"Some people may think you're crazy for giving up certain foods. Some people may think you're even crazier if you workout two or three times in a day. Soon enough they will be asking you how you managed to do it." — Madam Wong
It starts small
About a year ago, just walking up a set of stairs brought about shortness in breath and heart palpitations. I also often experienced a tingling sensation in my hands, got cold hand and feet and worse of all, the lethargy, lack of focus and forgetfulness all somehow made it difficult to sleep well through the night. Looking at myself in the mirror back then I felt ‘old’ - I had put on weight, my hair was falling out in bunches, my skin was dull and dry - certainly not my best moment. I was a 47 year-old mother of four and a busy business owner, I wondered where was the woman I used to be?
Convenience was my main focus. You know what is convenient? Processed foods. So I gorged on things like crackers, bread, instant noodles, cake rolls, canned foods and more. Logically I knew it wasn’t what my body needed, but emotionally though, I couldn’t control myself. I craved sweet things like cake and bread and found myself emotionally eating carbs to comfort myself.
My sister saw the signs and encouraged me to look after myself, but I kept insisting I was ok. I was in denial, no doubt about it, but that was because I was afraid to change. I think I really hit rock bottom when I realised that I had a lot of self-hatred; I wasn’t happy, and I wasn’t helping anyone - especially not my family.
It didn’t look good
Armed with the results of a full body check-up, blood test and a diet diary, I visited trained naturopath, Amanda Teh.
Based on my test results, I was informed that I had high uric acid, cholesterol and blood lipid; and was also at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. My liver was so inflamed that it needed immediate attention in order to prevent liver disease.
I needed an overhaul and I was determined to be better.
Step 1: Detox
Naturopaths are completely holistic in their approach. It made me realize how important is the connection between your mind, body and spirit.
I was then given my first task : a colon detoxification program in the form of a nine day juice fast.
According to Amanda, one of the fundamentals in naturopathic philosophy is, “All health begins in the digestive tract and creating a healthy colon is a great first step to wellness.”
Just the nine days alone was enough to produce some results. I passed out a massive amount of mucoid plaque which made me feel lighter and more energetic. My complexion had brightened up a lot and as a bonus, I had also lost three kilograms! Mentally, I felt clear headed and recharged. This was just the beginning, I was starting to feel better and that encouraged me to continue.
Step 2: Diet
Now that I had cleansed out my insides, I needed to make sure it stayed clean. It was time I stopped taking the ‘easy way out’ and got some real food on my plate. At my second meeting with my Amanda, we talked about my diet. It was a 180° change from what I was used to - not to mention a whole lot more work - but I was willing to give it a go.
Based on Amanda’s suggestions, here’s what I did and still do in general:
Wholesome Real Food
I choose foods in their most natural form as possible, primarily unprocessed food. As a rule of thumb, I cook each meal (instead of eating out), and use only raw material that I can source from local markets that are organic, grass-fed, local, sustainable, free-range, fresh, raw and wild foods.
For a balanced healthy 50-30-20 diet, aim for 50 percent of vegetables and whole grains, 30 percent of quality protein that comes from things like tofu, tempeh, miso, fish, legume, and 20 percent of good fat from deep sea fish, algae, chia seeds, unrefined olive oil, flaxseed, nuts and seeds.
Healthy oils are good for your heart
Believe it or not, the best way to get rid of the bad fat and oxidized form of cholesterol and bad fats that has accumulated in your blood vessel that can cause arteriosclerosis, is to give your body with a lot of the good fat. Good fat, meaning the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, so I was encouraged to load up on good fats such as flaxseed, walnuts, olive oil and sunflower oil.
Avoid pro-inflammatory food
Basically avoid food that contains white flour, processed sugar, dairy, fried food, alcohol, high omega-6 food and artificial preservative are the food that can increase the inflammation process to our body. 1
Avoid high purine food
Since my blood test showed that my uric acid was out of range, I had to avoid high purine foods such as peanuts, red meat, alcohol, organ meats, certain seafood. Instead I needed to pump up on alkaline food to gain the balance in acid-alkaline. I loaded up on some alkaline super foods such as barley grass and spirulina.
3 meals, 2 snack, and 2 litres of water to keep up to my metabolism rate
To prevent myself from getting into starvation and cravings mode, I was encouraged to eat small but frequent meals. This eating style would maintain my metabolism rate, build up a proper diet routine and reduce my bad carbohydrate cravings (such as cakes, pastries etc).
Use spices in cooking
I was also encouraged to use lots of garlic, onion, lemon grass, dill, turmeric, ginger etc. Spices are not only an excellent flavour enhancer, but also contain a host of healthful compounds that can lower disease risk, give you wide array of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Herbal and Nutritional Support
As an additional support, I believe mother nature also has a cure, so I was given some herbal remedies to encourage the whole healing process.
Step 3: Conscious Living and Balanced Mind
Dry body brush 3 times per week
Dry brushing stimulates the body’s circulation and lymphatic systems. By massaging the lymph nodes it helps the body shed excess water and toxins. And one of the immediate effects of dry brushing is smoother skin, but it can also help improve digestion, kidney function, and more.
Stress management is important, so I try to go for Qigong as often as I can. QiGong is less strenuous, but it still strengthens the nerves, works on balancing emotions and promotes energy flow in the body.
The transformation from eating clean for three months!
Three months into the diet, I felt like I’m a completely different person.
I feel more energetic and productive; my mind is calm and I feel content. I am a happier person now. Which means I get to be a better mother, wife, employer etc. This has changed my life and my family’s life.
My skin is glowing; my eyes looked brighter and alert; I’ve lost weight. Best of all is my new blood test (pictured below). My new results show that all the parameters that were out of range are now back to normal! There is no better proof that my new lifestyle is working!
My tips for sharing
I must say that I feel honored to share my story here - hopefully it’ll help or inspire others in the same situation as me. I’ve been asked by many people if I need to give up a lot to stay healthy, but the truth is that it’s not as hard as most people think it is. Here are some tips that I found useful on my journey and hopefully yours too:
- Start with a simple plan, and make one change at a time. Starting with a simple and easy plan that can easily be integrated into your life will make things much easier for you! I started with one healthy meal a day. That’s it. And then I gradually increased the number of meals.
- Shop from a list and read the label. Never go to the grocery store without a master list or else you might end up with a basket full of unwanted stuff, and learn to read the label on food packaging. (Check out our article on how to read labels)
- Whenever there is a craving for naughty foods, drink a glass of water.
- Everyone is different, so don’t expect to follow a strict, specific diet.
- Never neglect on your emotional health.
- Don’t stress if you are not doing the ‘right things’. Forgive, and move on.
You know that your new lifestyle is starting to take hold when people around are curious as to what you’re doing different. I feel validated in my effort with my renewed energy and happier life. And my family is happier for it.
- Anne Underwood, Quieting a Body's Defenses-Researchers are linking inflammation to an ever-wider array of chronic illnesses but treatments that block the inflammatory response can backfire. Newsweek, June 10, 2005