Japan Trip – Tokyo and Kyoto

Japan, what an amazing place and we only saw a little tiny part of it in 7 days…

Last week, Johnny and I headed over to Japan after I finished up the trimester at college to meet my Dad and his partner for a break. It was SO amazing to see my Dad and his lovely partner. They are such fun company and my Dad is one of theeeee funniest people on Earth, so we had a lot of laughs. We did karaoke at midday on the first day out and I think I nearly wet myself laughing a fair few times, says it all really… It is so nice to be with your people who just love you and get you 100% for who you are, it is so relaxing and nourishing.

Anyway. Japan is just insane. Tokyo was absolutely crazy, I have never experienced anything like it. It is literally wall to wall buildings for as far as the eye can see with literally no greenery. Everything is tiny, like tiny cars to fit in spaces. And the toilets… OMG the toilets!! I got off of the plane a little sleep deprived and went straight to the loo, which had more buttons then I have ever seen in my life in a bathroom. It played bird chirping music as I went to the loo, so no one can hear, and then there were 100 buttons to press to wash myself, dry myself – THE LOT. It was mental. All the toilets in Japan are like this pretty much, even the ones in the train stations. Anyway, fascination with toilets over… They also have vending machines EVERYWHERE.

In contrast to Tokyo, Kyoto felt a lot more homely and manageable. It was so much greener as well. What I will say for both places is that the people are SO friendly and polite! It was lovely.

It was fairly tricky to eat vegan/plant based in Japan. It was much harder in Tokyo then in Kyoto as there seemed to be lots of veggie options in Kyoto which was good. However, in Tokyo everything was cooked in meat stock or fish stock or literally had zero veggie options other than rice and veggies. My Dad’s partner is vegan, Johnny is veggie and I’m kinda plant based a poss, no label gal and my Dad is a carnivore. We made it work though. I was definitely out of my food comfort zone, but I embraced it, was mindful, grateful and I enjoyed it. One time our veggie curries came with meat in and we didn’t get our knickers in a twist over it. And I had egg in my rice one day and I just ate it and it was delicious. I am also pretty sure my veggie soups had fish or meat stock in but I didn’t want to be a pain or rude so I just ate it. Part of travelling is to experience the food from that culture, so we can’t worry over it. Its a blessing to be there and have such a lovely time. So with that said, we ate lots of yummy food. Lots of gyoza, dumplings, SO MUCH RICE (they eat with everything), bread, pasta, vegan burgers, lots of tofu, fries, miso soup, yummy veggies, champagne, weird veggies I’d never had, bucks fizz (what us UKers call “mimosas”), weird grape drinks, Japanese chocolate, an outrageous amount of green tea and a couple of green smoothies here and there when we were craving a hit of greens. We had a great balance of wholesome veggie goodness with delicious good food for the soul.

I didn’t take loads of photos, especially of food, as I was trying to be as present as possible, but here is a mix of photos from the trip…

Food:

Japanese Breakfast
Japanese Breakfast of Tofu, more tofu, miso soup with tofu, rice, veggies and soy sauce
Veggie Cafe in Kyoto
Veggie Cafe in Kyoto Curry Plate
Veggie Cafe in Kyoto
Veggie Cafe in Kyoto Green Smoothie
Neals Yard Brown Rice Cafe
Neals Yard Brown Rice Cafe Vegetable Rice Meal With Peanut Sauce and Soy Sauce with an iced honey soy chai
Neals Yard Brown Rice Cafe
Neals Yard Brown Rice Cafe Rice Paper Roll Starter
Choice Cafe Kyoto
Choice Cafe Kyoto Vegan Burger Special and green smoothie
Choice Cafe Kyoto
Choice Cafe Kyoto Smoke Cashew Cheese Salad
Gate Hotel Breakfast
Gate Hotel Breakfast Buffet of organic veggies – you better believe I had more than one trip. They had roast potatoes, pumpkin and lots of salads – SO GOOD

Tokyo:

Tokyo
View from Gate hotel Tokyo
Tokyo first night
Tokyo first night
Tokyo Imperial Palace Gardens
Tokyo Imperial Palace Gardens – one of the green places, although you aren’t allowed to go on the grass…
Day one
Day one – casual mirror selfie
A Festival on in Tokyo
A Festival on in Tokyo
Tokyo
Tokyo
Famous Tokyo Crossing
Famous Tokyo Crossing
Tokyo Museum
Tokyo Museum
Tokyo Museum
Tokyo Museum
Tokyo Museum
Tokyo Museum
Mount Fuji on Bullet Train
Mount Fuji on Bullet Train
On Bullet Train
On Bullet Train – this thing was insanely fast
Night time tokyo
Night time tokyo
View from Park Hotel Tokyo
View from Park Hotel Tokyo
View from Park Hotel Tokyo
View from Park Hotel Tokyo – the second green part I saw of Tokyo – literally the rest was just buildings and concrete!

Kyoto:

Kyoto Ryokan
Kyoto Ryokan
Golden Temple
Golden Temple
Kyoto View From Temple
Kyoto View From Kiyomizu Temple
Kyoto Kyomizu Temple
Kyoto Kyomizu Temple
Kiyomizo Temple
Kiyomizo Temple
Red Gates
Red Gates
Red Gates
Red Gates
Red Gates
Red Gates
Red Gates
Red Gates
Kyoto Castle
Kyoto Castle
Tea Cafe
Tea Cafe
Castle
Castle
Kyoto Castle
Kyoto Castle
Castle Gardens
Castle Gardens
My Amazing Dad and his Gorgeous Partner
My Amazing Dad and his Gorgeous Partner
Me and the J Man
Me and the J Man
Gorgeous Gardens
Gorgeous Gardens

Also here is where we stayed…

We spent the first 3 nights at the Gate Hotel in Asakusa in Tokyo. We then headed to a Kyomachiya Ryokan Sakura Urushitei in Kyoto and then finished our stay in the Park Hotel in Tokyo. All three places were brilliant. All the staff were super friendly and went out of their way to help us with our needs.

The whole trip was organised by an amazing guy called Jake for my Dad from a company called Audley Travel in the UK. He did an incredible job and we would recommend Audley Travel to anyone in the UK looking for a tailor made holiday.

I would love to go back to Japan to explore the more rural areas and the mountains too. If you get the chance to go to Japan, I would absolutely urge you to go. Its like nothing you will have seen or experienced before 🙂

I also need to mention… We experienced an earthquake while we were there and I literally shit my pants when it happened. We were on the 13th floor having dinner and everyones phones started going crazy with alert alarms and the building swayed and shook. It was craaaaazy, but some of the Japanese didn’t bat an eyelid as they experience them so much there. I definitely was scared haha.

Anyway, go to Japan, you’ll LOVE IT.

Have you ever been to Japan? Did you enjoy it?

Are We Giving Healthy Food Too Much Power?

Japanese Food

We got back from a wonderful trip to Japan yesterday. I will write a little about the brilliant holiday later in the week, but for now, I have some things I want to write about that were bubbling away under the surface on the plane…

At the Bright-Full Life, I want to teach a balanced and healthy life where it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It doesn’t have to be binge or restrict. It doesn’t have to be diet or indulge. It doesn’t have to be this way at all. You can eat healthy wholefoods most of the time and then eat things aren’t classed as “healthy” some of the time. This I believe, is what is healthy for the long term and keeps you able to manage it for the long term whilst also living life to the full. You learn to listen to what your body asks for to feel its best and then you eat that most of the time. This isn’t strict or rules though, and you can live spontaneously and live life too.

However, when you are trying to heal something with food and you have a tendency to be extreme in your actions, where does balance come in? How do we not give our food all of our power in trying to heal x, y or z condition? Many healing protocols are very strict and this can cause someone to develop food fears around what could hurt your healing time or your condition. This is something I have been thinking about ALOT lately and I feel like I want to share my thoughts on the topic.

I wonder and wonder the effect of the mind on physical issues, and if we can give food too much power and make it into an idol. Are we putting too much focus on a perfect diet to heal an issue that needs more than just food to heal it?

There is much evidence that the mind can very much effect the the gut and the digestion and assimilation of nutrients from your food and therefore the way that food affects you. Food fears, I believe, exacerbate any issue going on in the body and these can rise for an extreme minded person when they are following a healing protocol.

Food healing protocols, for a good chunk of people, are amazing at helping to heal issues going on, BUT for the portion of the population, who have all or nothing and extreme personalities, at what point does the pursuit of healthy eating, healing and feeling vibrant begin to hinder life? I’ve talked about can we become too obsessed with healthy eating before, but I want to dive in a little bit different today. 

For the all or nothing crowd, healthy changes can begin to take over lives, inhibit lives, cause stress and in turn make people feel less vibrant and be of a detriment to their conditions they are trying to heal in the first place. These people can’t eat “non-healthy” foods without worrying about the toxic effect on their bodies or how it can hurt them or hinder their conditions. This gives food huge power over you and it starts to control you. When you dive deep into nutrition, it can become complex in what you can and can’t eat to heal and feel your best, and this can become stressful and toxic for certain personalities and minds. Even within the “health food” realm, different wholefoods are labelled as good and bad e.g. grains are touted as the devil incarnate etc.

I think the line between making healthy changes to help heal and a stressful situation developing, is crossed when healthy food becomes a worry or a stress. When healthy food becomes an idol, when healthy food dominates over the persons thoughts and when healthy food becomes the main focus of someone’s life. This gives food so much power that we needn’t give it. I see this time and time again in people with obsessive and addictive personalities and I’ve seen it in myself. I think this overstepping line and food fear creates more issues. For example, it can affect digestion, as the body is then gearing up to fight or flight and therefore not digest well at all. It is literally fearing the food like you are fearing it in your mind.

In trying to heal certain ailments I have experienced, I believe I have have given food too much power at times. Not for a reason of weight or anything like that, but to heal.

In my pursuit of healing, I have and if I’m honest can sometimes now, worry about certain foods because I’m worried that they will trigger my IBS or anxiety or that they are toxic for my body, and that isn’t healthy at all. Its not a crazy fear where I can’t physically eat something I feel isn’t great for me, I’m long past that sort of fear. I will still eat the thing- it is more just a little anxiety that it could affect my gut or anxiety if that makes sense. The question is though, does that little bit of anxiety and fear give the feared food more power and then make it worse? I think the answer is yes.

Whilst most of my decisions on nourishing myself are out of love for myself these days, some of them can still be out of fear. I eat intuitively in the sense I give my body what it craves (mostly plant based wholefoods) and then I can go out and live life and be with friends and eat whatever. Its that “whatever part” that there can still be fear around, as I worry that the food I would be eating could be harmful for my body. Mostly, I stay present during this experience, I practice mindfulness, gratefulness and focus on whats around me, but sometimes the fear can win and I will physically worry about said food intake. Especially given the cancer I developed recently, I was chucked into fear town around food even more and worrying about what foods caused cancer yada yada yada. This, I believe, is where the problem lies and the problem lies for many who have obsessive personalities and try to control what’s happening to them through external measures; food. It is out of fear, it is all coming from the ego.

This leads me to think and truly feel in my heart that we need to lighten the fuck up around food. Yes, whole foods from nature are nourishing and healing for people and yes, eating plant based wholefoods are great and your body more often than not will thank you for a big hit of whole food plant based nutrition. BUT, an over focus on food being a magical healing potion for your issues is not healthy or healing. Any obsession with food or what to eat or what not to eat is not healthy or healing. And stressing or worrying about what you eat is more toxic then anything you could eat at that moment. For what we believe in that moment has everything to do with how that food affects you and how it is digested and used in your body. What is going on in your mind truly affects your body. If you are fearing that food, your body will be stressed and not be able to digest that food. And this is where lightening up and changing your attitude and mindset is everything.

I have just been in Japan for a week and I was well out of my comfort food zone. First off, I can’t read Japanese to know fully the ingredients in things and most things in restaurants tended to have gluten, animal products, MSG or God knows what chemical or ingredient in it. I ended up eating more gluten this week then I have eaten in two years, along with lots of sugar and crap I don’t normally eat, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I only had one bad reaction to something and it wasn’t even gluten. I will admit that I did feel like shit and tired at times, I was a little bloated, constipated and I have had a fair few spots breakout, but thats ok because I also got so much joy out of the experiences I had, which I believe is just as healing as amazing wholefoods. I chose in each moment of eating something, to be mindful, to focus on gratitude, to focus on the amazing people I was with and to just live in that moment. I think this is really powerful and it takes away the focus from food and lets you be free. Also these issues are likely down to more than just the food, like the fact I was on an aeroplane for 9 hours and didn’t sleep for over 30 hours, or the fact I was putting in wacky Japanese foods that anyone’s body would have needed time to adjust to, or being on the back of a really stressful 12 week school term, or maybe, just maybe it was those worried thoughts about the food in Japan! How much of it was a true food reaction and how much of it was me worrying about not eating as healthy as I could be? How much of it is just that I can get life anxiety which doesn’t prepare my gut for the best assimilation of nutrients anyway? You know what I am saying?

I just do not think it is 100% what we put in our mouths. That is fighting one extreme of unhealthy eating with another of perfection, and I don’t think it works.

It will sound weird from a Nutritionist to be, but I believe that we can’t truly just heal from food. I truly believe healing is also mental, emotional and spiritual and has to come from within and it is also deeply personal and specific to what the person is guided to do. What do you think is more healing… Worrying and fearing every morsel that could pass your lips or having balance, lightening up and being happy and living life free from the grips of your ego? You may or may not agree, but this is just the space I am in. Obsessing, worrying and trying to control food is the egos way of latching on to control that something external can fix everything. Newsflash, it can’t. Just like trying to be skinny (if you naturally aren’t) won’t fix everything, neither will stressing about a perfect diet to heal your ailments.

Connecting to a heart space, instead of your ego’s fear, I think will truly guide you. It may have you working with a professional on a specific protocol for a while. It may have you aligning to a specific way of eating for a while. As Organic Olivia says, there sometimes needs to be an extreme reaction (healing protocol) to an extreme situation (awful gut issues etc). However, once this therapeutic period is over, there needs to be balance brought back and fear of any foods must be shut down as soon as you consciously feel them come up. It doesn’t have to dominate. 

Life is so much more than the food we eat. Yes eating healthy foods is important and helps you thrive, BUT making it a stressful focus and a magical solution to all life’s ills is a disservice to yourself and a disservice to the world which is then lacking from your true gifts, which are being camouflaged by your obsession over what to eat.

I really feel that by not giving our full power to food and not fearing food in any way, our lives will be so much more free. I am beginning to fully believe that it’s also what we believe in that heals us, having faith and also following and truly listening to what is right for us and our individual paths. No one diet is right for everyone and no one healing method is right for everyone. We have to learn to listen to our own intuition and not get crowded by the noise out there in society and let that create fear.

It’s not easy to let it go, it is scary to let go of the ego’s grip. I know, and I’m right here with you embracing food freedom and balance and fully eating intuitively and with the guidance of your body and heart. I really want to help others return to a space of love where they can have a healthy relationship with food, find balance and make space for their true gifts to come out into the world. I feel like we go through the things we need to help others with the most. I have the utmost faith that food freedom can be found and a healthy balance can be truly lived. We can align with our hearts, bodies and intuition to know what is best for our bodies.

I am committed to love and committed to aligning to my intuition and not letting myself give food too much power. There can be a passion for healthy living and an appreciation of delicious, healthy food, without an obsession or worry, but fear needs to leave and love needs to lead.

When I feel a fear come up around a food, I will drop into my heart space and feel it. Is it genuine guidance not to eat the food or is it the ego trying to keep me in fear town and in a place where I give food too much power? Most of all, not think about it too much and just live. Get in those plant based wholefoods the majority of the time, which is what my body craves (yours can be different), but then lighten up and live life too and just go out and be spontaneous and not worry if what I will eat is perfectly healthy. Let go of the worry and guilt. 

I really feel like the way food affects us is a lot to do with our mindsets. For example, if someone eats a chocolate cake when they are stressed from work, it may affect them more negatively due to the reason they are eating it (emotional eating) and the stress hormones present. Equally, if someone worries about the affect of the chocolate cake on their health, it may affect them more negatively. But if that same chocolate cake was shared with loved ones at a birthday and the person was so happy and joyful from the connection and the experience and there was no worry there, how badly do you think that cake will affect the body? I will hazard a guess and say probably not bad at all.

Anyway, I think I could rabbit on for hours, clearly by the length of this post…I don’t have all the answers…and I’m pretty sure I’ll have some wobbly food thoughts in the future. I’m human after all, and one who is naturally an extreme gal who can be in the grip of her ego just as much as the next person. I’m just writing from my heart and I hope it can help anyone reading in some way 🙂

(I want to just note, that if you have food allergies or severe intolerances, of course stick to the foods that are safe for you. But the rest of you, you know what I am getting at and talking about 🙂 )

Whose with me? Can anyone relate? Any input?

Life Lately and Off To Japan

JAPAN

2016 has been a year of ups and downs so far. Incredibly wonderful times met with hard low times too; hash tag life. From the cancer scare, other health issues, to family issues, it has been a roller coaster so far. I feel like I have been pushed and tested emotionally, physically and spiritually and I would be lying if I said it has been easy. But I am super grateful for it all, every second I get to be here, no matter the high or the low, is a blessing.

We have just finished up the first trimester at College of our second year of study, which means there are only two more trimesters left before I am qualified to practice as a Nutritionist in clinic. Exciting, yet crazy. I cannot believe how quickly it has gone. It has been a busy trimester where I have learned a lot, and with everything going on, I have felt like I have held on by the tips of my fingers to stay afloat. But I did it and I am proud of myself (and all my girls!) for doing it.

Now, I am incredibly excited to say I am off for a week in Japan with Johnny to see my Dad and his partner. I literally am so excited I could burst, as I haven’t seen my Dad for around 9 months now. I also can’t wait to experience a vastly different culture where hardly anyone will speak English (I have learned about 5 phrases…Totes will be fine…). There are beautiful temples to be seen, delicious new cuisines to try and a myriad of new things to sight see. I am so excited to relax, have fun and just breathe. I will be checking out of the blog for a week for a break and to absorb every second. I will probably post on Instagram and be taking lots of photos, but my aim is to disconnect and just be present with my loved ones experiencing a new country and cities.

SO EXCITED and see you soon!

Lauren xx

How is life for you lately? Have you got any exciting trips coming up?