As a child I often played on the streets, ran or cycled as much as I could or sat in the meadow, creating necklaces of flowers or just gazing at the clouds and wondering what shape would appear this time. I could also stare at an ant and wonder how he was able to carry that relatively big grain of sand. At that time I felt part of nature, took my health for granted, was curious and playful at the same time.
My personal health diagnosis
Three years back I noticed a lot of chronic physical issues amongst myself, my friends and family-members. Ranging from diabetes, chronic pains, cancer, migraine, rheumatism, obesity, inflammation (in Dutch: ontsteking) or just not being able to run for 5 minutes.
My personal health diagnose:
a) 10 kilo’s overweight (set against a length of 1,62 m is quiet a lot) and
b) I wasn’t even able to run three minutes in a row!
However although I wasn’t as healthy as I could or should be, I didn’t do anything at all about it yet. Except gaining some additional weight during that same year. Why? Because I still believed the story I kept telling myself. I believed that I respected my health and took good care of it. I had never smoked. I hardly drank alcohol. I had never used drugs. And even common medication (like pain killers or antibiotics) I refrained from. What more could I do?
100% sugar-free challenge
But than in 2015 I got challenged: eating 100% sugar-free. So no sugar at all, not even fructose. Main idea was to find out how hooked I was on sugar. My thought was this experiment would be a piece of cake, because if it comes to taste I prefer both sour and salt over sweet. The result: I was more hooked on sugar than expected. I even experienced some serious withdrawal symptoms the first days. The five most important insights related to this experiment:
- Almost everything in a grocery store, contains sugar
- I mistook my sugar cravings for hunger
- Quitting sugar only takes 4-5 days!
- Your brain needs sugar to function (short term memory started to falter)
- My taste improved and I felt so much better without sugar (no brain fog)
However my biggest insight was that I didn’t know my body and it’s functioning at all, let alone the impact of my diet on my health.
Take full responsibility
I decided to start taking full responsibility again for my health. In this case that meant two things; 1) change my diet and 2) educate myself more. I started reading books like ‘100% Suikervrij’ (Carola van Bemmelen), ‘Oersterk‘ (drs. Richard de Leth), ‘Grain Brain‘ (Dr. David Perlmutter, in Dutch ‘Het Glutengevaar’), ‘De hormoonfactor’ (Ralph Moorman), and ‘Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ’ (Giulia Enders, in Dutch ‘De mooie voedselmachine’). Today I follow the posts of Mark Hyman (author of the Blood Sugar Solution) and biohacker Dave Asprey (Bulletproof) on Facebook/Instagram as well. And there are many more books and documentaries on my wish list or side table waiting for some spare time. Keep in mind there is a lot of outdated or contradictory information out there. Doing some challenges/experiments can help you decide what works and what doesn’t work for you. With regards to my diet some things already changed.
Diet is emotion
Food will be a frequent topic in my blog. In my opinion the quality and type of your food is highly related to your personal health. Dr Axe takes it even further and I totally agree with him based on the experiments I have done so far.
Quote: the foods you choose to eat, determine on a daily basis how you feel.
The first change I made to my diet was reducing the amount of (refined and/or added) sugar by cooking with fresh ingredients again, just like my grandma used to do and even my mother before convenient stores became popular. And secondly I am able to recognize the difference between a sugar craving and hunger. This means less snacking in between meals. Sometimes people ask why I can still have sugar cravings, now I have quit refined sugar completely. My body doesn’t make any distinction in refined sugar or fructose, once I eat an apple an hour later my body is asking for more sugar. To store it as fat for more scarce times (we are still programmed for scarcity, despite all the abundance we live in). And third, I don’t eat anything after 20.00 o’clock anymore. If I feel like I need something, my body just tells me to go to sleep.
My journey on food with regards to my health only has just begun. I continue educating myself on this topic. Feel free to drop interesting titles of books or documentaries you think I should see or read.
My diet adjustments already helped me loose some weight. However improving my health is more than just improving my diet. Exercise is crucial as well. As a real story teller, especially to myself, I again had enough mind games happening. But that’s a different blog!
PS1 Please, don’t forget to share interesting books, documentaries, blogs, sites etc!
PS2 One of my future blogs shall describe the 100% sugar-free experiment in more detail.