What we eat: Kai Chi Do Food, of course

So you’re doing Kai Chi Do regularly and your breath feels open like the air fills more of you.  Your mind is clearer, your body feels juiced, and your posture is just a little straighter.   Now that you’re feeling great, you might be thinking about eating great too.

One of the highlights of our Kai Chi Do Weekend Retreats is sharing our meals together.  They’re yummy happy celebrations of abundance.  (My mother always says, “If you don’t have leftovers, you didn’t make enough”).  We can’t take credit for the Falafel – which is made fresh for us by Bread and Butter deli on Saturday mornings.  But we do make lots of other goodies ourselves – Like the Carrot-Fennel soup, Carrots with Basil (we really like carrots), Greek style Chicken with Mushrooms and Artichokes, Greek Salad with Garlic-Oregano dressing and Skordalia (a very garlicky spread that is usually made with potatoes but we make it with pureed cauliflower).  Makes your mouth water just thinking about it, doesn’t it?

What you don’t find at our family-style buffets are bread, pasta, potatoes, pastry.  Okay, so we do make a Vegan Rice Pudding with ground vanilla bean, but that’s for the little bitty carb eaters among us.  I’m one of them –  Love that rice pudding.

And these meals are typical of how we eat.  Cook at home, from fresh ingredients.  Lots of fruits and vegetables.  For protein we eat poultry and fish and beans and legumes.  We buy fish fresh, the same day we eat it.  We drink lots of water.   We eat family dinners – it’s a special time each day that we look forward to.  In fact, if one of us eats at an odd hour, we ask, “Will you sit with me?” so that we can still spend that time being together.

We rarely eat out in restaurants anymore. Frankly, the food is better at home. And we know what’s going into the food.

Our eating made a dramatic improvement when we discovered the world of food allergies.  Okay, so let me just begin by saying we’re not giving medical advice and we’re not making health claims on the prevention or cure of diseases, and it’s a good idea to talk to your qualified health professional before making diet changes.  That said – I’m mentioning food allergies because it helped us to learn about them and to investigate our own food sensitivities.  Avoiding foods that were a problem for us greatly improved our health.  Most people know about environmental and seasonal allergies, but they often forget to consider what they are eating as a possible trigger.

I was the first to discover my food allergies – I was having episodes of breathlessness.  I’d run out of breath before I could finish a sentence.  The doctors thought I might be developing asthma.  I also had a small dime-sized scaly burning rash on my face.  Once we considered food allergies as a possible culprit, it was pretty easy to correlate shortness of breath with eating tomatoes – tomato sauce actually, and salsa.  Eliminating tomatoes helped, but then it was easier to see the other triggers – foods with red pepper, or chili, or paprika, or jalapenos – all of which I loved, by the way.   And there it was – an allergy to the food family known as nightshades.  Bye, bye salsa. (I don’t smoke, never have, but for those who do, you might want to know that tobacco is also a nightshade).  And once the nightshades were eliminated, it was easy to see another trigger – dairy.  It made me snotty.  Apples made my lips swell and my ears itch, so it was a reasonable guess that I was allergic to those.  Carrots gave me a rash so I had to eliminate those.  A panel of skin sensitivity tests showed allergies to soy (which I was eating by the pound because I was a vegetarian at the time and I relied heavily on soy products for my protein), an allergy to nuts (all of them, including peanuts, which are not technically a nut), and a very strong reaction to wheat.  All of these foods were stuff I loved – I craved them!  The craving should have clued me in.  Craving is not a good thing.  For some perverse reason, our bodies sometimes crave the very stuff that acts on us like a poison.  I waited years to give up wheat products (I had a great recipe for home baked braided onion bread!) and it wasn’t until I gave wheat up that my body started to feel much better.  No more stuffy head, no more thick throat in the morning, no more sinus infections.   Remember how I said we like carrots?  Once I eliminated the wheat, I was able to eat apples and carrots without any adverse effects – It seems those two food “allergies” were actually a results of some kind of leaky gut syndrome.

Years ago, Charles had a pretty bad case of psoriasis that wasn’t healing, despite topical steroids that made him feel whiggy.  I found a book called Healing Psoriasis: The Natural Alternative by Dr. John Pagano.  And Charles began following a low carbohydrate diet to heal his psoriasis.  He was already off dairy – Years before we recognized that he was lactose intolerant – and we figured out that his ongoing struggle with sinus inflammation was a soy allergy.  No soy, no sinus symptoms.  With a low carb diet, and daily Kai Chi Do, Charles lost about 80 lbs. and has only a small patch of psoriasis left to heal.

Shanti saw Charles get healthy, and she put herself on low carbs.  (What an awesome kid!)  She was already off dairy – an allergy that was diagnosed by a great specialist, Dr. Jaime Kratz.  After we found Dr. Kratz, Shanti’s recurrent sinus and respiratory infections finally ceased.

So…Here’s what we don’t eat:  Soy, nuts, dairy products, wheat, beef, pork, corn, bread, potatoes.  We rarely eat rice.  We don’t eat cereal, but we do grind up millet and flax cereal and use it for bread crumbs, in small doses.   I’m completely off nightshades, but Charles and Shanti can eat them.  I adapted a great recipe for a tomato-sauce-replacement!  And you can find a similar product, ridiculously overpriced IMHO, called Nomato Sauce.

What we do eat is simple, plain, deliciously fresh food.  Shared with friends and family.  Just like the Breath, food has Life Energy – prana.

Got any full-of-Life-Energy recipes you’d like to share?  Add them as a Comment!  Or try our recipes and tell us what you think.

Want some more recipes?  How about Tilapia with Rosemary, Broccoli with Lemon, Baked Butternut Squash, or Turkey Burgers with Pickled Onions?  Yummmm.

Photo by Rhett Sutphin onFlickr’s Creative Commons