The Secret I’ve Learned After 5 Years Of Food Experiments
For 5 years I’ve been running an food experiment on myself.
And 143 days ago I discovered a secret formula that has changed my life.
I’m going to share that secret with you right now.
But first, a warning.
Just because you’ll have the secret formula in a few moments from now, doesn’t mean you can follow the recipe.
I think you’ll find it very hard.
And I think even if you try it, you’ll quit (several times).
But if you stick with it, your body will start to change the way mine has changed.
The secret to the secret is to take it one 30-day challenge at a time. I’ll tell you more about this technique shortly, but first, I think a short timeline of my journey will help.
Timeline Of My Nutrition Education
- Jun 2014
- Watched the documentary: That Sugar Film (2014)
- It changed the way I looked at sugar, and after drinking a can of coke every day for 20 years, I switched to Coke Zero which doesn’t contain sugar, but does contain aspartame
- Jul 2014
- Began suffering from mild insomnia, mild depression, restless legs, lethargy (but didn’t connect these symptoms to Aspartame for several months)
- May 2015
- I quit Coke entirely after suspecting that I was suffering from Aspartame poisoning
- Watch my video diary post about this
- Nov 2015
- Met with nutritionist Justine Laidlaw “The Natural Bird” (who believes she cured herself of cancer with food).
- She recommended the book “It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways” by Melissa Hartwig & Dallas Hartwig.
- This book was fascinating. I learnt a lot
- I learnt about what dairy, gluten and sugar does to our bodies, and the benefits of avoiding these 3 ingrediants
- Another major take-away was the idea of setting a 30 day challenge for yourself which gives you the power to refuse certain foods during those 30 days
- I didn’t know at the time, but it would take me another 2.5 years to try this out
- Sep 2016
- I quit sugar for a short time
- I wrote about my first week following that film in a previous article
- Several benefits kicked in very quickly, but I didn’t stick with it
- Sugar is addictive, it’s in everything, and it pulled me back in to it’s sweet embrace
- During the next 2 years (Oct 2016 – Nov 2018) I conducted a series of short-term, half hearted experiments which included periods of low-dairy, dairy-free, low-sugar, low-gluten, gluten-free
- Becoming low-dairy wasn’t too hard, so I started there
- Becoming low-gluten was a bit harder, but that went well
- Becoming low-sugar was almost impossible. My definition of “low” changes all the time to suit what I was about to put in my mouth
- Jan 2018
- Read the book “The China Study: Revised and Expanded Edition: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-Term Health” by T. Colin Campbell, Thomas M. Campbell II.
- Another fascinating book. It built up my knowledge but I didn’t change my behaviour much
- 30 Nov 2018
- For a few months I had noticed what I came to call a “chocolate hangover”. After eating a several servings of chocolate (I could never save some for later, I’d eat whatever was around), my energy levels would bottom out for 2-3 days
- I had formed a regular habit of buying a packet of chocolate biscuits from the local dairy and eating the whole packet whilst watching movie in the evening (3 or 4 times a week)
- But this night I bought 2 packets because they were on special and I told myself it would save me a trip for the next night
- I ate both packets during a single movie
- That’s 24 chocolate biscuits!
- This had to stop. This was my rock-bottom. It was time to try something more drastic
- 1 Dec 2018
- I started my first 30 day challenge
- Taking everything I had been learning about, I went hard-core and started what I call “the 5-finger diet” for 30 days
- You may notice that it closely resembles a Paleo Diet
- I came up with this because I didn’t want a diet that has a list of foods I cannot eat, rather, a short and easy-to-remember list of foods I could eat
- And in whatever quantities I wanted. Want half a chicken for lunch everyday? No problem. Want 2 or 3 pears at once? Do it. Want 4 eggs for breakfast? Go ahead.
- I did take a break from this diet on Boxing Day to eat chocolate that I’d been given as a Christmas gift, but otherwise I stuck to the diet for 30 days. That’s 87 out of 90 meals.
- 1 Jan 2019
- I had completed the first 30 days
- I noticed that my body had started to change. I noticed more energy in the morning and afternoon
- This is the primary benefit I was seeking, so I renewed my challenge for another 30 days
- 1 Feb 2019
- Here at the 60 day mark, the benefits really started to pick-up (see my list below), so I renewed for another 30 day challenge
- 1 Mar 2019
- I renewed again
- 1 Apr 2019
- I renewed again
That takes us to the present day. I’ve been on my “5-finger-diet” for 143 days.
And I feel amazing.
On Average, I Stick With My “5-Finger-Diet” 93% Of The Time
I’m not perfect.
I’ve strayed from my diet a few times in this period.
Out of the 90 meals that are in a 30 day period, approximately 85 are on the diet, and 5 are not. For example, some cheese, a few burito’s, cream as an ingrediant in a sauce.
But what really matters is sticking with it very closely (93%), and being aware as the results come in.
So let me tell you about those results.
I have arranged the results into 3 categories: Primary, Secondary, Tertiary.
Primary Benefit: Increased Energy
This was the primary purpose of my experiment, to improve my energy levels.
- Without an alarm, I wake at 4.30am with high energy and enthusiam, and I’m eager to start my day
- Some mornings I wake at 4am feeling this way
- Recently I’ve woken a few times at 3.30am and feel great all day
- I have more energy in the mornings and afternoons. No 3pm drowsiness for me.
10 Secondary Benefits I’m Now Enjoying
This is a list of secondary benefits that I wasn’t expecting but have been very happy to recieve.
- Improved mental performance
- Previously, I’d stuggle to clock-in 6-8 hours of work
- Now I am productive for 10, 12, sometimes 15 hours a day
- I’m not forcing myself to do this, I’m doing it because I want to, and I enjoy my work much more
- Improved wellbeing
- I’ve had some depressive periods over the last few years
- I have had none since this diet has started
- In fact, I feel amazing, positive, enthusiastic and motivated. All the time
- No more hayfever
- After taking nasal steriods all year round, I no longer have hayfever at all (I have been dairy free for a few months longer than this challenge and I think I have this to thank for this benefit)
- Improved body shape
- This was not a goal of mine. I was already in very good condition, but I lost 7.5kg in the first 90 days (and now have 6-pack abs for the first time since being a teenager)
- In fact, I now weigh the same as I did when I was 18 years old
- Power over my sugar addiction
- I feel powerful because I can resist my desires
- I feel a sense of smugness of being able to resist when before I couldn’t
- When temptation comes, I don’t give in, and if I do, it’s because a decision I make, not the addicted part of my brain making the decision for me
- In the first 30 days my sugar cravings reduced a lot
- And they continue to lessen more and more as time goes on
- But perhaps I’ll always be addicted. So I have to keep my guard up. I don’t keep it in the house, I look away if I see it on a shelf or advertisement, I think about something else, I eat a piece of fruit
- Sick less often, and less severe
- My wife and kids have been sick two times during this period
- Although I haven’t been completely imune, the severity of my symptoms were 20% of theirs, and the duration of my sickness 20% of theirs
- Food tastes better
- Because my senses of taste and smell are no longer overloaded by sugar-laden foods, “plain” foods such as cooked and raw vegetables, with little seasoning, now taste delicious to me
- Healthier teeth
- For a recent dental check-up, both my dentist and hygienist (in 2 seperate appointments), remarked on the health of my teath and asked what my secret was.
- No sugar. That’s the secret to healthy teath
- Improved eyesight
- About 90 days into this experiement, I noticed that I was seeing a local mountain at a distance with perfect clarity
- And later, I noticed I could see licence plates for approaching card
- from a long distance
- It occured to me that perhaps I had my new diet to thank for these unexpected improvement
- Improved mental performance
4 More Tertiary Benefits I Suspect / Hope For
Here are 4 more benefits that I suspect or hope for:
- Age reversing?
- I mentioned that my body weight is the same as when I was 18 years old. Perhaps I have reversed, or delayed the aging process somewhat?
- Improved memory?
- My mental performance has increased for sure, and I’ve been wondering if my memory will also improve. Tricky to test
- Healing joints?
- I have neck and knee injuries that have bothered me for some time. Since starting the new diet, they seem to be less and less of a bother
- Cancer protection?
- Perhaps my new diet strengthens my bodies resistance to certain cancers? Perhaps I missing out on even greater resilence by continuing to eat meat?
Do some or all of these benefits appeal to you? Great! But before we go any further I need to give you 2 warnings.
Warning #1: Thousands of Brands Want You To Stay A Consumer
My day-job is in Sales / Marketing / Communication. I’ve seen a lot of ads. I’ve created a lot of ads.
And now that I’m eating so well I’ve realised how much advertising goes into trying to persuade consumers like you and I to eat foods that are processed and laden with sugar (which is almost all of them).
Sugar is a very cheap ingrediant. It’s also addictive. So you can understand why companies what to put some (or a lot) into the foods they make. It increases the likelyhood you’ll be back for more. And that’s good business.
Processed foods based on grains (another cheap ingrediant), which have preservatives added (which gives the products long shelf lives), and can be packaged in colourful boxes (with imagery to whet the appetite), are also good business.
These high profit margins can be used to buy better shelf-space, bigger advertising campaigns, and reach the masses.
They spend billions of dollars every year to persuade us to consume their products.
Compare this to the advertising budget of the 5 items in my 5-finger-diet: raw meat, fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs, and tap water.
So small we might as well say it’s zero.
So maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that it’s taken me 5 years to discover this secret, and that it’s so rare for any of us to follow it closely.
Will you let that stop you? Or will you start your 30-day challenge and see what happens?
Warning #2: What Will Be The Hardest Part of the 30 Day Challenge For You?
For me, the hardest part was no longer eating chocolate or baked goods (like the apple crumble pie from up the road from my work).
For you, the hardest part might be not drinking alcohol for 30 days?
It is hard. At times you will feel like giving in, but stick with it. See if you can do better than my 30 days / 90 meals with a score of 93%.
Tips For You If You’d Like To Start A 30 Day Nutrition Challenge
Do any of the benefits I’ve listed appeal to you?
If so, then you’re ready for my list of 4 steps to get you started:
- Watch the documentary “That Sugar Film” (on Netflix) [90 mins]
- Read the book “It Starts With Food” [10 – 12 hours]
- Read the book “The China Study” [12 – 16 hours]
- Consumed that information? Great. It’s time to start your 30 day challenge
The magic of taking this challenge 30 days at a time is that it gives you a way to resist temptations. “Sorry, I can’t have that right now, I’m on a 30 day challenge”. I say that too myself several times a week, sometimes quietly to myself, sometimes out loud.
And as you start to experience the benefits by the end of the 30 days, decide if you want to renew for a further 30 days.
And then watch for another wave of benefits to come.
And if you are able to stick with it for 90 days, watch for another wave of benefits to come.
From there you can do what you like.
Happy to lose your benefits? All you need to do is fall back into your old habits. Easy.
Want to keep your new benefits? Start a new 30 day challenge. Also easy.
I look forward to hearing about your journey.
What do you think of my journey? Are you also running nutritional experiments on yourself? Which benefits appeal to you most?
How to let me know:
- If you are reading this on my blog, write in the comments section provided
- If you are reading this in your email, hit reply, and let me know your thoughts or give me a call