The Great China Food Takeaway

Trip Start Jul 22, 2011
Trip End Aug 12, 2011

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Flag of China  , Shanghai,
Friday, August 12, 2011


Often I have personal insights and flashes of awareness while traveling. The experience is like a mirror reflecting back.  I think I am learning something about someone else's world and end up learning more about my own.  It happened almost everyday.  I’ve shared these experiences in each day’s blog.

One of the surprising takeaways from this trip was the effect of eating Chinese food for 21 days.  Harvey lost weight and didn’t have stomach discomfort after eating.  I couldn’t believe my ears when he said toward the end of the trip "I have more energy and have never felt better in 15 years".    This is so significant that I am more convinced than ever of the links between eating style, nutrition, how we feel and our overall health.   I am eager and committed to learning how to duplicate this style of eating at home so these benefits can continue

So what did we eat?  In a nutshell:

-      Dairy free.  No products made from milk, including cheese, which was major for us.

      Lots of fresh vegetables, stir-fried.  No fresh salads.

      Soups that often had some egg, fresh tomato and green veggies.  Delicious!

      No crackers or wheat bread of any kind (well, maybe if we had a western breakfast buffet we might have a croissant)

      Breakfasts:  Soup with noodles, veggies & dumplings.  Fresh fruit.  Steamed dumplings.  We might choose eggs.  Sometimes we would just taste different Chinese hot foods on the breakfast buffet, which offered a variety of Chinese, Japanese and American options.

      Lunches & dinners:  Selection of 3-5 dishes served family style that might include:  rice or noodles, several dishes of green veggies that were stir fried (grapeseed oil) with garlic - so fresh and diverse in selection - have never seen them before - maybe there would be some slices of beef, chicken or pork but only really for flavor because there wasn't much there, sometimes we would get a dish that was primarily meat.  Sometimes there would be a soup also.  I loved the stir fried or steamed dumplings.  On several nights we would just have assorted fruit for dinner that we would get at a mini-mart near our hotels or order from room service.

      Drinks:  water, tea, occasional beer to quench thirst at lunch when it was so hot.  No sodas such as diet coke (major for Harvey).

      No snacks.  Just drank lots of water.

Prior to our China trip, I had read the China Study by T. Colin Campbell, books by Caldwell B. Esselstyn from the Cleveland Clinic and a blog by the medical librarian at the Cleveland Clinic

I had been trying to change our diets in this direction for some time, but it takes time to change habits and our taste palette.  On the trip, there really was no other alternative for lunch & dinners and three weeks is enough to change a habit!  The challenge now is find menu alternatives at home and to learn to cook this way.  For us, I believe it is definitely worth the time and effort.  I just have to be patient with myself since I have to be more mindful and do menu planning instead of just food shopping out of habit.  I am determined.  Harvey wants to continue in this way also (although he did ask me to buy diet coke).   I am starting to view this as a life process of learning that involves discovery and experimentation.  It’s a different sort of journey, one that doesn’t involve getting on an airplane, but one that has the potential to have a major impact on our lives every day in terms of how we feel.   It’s an unexpected surprise takeaway from this trip to China. 

This alone would have been worth the journey to China! 

But as you have read in this blog, there was so much more.  We went with open minds and hearts, a sense of humor and flexibility and each day was another happening.  So when someone asks me, so what did you think of China?  Now you know why saying “it was a great trip”, is just a sound bite that can’t even begin to capture the impressions and experiences of being in China.      

We hope you enjoyed the journey along with us!

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