When Andrew and I travel to different parts of the world, we love to do a food tour. Not only does it educate us on where to eat, what to eat and how to pronounce it (all those who have visited Europe will know what I mean), our previous experiences have proven it is also a great way to meet people, have loads of fun and enjoy a great night out on the town.
This is why when we recently travelled to the US, we decided to give it another go. We held our reservations (given the typical American diet does’t reflect much of the culture or heritage of the Mediterranean, nor does it align much with our food philosophy), but we through caution to the wind, embraced the culture for what it was and hoped for the best. What’s the worst that could happen? What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger right?
What followed was nothing short of what you would expect on American home soil, and although the chefs were incredibly passionate about their dishes, all created with a whole lot of heart and soul, I couldn’t bare to bring myself to eat any more than a single bite, and this bite was purely for the sake of being polite. From candied bacon cupcakes, wood-fired pizza that was packed full of gluten (yes, they mentioned this as a selling point at the time of tasting), incredibly rich and unusually sweet truffle oils, strangely coloured orange cheese, heavy pasta dishes, and the sweetest gelato I have ever tasted (so sweet it made me wince), there was no sign of any salads or vegetables on offer. We realised we were in a bit of trouble, but we opted to manage it as best we could.
As the tour drew to a close, our plans to enjoy the new city at night went out the window and all we wanted to do was go to bed. As we journeyed back to the hotel on foot, I started to question whether or not I had the energy to make it. Fatigue had set in and I was zapped to say the least. As we arrived at our room, our stomachs began to expand like balloons. I lay on the bed and didn’t want to move. I had a headache and felt so incredibly dehydrated that I drank 1.5L of water and called room service for another bottle. After about 20 minutes, I started to crave sugary foods. Items from the mini-bar that I would never have even considered that morning, started to look appealing. I fought the urge for a late night sugar hit, and I couldn’t help but notice how it started to consume my thoughts. All I wanted to do was just lie on the bed and stare at the TV consuming sugar. After about 45 minutes, I started feeling sorry for myself, a little depressed in fact. I got a little down, hating the situation, I longed to feel like my old self again. What was wrong with me? I didn’t even eat that much. I finally fell asleep.
The next morning we both woke up late, feeling incredibly exhausted even though we had slept a solid 11 hours. We struggled to get out of bed and get motivated and felt the only thing that could save us was a cup of coffee, but even that was too hard. We were snapping at each other and both getting incredibly irritable. After an hour of procrastinating, we finally grabbed another water and dragged ourselves out the door in search of real food.
After some fresh organic food and the most amazing fresh juice I have ever had, we started to feel like our old selves again however, I would say it took us 2-3 days to fully recover.
Reflecting on this now, I think back to all of the other tour members who were happily enjoying more than their fair share of food on offer. I wondered how terrible they would have felt the next morning? I wondered if they noticed a difference, or just accepted this as part of everyday life? We had not once felt like this in Europe, was America really as bad as they say?
As I continue to replay the events over in my head, the feelings of lethargy, cravings, bloating, dehydration, headaches, restless nights, depression and the dependancy on caffeine for a hit, I realised I was describing some of the most common health problems in society today. Even as I sit here now, I couldn’t tell you of a single client who has come to me without 4 or more of the above symptoms. Yet, for one reason or another, so many of us tend to overlook the “real food” solution. Instead we opt for white, processed stuff, the sugar laden alternatives wrapped in colourful packaging, that inevitably makes us feel bad about ourselves one way or another.
The worst part about this whole experience was not the “food coma” as such, but the 3 days we lost “suffering”. We left this city a little disappointed with what we had experienced and both agree that it was our least favourite place to visit. What could have happened had we had the energy and enthusiasm to do the things we planned to do? How different could our trip have been? How much did we miss out on? Did we miss out on an experience of a lifetime, simply because we made the wrong choices at meal time?
I guess I wanted to write this post to have you question which side of this equation you are on. Do you wake up everyday feeling incredible? Do you bound out of bed and are you ready to take on the day ahead? Or do you make up the latter, suffering from these common symptoms day in, day out and simply accept them as the norm? Is it possible that you are missing out on a string of incredible experiences that life has to offer, simply because you are making the wrong choices at the dinner table? Are you living life, loving the way you feel? Or are you operating at 50% capacity?
More importantly, are you willing to take responsibility for your health?
I would love to hear your thoughts.