I have decided to reduce my consumption of refined sugars* (biscuits, brown/white sugar, cakes, sweets) and gluten and will share my food plan for a month. However, I’m not cutting sugars or carbs out of my diet. I will get sugar from natural sources like fruits and I will replace pasta and bread by rice, quinoa and occasionally gluten-free pasta. I’m not eating sugar-free, low-calorie food either which are packed with chemicals and salt.
As you may know, I have made several lifestyle changes over the years. I stopped eating ready meals packed with hidden sugars years ago, given up drinking my daily coke zero in 2013 and replaced processed food by whole foods (80% being organic).
All these changes had a positive impact on my skin and well-being.
Refined sugar are known to cause inflammation in our body which in turn leads to depression. Reducing my refined sugar intake means that I haven’t suffered from seasonal affective disorder for the past three years and I have moved on from the depression that hit me in 2013.
However, I still get inflammation. I don’t get bloated as much as I used to looking like a 9-month pregnant woman but it is still very distressful and probably why I’m not losing weight.
I no longer read magazines filled with articles about the latest weight loss program. It depresses me…
At 47, my body is not responding to all these promises of losing 3 to 5 kgs in two weeks no matter what I eat and I can’t bring myself to have rice cakes and a bowl of fromage frais every morning often recommended in those diets.
I don’t want to diet. I want to fine tune what I eat so I understand what is right for me and eventually lose weight.
So this month is about learning to understand and listen to my body. To monitor how it reacts each time I eat something and work out the right quantity for me. This month is about reducing inflammation and heal my gut the gentle way.
Two important things to remember: First, what works for me may not work for you. What is healthy for someone can make things worse for someone with a poor digestive system so this is just a way to share my experience, I’m not giving advices or telling you what to do. Second, I strongly recommend to consult a Nutritionist like I do to ensure you don’t put yourself and your health at risk. So here we go, I hope you will find it interesting and useful…
After being totally wiped out last weekend in Paris, it turns out that my blood pressure is 9 which clearly is too low. It may be the change of season and a lack in iron but whatever it is, I decide to heal myself and get my energy back through food and health supplements.
MONDAY: I’m in the train travelling back from Paris so I plan all my weekly meals in a spreadsheet to make sure I have proteins at each meal, 5 vegetables and fruits/day including greens rich in iron, red meat twice a week, fish or seafood 4 times/week (Omega 3).
I kick off the day with a big breakfast: 65g basmati rice, 2 poached eggs, olive oil, turmeric (which is anti-inflammatory) and lamb salad and wash down the whole thing with a teapot of green tea. I feel a bit bloated but nothing major.
At lunch, I get organic minced beef + cooked spinach with cream (from frozen) + turmeric. Everything tastes delicious. I make sure I also eat very slowly (20 min) to ensure my brain register that I have eaten enough.
Portions control is really one thing I need to master since I have been eating for 3 since I got pregnant. After 20 boring, tedious minutes I have finished my meal and don’t feel like eating more (job done!)
I feel tired in the afternoon and snacked on grapes (161g) and a piece of gruyere (30g). Once thing I got from my consultation with the FODMAP Nutritionist is that I’m allowed fruits but small amounts each time to enable my system to digest sugar easily. 161g is already too much…
Tuesday is date night so Steve and I go for oysters (super low in calories and very rich in iron). I resist the glass of wine and have a small slice of bread (improvement on the usual half a baguette).
Keen to pack up on the omega 3, I decide to start breakfast with a tin of cod liver on rice cakes. Just the thought of eating this for breakfast makes me queasy but I press forward. Talking of gut feelings, my stomach doesn’t like this at all. Cod liver in the afternoon as a snack is fine but for breakfast, it’s not an experience to repeat (lesson learnt!)
My stomach makes a lot of noise, he is not happy!
In order to settle it, I have a bowl of basmati rice (80g) and a slice of ham at lunch time and snack later on grapes (this time 136g) and 2 pieces of gruyere.
My sister has been eating light dinners for month (either a soup or a bowl of rice) and keep praising the positive changes to her gut so I decide to give it a go.
In the evening, I have a bowl of homemade soup I made earlier with a bit of Spirulina then a slice of ham. I hate the taste of Spirulina but in the soup, it’s OK. I go to bed feeling like I have been punished and I’m going to starve which is hardly the case!
After postponing 4 days in a row, I have finally enough energy to go for a 5K run with Steve (energy level is going up!). I treat myself to a big breakfast with 100g basmati rice, 2 poached eggs, 1 slice of ham and just 14g of avocado because my gut can’t process more than 1/4 at each time. I feel very bloated (and frustrated) afterwards given I ate slowly in 20 minutes!
Ok I ate while reading which I shouldn’t have done so another lesson learnt, I really can’t cut any flipping corners! I also think that drinking a teapot of green tea at breakfast is not helping and decide on a different strategy for the next day.
At lunch, I make myself a courgette with grated cheese cooked in coconut olive oil and turmeric. It’s incredibly delicious, healthy, takes 5 min and makes me happy. Need more of these short, yummy recipes.
Snack: I steal a pack of Mila’s chocolate biscuits (twice!) and add them to my spreadsheet in red. Cheat days are allowed and this is one of them. I’m not going to beat myself up. I will just be accountable.
To calm down my stomach, I have a bowl of homemade soup and some basmati rice in the evening. I’m starting to make peace with my bowl of rice and looking at it as a good thing rather than a punition (a positive outlook is key).
I get up and have a glass of lukewarm water, my probiotic, vitamins etc and a bit of green tea and wait for my body to wake up and be ready for breakfast. This takes me to the bathroom (I will spare you the details) but I feel like a weight has dropped off my stomach and at 9am, my body finally tells me he is hungry (yeah!!).
I go for my favourite breakfast: 2 poached eggs, olive oil, basmati rice, grounded linseed, eat slowly and halle-flipping-lullia! I don’t get bloated. Writing down what I eat, how I feel and listening to my body is paying off… (small dance victory)
At lunch, I don’t change a winning team and have organic beef and spinach.
I feel extremely tired in the afternoon with massive sugar cravings and have a nectarine, a piece of cheese, grapes (80g) and 2 homemade pancakes (which goes as cheat meal).
At dinner time, I have gluten-free pasta (180g which was too much), a slice of ham, a bit of creme fraiche and a bowl of vegetable soup.
If my gut could talk, they would say WTF woman!? Ok yes it was too much pasta…I go to bed at 7.30pm to watch Netflix and fall asleep at 9.30pm.
I woke up at 5.30am feeling lighter. Once again, I wait for my body to wake up before having breakfast and it pays off: I don’t get bloated (I’m onto something here!).
Steve and Mila eat lunch at twelve. I really don’t feel like eating but know I will be starving in an hour so I prepare something to take-away: some vegetable soup in a thermos, basmati rice (51g) and ham in a box and 2 boiled eggs. I eat my lunch very slowly looking at the waves while Mila is surfing. It’s a nice day and I really enjoy drinking my soup on the beach.
Back from surfing, I snack on grapes and for dinner, I have 4 rice cakes with hummus and strawberries I had bought from the market with vanilla yaourt. It feels like food porn….Everything tastes delicious and tasty.
Breakfast: I eat organic smoked salmon to achieve my 3rd fish intake of the week + 2 poached eggs + basmati rice + lamb salad. It was very nice.
We take Mila to her skate lesson and then head to the food market for lunch where I have prawns and a tuna tartare (4th intake: goals achieved) before heading to our surf lesson.
Surfing was great and I don’t feel weak or tired afterwards. However I do feel like eating a lot but settled for a bowl of strawberry and vanilla yogurt which was, once again, delicious. I was quite pleased with my
healthy short-lived choice until Mila sits next to me to eat Oreo.
I resist a split second and take 2 of them from the pack…
For a good 5 minutes, I think about not including them on my spreadsheet but decide against it on the basis that 1) no-one excepts myself gives a damn about how many Oreo I eat, 2) I stopped at two instead of stuffing myself with the whole pack which is a major improvement, 3) my sugar intake has been a lot less this week than usually so I can only hope to get better at it next week.
Dinner: Steve starts making pasta carbonara but as I ran out of gluten-free pasta, I have a bowl of vegetable soup and rice basmati + ham. Steve adds a bit of bacon and creme fraiche to my bowl and suddenly it tastes like heaven!
Breakfast: following Friday’s success, I drink a glass of lukewarm of water, a teapot of green tea and wait for my internal engine to get going. After a visit to the bathroom, my body tells me it’s hungry. It’s 9am again and it looks like this is the right time for me to have breakfast rather than my usual 7am.
I eat my organic salmon very slowly enjoying each mouth because organic salmon is flipping expensive + basmati rice, + 2 poached eggs and lamb salad. After 18 minutes, I feel full and not bloated (I could cry of relief!).
Lunch: I use the last courgette in the fridge which I cook in a frying pan with coconut oil and add turmeric and grated cheese. No ham left so I have an organic frozen burger to stock up on iron and prepare my body for a run tomorrow am.
I snack on a nectarine, drink my usual 1.5Lt throughout the day and have grapes an hour later
Dinner: Unfortunately, I ran out of my homemade vegetable soup and won’t make another batch because I’m off to Barcelona on Wednesday and Marrakech on Saturday. Instead I have a bowl from pumpkin soup from Knorr without conservatives and a bowl of strawberries with vanilla yogurt (life tastes good!).
CONCLUSIONS: I think it was a good week as I found out that the best time for me to have breakfast is 9am and not 7am and eating slower has a positive impact on portion control. Not once I felt I was starving. I have enjoyed all the food I’ve eaten except the cod liver for breakfast and my energy level is up.
I had no alcohol this week which I didn’t miss and no major sugar cravings except on Friday so I will need to make sure I need enough sugar from fruits throughout the week. I failed to resist biscuits and pancakes three times this week but I’m still pleased with myself. I haven’t weighted myself but the two trousers I had in Paris last week, feel already looser. I decide to use my clothes as a way of monitoring my weight loss rather than the scales.
Photo credits:Kitchen and dining area in the Apartment in Bryanston Square designed by DRDH Architects. Photograph by Christoph Rokitta.
A FEW COOKING BOOKS TO INSPIRE YOU…
Hey! First, thank you for creating such a beautiful space on the internet for others to enjoy. :) Second, I too am trying to eliminate inflammation and so it was interesting to read your observations. I hadn’t thought about taking note of how my body actually feels when I eat something or how timing affects me. I’m on my third day of no refined sugars except what is found in 70% dark chocolate! I’m surprised at how quickly i’m losing the taste for sugary things. Much gratitude and joy to you xo
Hi Alice, thanks for your lovely comment. I’m glad you found this post interesting. In the past, I was entering food in myfitnesspal which had the benefits of recording what I was eating but not emotions or symptoms so I think it’s a really good way to stay in tune with your body and see if one reaction was a one-off or happens each time you eat a specific food.
Yes I go for 70 to 80% chocolate too. It’s an excellent way to crave that sugar craving once in a while. See you next one for week 2 :-)
Have you read Brain Maker by Dr. David Perlmutter? He talks a lot about inflammation, and is a big proponent of prebiotics, probiotics, and fermented foods. Could help! Thanks for your posts!
Hi Jill no I haven’t but I’ve read other books in the same line.
I’m currently taking probiotics. It’s not the answer to everything but combined with whole food, it definitively makes things better.
I will look into prebiotics though..never heard of them before
Suite à mes chimios j’avais le foie dans un état plus que lamentable. Je consomme depuis trois ans, un jus de citron bio pressé dans mon eau tiède du lever par cure de deux ou trois semaines , puis dix à quinze jours juste du sarrasin grillé infusé . Mes analyses s’en sont vues grandement améliorées ..
Vous évoquez le test Fodmap : c’est votre allergologue ou votre Nutritioniste qui vous a proposé le test ? Qu’en pensez vous ?
J’ai pour ma part beaucoup de mal à lâcher le petit déjeuner continental … Votre témoignage me motive à retenter l’expérience… Merci
Oui j’ai longtemps fait le jus de citron dans de l’eau tiède mais ces derniers temps, j’ai fait un ou deux verres d’eau tiède à jeun et je trouve cela plutôt agréable et doux pour l’organisme. Le sarrasin je n’ai pas essayé. Pour Fodmap, c’était ma Nutritioniste qui m’avait donné toute une liste d’aliment à eviter et ceux à prendre en petite quantité. Cela m’a bien aidé et les fois ou j’ai des grosses crises (ventre comme si j’étais enceinte de 9 mois), c’est quand je me révoltais et décidais de manger ce que je voulais.
Ayant passé 19 ans à Londres, je n’ai pas trop eu de mal avec le petit déj vu que les British sont plutôt salés et maintenant, cela ne me gêne pas du tout de manger des haricots verts au petit déj mais je varie. Des fois, je fais des crèpes à la farine de sarrazin (sans gluten) si j’ai envie d’une petite douceur, la plupart du temps c’est quinoa ou riz + oeufs pochés + salade de mache + jambon ou saumon fumé, et en hiver j’aime bien le porridge avec des noisettes.
Après cette semaine, j’ai trouvé que manger lentement et écouter mon corps pour manger quand j’ai faim et non pas parce que c’est l’heure a eu un impact positif. Je n’ai pas gonflé depuis 3 jours et surtout j’ai l’impression que ce poids que j’avais constamment au niveau de l’oesophage est parti après restent les kilos mais c’est un autre problème.