Last week, I was fortunate enough to find myself in Hong Kong with over 200 other Thermomix consultants (have I mentioned how awesome Thermomix in Australia is to work for?!?). Oh my goodness, I had a blast. Hong Kong was an awesome city, but I also just loved hanging out with the other consultants and group leaders in my area and getting to know them all much better. So much fun and laughter, thank you ladies!
My plan was to try and maintain a real food, gluten free, preservative free diet while away. Hah! You have full permission to laugh at me now. Having never been to Asia before, obviously I was so unprepared and way too optimistic. Things went downhill very, very quickly. There was a little hiccup with the plane food – Cathay Pacific refused to accept my needs for sulphite- and MSG-free plane meals without a doctors certificate. I ended up ordering the raw vegetarian meal, figuring that option had the least chances of containing sulphites or MSG, and I was served two very unsatisfying meals of vegetable sticks. I had to laugh when my first meal came with a bread roll. And again during the second meal when I noticed that the salad dressing simply read MUSTARD DRESSING: sulphites. I had figured the vegetable sticks thing was going to be the likely scenario, and with hope in my heart packed two tins of sustainably fished salmon in my carry on. Of course, they got taken by security at Sydney airport. Needless to say, by the time we got off the plane, I was ravenous and practically chanting “need steak now, need steak now, need steak now.”
Our first catered meal in Honkers was a buffet. A buffet. Guys, a freaking buffet. An awesome buffet, nonetheless, but a buffet. Those of you with any kind of dietary restriction will know how much harder a buffet is to navigate than a waiter and a menu. I made the best choices I possibly could, but knew fairly soon after eating that all was not well. Let’s fast forward and skip through the next few meals, to save you all the blow by blow of what I ate. 24 hours into my stay and I was feeling shocking. A headache the likes of which I haven’t seen in over a year, my gut was basically tearing itself apart, and I was struggling to think through the fog in my brain. What do you do, when your best efforts go so crucially, violently punished?
I’ll tell you what you do. You give up, guys. You resign yourself to the fact that you are going to feel this crummy not matter what decisions you make, and you actually really can’t feel any worse than this. So you have a bloody good time! You go to michelin star restaurants in Hong Kong and eat peking duck pancakes and duck tongues, you pig out on totally luscious chocolates supplied for your roommate’s birthday in the hotel, you eat yum cha at Stanley Markets (complete with steamed pork buns, yuuummm), you eat pork jerky and piglet jerky and portugese custard tarts in Macau, you eat high tea at the Peninsula, and you drink champagne and cocktails. Because you worked really hard in 2012, and dammit you deserve a bit of a celebration!
Then you come home. You are grinning from ear to ear, you had an amazing time. But you still feel like death has stomped all over you. It’s time to dust yourself off and get back in the real food saddle.
Your gut needs a break. It needs a big old hug. It needs lots of hugs. It needs a bit of help, and you owe that to it now.
My first thought was, “hey, maybe I should do a detox or a juice fast.”
Naaaaaahhhh. I just don’t get juice fasts and detoxes. There are so many amazing gut-nourishing and liver-aiding foods available to us. Our bodies are basically made to purify themselves. I don’t think practically starving yourself is the way to go to fix things. I don’t mean any offence to those of you that are into juice fasts, but they are just so not me. I can’t bring myself to even seriously consider doing one.
My approach ended up being much more about choosing the right foods, rather than avoiding foods. I’m starting each day with a mug of lemon tea to get my liver going – the juice of half a lemon in a mug of warm filtered water. I have increased my consumption of probiotic foods, and I am not having any caffeine or sweeteners (not even honey or maple syrup). I am only having a very small serve of fruit at breakfast in my kefir smoothie, in an effort to keep my sugar consumption low just so my body gets a bit of a break from the sweet stuff. I am having even more eggs than usual, and a bit less meat, because eggs are easier to digest than meat and my gut needs all the help it can get at the moment. That being said, I have increased my bone broth consumption. I don’t think I need to tout the benefits of bone broth for soothing and healing the gut, you all know that already. I am having more salad too, but I am also having a lot of well-steamed vegetables because they are easier to digest than raw vegetables. Ordinarily, I am pretty against extracted juices (when you separate the juice in the fruit from the fibre, and consume only the juice). However I do actually agree with the idea of extracted juices when your gut is in a particularly damaged state. So I have borrowed a juicer for the week, and I am doing the occasional vegetable juice when I feel I need it. I always run some ginger, lemon and parsley through my vegetable juices, to aide digestion. And I am ending each day with a soothing mug of chamomile tea.
This is my current, temporary, approach to getting back on track with a gut-soothing and encouraging real foods regime. I plan to continue this way until I start to ‘feel right’ again. I consumed a fair bit of soy while away, and it has well and truly stuffed around with my cycle, so that will be a key marker to me that my body and the various systems within my body are getting themselves sorted out again. Until then, it’s all just a waiting game. 🙂
Have you had an experience like this while travelling? What are your tips for getting your body back to normal health and happiness?