My Personal Food Story

My Personal Food story is one of many ups and downs, hard learnings, personal experiments and eventually a complete paradigm shift.

I grew up on the typical diet of the 80’s and 90’s containing a lot of sugar, margarine and industrially processed foods. This rather poor-quality diet, in combination with a series of personal and socio-economical factors, set me up for developing hormonal imbalances, disordered eating, chronic knee pain and adrenal fatigue in my late Teens and Twenties.

I’ve always been an ambitious girl, getting only the best grades at school – and also the best mobbing. I was very much into sports, especially athletics. In 1999, at age 17, coinciding with the divorce of my parents, I started to care about food, not because of “health”, but because of (completely unnecessary) body weight concerns… I ate less and less, severely restricting and controlling my calorie, fat and salt intake, while continuing my very intense endurance exercise program as a middle and long distance runner and work/study schedule.

It was a very dark, unhappy and unstable time for me and the only sort of control I still had – or thought I had, was over my food and my body. In the beginning it was all about calories, so I still ate no matter what, sometimes only cake, just making sure to not ingest more calories than I had allowed myself. I was very miserable. When I was down to 43 kg and lost my period, I understood that what I was doing was not good for me. I remember that moment sitting on my bed in battle with myself over a pro-and-con list I had written about being skinny… the risk of being infertile stood out and I realized that this had to stop. I knew deep down inside that I wanted to live and that I also wanted to be able to have kids in the future.

So I slowly started to stabilize my body, but my mind was still trapped. I still controlled quantities, but the focus of obsession shifted more towards quality. I started to eat healthier (or what I thought back then was healthy): lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains & bread, low fat dairy, very little fat and animal protein… I told everybody how bad eating meat and saturated fat was for health and the planet… At first my food was still conventional, later I switched to organic, first from the supermarket, later from the bio shops and farmers markets…

For many years I considered myself to be “cured”, just because my weight was ok, when looking back I definitely wasn’t. Because even though I was not life-threatening skinny anymore, my whole life still turned around food, I was constantly thinking about it, planning it, counting calories… and creating all kinds of restrictive and sometimes very bizarre rules about when, what, and how much to eat. Eating out or traveling was a nightmare and if something unforeseen happened and I had to change my perfect food plan – OMG… I hated my belly and got angry about being hungry. In other words: my relationship with food and my body was far from being healthy.

During a course in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in 2009, I first got introduced to the idea of “Nutrition Types” and the “Yin” or “Yang” influence of food. Plant-based nutrition – still in its baby shoes back then – was very attractive to me, and except for about one egg per month and a portion of fish every two months (at work events), I lived almost entirely on plant foods.

In 2011, a blood test revealed that despite my “healthy” diet I was extremely short on key nutrients and that my cholesterol was up – although I was not eating any of the foods typically associated with high cholesterol. Today I know that it was due to the wrong fats, too many carbs, a struggling thyroid and stress in general. Back then, I blamed it all on the pill (which definitely was a contributing factor, but not the only one) and changed my mind about supplementation (which before I had believed to be unnecessary). The supplements helped me improve my health somewhat, but it was still not ideal.

When I studied to become a Nutrition Counselor in 2011/2012, the standard food pyramid was still taught as THE healthy nutrition for each and every person – a concept I already didn’t believe in anymore. When I eventually came across Metabolic Typing, the underlying concept of biochemical individuality fascinated me immediately because it just made so much sense. When I first took the Metabolic Typing Test though, I had a HUGE conflict, when I came out as a Fast Oxidizer (Protein Type) and learned that in order to be in balance, about 70% of my energy should come from proteins & fat (especially from animals) and only 30% from carbohydrates. I had been doing the opposite so far. However, I was open-minded enough to give it a try and immediately after re-incorporating meat and animal fats into my diet, I noticed important changes in my well-being. My body (especially hands and feet) were warmer. My sleep was better. My digestion, too (less gas and bloating). My period cramps reduced. In short, everything told me, that eating more animal protein & fat was what I needed at that point in time. I even started liking it again. Something could thus not be true about my previous theories. Why would my body and mind feel more in balance with meat, if it was bad for me or for the planet to eat it. Researching the topic revealed a whole new perspective to me – I realized that eating animal foods could indeed be healthy, sustainable and even ethical (read more here). I found caring providers of animal produce and even ran a shop for 4 years, in order to make the good products I found available to other people as well.

I basically switched my diet from an almost vegan one to a diet heavy in animal proteins and fats. I experimented with eliminating certain foods, such as grains, legumes, dairy or fruit from my diet temporarily, in an attempt to heal my gut and balance my hormones. With my diet, I also completely switched my perspective on food from one of “food as the enemy” to “food as my friend and source of life”. For the first time, it was no longer about calories or fat content – and I was able to stop counting those without even trying. The only thing that mattered to me was that I truly nourished my body. For the first time, I really cared about myself and my well-being and it felt like such a relief! I had discovered the Feminine way of eating – and with that the Feminine way of living.

As everything is connected, rebalancing my body also triggered changes on other levels. I had to let go of people, situations, work and things that were no longer “right” for me. Even though at times this has been painful, it has also been very rewarding. Things just seemed to fall in place at the right moment, in the right place, which made me feel supported by the Universe and gave me faith that I was indeed on the right path.

After a year or two, my body and mind had recovered enough to allow my metabolism to change from Fast Oxidizer to Mixed Type. My diet could again comprise more grains and fruit, yippie. Today I basically tune inwards to determine what and how much I want and need to eat. Sometimes I still go on a temporary elimination diet. However, I do not follow any specific diet plan or rules, except for the rules of common sense nutrition, that I explain here. However, even those common sense rules do not feel like rules, but rather like something I WANT to do out of love and respect for myself and the planet. I don’t think that in the long run following a strict diet plan is necessary nor helpful for most people, except for cases of severe health issues.