Going off the fitness-routine for 2 weeks – Trip to Japan
Just came back from a two-week trip to Taipei, Kyoto and Okinawa. I had a great time (visiting my parents, meeting new business partners, sightseeing etc) although I did not stick to the nutrition plan I normally follow strictly, and I just ate what was available (but not going totally crazy). It was very relieving be ‘normal’ but to be honest, it did not make me happy. I never felt this good, and I knew that getting off the track would have some consequences .
To sum up: the trip did messed up my health. I could not believe it would make such a difference! For those who know me, I have been eating very clean (hardly any processed food, refined sugar, etc). This trip was just the opposite of what I have been doing. Here is the list of what I got.
- Recurring migraines/headaches: I was migraine/headache-free since December last year. Few days away from Thailand, I started having migraines. I had about 8 days where I had migraines and headaches, including visual aura, which I did not have for many months!
- Stuffed nose/itchy, swollen eyes: well, this could be because of my allergy… but as far as I know, I am only allergic to grass and rye, and I never had hay fever in Japan.
- Fatigue: although I always woke up early without the help of the alarm, I was tired throughout the day. When I was in a car, I could fall into sleep for a second…. this never happens when I am in Thailand.
- Lower back ache: I did walk as much as I could and did some fitness (for example Freeletics – my favourite cross-fit trainings). I definitely had more stiff lower back throughout the trip, but that could also come from not sleeping on my own mattress etc.
- Water retention: I felt that my body retained a lot more water, my face always looked like a balloon!
I totally forgot how horrible migraine episodes can be!!!! This was shocking to me. Few days I even had some visual auras where I could not see things for 30 minutes. Here is what was different during the trip:
- Starchy food: normally I hardly eat starch – just in my breakfast protein pancake (freshly ground millet flour or buckwheat), occasionally quinoa or brown rice, but seldom. In Japan, I ate white rice and bread almost every day.
- Gluten: I never eat gluten-containing products but I did in Japan from time to time.
- Sugar: oh yeah, sugar. Sugar is used everywhere in Japanese cuisine, even in soy sauce. Just found few companies who make gluten-free, sugar-free soy sauce, how cool is this! I had to try out some Japanese sweets as well, which obviously contained a lot of sugar as well….
- Dairy products: from unknown origin. In Thailand I only eat home-made yogurt from organic, low-fat milk. And home-made ghee made of organic, grass-fed butter from New Zealand.
- Vegetables etc from unknown origin: when you eat out, there is no way of controlling where they are from.
- Less fresh vegetables: I did eat a lot of vegetables but they were mostly cooked. Ordered salads often but the portions are normally tiny in Japan!
- 3 times a day meal: normally I have 3 additional meals where my macros are evenly spread across the day, but obviously I didn’t follow this because it was just not convenient.
- Macros: more carbs/less protein: although the total calorie intake remained moderate, I can definitely say that I took more carbs in the form of sugar and starch.
- Water: in Thailand I was drinking water or green tea constantly but in Japan, I am not even sure if I had more than 2 liters a day!
Next time, I think I should be more careful… but on the other hand, I did enjoy tasting all these delicious dishes I would not otherwise eat!
Just wanted to show off some food I enjoyed though! with some nutritional comments!
Japanese wagyu (top quality beef!) with flowers of sansho (Japanese pepper). We eat the sansho seeds and leaves for cooking but flowers are hardly available to be consumed. We were very lucky to have them! It is in lightly flavoured soup with soy sauce, sake and sugar. This was amazingly delicious!
Ostrich fern shoot, squid sashimi and spring onion from Kyoto with sesame paste.
Toasted sesame seeds are the most tasty thing to go with boiled vegetables!
Fried minnow fish from the lake Biwa, they only live in the cleanest water and they are never available in such a size! It was sooooooo good! Again, the soup is made of dashi (Japanese soup stock) with sake and soy sauce. Very simple but this way you really taste the fish.
Char-grilled mugwort mochi with smoked salmon filling. Very modern, the concept works perfectly!
Clear soup with fresh bamboo and tofu! Here you can see the sansho leaves at the top (Japanese pepper).
Went to have some Japanese matcha and mochi sweets with kinako (soy beans powder) and anko (red bean paste). This matcha tea cost over 10 USD a cup, because it is the first tea leaves you harvest from the tree. What a luxury!
Boiled kegani crab in Taipei! yeah! Protein! but you need to work so hard to get the meat out!
One of the quasi junk food I had in Okinawa, Taco-Rice in a sizzling stone bowl. Well, it is not that unhealthy. It was so delicious and I would definitely make it by myself in Bangkok!
Healthier food in Okinawa – Okinawan people are known to live for many years because they eat very healthy food. They eat a lot of seaweeds, fish, and fermented food. This is the first time I tried tofu made of peanut. Very creamy and rich, I loved it! Sea grapes and mozuku seaweeds are everywhere and I ate them every single day.
This was the vegan lunch I had in Kyoto. It’s always been my favourite place to visit whenever I am back to see my parents, but this time, I was a bit disappointed. Yes the food is delicious but it is quite sweet…. and I am used to eat more protein. The only protein rich food they offer is sesame tofu and some miso, that’s about it. And the dishes use a lot of sugar. Amazing how my taste and expectation changed over the last several months.
Anyways, I thought I would make a note of it. Tomorrow I will be resuming with my routine and start eating well again! I hope I will not suffer from headaches anytime soon!