Wellness and healthy food advice for travellers and the work place

In the July 2018 edition ScandAsia presented food ingredients with medicinal benefits. In part two the remaining selection of such food recommendations (and which are great, affordable alternatives to expensive super foods) is listed. Introduced is also additional nutrition advice for business travellers and workplace wellness. Wellness specialist/lifestyle & nutrition coach Judith Coulson-Geissmann, based here in Asia, is your guide.

Wellness for travellers
Judith shared here insights during the Asian Organic Gourmet Festival (137 Pillars Suites & Residences Bangkok), which included a focus on wellness for business and leisure travellers. Travelling is no reason to throw one’s exercise habits and eating patterns out the window, though it may pose a bigger challenge to keep up. Going on vacation can actually be a good moment to learn about and adopt a healthier lifestyle – not least in Asia where the opportunity is there in abundance at hotels and wellness centres. It can be the moment to adopt a healthier diet and begin with new exercise goals.

Some of the hotel brands, like 137 Pillars Hotels & Resorts and Six Senses Resorts & Spas, also put an effort into offering its guests food quality (healthy and, organic an as least processed as possible), in addition to offering wellness programmes.

“When we travel we normally break with the schedule we have at home when it comes to healthy eating and exercising. We have our health-conscious food and the ingredients we really like when we are at home but when we travel we do not find the same kind of quality or the same diversity of food when we arrive at the destination,” says Judith Coulson-Geissmann.

The medicinal food ingredients constitute one remedy for unhealthy eating habits and as a way to stay energised.

“When staying at hotels the biggest difficulty for me is not to get constipated and to eat enough nutrient-dense foods,” says Judith. “I make sure I start my day with some fibre rich foods: cereal (preferably sugar free), or just oats, raw vegetables, fruits, nuts seeds. If the breakfast buffet does not offer such foods I try to get hold of some apples (high in soluble fibre) or very often bring my own muesli mix with seeds and nuts with me. If there are no raw vegetables available chose dishes that are stir fried (avoid too much sauce because of the salt). If you have buffet lunches or dinners make sure fifty per cent of your food intake is vegetables, twenty-five lean protein and twenty-five whole grain carbs. If there are no good quality carbs I replace the carbs with protein. Drink enough plain water. If the hotel does not supply free water, it is always cheaper to get a bottle of water in a grocery store. If the hotel does not have a gym, try to get at least 10,000 steps into your day, and add some body weight exercises (squats, planks, dips etc.) you can do in your room.”

Judith refers to the ‘Healthy travel’ by Harvard Medical School Guide (Harvard Health Publications) for guidance on those exercises, among many other useful things one can read in that guide.

Judith also makes her own muesli: “I want to make sure that once a day I eat the fibres I need, or want, so I mix in whatever I want, like sesame seeds, black seeds, and with that one meal day, I am good. And I get the balance. And especially with travelling, I know this is going mean lots of snacks, or maybe I eat deep fried or whatever it is.”

“If you eat anything with sugar, add some seeds or nuts with it, because the natural fats slow down the sugar content getting into your blood and prevent your sugar level from going up. And if you go out for a drink eat some nuts at the bar. You can stay in a lot longer. And you don’t get the sugar rush that easily. And then, also do not drink mineral, or sparkling, combined with alcohol, as it helps the sugar to go into your blood.”

Corporate Wellness Asia
Based in Bangkok but working in Hong Kong and Singapore as well, Judith offers coaching on lifestyle and food – both for businesses and individuals: “You are the CEO of your energy expenditure and production. Your daily food, lifestyle and behaviour choices determine if you walk out of your working place tired and stressed every single day, or vigorous and ready for another active couple of hours of your favourite hobby, meeting friends or spend quality time with your kids and family.”

Energy is undoubtedly our most precious resource. Without physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy nothing will work the way you want in life, states Corporate Wellness Asia. “Corporate Wellness Asia offer consulting to companies, organizations and communities in regards to building cultures of health, corporate or workplace wellness programs, and combining safety, health and well-being in a business setting. We also offer workshops and seminars in resilience, stress & energy management, the happiness advantage for performance etc. and coach executives 1-2-1 on the same topics.”

Employers have communication channels to their employees that almost no one else shares and therefore they can directly influence, encourage and support a sustainable increase of their employees energy levels, health and well-being, while at the same time improving their bottom line.

Typical clients are mostly white collar companies in high stress environments; banks, business consulting, accounting, insurance etc. “At this point we are looking to expand our services to hotels and health care professionals (interestingly burnouts are the highest under health care professionals and physicians, leading to errors in judgement, alcohol and drug abuse, mental health issues etc.).”

In order to ensure that workplace health initiatives change the workplace dynamics, and the corporate culture, to the point of generating a respectable return on investment, the coaching is based on coming up with a strategic plan together with the client, and that is also executed..

And under ‘Lifestyle Food Clinic’ they offer online and offline specialized nutrition & lifestyle coaching mostly for individuals with a starting or developed chronic disease. “Our clients are people that get told to adjust their food and lifestyle choices after medical check-ups. (Thai hospitals don’t actually offer personalized nutrition advice and are about 5 years behind the newest research) We have clients all around the world. Under this umbrella we offer single workshops and workshop series to schools, parents, clubs, hotels etc., we consult canteens, spa’s and restaurants on healthier menu choices.”

Clients: any individual interested to prevent, manage and reverse a chronic disease (high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, kidney and liver diseases, depression, some cancer, etc.) Any institution or restaurant interested to offer more healthy dishes to their clients.

“How we are different: our knowledge and advice is research and evidence-based and we spend 30% of our income in on-going education obtained from the world leading universities and research companies,” adds Judith.

Medicinal food

In part one the food items with medicinal properties consisted in: Marian Plum, Sesame seeds, Hibiscus Roselle tea, Cod fish, Turmeric and Ginger. These are the remaining:

Rocket leaves (Arugula)
Arugula provides many of the same benefits as other green vegetables such as broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts.

“Any kind of green leaf can help preventing many diseases including cancer. Greens, along with beans, onion, mushrooms, berries and seeds are ingredients we know can starve a cancer cell. If you eat them in combination more than once a day the cancer prevention is going to be even better. And, rocket leaf, because it is high in minerals it can also prevent osteoporosis. It also helps to prevent diabetes, as it lowers the glucose levels in your blood.

Green leaves increase the oxygen in your blood, which can aid your physical performance. A lot of bodybuilders eat spinach, kale or any kind of green leaves on a daily basis to aid stamina and muscle grow.

The list of health benefits for spinach is long (improved eyesight, regulated blood pressure, neurological benefits etc.) due to the presence of minerals, vitamins, pigments and phytonutrients, including potassium, manganese, zinc, magnesium, iron and calcium. It is also a source of many essential vitamins.

“The spinach in Asia is a bit longer, with a long stem. It is so sought-after you cannot always get it. It is a green leaf vegetable and therefore falls in the anti-cancer property section. I really strongly recommend you to have green leafs every day in any form or shape.

“Strong in vitamin C, it can also help someone who is pregnant.”

High in potassium but low in sodium spinach is very beneficial for high blood pressure patients as potassium lowers and sodium raises the blood pressure.

Lemongrass offers multiple health benefits including relief from stomach disorders, respiratory disorders, aches, insomnia, infections, rheumatism etc.

“The oils in lemongrass have anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce pain,” says Judith.

Lemongrass possesses antioxidant qualities and helps in protecting the body cells from oxygen-derived free radical. “It can also aid cell reproduction and maintain them.”

It can aid weight loss and cures fever so if you feel you have flu or something erupting, have a lemongrass tea! It’s really easy to prepare. Put lemongrass in a pot and put boiled water on top for lemongrass tea.”

“Out of five ingredients you should have on a more or less daily basis that can stop cancer cells from growing, that starve cancer cells from getting oxygen to grow. And one of them is shallots or onions in any form or shape. The other ones are beans, seeds, green leaves, berries and mushrooms,” states Judith.

“Shallots have antioxidant agents that can help you with anti-aging but also protect your cells. High in certainly minerals they also improve circulation and metabolism. They also lower cholesterol and therefore improve our health.”

Antioxidants that are released called Allicin help reduce cell mutation and various cancers. These also help controlling cholesterol production.

“I tell a lot of people who come to me with diabetes is to add more onions to their diet. Onions are high in chromium and chromium can help you reduce it. They also soothe your nerves; you are to be calmer.”

Cleaning fruits and vegetables
Due to extensive use of pesticides in farming in Asia cleaning the produce is essential.

“I personally use a solution with water and vinegar. I mix it in a bottle, then spray the vegetables and leave it for a couple of seconds and then rinse it with fresh water,” says Judith.

“And with apples, if you then wash them with hot water you can see how different the surface is on apple – or any kind of fruit you eat with the peel.”

Judith’s personal Travel Tips:

– Take your own bottle of water (for hot and cold drinks) on board so don’t need to ask for cups all the time and can store it more easily (drink 2-3liter of water or herbal tea for a 11h flight)
– As most airlines only have black tea I always have either some green or herbal tea bags with me and just ask for water
– Don’t drink dehydrating fluids, like coffee, coke or alcohol if you want to avoid jet lag
– Eat a light meal, I always order a diabetic meal while it comes with fresh fruits and vegetables
– Plan your sleeping times according to when you land at your destination. If I land in the morning I sleep the second half of the trip, if I land in the evening I sleep the first part. So I can adapt swiftly to the new time zone
– Airplane food is low in fibre, and snacks are mostly junk food, I always pack some homemade cereal bars, nuts or an apple.
– If I think about sleeping assistance I use natural Melatonin, I use a sleeping mask, and ear plugs
– I always have a mix of chilli and turmeric powder (50% each) in my bag, I use especially on airplane meals as it reducing the risk of inflammation and infections

About Joakim Persson

Freelance business and lifestyle photojournalist

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