Finally, I am back home after a long break. Glad to see that I have not lost all my readers in the meantime. Thanks for sticking around!
Every year or two we go back to Germany to visit my husband’s family, friends and do a bit of hiking. That is exactly what we did this year.
Before we left on our trip I was on an Anti Candida protocol – a combination of a sugar free diet (on top of my usual clean eating – no processed food, gluten, dairy and egg free,) and anti fungal / probiotics to address the overgrowth of those nasty buggers in my stomach. The only sugar I was consuming was a piece of organic low sugar fruit everyday. The treatment itself produced a huge die off reaction which in turn caused a major flare up of my autoimmune condition. I have talked more about it here.
When Candida cells die they produce toxic by products which are released into our system. Genetically my body struggles to clear out toxins and the detox process becomes generally painful and slow. So once I started the Anti Candida protocol, I was basically reacting to everything I ate. I couldn’t think, walk or do anything without pain and lethargy in every part of my body. I felt like I was wrapped in steel wires on the outside and was slowly being poisoned from the inside.
With almost two months into the treatment and another month left to go, my digestive issues started to improve. So one and a half weeks before we left to Germany I decided to stop the anti fungal to reduce the toxic overload which was occurring in my body from the die off effects from candida but continue on with the strict diet. The symptoms of the die off slowly reduced after I stopped the anti fungal but I was still not well, the toxins were still lingering in my body. I was starting to question if flying 13 hours to Europe was the best thing for me at that time. All I wanted to do was rest and let my body recover… I survived the long flight but just barely.
When I travel I tend to relax my way of clean eating just only making sure what I eat is gluten and dairy free at the least and freshly cooked if possible. This way I can avoid other additives and preservatives that go along with the already processed Gluten free or dairy free food.
Travelling in Germany, it gets hard. Bread is THE main staple food there and most restaurants use flour that contains gluten in almost everything from sauces to sausages. Asian restaurants there are heavy on MSG usage beyond what I am used growing up in Singapore. The asian sauces frequently used in the restaurants are also full of other additives (just like many other sauces as well) apart from MSG. Soy sauce which is widely used in Asian cooking also contains gluten except for Tamari soy sauce which does not contain gluten. So eating clean can be a challenge when eating out in Germany.
As much as I hate eating processed food, in the past whenever I was in Germany I had to a certain degree rely on processed gluten free bread and other processed nasties which were so called gluten and dairy free but full of other additives and filled with crazy amounts of sugar that it is just as bad as eating something I am allergic to. Organic or ‘Bio’ shops in Germany do sell Gluten free and dairy free food products which do not have additives in them but they are a bit pricier than the usual big brand gluten and dairy free products in major supermarkets.
This time though I was determined to keep to my clean eating as much as possible and of course which now included NO sugar. I was mostly able to keep to my strict diet with partly thanks to my lovely mother-in-law who cooked most days while we stayed over.
Everyone in my husband’s family supported me throughout our time there, taking care of what I could and could not eat. It was not an easy task and I am blessed to have such wonderful people in my life.
Besides visiting our family, my husband and I set off on a hiking holiday in Scheidegg. Scheidegg is a small country town about 800m above sea level, in Bavaria, South Germany. It is a place known for its health retreats and more recently for its gluten free restaurants and hotels that also cater for people with other food intolerances. All you have to do is ask and they accommodate you without giving you a puzzled or a confused look. It is definitely a great feeling when people you speak to truly understand that being gluten and dairy free or avoiding a certain food is not a fad diet and that some foods really do cause bad reactions in your body without looking at you like you are from planet Mars.
We stayed in Landhotel Herzberger. They catered for my Gluten, Dairy and Egg free breakfast without a fuss. The hotel manager was extremely friendly and made us feel at home. She baked gluten, dairy and egg free muffins so that we could bring some along for our hikes during the day. My husband ate most of them while I had a nibble, they were not too sweet and still tasted absolutely yummy!
She also gave us a list of restaurants which would cater for my needs. Most of these restaurants have allergy information printed on their Menus (“Gluten Frei”, “Laktose Frei” and so on) and the Chefs were also able to accommodate me in preparing my food the way I wanted. Instead of using butter for pan searing pork or fish they used oil and salad dressings were made simply with vinegar and olive oil.
Everything that we ate in the restaurants was freshly prepared, cooked and tasted super delicious. There is even a bakery in the village which bakes fresh gluten free bread that tasted so much better than the packaged ones in the supermarkets with a tonne of additives which I can’t even begin to pronounce. Most importantly, I did not have any reaction to anything I ate during our holiday in Scheidegg.
We hiked a total of 26 KM during our three night stay in Scheidegg. It is not a lot by our standards but I wanted to go easy on my body given that I was still recovering from my autoimmune flare up. Walking for hours among the tall fir trees and the rolling hills, breathing in the fresh and unpolluted air with every step was the right prescription I needed to recover from the ravages of the Candida treatment and my autoimmune flare up.
The forest embraced me and the healing began. At the end of each day my muscles were sore from the relentless walking but there I was still standing. My heart, soul and whole being flooded with happiness to have had that amazing experience of walking among the giant trees and green lush hills. Hiking is not a sport for me or a weight loss solution. It is active meditation, walking among nature makes you be present. It makes you fit in a way that counts – mind, body and soul.
My parents-in-law live in a small village outside of Stuttgart surrounded by beautiful vineyards. Each time I go back it brings up memories of my first time there, how quaint, steeped in history and beautiful everything is – village streets laid with cobble stone pavements with distant vineyards as a backdrop.
Coming from Singapore where almost everything is new, being surrounded by buildings and structures which were mostly old and rich in history was a novelty for me. Even though I have been traveling to Europe the last 10 years, I refuse to be jaded.
We also visited my husband’s sister and her husband who call a beautiful log house their home. They have a large backyard with a wonderful garden, apple & peach trees, a greenhouse and a recent lake they had built, perfect to swim in summer time!
We ate mostly seasonal vegetables (organic of course) freshly harvested out of their garden everyday. It was like having a grocery market out in their backyard – it was pretty amazing! All excess vegetables and fruits will be preserved in jars by my sister-in-law for winter.
Food scraps are fed to the ducks or turned into compost. Nothing goes to waste. Such a wonderful way to live!
We also did a day trip to Stuttgart, the home of Mercedes Benz, Porsche & Bosch – a few of the famous names that originate from the area and are well known world wide.
We managed to find a traditional sausage place in the city centre. They make their own gluten free and lactose free sausages and “Pommes frites” (french fries), everything was homemade including the ketchup for the curry wurst.
Of course the fries were deep fried and even though the curry wurst was gluten free they might have still contained other fillers. This was the only time I strayed away from my clean eating but I still did well without reacting to the food afterwards. So, I was very happy to say the least! It was a sign my body is not reacting to every single thing as before and during my Anti Candida protocol. Finally, I was on the mend.
Because the universe is generous, kind and has better sense than someone who over rationalises, going to Germany ended up being the best thing I could have done for recovering my health. The long walks in nature, high quality German mineral water, the fresh clean air (something which is a rarity in KL, Malaysia) and my sugar free clean diet at home with family and outside home were exactly the medicine I needed to heal.
My immune and digestive system are at their best in a very long while! I am truly grateful for that.