Reckless refinement gives way to inner fulfilment
Anita Cheung Shuk-kwan is a hyper-health-conscious woman, as one would expect from the founder and director of i-Detox, a holistic health care centre in Central. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Cheung is evangelistic about everyone eating organic produce, incorporating more raw foods in their diet and leading a happy, fulfilling life.
She believes that mental health influences physical health and claims to have learned this from personal experience. Cheung was once the antithesis of a health fanatic: a fashionista who loved to smoke, drink and overeat. After a decade in the clothing industry, her mental and physical health prompted a life change. She started travelling, and in New York she enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. In 2005, she was certified a holistic health coach.
After several years as a wellness coach, she was convinced that Hongkongers wanted more than just coaching. To that end, in 2008 she established i-Detox, which integrated health consulting with a health products shop.
You were a senior executive in the fashion industry for more than a decade. So how did you make the transition to holistic and healthy living?
Towards my final years in the fashion industry, my health began to deteriorate. I was struggling to get out of bed of a morning, I had asthma and a nagging cough and wasn't sleeping very well. Looking back, I think I had a mild case of depression. So, I quit my job and travelled to Europe and New York to visit friends and to just relax and enjoy myself. Professionally, however, I wasn't sure what I wanted. Then one day in New York, I went into a health food shop and found a brochure on the Institute for Integrated Nutrition. That moment changed my life. It was there and then that I decided to listen to the voice in my heart and to enrol in one of the institute's programmes to become a health coach.
Exactly what are superfoods, and why are they so super?
Superfoods offer more value for money for the amount of calories and nutrition they contain. They are high in micro-nutrients versus macro-nutrients such as protein, fat and carbohydrates. Raw cacao is a superfood: for 100 grams, it has 95,500 orac [Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity units], 40 times more than blueberries, which have 2,400 orac. Orac is the measure for antioxidants, which neutralise free radicals, benefiting our health and preventing cancer.
Superfoods are efficient foods. I come from a fast-paced environment, and most of my clients are very busy, so it's unrealistic to expect people to eat organically all the time or to grow their own food. We try to do the best we can; one way is to incorporate superfoods into your diet to add benefits to your health while crowding out the effect of the unhealthy foods you consume.
Your centre is known for its smoothies. What's in them?
Alkalising super greens such as spirulina, seaweed and land greens. There are also sprouted brown rice protein, goji berries, raw cacao, flax oil, optionally coconut oil, plus flax seeds. I often recommend these to clients as health insurance taken with the first meal of the day, when your body is the most receptive.
You're against non-organic food raised with pesticides or hormones. Can you explain why?
I advocate eating organic food as much as possible. But I don't live the life of a saint. I lead a normal life. For example, sometimes I eat out at Tsui Wah [chan chaa teng]. But my insurance is that in the mornings I have a smoothie, and during the day I have organic and raw snacks. At least one-third of my diet is raw and organic.
What do you regularly cook at home?
I prefer to blend rather than cook. I use the blender to make smoothies and soups. When I entertain, I use it to make cakes - especially chocolate cake - and cookies. I also love guacamole. I sometimes have it with chips made in the dehydrator, which is like an oven but works on a lower heat so you don't lose much nutritional value from the heating process. I also love steaming vegetables and making miso soups.
Are you against microwave ovens?
People think that they save time, but I believe that they cut short your lifetime. Microwaves create friction that is so unnatural. The food is destroyed at a molecular level. I have pictures that show the qi (energy) of microwaved food with a shrunken energy field.