Sometimes food can become the enemy – not eating this, staying away from that – gluten is bad, potatoes are bad, sugar is bad, no carbs, low carbs, only carbs. Is it clean food, is it good for my gut, is it good for my brain – it’s all very overwhelming and choosing what to eat can become a minefield. The fear of choosing the wrong thing and facing the consequence of bloating, swelling, gas, reflux, eczema, colitis, psoriasis and/or cramps makes food into a demon to be tiptoed around. However in my experience, as a Shiatsu practitioner, food is rarely the cause of the problem yet it is the painful trigger of an underlying condition. By interpreting the triggers and listening to what the body is telling us, we can go deeper, understanding and treating the cause. In Chinese Medicine, it is seen as treating the branch and the root.
About 20 years ago everything I ate made me hurt. The stomach cramps were incredibly painful and I would be doubled over unable to move for hours. I didn’t know what it was or what foods were triggering it, for a while it seemed like everything set off the agony. For months I tried all sorts of things to fix it. In the end, it turned out that I had picked up the helicobacter virus whilst visiting Mexico. I eventually cleared the stomach ulcers but it left me with a sensitivity to many foods, especially vegetables. After many soups, my stomach got stronger and I was able to eat a wider variety of crunchy foods. Now the only thing I can’t really eat is broccoli and Chinese takeaways. Of course, this doesn’t mean broccoli is a bad vegetable or that Chinese takeaways are terrible. It just reminds me that I have to be loving to my tummy, to not overdo it with cruciferous veg, raw green juices or monosodium glutamate.
Food can be a marvellous way to really listen to our bodies. To understand their individual needs and love and care for them as a mother would her child. Of course don’t keep eating things that don’t serve you and make you ill, learn to listen to your body and use the system of Traditional Chinese Medicine taught by Shiatsu & Conscious Cooking to interpret symptoms and see food as medicine. It is a path to a life full of delicious love. Your relationship with food mirrors your relationship with life so love the food you choose to eat. Choose it, prepare it and devour it with sumptuous, sticky, lickable vigour.
I’ll share with you a recipe that got me through the ulcers and has strengthened my stomach since. Even now when my stomach feels crampy or my oesophagus tingly from reflux, I make this dish and my stomach is soothed. I will be teaching how to make this dish at the “Love what you eat” Retreat – Living wheat and Gluten free taking place in Wicklow (1hr from Dublin) 19, 20 & 21 October 2018. – More details below the recipe
Millet is the most alkalising grain which is easily digested by the stomach and spleen. This is so comforting and grounding; mouthful by mouthful you can feel your stomach relaxing. Firstly chop and gently fry an onion for a couple of minutes in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 25g of butter. Then add 2 cloves of chopped garlic, a large handful of chopped parsley and 250g millet. Stir in on a gentle heat making sure all ingredients are coated with oil then add the 750ml of stock, a very big handful of chopped sage, a few sprigs of thyme, flakes of seaweed and salt. Cover the pot bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes, adding more stock or seasoning if needed.
I encounter many people and treat many clients who choose not to eat Wheat and Gluten. It suits them and their energy levels. Brilliant……. Fantastic ……..however some of them have lost their love for food. It has become a chore, feeling that there is no pleasure if there is no toast. So I have created a weekend where you can fall in love with food all over again. I will be teaching a great range of recipes from
- French Onion & Miso Soup
- Simple pressed salad
- Asian coleslaw with Avocado Segments
- Herby Millet with Shiitake Mushrooms
- Wheat & Gluten free brownie
- Anti Inflammatory tea with fresh Turmeric
And fantastic Buckwheat Pancakes which are a great substitute for wraps and quick sandwiches
These recipes will help with treating the symptom. They offer fantastic, loveable alternatives to the food that no longer serves you. To accompany treating the symptom we will also look at the root cause of the sensitivities to foods and offer solutions to turn of the nervous system, to encourage self-love and build ultimate health.
To decrease sensitivity in the body and lessen the triggers it is essential we can learn to self-soothe and that we know how to turn off the flight and flight nervous system so the body can rest and restore. This is how we treat both the branch and the root – approaching the body as a holistic system. True health does not come from taking the correct medication but from allowing the natural forces within us to flow.
To this end, there will be guided Loving Kindness Meditation practices, walking meditations through the wooded paths and down to the secluded beach.
Each morning I will be teaching the Makka-ho which are a series of 6 stretches which sedate and tonify the organs of the body. They remove blockages along the meridian channels and improve the flow of Chi (energy) throughout the body.
I will also guide you through a series of major Acupressure points in the body for Chi flow, health and wellbeing.
The retreat will be completely vegetarian and will have a focus on balanced, healthy eating – demonising food and making it the baddie is a missed opportunity to work out what is actually going on with our bodies. Rather than limiting my palate, reducing my taste buds and constricting happiness, I’d rather fling out my arms open wide, expanding into full health with a mixed bowl of deliciousness, still curious, still in love with food and life.