The Peace Corps Food Cycle

Most Peace Corps Volunteers are familiar with the 27 month cycle, an incredibly useful handout for understanding what you are going through during each stage of your service. As we all know, I’m obsessed with food. So I decided to create a 27 month chart based on the widely circulated one, but including our food cycle. Some months are much harder for food cravings, but after about 16 months I didn’t crave American food anymore. Now that I’m at the end, I’m taking the advice of another PCV and eating as much local food as possible. When’s the next time I’ll be able to eat banku and groundnut soup in America?


Month Issues Behavior/Reaction Intervention
1 Depart America
Intense desire for chocolate
Disgust at local foods
Curiosity about snack foods available
Visit local shop and buy random food
Eat lots of hardboiled eggs and peanut butter
2 Too much structure
Host family won’t adapt food or it is too much
Weight gain
Cravings begin
First cry over local food
Teach host family how to make an American food
Smuggle food to the pets at night
Be frank with host family
Dip into your American food stash
3-6 Separation/solitude
Cooking for yourself anxiety
Excitement over control of food
Determination to eat healthy
Cravings are minimized
Create a healthy diet plan for site
Befriend market ladies for deals
Indulge in American food occasionally
7-10 Slow work progress
Cross cultural frustration
Food depression
Food homesickness
Local food tolerance plateau
Intense food cravings
Splurge and make a big American meal
Experiment with locally available food and American style cooking
Request care packages
11-15 Mid Service Crisis
New trainees arrive
Constant complaining
Tendency to overeat
Revisit healthy diet plan
Try cooking local recipes
Cook with local family
Food party for one year anniversary
16-20 Awareness of time constraints
Project work
Food apathy
Diminished food cravings
Local food plateau
Focus on relationships in town
Visit new volunteers
Teach new volunteers how to cook PC style food
Try new food from the market
21-23 Demanding work pace
Prep for COS
Depression about lack of accomplishments
Continued food apathy
Food cravings almost gone
Eat local foods
Station food roulette – eat the first thing that passes you
Indulge in chocolate
23-27 Trauma of departure
Bridging identities
Food excitement
Food cravings resume
Anxiety about weight gain
Plan out first meals when home
Work out
Eat as much local food as possible

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