Those who follow my blog or chat with me behind the scenes know I am deeply into following the Medical Medium, Anthony William’s, healing plan this year (see my recent article)…and I mean deeply. So, what happens when you go on holiday during the following of such a lifestyle protocol; how do you keep it going so that the improvements you are making don’t get interrupted or even reversed?
This happened to me just a month or so into deep-diving the daily routines of celery juicing and MM inspired meals, not to mention all the herbs, supplements and fresh fruit and veg that now make up such a big part of my daily routine. As luck would have it, this first experiment in finding out how portable the MM lifestyle is came along with a UK-based Easter holiday so we were travelling there by car. In the days before we left home, I carefully packed up my usual herbal teas, dry ingredients (plenty of pumpkin seeds, dates, coconut, cashews and so on) to take with me…and, on the day of travel, all the organic farm-bought fruit and veg I could put into a crate was added to the load in the boot of the car (fortunately, we were leaving our massive dog at his sitter’s for the week or he would have had to share his space with a small grocer’s store in the back). We also did that thing which has been the mainstay of several UK holidays now; we booked a delivery of fresh organic fruit and veg from our usual (or nearest equivalent) supermarket direct to the cottage we were staying…which is far easier to do in some locations than others, such as on the West coast of Wales last year (where it proved to be quite impossible). This year, we struck gold with Ocado delivering in our area, which meant their van was outside our Cotswold cottage, delivering mountains of celery and more, within an hour of us arriving.
My supermarket of choice is Ocado, with Waitrose a close second, and I always plump for the Duchy rage of organic veg given a choice. This may sound as though it is completely out-of-the-spirit of staying in the country or immersing in local culture and, yes, I’m all for plunging into a country way of life when I get out of the city. However, when you rely on huge quantities of really good quality organic veg every day (and you know how much it takes to make a single juice, not to mention to create a vegan diet for a family of three), the local village one-stop in some rural hamlet that is completely off the beaten track most often doesn’t prove muster, not even when surrounded by farms; serving up limp lettuce, battered and watery tomatoes and very little else. Yes, I look forward to a day when a diverse range of organic produce is widely available everywhere, especially in country locations…but, since organic is still more of a London-centred fad than a widely followed lifestyle, we’re not at that point yet.
The most important thing I took with me this time was my juicer which, again as luck would have it, has recently been replaced. I now have a much more compact model than my old one; the Philips HR1832/01 Viva Collection Compact Juicer, with which I have been thrilled for the past month; not least because it takes up much less counter space and is really easy to clean. This meant I was able to continue my daily pint of celery juice every single morning; which always gets my day off on the right foot. In fact, the only day I skipped this routine was the morning after we got home, before our next veg order arrived (and because the celery I brought home didn’t make the journey) and I noticed how I felt really “off” in my energy and digestion, all day, without it. In fact, it was the one-and-only day in almost two months that I had gone without and I don’t plan to miss a step again if I can help it!
Along with the juicer, I also took my blender and a (really small) small food processor which meant I could cream cashews or pulse nuts, dried fruit, carrots and beets to make some of my favourite recipes while we were away. This continuity, along with regular herbal teas throughout the day, helped to keep my energy levels and symptoms steady, I have no doubt (comparing with similar holidays in the past). It meant that routines such as making up a power-packed juice, after a trip out, were easy to achieve. I also made-up batches of the MM’s recipe for apricot slices (which I roll into “energy balls” and add walnuts instead of almonds) which became the perfect, portable, travelling companions for an energy pick-me-up on trips out; preventing me from being reliant on the kind of sugary or processed snacks that are offered as the norm in almost all the cafes you tend to come across.
Not all the eateries we came across were so challenging to our usual habits. We were fortunate enough to have a pub within walking distance offering a good vegan menu, a wonderfully ambient cafe in the town offering wholesome butternut and coconut soup and fresh juices and an organic farm shop within a reasonable drive that has the most amazing menu of organic vegetable-based lunches produced, as much as possible, using seasonal produce from their farm. Our daily morning routine included a stroll down to the local cafe for a (decaf) coffee followed by a pear, apple and ginger juice. We also took a slight detour on the way home, on our last day, to visit one of the best vegetable-based restaurants in the UK (Acorn Vegetarian Kitchen); one of our very favourite places to eat and be inspired (I brought their newest book home to add to my pile). However, as ever, I could tell from my body’s reactions that “eating out” had to be the rarity, not the norm, as other people’s cooking always rocks my boat just a little, even when its good…but I know and accept that, which is why I always choose somewhere to stay with a good kitchen (and make sure other family members know they will have to share in the food preparation). Such holidays have to be an accepted way of life for all partiapants…no shirking responsibility or complaining that things can’t be different (or dashing off for junk food) which is where the moral and practical support of family is just so important. Fortunately, my husband is as big a fan of healthy, organic home-cooking as I am and my daughter is a health-food obsessed vegan so we get along just fine.
The learning curve was, as ever, to do with that tendency to let rules soften or bend “because you are on holiday” and I did this twice, to my regret. One was to choose the vegan burger with chips over a hot-pot in the pub…which was way too heavy and oily for my stomach, accustomed as it is to lighter, cleaner food. The second was to pounce on a slice of polenta cake in an art gallery on a cold rainy afternoon, so delighted was I to find that absolute rarity…something that was both vegan and gluten-free…without registering that it probably contained a hefty amount of cane sugar (and it clearly did!). If there’s one thing I’ve learned (many times, the hard way) it’s that there can be absolutely no concession regarding cane sugar when you have EBV and shingles piggy-backing on your central nervous system, as I do. Within minutes, I experienced the typical energy crash accompanied by severe issues with my vision and the beginning of a right-sided headache. By that evening and for the next few days, my tinnitus went up to screaming-levels, interstitial cystitis came on for the first time in months, my bowels were a mess, an old-benign cyst became enlarged and “mystery” pain, deep into muscle tissue and joints and shooting up into my head, were at an all-time high like I had been beaten-up in an alleyway. In fact it felt like I had gone back in my recovery by several months; all pivoting on that lapse of judgement with the cake. End-of-holiday tiredness and an unfamilar bed that felt like I was sagging slightly in the middle all night, compared to my wonderfully spine-supportive mattress at home, certainly contributed to this effect …but letting myself get away with that sugary-treat was certainly the ringleader of my nosedive into pain and I could only smile ruefully and announce “never again”. However, overal, I had enjoyed a fantastic holiday with daily trips out, doing all the things we hoped to do and more and it was only when we got back home that I felt ready for a couple of days recouperation (which is extra time I always factor in at the end of every holiday, before “real life” becons again).
If the title of this post sounds a bit like we had the Medical Medium with us in our cottage then perhaps that’s because it can actually feel like that a lot of the time. So big has the persona of the MM become in our household, as we follow the advice and live by his principles (his pile of books permanently to hand on the coffee table) that it actually feels like he is an invisible family member at our table or standing over my shoulder as I devise new dishes. When it comes to taking him on holiday too, does all this sound like such a lot of effort to make when all you want to do is take a break from home and routine, like everyone else, with the chance to “forget about it all”, even the fact you have health challenges to deal with? The fact remains that, because I am prepared to make this monumentally huge effort to keep my diet stable and to continue the “good” eating practices that make up my day-to-day lifestyle, even when away from home, I cope far better with travel than I used to. I also get to enjoy my holiday more, knowing I’m not about to throw away all the healing momentum I’ve created in the months beforehand and that I’m not going to have to “pay for it later”, like an overdraft made up of my own destabilised health. The challenge will get bigger on our next holiday, when we fly abroad; but the research I’ve done tells me our apartment is near to a (rare) organic shop in our chosen location…which is one of the main reasons I selected it, apart from its fantastic view. Yes, this all takes far more planning, more work, than the average lifestyle (which, you could say, runs contrary to the very spirit of being on vacation) but not so if it means feeling like you are in the flush of good, or at least reasonable, health whilst dealing with the vagaries and physical demands of travel. Too many post-holiday periods spent mopping up the mess I have got myself into, by “letting it all hang out” consuming what everyone else is having, eating out day and night, have taught me this the hardest way possible (and I have been eating a phenominally natural and pure diet for too many years now, even before following the MM, to be able to cope with such a sudden switch without repercusions). I am prepared to own the fact that feeling stable in my health means more to me than being able to eat out in restaurants or be more carefree about my habits in the name of convenience, and am prepared to do whatever it takes to keep that health continuity; which is all part of owning a healthy way of eating as a lifestyle and not just a cure or a fad.