Eating Healthy In Asia (and around the world!)
This week’s blog is being brought to you by a special request from one of my Instagram followers – she posted a very good question in response to my pictures and recent blog post about my trip to Thailand (catch that blog here), and this is what she asked…
“Please tell us how you managed the food topic in Asia, you know gluten, dairy, soy, etc. Also what do you take to support the Adrenals during trips?” XOXO”
I absolutely love this question because it’s about real life applications for healthy living while living life to the fullest!
To me, there is no point in traveling if you don’t have the health to fully enjoy it.
My health is what supports my passion for traveling. If I’m going to invest money and time to get somewhere, you bet I’m going to make the most of every minute and seek out every cool adventure to take part in.
I can’t say I’ve been in perfect health for every trip I’ve ever taken. I wish I could, but life just isn’t perfect that way. When I’ve traveled with a lower quality of health, the feelings of fatigue, cloudy thinking or uncomfortableness in my own skin definitely limited the activities I participated in, my ability to be present and my overall enjoyment of the trip.
I don’t regret those trips or those moments. In fact, those moments have served as great motivating factors to keep working on my health when I wanted to give up, and as friendly reminders about why it is important for me to maintain the health that I have. They put things into perspective for me.
However, my favorite trips and places that I’ve traveled to certainly correlate directly with how well I was feeling at the time. When I feel at home in my body, have an abundance of energy and don’t feel anxious or overwhelmed I am much more spontaneous, adventurous, curious and present to the place I am visiting.
Eating right for my body has played a MAJOR role in helping me get back to the healthy place I am in today and amplified my travel experiences. Over the past year I went on a strict AIP diet for 4-6 months to reverse my Hashimoto’s and heal from a toxic mold exposure. Now I still avoid gluten as much as possible and I limit my intake of grains, dairy, sugar, soy, alcohol and a few other things that don’t agree with me.
Food is not what makes the experience. I am.
Sure, food adds to any travel experience (and I am definitely a huge foodie too), but food does not make the experience. I do. With all that I have dealt with in my health, and the various dietary changes I have had to make to support it and get back to feeling like me again, I have learned to not allow food to dictate the experience I am having.
If I choose so, I am able to enjoy any city around the world or simply sit amongst friends and still have an awesome time without partaking in foods or drinks that aren’t in alignment with what my body needs from me.
Eating in Asia or around the world for your dietary needs boils down to mindset.
I’m sure that sounds like an over-simplification. Once you get down to the nitty gritty of why you might indulge in foods that hinder your health instead of supporting it, it really all boils down to mindset.
Sometimes we forget that we always have a choice in any situation. We may not be able to choose what food is in front of us or what will be served at a social gathering, but we can choose how we decide to deal with it, how we perceive the situation and what we make it mean about us.
In this week’s video and blog I share my best mindset practices and food friendly tools that help me eat healthy with enjoyment while traveling the world.
I am not saying that I never eat a food that isn’t right for my body, because I have and sometimes I still do. On the rare occasion when I do eat something that maybe I shouldn’t, I make sure it’s a conscious choice and I know how to support my body after.
For example, during the first 24 hours or so of my trip to Thailand I openly ate some of the local foods and consciously chose to ignore the list of ingredients or to ask too many questions about them because I wanted to just embrace it all. I even knowingly ate a local cuisine with some gluten and my body let me know.
I listened, evaluated the value of the food in comparison to how I was feeling (bloated, upset stomach like, foggy, tired) and decided for the rest of the trip, it wasn’t worth it. I wanted to feel my best and to make the most out of my trip, so I was back on my A-game making sure my food choices were right for me.
My traveling partners on the other hand kept eating what I wouldn’t eat but not once did I feel left out or sorry for myself. I felt quite the opposite – confident, energetic, proud, satisfied and joyful about my food choices because my body was feeling great!
Why do we use food to fit in?
This is a really great question to ask ourselves when challenged to make a choice between eating right for yourself or eating what everyone else is eating. The reality is, our friends, family and co-workers won’t disown us if we don’t eat what they eat.
What comes up when you think about this question?…
I don’t want to make a scene
I don’t want to be “that” person who asks for gluten free etc.
I’ll feel guilty or disrespectful if I don’t eat what is provided
Everyone else is eating it, so why can’t I
In my own personal experience and in working with clients, I find that these responses tend to come from a place of lack – meaning there is some other void you’re feeling in your life that wants to be filled.
When we tap into our well of fullness and satisfaction, that is all we need.
When we fill ourselves up with goodness, the desire to eat foods that aren’t right for us slowly starts to diminish and can almost disappear completely. This goodness can come in the form of eating foods that actually do make you feel good, meditating to build up positive energy or even in simple acts of taking time for yourself daily, all of which lead to feeling more satisfied in your life and less searching for satisfaction in food (mindset!).
Easier said than done, right?
So let me give you some practical tips for how you can start making the shift, and my best practices for eating healthfully in Asia or anywhere around the world…
Find Me Gluten Free App
This handy little tool has helped me find yummy places to eat in some of even the most remote of places. Although it didn’t list a lot for Thailand, I was surprised to see how gluten free friendly Hong Kong was! This app gives me options so that I can guarantee at least 1 or 2 meals of my day will be guaranteed gluten free without having to ask too many questions. It takes some of the guesswork out of it.
Balancing Back at Home
Because I love to travel so much and let loose a little bit when I do, so I make sure to create as much balance for my body when I am at home. I abide by my dietary needs 100% when I’m home. If I have an upcoming trip, I load up on sleep, hydrate a ton and reduce or avoid alcohol altogether (knowing I’ll get less satisfying sleep while away, flying dehydrates me and I’ll probably want a few cocktails on vacay). By creating balance and consistency at home with my health, my less than perfect habits while I’m away won’t have as much as an effect on me.
Voice My Needs
I am confident I can find something to eat on practically any menu and this is the same confidence I aim to teach my clients. Modifications might be in order, but who cares? Being “that” person who asks for gluten free doesn’t bother me (anymore) because feeling good in my own skin is much more valuable than the short-lived embarrassment by asking a bunch of gluten or dairy free questions. The more you voice your needs, the stronger your voice will grow. Every time I voiced my food needs to my family, friends or the server, my voice grew stronger, and I was greatly rewarded by my body feeling good after eating every single time.
Choosing Consciously (without guilt!)
As I mentioned before, sometimes I knowingly eat something I probably shouldn’t (like the dish with gluten in Thailand). But before diving in, I check in with myself, take a gauge on how I’m feeling in that moment and if the food I’m about to eat is worth the price I might pay. If I’m already feeling a little fatigued or exhausted from travel, I’m less likely to add insult to injury by eating something inflammatory, but if I’m feeling in tip top shape I just might give it a taste. Most importantly, whatever I decide I don’t beat myself up about it. That negative mindset just adds to sickness in the body and if I’m going to eat it, I’m going to enjoy every bite and savor every flavor.
Fill Yourself Up First
I always make sure I’m coming from a place of abundance now instead of lack. When we feel lack, it’s easy to see food as a way to fill the void, even if it’s not really what we are lacking in. When I’m home or traveling I always engage in activities early in the day that fill up my cup of joy and carry me through the day. I typically start my day off with a meditation and getting outside or doing some exercise. This makes me feel purposeful and full, so when I sit down to eat I’m not searching for something on a menu to give my day purpose.
Aside from these best practices, and to answer my Instagram follower’s question more directly, through my travels and by trial-and-error I have learned what things have gluten, dairy or other inflammatory ingredients in them, and I figure this out primarily by voicing my needs. This time around in Thailand, I figured out that oyster sauce also has wheat in it and is used in a LOT of Thai dishes, so I learned to ask for dishes without it.
I’ve also come to know that wheat products in Europe don’t really bother me because the breads and pastas are ground properly or fermented the old fashioned way to break down the gluten, unlike here in the United States.
Understanding what works for my body, constantly checking in about what is creating stress on my body (such as food, lack of sleep, work, toxins, etc.) and working to alleviate or balance that stress is how I support my adrenals, thyroid, gut and overall health while I’m in flight or at home.
Just like traveling, life and health is a journey. Once you get to one destination you’ll likely want to go to the next. So I just continue traveling, tuning into my body and making adjustments as needed 🙂