I owe one of the biggest turning points in my life to Ayurvedic Medicine. The ancient Indian practise consists of a number of disciplines including aromatherapy, massage, yoga, acupuncture and meditation; but the most vital aspects to my recovery from a debilitating state of eczema were diet change and herbal medicine. Through my treatment I learned one of the most important lessons I will ever receive with food; that you can divide everything we eat into two groups: alkaline forming and acid forming.
Reference the chart above. On the far left you’ll see meat and dairy, alcohol & soda, and processed grains including wheat, flour and white rice. If you compare this chart to the ‘Food Pyramid’ you’ll find that some of the food classed as staples in the modern diet are among the most acidic on the chart. For a lot of people, myself included- this wouldn’t be considered an uncommon way of eating but over time an acidic diet will weaken the immune system and function of our organs. Day to day tell signs of an acidic state include fatigue, stress, headaches, recurring infections, slower recovery rate, emotional irritability, restless sleep, achey joints and the list goes on. For most people these symptoms aren’t unusual to experience and therefor would rarely be drawn back to the diet, but just consider: "An acidic body is the perfect environment for disease to develop.”
With this new found knowledge, in 2012 the first thing I cut out from my diet were processed grains. The difference it made for my skin, energy & general quality of life was like night to day. I also stopped drinking alcohol and started to eat less animal products.
It was also around this time that I became interested in juicing - for a raw and easily accessible serving of fruits and veg each day.
With all this said! How on Earth are we supposed to achieve optimum health while travelling? To be honest, at times it seems near impossible, as convenience and living on a budget will often outweigh any other option. Some of the basic guidelines I try to follow include:
Avoiding processed food
- Food that is further from it’s natural state is lower in nutrients & higher in acidity.
-One way to identify processed food is if it has to be bought in a wrapper. Processed food is packed with sugars, salts and preservatives
-*My exception to the wrapper rule are Cliff Bars & Amy’s microwave meals. Cliff Bars ingredients are 70% organic and 100% vegan which I think is really cool and Amy’s meals are totally vegetarian with a handful of vegan and grain free options also. They’ve become a staple on the bus as a good alternative to local fast food and are made with quality ingredients.*
- Sometimes you’re going to have to result to low grade and sometimes even chain fast food, but its all about balance. Alkaline food helps offset acidic food.
-Try to make an effort to eat one raw snack or meal a day. Keep it simple with things like fresh carrot and hummus, veggie wraps or salads.
-Raw food has higher nutritional value and is also easier to break down, meaning more energy is available to use outside of digestion.
-My Ayurvedic doctor always said to me ‘Never compromise flavour’ which I think is totally important too! Health food doesn’t have to be boring. One of my favourite parts of using Instagram are all the foodies I follow.
Minimising animal products
-I won’t get into a vegetarian discussion here as it’s something I’ve slowly introduced to my life and am still learning about, but avoiding animal products has naturally encouraged me to resort to a more plant based diet. Without grains in the picture I rely on fruit and veg now more than I ever did in the past.
Always have a backup
-Plan ahead! Have food available in your backpack/fridge/cupboard that you can resort to before you are starving and craving convenience food.
-A craving is your body’s way of saying 'you’re doing something wrong’ or 'something is missing’. I try to remember this when I want something sugary or chocolatey & replace the hunger for confectionary with something more fulfilling.
-I have always made sure to tour with a small blender for superfood smoothies, but I’ve recently further simplified to an ‘All In One’ protein shake by Vega. I drink their shake once a day with a dairy free alternative, and team it up with Organic Burst products like Maca root and wheatgrass powder. It’s an easy meal replacement while you’re travelling and a balanced source of vitamins, minerals, protein, greens, antioxidants, probiotics, omegas and fiber.
Counteracting & Supplementing
-I depend on my supplements a lot on tour. I take anything high in chlorophyll like spirulina, chlorella and barley grass to support my body’s detoxing functions as well as counteract the naughty things I like to have sometimes like donuts and a drink or two.
-This year I’ve got into immunity shots/elixirs. An easy all rounder is something I like to call The Fireball, made up of lemon, garlic and ginger juice with cayenne and turmeric; which I make using a juicer.
-On the road I use a small hand juicer and simplifying the recipe to fresh lemon juice with ground cayenne and turmeric for a quick alkaline, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory booster that aids in supporting the liver and immune system. I make this every second day or so and look for fresh juice places wherever possible.
I’m not by any means an expert and I’m still learning. But what I’ve learned so far has changed my life. Don’t wait until you’re sick before you make changes in your life. I think it’s a shame how easily accessible all this information is but how little we are exposed to it. Health and nutrition have become something that actually excites me. Thank you for reading my blog! Keep researching and feeding your hunger to learn!”
Jenna McDougall. Get her essential tour jacket: smarturl.it/jennasurplusjacket