French People Truly Healthy?

In spite of everything I have said, we should not conclude that French people have found the secret to good life and good health by eating this way.

Cancer rates are still very high — almost as high as they are in North America.

And of course, French traditions are changing, as they are everywhere else.

Here are some final points of advice, translating everything to the raw food world:

* Spend more time to enjoy your meals in good company.
* Don’t eat between meals. (On a raw food diet, that may be a bit difficult to follow).
* Make your meals look beautiful, in order to enhance the appreciation of the whole experience, and even improve digestion.
* Care about what you eat. Discover new foods.
* Grow your own food if you can, or buy from local farmers that you know personally.

June 2

Let’s say that you were to travel extensively, go on a round-the-world trip, or even just go for a vacation abroad.

Does it make sense to eat a raw food diet when you travel?

As you know, I promote a plant-based diet (raw foods is great), and I am a proponent of eating a lot of fruit.

I’ve also traveled extensively before, including an 8-month trip around the world covering over 20 countries, so I’m aware of the challenges and also advantages of eating raw on the road.

One of my main concerns when traveling is health, which means eating as well as possible and getting exercise (which is not always easy when traveling!).

Overall, I would say that it’s quite easy to eat a plant-based diet when traveling.

The best places to find fruits and vegetables around the world are usually grocery stores and farmer’s markets (which in many countries are just called “markets”).

The problem when traveling is not just to find food, but to have a way to eat it.

At home, I normally use a big Vita-Mix blender at least once a day to make green smoothies.

While traveling, you’ll need to minimize your luggage and bringing a 15-pound vita-mix is usually out of the question. Even a travel blender takes a lot of space and is hardly usable to make smoothies.

A good idea is to bring a flexible cutting board though, as well as one knife and a couple of tupperware containers.

While traveling, a good portion of our diet can consist of fruits that will be cut up and eaten that way.

In many countries like Thailand and even throughout Europe, fruit is easy to find and delicious.

Vegetables are something to watch out for in many foreign countries where the water quality is questionable. I’ve known more than one raw-foodist who got seriously ill with parasites after eating greens and vegetables in Asia.

Also, making a big salad in a hotel room is not that easy or fun to do. So

So I generally eat a lot less salads during my travels and instead eat more cooked vegetables.

Eating 100% Raw or Not?

Some people, for various reasons, make the 100% raw diet the most important focus in their lives. So if they went on a one-year trip around the world, they would do everything they can to eat 100% raw all the time.

For me, based on previous experiences, I’ve decided that eating raw is not my main concern when I travel.

There are several reasons for this:

1) When traveling and without access to fruit in bulk, and without a blender, it’s much harder to get enough calories from fruit.

2) I consider high-fat raw meals to be worse for health than low fat cooked vegan meals.

3) My goal is health and not just “raw foods”. I also want to have fun on a trip and not feel stressed by having to eat 100% raw all the time.

4) Because I don’t want to be eating a lot of raw vegetables in many countries for health reasons, supplementing the diet with some high-nutrient-density cooked vegetables is a good idea.

5) When eating 100% raw for a while, the body will violently react to any cooked foods eaten because it has not adapted to eating them in a while. Based on previous experiences, it’s not a good idea to become *that* sensitive on a trip, especially if it takes you to remote locations where finding enough fruit calories might be difficult.

My philosophy for eating while traveling is simple:

– I eat a lot of fruit because it’s easy to find, safe and usually less expensive than everything else.

– Avoid raw vegetables in many countries for health reasons.

– If I have access to a kitchen and will be in one location for a while, I buy ingredients to make simple and healthy plant-based meals.

– If I’m traveling for tourism, I enjoy some of the local cuisine and burn it off by walking over 18,000 steps a day!

– I don’t worry too much about making my diet perfect when traveling.

Stay safe, eat fruit, walk a lot, and enjoy your trip!

What do you think? If you traveled around the world, would you stick to a 100% raw diet? Post your comments below.

NOTE: You can save 55% on my course “How to Travel the World for Free” by using coupon code IRELAND for this week only. Click the link below to find out more and remember to use the coupon code on checkout for the discount! 

February 18

Everybody LOVES Thai food. But let’s face it: it’s not as healthy as we think. A lot of Thai food is loaded with oil, salt and sugar.

When you’re in Thailand, food is everywhere. And lucky for us, fruit is everywhere, too! You can find street vendors everywhere who will sell you delicious cut-up fruits such as fresh pineapple, watermelon, and more.

But let’s talk about Thai restaurants for a moment. Thai food is popular everywhere in North America, and some restaurants make food that is more authentic than others.

But generally, you’ll find similar staples. So if you care about your health, what should you order at a Thai restaurant?

By far, the healthiest meal you can order is a Thai Papaya salad with a side of sticky rice. I love papaya salad, which is made with green papayas, tomatoes, green beans, and seasonings (usually fish sauce too, but you can ask to be made without it).

It can be very spicy, but you can ask for the level of spiciness that you prefer. It’s traditionally served in Thailand with a side of sticky rice, so why not go for that?

The soups, such as Tom Yum, are generally healthy, but very salty. They taste amazing, though. If you want to keep calories in check, avoid the ones made with coconut milk.

Curries are popular, but are definitely some of the richest meals you can order on the menu, due to the generous use of coconut milk and oil.

Not every Thai curry is made with coconut milk. In Thailand, many curries don’t contain any coconut milk and are much lighter. If you go to a more traditional Thai restaurant, those curries may be available.

The noodle dishes, such as Pad Thai, are generally your worst choices. Too much vegetable oil is used, so it’s very, very greasy!

You can easily order a vegetable dish in a light sauce with a side of rice in most Thai restaurants.

Don’t order the imperial rolls: they are fried. But summer rolls, when available, are wrapped in a rice paper sheet and include lots of vegetables. Those are a great choice.

So, as you can see, there’s a lot you can eat at a Thai restaurant without going totally off the wagon. Just the Green Papaya Salad with a side of sticky rice can be a great meal.

You can eat a high-raw diet without giving up the social benefits of cooked foods. All it takes is a little planning.

Check out my new book Raw Freedom, which discusses exactly how to make this flexible approach work in the real world!

I live in an area of my city where there are a lot of Italian restaurants.

I love Italian food, but it’s not always the healthiest.

But, chances are that you’ll end up in an Italian restaurant once in a while, whether it’s with your family, your spouse, on a date or for business.

So, what should you eat there to enjoy yourself, while minimizing the impact of your little indulgence?

First, it depends on whether you go to an authentic Italian restaurant or a fully Americanized one.

Let’s start with a few common dishes in authentic Italian restaurants.

Italian salads are generally fine to eat, and contain a lot of healthy greens like arugula. But, make sure to ask for dressing on the side, because they tend to use a lot of olive oil. You can ask for no dressing but it’s not a common request. So I just ask for dressing on the side, and don’t use it.

Risotto is generally loaded with butter, oil and cheese.

Gnocchi in tomato sauce is usually a good choice, though. It’s made with potatoes and the tomato sauce is not very heavy.

Pasta is a good choice, and usually in a real Italian restaurant the serving is reasonable.

If you’re going to have pizza, have a thin crust with lots of vegetables, no meat, and crumbled cheese like feta or goat’s cheese. Those pizzas tend to be the lowest in fat and the healthiest.

One of my favorite side dishes in Italian cuisine is a plate of cooked greens! It usually contains a lot of olive oil, so you can ask with no added olive oil. It might still come with some, but at least they won’t drizzle extra on top.

In authentic Italian restaurants, you’ll also find a side order of beans, or a minestrone soup loaded with beans and vegetables.

I’m personally not going to go to an Italian restaurant without having some wine (or prosseco) and some gelato as dessert. Though it’s an indulgence, it’s not a big one, because Italian gelato is fairly small. You can also ask for non-dairy versions.

Plates of fruits can be ordered in all good Italian restaurants.

Now, what about a fully Americanized Italian restaurant, such as Olive Garden?

Let’s face it. What they serve in those joints is not real Italian food. The pasta plates are about three times the size of what they serve in Italy, and the food is drenched in very rich sauces that are made in a factory.

What to Eat in an Americanized Italian Restaurant?

It’s a challenge. Skip all the appetizers.

The minestrone soup is a safe choice.

The salad is a good choice with dressing on the side.

You can also create a cheese-free vegetarian pizza if that’s something you like.

There will be usually one kind of pizza without meat or cheese.

And if you’re lucky, you might be able to order fruit and vegetables on the side.

In the end, your best option will be to go to a more authentic Italian restaurant. Enjoy!

February 11

A few years ago, I was traveling around the world with my ex-wife for about 8 months. We managed to stay 95-99% vegan the whole time, and did a fairly good job at eating a healthy diet on the road.

But let’s be honest, it wasn’t easy.

Some countries, like Australia, Germany, Singapore or Thailand, had plenty of fresh and healthy options.

Other countries like the Philippines or remote places like Fiji were much more difficult.

And I’m not talking about vegetarian or vegan traveling, because many countries around the world have vegetarian options.

I’m also not talking about touring all the raw food restaurants of the world.

I’m talking about true healthy eating, which I define as:

  • Plant-based
  • Whole
  • Free of added oils
  • High in raw
  • Limited use of salt
  • No harmful ingredients or cooking practices, like frying

You can eat as a vegetarian in most countries easily. But if you rely heavily on restaurants, there’s no doubt that you’re not eating a healthy diet.

Everybody loves going out to restaurants because the food usually tastes SO good.

What’s the magic there? How come the food is so much more tasty and stimulating than the food you make at home?

It’s no secret.

Every chef uses a ton of:

  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Oil (and other fats)

… in almost every single concoction. Salt and oil are particularly overused.

If you actually spend some time in a kitchen with a chef, you’ll be shocked at how much salt is used in the food. It’s easily 3 or 4 times the amount you’d feel comfortable using at home, even if you’re not particularly health conscious.

Same goes for oil.

And of course, many restaurants are very meat and fish centric, and offer almost no option for vegetarians.

So how do we solve this problem?

Restaurants are a part of life. No matter how well you follow your diet at home, there will be all kinds of social pressures that will bring you to restaurants.

Some people have also jobs that require them to attend many meetings at restaurants, making this even more difficult.

Whether you’re following a raw food diet, a low fat plant-based diet, or even just a basic vegetarian or vegan diet, you’re going to have this problem. And the same goes for an omnivorous or flexitarian person trying to eat healthy.

So here’s what to do:

1) First, don’t kid yourself. Restaurant food is almost never healthy. Just watch a few episodes of any famous chef on TV and you’ll know why.

2) Eat before you go out. Unless you’re traveling and the restaurant becomes your source of calories for the day, chances are that you’re going out simply for the social aspects of it. So it’s a good idea to fill up on something healthy BEFORE you show up at the restaurant.

Research has shown than when people consume salads, fresh vegetable soups, or whole fruits before a meal, they consume fewer calories at the meal (and fewer total calories). So it’s a healthy thing to do.

I recommend filling up on fruit, a big salad, a big bowl of vegetable soup (with no salt added), or some cooked, whole grains like brown rice.

3) Avoid a few key items

Soups: If you’re watching your sodium intake, soups are ALWAYS a no-no. They are loaded with ridiculous quantities of salt, often lots of oil, and provide very few healthy calories.

Bread: Bread rolls are made with refined flour and loaded with salt. I say avoid them, but they’re not the worst thing you can eat, as long as you do it infrequently. In most cases you should avoid them, but in some survival situations, you better keep them around in case there are truly no healthy calories to eat on the menu!

4) Go buffet style

I know, I know, you’ve heard all kinds of horror stories about buffet and hygiene. But I say buffets are great because they give you control about what you’re going to put on your plate. Salad buffets are excellent, and you can usually make a decent meal there. Even cooked buffet will usually have a few vegetable options and plain rice.

5) Order from the sides menu

Don’t despair if you can’t find anything on the menu. If you look closely at the “sides” menu, you’ll often find many healthy items. I’ve often created entire meals from the sides menu!

6) Hack the menu

You might look at the menu and find no single dish that completely meets your requirements. But you’ll often find plenty of items, scattered throughout the menu, that could be combined together to create a dish. For example, salads listed often contain chicken, tuna, eggs, or other items you don’t want. You can ask for a “custom” salad to be creating, combining all of the healthy ingredients that you can see in all of the salads on the menus combined. If you see they serve guacamole as an appetizer, there’s a good chance they have avocados in the kitchen. So even if no salad listed includes avocados as an ingredient, you can ask if they can throw that in there as well.

7) Call in advance

This works well for fancier restaurants. If the chefs are caught off-guard, it’s not certain they can prepare foods to your liking. But if you call or email in advance, you can make sure that your requirements are met.

I’ve had success with this strategy, especially when emailing the hotels. Some chefs have responded personally, and were very eager to try something new.

Don’t over complicate things for them though. Just list some ingredients you can and can’t eat, and let them get creative.

8) Tip well

When making all of those special requests, it’s important to tip well. I try to give a generous 25% tip whenever I make special requests.

Coming next: exactly what to order at different types of restaurants (including steak houses!).

August 20

One Year of Traveling for Free

Filed under Traveling in the Raw by Frederic Patenaude

Last Saturday I told you about the five trips I took this year for free or nearly free using the methods I learned from Shelli that we taught in the course, “How to Travel the World…”

I promised I would get Shelli to reveal all of the trips she took this year using this method.

As I told you, I’m only using the method at the “intermediate” stage. Shelli is truly a master in the art of free traveling!

Here are all the trips she booked for 2013 and exactly how much it cost for each.

My Year of Traveling in Style and Luxury on a Cheap Budget

by Shelli Stein 

This year I’ll be turning 59.

A few years ago, I decided the time was right to start traveling abroad — something that always has been an ambition of mine, but one that I never fully accomplished.

I didn’t want to wake up at 60 and start this new decade of my life thinking of all of the things I wished I had done and seen when I was younger. So I decided I would learn everything there is to learn about traveling using points and miles.

I spent a considerable amount of time learning these methods from scratch. At first, I didn’t know what I was doing! But little by little, I discovered how to make the method work. I taught my old friend Frederic how to do it, and last year he asked me to create a course with him on the topic. It was an honor to be able to reach out to so many people. I want to inspire them to achieve their travel dreams, just as I am. As I said to Frederic many times: this is about making your dreams come true. It’s about traveling to the places you’ve always wanted to visit, at a price you can afford.

Frederic asked me to list all of the trips I booked in 2013, and give details about each trip. I’m happy to do that!

So here we go! Let’s take a look…

1. Europe in the Spring

My first trip of the year was to Budapest and Vienna, with my partner. Both cities were absolutely wonderful and a first-time experience for us.

We flew using United, Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines. All in business class. One highlight of the trip was during the four-hour layover in London, England. Because we traveled business class we had access to the lounge. Much to our surprise and delight, the lounge had showers. After a long overnight flight from the west coast to Europe, it was great to be able to take showers and freshen up before the rest of the trip!

The entire trip cost me $247.10 in taxes and fees for the plane tickets. The same trip out-of-pocket would cost between $4000 and $5000 per person.

For hotels, we stayed for a week at the Budapest Hilton Castle District, all on points. Wonderful hotel, great services and amenities, and excellent location! Regular price would be $200 a night, but we got it for free.

In Vienna, we stayed for a week at the Hotel Bristol, which is a Starwood Preferred Guest hotel choice. I used points and paid $99 a night. This is an amazing luxury hotel right near the Vienna opera house. Regular price for this hotel is around 230 euros a night, or around $300 U.S. We were upgraded to a suite room with an incredible view of the opera house.

Hotel Bristol, Vienna

2. Europe in August 2013.

The second trip of the year is one I just completed! My partner and I just came back from a trip to London and Paris.

We flew with United and US Air, all in first class. Yes, not business, but FIRST! Normal price for this would be $4200.

I’ve always wondered what first class travel was like, so I decided to splurge. It was even more private than business class, and the lie-flat seats really make the journey much more comfortable. The food and amenities, like pillows and blankets, were better as well. There were two particular benefits of flying first class. One was that our plane was very late getting into San Francisco for our connection to London. Not only did they hold the plane for us,  but they sent an escort to meet us and get us as quickly as possible to our London flight. This was amazing because we would have missed our plane and would have had to spend the day at the San Francisco airport instead of London! The other benefit of flying first class was that we were given special vouchers for clearing customs in London, so that when we got off the plane we scooted right through in our own line.

In Paris, because we flew back on US Air Envoy class, we didn’t have to stand on any long lines at the airport for security or to check in, so we had more time to enjoy breakfast in the lounge. The food and service of Envoy class was great, and they even have an espresso machine on board the plane!

Total cost was $139.80 in taxes and fees.

Hotels: In London, we stayed a few nights at the Andaz Hyatt Liverpool using certificates I could buy from Hyatt. I bought the certificates for $260 USD a night (that includes all taxes and fees).

I’ve always wanted to try a Hyatt Andaz hotel and really enjoyed it. I loved the boutique atmosphere of the hotel and the service and Andaz team were excellent. I’ll be back!

The other nights we stayed at the London Hilton on Park Lane for free.

This hotel is right across the street from Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace and the views from our upgraded 22nd story room were wonderful.

So if you count the nights we paid and the nights that were free, we spent $130 a night for top London hotels. Remember that London and Paris are very expensive cities! So our average for hotels, for two people, was very low, considering the level of luxury we enjoyed.

London Hilton on Park Lane

Andaz Hyatt Liverpool

In Paris–We rented an apartment and then spent two free nights at the Paris Park Hyatt Vendome.

This is a luxury hotel that is absolutely gorgeous. The spa was incredible as well. And even though it’s a very luxurious and expensive hotel, the manager sat talking with us for quite some time. We enjoyed our time with him. I felt he really wanted to know about our experience with the Hyatt hotels and he even gifted us with beautiful scented candles to remember our stay at his hotel.

So if we amortize lodging for the whole trip, the paid nights and free nights, it comes to about $85 dollars a night.

That’s an amazing bargain for such wonderful hotels in incredible world-class cities.

3. Israel in the fall.

I booked another trip for this fall to Israel. This time I’m going alone.

I’ve always wanted to go to Israel, but always seemed to put it off. Either I didn’t have the time or felt I didn’t have the money to spend on a trip like this. But now that I’m leveraging miles and points, I don’t have to put this trip off any longer. I’ve very excited about this adventure and this will be my first trip to this part of the world.

I’m flying using several airlines: United, Lufthansa, Swiss Air, and US Air, all Business class.

The total for the flight was $162.17 in taxes and fees. Again, out-of-pocket this would be $4000-5000 in business class.

I’m staying and using points in Tel Aviv at the Sheraton for $110 a night. Regular price would be around $300 a night, with taxes.

Sheraton Tel Aviv

4. Winter Trip to Chile

My last trip for 2013 is to Chile, with my partner. We’re flying American in First Class and Lan Chile in Business class. Total cost to me was $77.50 in taxes and fees. Price for this in business class would be $3000-4000.

We have no hotels there because we’ll be visiting family.

Seventeen years ago my cousin, who I grew up with, moved to Chile to be by his wife’s family. I haven’t seen him, except for a recent day in California, which inspired this trip. I have no idea what his life is like or what it’s been like for him to live in South America all these years.  I’ve never been to South America as it’s always felt too far away for me to travel. Well not any more. I feel so lucky to be able to make this trip, and my cousin is beyond excited as well. He’s so excited I keep getting emails telling me to practice my Spanish!

5. Hanoi and Bangkok in 2014

The last trip I booked, which will be my first trip in 2014, is to South East Asia.

I’ll be visiting Bangkok and Hanoi, flying using Thai Airways, Asiana and ANA all in business class. Fees for the whole trip were $100 in taxes and fees. Tickets going this far in business class can cost up to $10,000, but a minimum of $6000! So it will be an incredible experience.

No hotels booked for this one yet!

So as you can see, my trips were not all 100% free, but my method is more about stretching my travel budget, because airfare and hotels will always be the most costly part of any trip. This way I can travel more often.

So perhaps instead of one big trip a year we can now do three. For me what I want is to be able to travel to places I’ve always wanted to see, taking these long haul trips in business class and experience some 4-star hotels. Using miles and points allows me to see the world on a much more affordable budget!

I truly hope hearing about all these trips will inspire you to learn these methods so you too can visit the places you’ve always wanted to see.

NOTE: Get 50% off the course by using coupon code AUG24. Coupon expires on August 25th. Click on image below to learn more about the course. Make sure to use coupon code upon checkout. 

Do you have a question? Ask Shelli below in the comments section!