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  • Confessions of a Nutritionist on Her Italian Honeymoon
  • Post author
    Alison Smink R.H.N.

Confessions of a Nutritionist on Her Italian Honeymoon

Confessions of a Nutritionist on Her Italian Honeymoon
Natural Health pioneer Ann Wigmore wrote, “The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” After eating my way through Italy, I got to experience both.

People often ask, how did you decide on Italy for your honeymoon? For my husband and I, it wasn’t even really a discussion. We both simply love Italian food and wine, and neither of us had ever been. So that was that! Destination decided.

Now, when you think of Italian food, what comes to mind? Pizza, pasta, butter, wine. All the “good” stuff. When I knew I was going to be in Italy for 26 days, I told myself I would not hold back. I was going to immerse myself in the culture, because it’s my honeymoon! Who knows the next time we’ll get the chance to really experience Italy? So, that is what I did. I am writing this blog to confess to you what I ate, how my body reacted, and most importantly, what I did to correct it when I got home.

First, there was breakfast.

At home, my husband and I both fast intermittently, so breakfast usually isn’t a thing. But, in Naples, after a long day and night of travel, jet lagged and a complimentary breakfast on a terrace at sunrise, here we were. Ready to eat as the Italians do.

We ate bread (another big shock!) with cheeses and meats, hard-boiled eggs, various pastries and a couple cappuccinos. More of that “good” stuff. However, almost right away, I did not feel good. My stomach was swimming, and a high sense of urgency developed to find the nearest bathroom. I will spare you the details here, but suffice it to say: Sorry, body!

That day, we explored Naples, and it wasn’t long before we found a café with a nice patio on the street for people watching. We ordered Spritzes, as you do, and discovered an Italian tradition. Whenever you order a drink in Italy, for the most part, a snack is included, on the house! So here was more mixed pastries, mini pizzas, cheese, bread, you get the idea. We happily gobbled away.

Then for lunch in Naples, obviously… PIZZA. People will argue that Naples is pizza’s proper home and is the best in the world. From our experience, we’re on their side. We shared two! They were heavenly. Perfect. And of course, more wine. Even the table wine in Italy is incredible!

Dinner back at the hotel was eggplant parmigiana, broccoli provolone risotto, a bottle of white, and bread. There is always bread on the table in Italy. For dessert we had a dark chocolate mousse and ice cream, with a chocolate pastry thing. Amazing.

This was the first day. I told you I wasn’t holding back.

The days and nights to come followed a similar pattern. Lunch always consisted of wine, bread, and either pasta or pizza, sometimes both. Dinner was pretty much the same. And my time in the bathroom remained… uneasy.

Actually, about a week into our trip, we began to skip breakfast again as it was making us feel very sluggish. But at lunch and dinner without a doubt, we kept up the indulgence.

And here’s what happened next.

My symptoms started after a couple of weeks. Nothing too major: a combination of itchiness overall and little bumps appearing on my arms and hands. Being itchy is a cardinal sign suggesting food sensitivities. Inflammation is another red flag for sensitivity and this is where the bumps came from. My body was upset, “acting out” to all the wheat, dairy, and sugar I was consuming.

Have you ever heard of the bucket analogy? Basically, it states, our bodies are like buckets. We fill them with toxins (pollutants in the air, unhealthy foods, alcohol, etc.). Now, our bodies can handle a lot—it’s a big bucket—but when our bucket gets full, it will overflow and that is when we experience symptoms. Some may experience these symptoms as a stuffy nose, itchiness, indigestion, acne, brain fog, low energy, and the list goes on. Everyone’s body is different and will react differently.

As we began our third week, I was starting to feel my energy take a big drop. I depended on coffee in the morning and a pick-me-up mid-day (usually with another pastry!). I knew exactly why I was feeling this way—my recent diet—but I had chosen to soldier on. One week left of delicious food and perfect wine. Come on body, you can do this!

The final leg of our trip took us to Paris, which did nothing for my newfound weakness before baked goods. By now my immune system was shot, and my body had had enough. It had been trying to tell me to slow down with all the little symptoms here and there, but I kept pushing, and eventually it threw in the towel.

I felt achy all over my body, got a wicked sore throat and a runny nose. My energy was very low and my mood took a big hit. On top of all that, I developed thrush. If you don’t know, thrush is a yeast infection that develops on the inside of your mouth and tongue. Yeast, right? All that wine and bread. The “good” stuff. On our final day, as we flew home, emotionally I was very sad for it all to be over, but physically I was very excited to be coming home.

Back home in Vancouver, I couldn’t wait to get back to my normal eating routine. The first thing I did when I got home was put a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in water and chug it. Why? Apple cider vinegar is a probiotic; that is, good healthy bacteria. Our mouths have their own micro biome and they need probiotics—the same way our gut does. I wanted to crowd out the bad bacteria (thrush) by overloading the micro biome with the good stuff.

As we settled in to life at home, my throat was still very sore, so I took Oil of Oregano 5 times a day or so, about 5 drops. Oil of Oregano is an herbal antimicrobial that helps tackle bacteria, yeast, and fungal infections. If you have never taken Oil of Oregano drops before, warning, they are pretty potent! (If you find you can’t handle the taste, we carry Oil of Oregano capsules at Ravita, so you get all the benefits, without the yuck.)

Next – turmeric. Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory, and I desperately needed to tame down all the inflammation happening in my body. I used the Golden Mylk beverage from Harmonic Arts (which you can also find at Ravita). It’s a blend of turmeric, coconut cream powder, lucuma, maca, ginger, and white pepper. The lucuma and coconut cream make it nice and frothy when mixed with hot water. The ginger helps to strengthen the immune system and calm the tummy, and you get the added hormonal support from the Maca.

I used 1 tablespoon of the Golden Mylk powder with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil (anti-fungal and anti-bacterial), and blended it with hot water. It is so yummy! If you like a little sweetness, you can add some honey or stevia.

Of course, the final two components to my recovery: water and sleep. And a lot of both. I drank so much wine while we were away, my poor body was dehydrated— another reason sickness took hold so easily.

We had a window of about three days before we were back to work and that time to sleep and rest was crucial in nursing me back to health. Travelling is added stress on our bodies, which can weaken our immune system. Sleep is so important because that is when our body resets, and can begin the repair work.

After three days of getting back to our regular eating habits, along with the ACV, Oil of Oregano, and turmeric, my thrush disappeared completely and my throat felt normal again. My nose was still a bit runny, and I still had a lot of phlegm, but I was on the road to recovery.

Our bodies are fascinating. They truly are. I put my body through a lot for 26 days, and it fired back at me for sure. But after three days of respecting and nourishing it, it began to heal itself. I gave my body the tools it needed, in the environment it needed to thrive in, and it adapted.

I know what you’re thinking. Wow, she’s a nutritionist and she ate all that stuff? And drank all that wine? Yes. I am human. I believe one of the most important aspects when it comes to maintaining your health is your mindset. I told myself I was going to do all of this, and I was okay with that, I wasn’t hard on myself. Do I regret putting my body through that? No. Was 26 days maybe a little too much? Perhaps. Was it worth it? Yes!

I am thankful for the knowledge I have and the relationship I have with my body in that I know when it is trying to tell me something. I came out with an experience to share with you, and I hope that in telling my story, you can learn from it too. It’s really amazing, when we start to develop a relationship with our bodies and we listen to it, what we can learn.

Tammi Kinley, R.H.N.
  • Post author
    Alison Smink R.H.N.