Me and the Holistic Holiday at Sea Cruise

I recently returned from the Holistic Holiday at Sea Cruise on board the MSC Divina (often referred to simply as the "vegan cruise"). About 1,800 of us who eat everything from whole food, plant-based diets to macrobiotic diets enjoyed seven glorious days in the western Caribbean hobnobbing with some of the biggest names in WFPB and macrobiotic eating. That included making personal connections and hearing lectures from giants like Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Michael Greger, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and more. Between the lectures, the tasty and delicious food, the ports-of-call and the evening shows and parties, it was truly a fun, entertaining and educational time. I've already signed up again for next year as many others have too.

The picture to the right is me at the beginning of the cruise. I've just gotten my plate of food from the welcoming buffet, and as you can see it was both delicious and plentiful. People who don't understand the whole food, plant-based way of eating or the macrobiotic way of eating don't get how I could eat so much food and still maintain my weight. But I've actually done more than maintain my weight. At this morning's weigh-in on my bathroom scale, I was 2-1/2 pounds below my pre-cruise weight. And I didn't restrict my consumption at all during the cruise. I just ate the right foods, that's all.

The food served was both whole food, plant-based and macrobiotic. I had very minimal exposure to the macrobiotic way of eating before taking the cruise. And my knowledge of it now is still very limited; however, I have decided to adopt some portions of that way of eating. I am doing so because people who I met on the cruise who were macrobiotic seemed to exhibit exceptional health and when I was told their ages, they all looked much younger. But I don't want to pretend that I know how to do macro. I bought several books on it, and I'm learning. But some of the changes to my diet from what I've learned so far are:

  • Avoidance of the nightshade vegetables (white potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants) -- more on that below
  • Addition of miso soup and some fermented food like sauerkraut to my daily diet
  • Bringing my daily diet into a ratio closer to 60% whole grains like brown rice or barley, 30% vegetables, 5% beans and 5% seeds, nuts or fruit
  • Buying organic, local and in season
Of course, that's just a small part of what the macro diet is. They talk a lot in terms of yin and yang and which foods are which. At this point, I don't know much about that. But I do want to study it and learn it. 

And I learned that foods like tempeh and seitan can be really delicious when prepared right.

About the nightshade vegetables, they have been identified by some as being inflammatory. In other words, they are considered to possibly cause arthritis pains to flare up. I found that to be the case for me. By avoiding the four major nightshade vegetables while on the cruise, I found that my arthritis pain in my hands lessened significantly. Once back on land, however, I ate dinner in a restaurant one night where there were no good options for me other than to order three plain baked potatoes and cover them with onions, peppers and mushrooms. There were two offending vegetables there: potatoes and peppers. Then the next night at home, I made a cheeseless pizza but with tomato paste. The next morning, my arthritis flared up worse than ever. So, I've become convinced that I should eliminate the nightshade vegetables over the next few weeks and see how that works.

It is controversial however. Not all nutrition professionals agree on the elimination of nightshade vegetables, and there are no clear scientific studies to support eliminating them from our diets. Everything is anecdotal. And one of my friends has suggested that I may have a food allergy that is responsible for that as opposed to blaming the nightshade vegetables in general.

There are many ways that the cruise has affected what I do going forward. For me and I think for most, it was more than a vacation or an entertaining event. It was more than educational too. It was life-affecting. I continued to learn and to come back with new ideas about what I should be doing. It was exactly what I needed at this particular moment in my life.

And now that I'm back, I'm back to blogging. I hope you continue to enjoy what I write.