On holiday, you might eat out, enjoy local cuisine and splurge on treats! Perhaps you enjoy a specific diet or foreign foods aren’t much fun for you. Travelling on a budget makes you consider your food choices. Pack a spork and knife for self-made dining, and I took a small tupper ware box too.
Two days into my alone travels I decided that 3 meals a day is too costly. My hotels had no fridge or cooking facilities (they like you to eat at their restaurant), so I needed to get smart. Daily shops are key for fresh veg and fruit, it’s too hot in Costa Rica for anything to last more than a day. One big meal out each day will work, and a tiny breakfast (i.e. coffee) should suffice with a light dinner.
Tips on what food to buy in hot countries:
- Dried foods are easy to keep. Lots of nuts and crackers, but minding the salt content can be tricky. Tortilla wraps can last and come in their own plastic bag.
- Veg that doesn’t need washing helps, but isn’t an issue using the bathroom. Avocados and tomatoes are easiest; lettuce might be a bit overkill if you can’t eat it all in one sitting.
- Bananas for energy, but don’t leave them in the bottom of your bag to get squished!
- Papaya and mango are also great for keeping wrapped until you want to eat them, plus they feed more than one sitting so can be desert and breakfast!
Ironically, this was the extent of my eating for myself throughout my entire trip. Three weeks of yoga teacher training had meals provided for us throughout with salads and a v attempts on many cuisines!
A week after leaving teacher training I found myself settled at a new retreat centre in Nicaragua that provided raw vegan food only and a detox menu. The food was delicious and carefully considered, all locally sourced and seasonal. I learnt a great deal – notably anti-inflammation is key (i.e. high fibre), which is linked to arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and even cancer. That paleo diet can help diabetes and auto-immune diseases like Grave’s. Many of us suffer from inflammation due to sedentary lifestyles, stress and high toxins in the air. I noticed the little ‘feminine’ squidgy bits vanished on this diet and my stomach problems from the teacher training vanished. We confirmed that I need a lot of electrolytes for hydration to prevent my dizzy spells and magnesium for my insomnia.
Within a week of settling into Gracious Living Oasis I had secured work at The Retreat Costa Rica. The fortune overwhelmed me with joy that I would spend the first three months of 2017 being fed by others who cared for nutritional wellbeing. How often do we get the privilege to be fed tasty, nutritious, thoughtful food all day, every day with chefs that care for your satisfaction and every want? I was being spoilt in my belly!
When I arrived in Costa Rica I enjoyed coffee again, and relief to eat their dehydrated granola with goat’s yoghurt – a comfort food of mine. Dinner included fish and a small raw dessert that always left the day feeling like a treat.
After 9 weeks of plant-based food in two different settings and approaches, I found myself converted. I embraced this new way of eating – save for coffee. Everyone has a vice of some kind!
After Retreat Life
In San Francisco, I noticed the food looked beige with token greens were added to dishes if at all. Stomach cramps and a sluggish feeling came back to my body. The cold had me so tense I felt all strange aches in my body! I craved the heat – following my Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor’s advice of drinking only hot water to help digestion. I craved vegetables and nuts in abundance at every meal. To be full on fibre.
I felt there was no place for dairy and gluten together – my pizza in Costa Rica had produced a hangover feeling throughout my body. I love cacao but sugar in chocolate starts headaches. Gluten made me feel sluggish whenever I ate bread. I have sensitive awareness now of how what I eat makes me feel. Like drinking alcohol, I can make a choice when I wish to eat or drink something of its ‘hangover effect’ on me.
My Body is My Temple
I return feeling ‘clean’. My body is my home for the whole of my life and I should care and respect for it. I don’t know if I have ever had a clean and fully energised body until Costa Rica, but I know now that I will care for it with knowledge of how good it can feel when I show it the respect it deserves.
This blog began with recipes that explain the nutritional content for brain health. My cooking is ‘plant-based’ as I avoid processed food, but after my accident I decided to eat any foods that had the nutritional content I sought for my recovery. From the places that I have worked there appear to be strong arguments for no meat, dairy or gluten – none I missed, save the one steak I ate.
As I blogged about my travels I found it ironic that I could not blog about recipes or cooking, because I was not cooking. I have some good recipes and knowledge to bring back and develop – such as quinoa chocolate cake, dehydrated granola, avocado chocolate mousse, carrot protein balls, nut meat, vegan lasagne, nut cheeses, papaya soup and so many more!
A month after leaving the retreat world I have binged on ice cream (my weakness) and felt the rubbish effects. I mostly survived eating ‘plant-based’ but lightly cooked meals to help me cope with the colder temperatures. My body much prefers the warmer climate and diet that naturally directs me towards.