I went to Eastern Europe again because the first trip was so good and I wanted to do it again! This time I went there for a retreat – a program which taught me how to look after my health and wellbeing. I’ve decided to share some notes with you now.
How to reverse the damage caused by the standard western diet:
It is said that chronic inflammation is a major cause of most physical conditions these days, so the focus of this retreat is about how to cool inflammation and improve overall health & wellbeing.
Truthfully, chronic inflammation is not just about redness and pain. In fact, chronic inflammation is also about whole-body communication. Basically, that means I must avoid common sources of inflammation such as stress, smoking, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, unhealthy gut microbiome, inflammatory foods and environmental toxins.
Audrey Hepburn was a smoker. She began smoking when she was 15 years old (after World War II) and was a constant smoker throughout her acting career. It is reported that Audrey Hepburn was smoking at least 3 packs per day, i.e. 60 cigarettes per day. If she wasn’t smoking, perhaps she is still alive today.
This trip to Eastern Europe also taught me that another source of inflammation is environmental toxins like mercury, pesticides and plastics. Also, the standard western diet is a source of inflammation as well, as a lot of western foods stimulate the immune system to make inflammatory cytokines.
Fortunately, this trip to Eastern Europe taught me how to change my diet completely, so now my diet is anti-inflammatory (very exciting)!
Firstly, I have eliminated sugar from my diet. According to recent research in Europe and America, sugar can cause inflammation in various ways: 1) it directly causes tissue damage; 2) it causes insulin resistance. Sadly, sugar is commonplace in the Western pattern diet, i.e. “normal” diet.
Secondly, alcohol is also bad for your health. Oftentimes, alcohol is mixed with sugary beverages like soft drinks, fruit juice or tonic water. Worse still, long-term consumption of alcohol can shrink your brain which regulates stress response system.
Thirdly, wheat is something that I should avoid. This really depends on the individual. For some people, wheat isn’t inflammatory and is not an issue at all. But for some other people, it is a real problem. After getting rid of wheat and gluten in my diet, I’ve discovered the disappearance of these: 1) mouth ulcers; 2) depression; 3) brain fog; 4) leg and arm numbness.
Next, dairy products are not healthy foods. In the standard western diet, diary products are very popular. But my trip to Eastern Europe helped me to realize that getting rid of all dairy products is truly beneficial. If you want to try that as well, you may use goat or sheep dairy products to replace your standard milk in the fridge! By the way, you can also get calcium from leafy greens, almonds and tinned salmon with bones. The significance of dairy in standard western diet has been overstated. Interestingly, a Harvard study even contends that humans have no nutritional requirement for animal milk!
Finally, processed vegetable oils are also bad for you. Soy, corn, cottonseed and canola oil – all inflammatory especially if they are hydrogenated or processed because of the trans fat in it. If you know why deep-fried food is unhealthy, you would understand why trans fat is not healthy (it’s the same thing). Eating vegetable oils is similar to eating deep-fried food, which can be as dangerous as smoking.
An anti-inflammatory diet from my trip to Eastern Europe:
Now my fridge is filled with vegetables because I schedule a weekly trip to the local vegetables market. Apart from that, I also grow my own herbs and vegetables in my garden. Another strategy that I’m going to try is to sign up for a weekly delivery of a produce box.
Previously, I didn’t know that a low-carb diet is actually unhealthy because it can cause insomnia, anxiety, hair loss, underactive thyroid, constipation, and so on. Now I’ve learned that eating enough carbohydrate is actually essential, and it’s best to eat it with dinner so that it can stabilize my blood sugar and help me sleep better.
This trip to Eastern Europe is very enlightening, for it also taught me what an ideal diet looks like. In general, the best diet is one that offers an adequate supply of micro and macro nutrients, and one that is not inflammatory at all.
In order to lose weight and stay fit, I’ve been using this technique: the 8-hour eating window. This is an effective way to reduce snaking. And here is how it works: I eat a standard and satisfying dinner by 7:30pm which includes all 3 macronutrients, i.e. fat, starch and protein. After that, I don’t eat anything at night. So, that becomes a gentle type of intermittent fasting which reduces inflammation and significantly reverses insulin resistance.
Menu ideas from the trip to Eastern Europe:
This is the standard menu that I’ve been using after my trip to Eastern Europe and hopefully you can benefit from what I’m sharing here –
- Fresh fruit with sheep yoghurt and unsweetened granola.
- Gluten-free bread with soft goat cheese or sardines. Tea.
- Eggs with mushrooms fried in butter, served with tomato and avocado. Unsweetened black coffee, or coffee with almond milk / coconut milk.
- Rice with a can of tuna or salmon and steamed broccoli and extra virgin olive oil.
- A big green salad with grated beetroot, smoked salmon and goat cheese. Olive oil dressing. Bread or rice on the side. Two squares of dark chocolate.
- Lentils and brown rice with sheep yoghurt and broccoli. Frozen blueberries and coconut cream for dessert.
- Lamb chops with boiled potatoes and a large green salad. Two plums.
- Bolognese meat sauce with gluten-free pasta. Green beans and organic butter. An apple.
Basically, diary-free and wheat-free options are ideal.
After sticking to my new diet, I’ve had these changes:
- My mood has improved.
- My metabolism becomes healthy now.
- My hair becomes very healthy.
- My hormones have become more balanced.
- My sugar cravings have disappeared by 98%.
- I can sleep much, much better!
- I have become more energetic in general.
Besides, I’ve figured out that thoughts are a very important part of my inner wisdom and strength because they are so powerful. A thought held long enough and repeated frequently enough literally becomes a belief. A belief becomes my biology. Realistically, beliefs are energetic forces which create the physical basis for my health and my individual life, according to Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief.