I've spent a long time trying to attain to people's standards on who I was supposed to be. I've always tried so hard, too hard, to fulfil the potential otherS saw in me and that they wanted me to fulfil a certain way. I wasted so much time and energy trying to achieve these goals and results, but I never got A's. Always B, always short of perfect. You can imagine the frustration and the feeling of never being good enough and always disappointing.
The truth is that in trying to be everything for someone else I somehow never even thought of figuring out how to be everything for myself.
Thinking back now, a year ago, when I started this blog was the first time in my life I did something that allowed me to have my own voice and a place that was only mine, free from all the chains that I felt so deeply in my physical life. This website wasn't my escape it was my gym in which I could exercise my own muscles and figure out who I was in a space that felt so far from everyone else options. It gave me the freedom to explore and gave me the realisation that I was never getting A's because I was playing by someone else's rules. And it was only my fault for letting myself get in the way of what I could actually do and wanted to do. It's very hard to break yourself off social norms especially when you are in the arts - there is no 'proper path' and you're always looked down upon because you're not in law, medicine or economics, the only three subjects that actually matter (I have literally been told this). I was lucky that my parents never said we had to study any of those three things and left us the freedom to choose. But we are conditioned anyways, at my sister's high school graduation the only people that were praised in more than three speeches were the ones that were going to be great lawyers or doctors. Are you kidding me? Aren't we over this world-view? Apparently not. I'm not going to have a conversation here about the importance and meaning of the arts (although I'd gladly meet you in the comment section for this), but what I mean to say is that all the rest of us are meant t feel like we are not good enough.
My blog has been judged and made fun of, in front of me and I'm sure behind my back, but for the first time it didn't matter. I have to be honest that the positive feedback FAR outweighed the bad, especially in the intellectual level of the compliments vs. criticism. For the first tim ever I was proud, because I had built something that I myself was proud of and no one could take that away from me. That's the biggest gift I could ever give myself.
The first chapter has ended and I feel like it should be entitled 'The Treasure Hunt' just because it really was a hunt and search for purpose and reason. I don't think I have fully found my treasure yet, but I'm almost there, so maybe the second chapter is going to be about finding it, depends on what path I take standing at the next crossroad. In movies, this is moment is called the character defining moment, I guess that term could not be more accurate.
On another note, it's been a long journey exploring sustainability and I still feel like I only know 1% of it, but that's okay as long as I keep moving forwards with curiosity and will. One thing I have learned in trying to promote it, is that people are intolerant to inconvenience, and unfortunately that's what sustainability is to them. I'm going to really try in the coming year(s) to make it as easy, approachable and convenient as I can, because I believe that it can and will some day become our new normal. Any thoughts?
For the same reason I haven’t felt like getting dressed in the last month I also haven’t felt like cooking much, so aside from my sister’s birthday cake there hasn’t been much update on that (sorry!). Instead of my usual meals, although I didn’t fall back into sugar, yeast or dairy, I resulted in eating a lot of bread, crackers and as I shot three sweet treats for you guys in a week a lot of sugar, still the ‘healthy’ kind as it was mostly from dates or maple/agave syrup. With a lack of workout and just general exhaustion after handing in my final Uni project, my immune system must have been pretty low and without realising what it was I started to feel really tired and just in a depressive mood in general, barely getting out of bed. Went back home for holiday and my mom, as she does, sent me straight to doctors and to get my blood tested (I’ve had ups and downs like this for 5 years now so it's justified…). When I explain my mostly plant-based diet to doctors first thing they send me to get tested is B12, magnesium, calcium etc - AND HA! never felt prouder as I got my results back and those values were excellent! (I’m going to write an article on B12 very soon, as there is a lot of confusion around this topic).
What wasn’t so great however was my glycemic index. Actually to be accurate, my index was fine but my fructosamine was high, which is the one indicating glycation reactions happened in the past weeks. Baffled, as I haven’t had sugar in 5 years, we talked to a friend of ours that is a nutritionalist and she explained that the issue was more about carbohydrates. The glycemic index is ranked by how fast they raise your blood sugar levels after eating. The nutritionist explained that there is a really easy way to know if a food contains a lot of sugars if you can’t really be bothered to read all the labels all the time: when foods have to be chewed a lot on it means that they contain a lot of fibres and will therefore take more time to be absorbed into the bloodstream (ex. whole grains, gluten-free grains, beans, vegetables). Whereas foods that don’t really have to be chewed on but (or even melt in your mouth) will be absorbed straight away into the blood stream (ex. sugar, ice cream, white bread/flour, potatoes to name a few)
Makes sense now why that value was so high, seeing what I was eating the last couple of weeks!!!
To be honest when I looked at the list of foods with a low glycemic index I realised that I was normally eating correctly and it was just the last couple of weeks that I ventures outside my normal diet.
There is of course much more than just this and you can find preciser lists online.
What I’m going to do now is only have the good kind of carbs possibly only in the morning, sometimes have like a quinoa dish for lunch, but focus way more on just vegetables and make those dishes really exciting and filling, and have no carbs at all for dinner. This last one I try to live by anyway just because your metabolism naturally slows down in the evening and all of that and won’t be burned as energy but more likely stored as fat.
Most of the foods coming to the blog now will have a relatively low GI, just because it's what I'm currently eating, but don't worry they'll be just as delicious! xx
With summer at our door and already in full bloom in places that aren’t the UK, I thought I'd share some tricks for staying healthy while travelling whether for short or long trips!
I know that travelling when you have intolerances, diseases, allergies or simply want to stay healthy, can be challenging and scary at times. You find yourself obsessing and getting worried about how you are going to manage to stay healthy. The truth is, even though it can seem challenging, it is actually very doable, they key is preparation and organisation. Here's how:
How to eat on the plane:
For shorter journeys I usually just pack some snacks which is usually some homemade granola bars, energy balls or some trail mix. If I haven't had the time to prepare any of these I buy a few Super Seeds Cashew & Cocoa bars from 9. They are my absolute favourite!!! Remember those Mars bars Puffed Rice cakes we used to eat at kids birthdays? That's what it tastes like - just the healthy version.
On the plane it's also very important to stay hydrated, aircraft cabin level is unnaturally low in humidity so you will need to take care of your body. Try to drink at least half a litre per hour, so your body never dries out and your skin doesn't suffer. Don't worry you won't have to go to the dreadful toilet every two minutes because your body will absorb most of it. A lot of people say to bring your own bottle and fill it up on the plane, but I'm a bit skeptic because a few years ago there was a scandal that the water was a little dirty and full of bacteria, so now I prefer to spend a little more money and buy a big bottle in the airport before I board.
For longer journeys, or journeys that extend over lunch/dinner I usually cook up a meal, often a quinoa dish or gluten free pasta. I asked at airport security so I wouldn't get this wrong for you guys: when you have food like pasta (or quinoa) you can have a sauce with it, as long as it's not too liquid and it can't be in a separate container.
When you land:
Nutribullet has become my favourite new travel companion. It's such a good investment because you will use it at home all the time and when you travel, it's not crazy expensive like a lot of the good blenders and it doesn't take up too much space in the kitchen (in other words great for us Londoners).
What I do is that after I land I go buy some fresh fruit, which is always fun from a cultural point of view too, so that if I am not able to eat enough I can still get my daily dose of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and have enough energy! Ps.: smoothies also really help with jet lag! Wouldn’t however reckoned this when backpacking - the rule for that is more snacks is more. Survival tips from Jil lol.
I also always take some chia seeds with that I can mix into my breakfast or smoothies so I have a good portion of protein as well.
I sometimes also like taking some rye bread without yeast with me (Biona is really good, they have different gluten free options too) so worst comes to worst I can just spread some banana, avocado or honey (for those who eat it) on it as you should find at least one of these pretty easily everywhere.
Same goes for crackers that contain nuts and seeds and no yeast. You can always keep them in your bag and add them to your lunch if you can only order sides.
I hope this was helpful! Let me know if yo have any questions or if you have any hacks for staying healthy on the go x
After about two years in and out of the doctors office, with no one being able to explain my recurrent inflammations, infections and pains, about four years ago I was finally diagnosed with a syndrome, that at the time was still very new and only few doctors around the world were researching it. The cause of the syndrome is still somewhat unproven, but most theories (that also align with my experience) are a chronicle reoccurrence of a certain infection, which leads to inflammation and pain.
For the first time in a log time I wasn’t asked to take any medicine. Only a natural immunity booster and cut out refined sugar, yeast and dairy for an entire year, not even the slightest quantity as I had to cleanse my body form it. I went cold-turkey.
This is where the world of reading labels on the back of food opened - and wow what discoveries I made. Suddenly sugar was in soup, pasta sauce, ketchup, fruit juices (for reasons still unknown), granola bars, bread, alcohol and the list can go on for pages, because it’s a cheap preservative. Since then, I’ve never really stopped reading labels - it shocked me so much that I was putting all that crap into my body whilst thinking that I was actually being pretty healthy (occasional ice-cream, cake and burger excluded). How could I have been doing that to my body for so long?
I started researching and found countless studies proving that sugar was the main reason for obesity, chronic infections (I’ll vouch for that), heart diseases, chronic fatigue, candida, weakening of the immunity system (I’ll vouch for those too) and many more diseases and symptoms.
Full of horror I embarked on the journey for healthier options. For the first time in years I started to feel better after only a few months, I had more energy, my pain, my irritations and infections were going away. Isn’t it crazy that the absence of those three things alone could finally heal me?!
Now I never really felt the urge to go back to sugar just because at that point I simply associated it with pain, but I’m not going to lie I have a pretty bad sweet tooth and finding alternatives wasn’t always easy. It wasn’t a thing on social media and on blogs yet, but I had to find options - there was no way I was going to go back to it, not for any craving in the world.
I recently read a study that found that sugar is more appealing to lab rats than cocaine. Yep, you read right - about 94% of rats went for sugar, not cocaine. As with any addiction the best thing to do to fight it by replacing it with a better habit. Not going to lie, sports help.
I found that falling in love with eating healthy options is everything and a big part of the process is making treats yourself, because there is nothing more satisfactory! And let’s be real how many really want to bite into an apple when they crave a brownie.
I find that the best unrefined options are medjool dates, raw organic honey and maple syrup. Avoid artificial sweeteners they are often carcinogenic and toxic (don’t fall for the coca-cola zero charade) This being said they are still sugar, just different, but you shouldn’t overdo it with these either. The biggest challenge with everything is finding the right balance. I often make sweet treats in batches, freeze half and keep the other half in the fridge, so that I don’t eat the whole thing at once. And if I do, it’s okay once in a while, don’t blame yourself, don’t be hard on yourself and especially don’t feel guilty afterwards! Enjoy every moment, every bite of goodness and then get back on track.
If you have quite a balanced diet including carbs like brown rice, you should be able to minimise cravings to a healthy amount.
One of the biggest challenges is simply not buying sugary food when you’re at the supermarket. You have to walk by, with your head held high and think of the delicious things you can quickly whip up yourself that taste infinitely better and more real.
Honestly after a while you will walk past those chocolate bars and just feel sick to your stomach, because your body will develop a real warning sign for you once it’s healthy and balanced again. You just have to get through the withdrawal phase, but me and countless other bloggers are here to help.
If you are feeling like chocolate try this recipe for chocolinos! You can fill them with something crunchy like crushed nuts, shredded coconut or something soft like almond butter or have pure chocolate goodness, up to you! For on-the-go, especially for when that 4/5 o’clock snack craving hits energy balls are the best, because they are quite satisfying for their size and you can make batches to freeze so they hold for a long time! Try the classic cacao, almond recipe here (stay tuned for more flavours!)
I also love having almond butter filled dates with my tea or simply hot chocolate (would anyone like the recipe for that?)
If you are craving some cookies, try these gingerbread ones I made for halloween, but you can really shape them anyway you want ;)
Keep updated with the Sweet Tooth section as I have a lot more to come very soon! I’d love to try doing some variations of classic sweets like Mars bars and Ferrero Rochers etc. so is there anything in particular you’d like to see? Let me know x
21 January 2017 - will go down in history as the first day in office of US president Donald Trump, the GLOBAL women's march of millions of people and my first protest walk.
Seeing as the entire election brought so much anger out on so many subjects - I mean if you weren't angry you weren't paying attention - the posters read slogans on a variety of different subjects.
Donald Trump has been elected democratically. And I believe that because of that there is no point in protesting the fact that he is now in office. However, what can and should be protested are the misogyny and racism he encourages. That is what I stand for and what I walked for today. That's why I walked alongside 100.000 people in London and Millions in the world.
It was more beautiful than I could have ever expected, next to me were people from all social and cultural backgrounds, ages and political ideals, but everyone was driven by love.
There was no violence, no extremism, no hate - only love.
Women and men were joyfully walking alongside one another, talking about the to do's and how they want their children to grow up. They were smiling, singing, laughing and talking with each other like they had been friends for ever, we were all sisters and brothers and at the same time strangers. The emotions so palpable. The hope so empowering.
And that is ultimately why I went - I know that this march will probably not change a thing politically, but walking alongside thousands that believe in one love, just as you do, gives you a strength you can get from no where else. It gives you hope. It gives you the energy you need to actually create true change. But it also sends a message, mine today was not for Trump, but to the citizens that listen to him I say: don't live in hate. It might give you a sense of power for a little while, but it's a weakness for it only causes problems, never solves them. I think I can speak on behalf of everyone walking today that the message was of solidarity to other women. Women that have been victims to abuses, that are not YET privileged with the same rights I am and for all moms, sisters and daughters.
Your voices are heard and we stand united with you for change.
My heroes today were all moms and dads who brought out their little boys and girls, leading by example and showing them how powerful love can be. Thank you, for that is the greatest gift you can give a child, the same gift my parents gave me and the reason why I fight. Today for the first time in a long time I was proud.
Gosh - staring at the post title is already giving me anxiety.
Don't know if you can tell but I am not the biggest fan of resolutions, so when I get asked what mine are for the new year I freeze. And it's not like I prepare to answer the question for the next year, no 'cause that would be way to smart...
I am a person that excessivley loves commitment, so I am usually pretty good with commiting to some weird dare, a promise and a goal, but resolutions are different.
Thinking back at your year and going over all the ups and downs is truly great because you actually get to realise how much has truly happened in only one year and how much can happen the coming one. How much you have learned and how much you have taught (wich we often forget we do!)
So when I unfroze after people asked me what my resolutions are AND managed to ask them back the things I most commonly heard were: drink less, count calories, be healthier, go to the gym, find a boyfriend, go to bed earlier and so on and so on. You get the Bridget Jones vibe.
But truly what do all these things matter? Have you had any less fun, loved less deeply or been less successful because of them? I doubt it.
My biggest problem with resolution is that you just end up dissapointing yourself for giving up on them after a few months - ok, let's be real, after a few weeks (days?).
And it's not because you aren't strong enough or have a great enough willpower to do so, but because you are human. None of us are perfect, even if we often get the idea that other people are through their social media (which will probably be a post on it's own), but no one is.
Don't be so hard on yourself, if you want to have a glass of wine at dinner have it. If you want to sleep in and not go to the gym saturday morning at 8am, do it. If you want eat something that isn't classified under 'healthy' then do so, and don't feel guilt about it!! Everything in moderation guys, I don't want to be responsable for your alcohol or food coma! The only thing I ask you not to do is count calories, it just takes all of the pleasure out of eating and enjoying your delicious food. Honestly, if you have a balanced plant-based diet you will be at your healthiest weight naturally (if you need some help with recipes I got you covered) but please don't purposely guilt yourself through life. It's just not worth it. If you have the 'thing you really really want but really really shouldn't have' then enjoy every single bite, sip or kiss (hehe).
Aknowledge that all in all this year you have been a pretty good human.
Now, I'm not free spirit enough to say just 'chill and whatever' and I might not be the biggest fan of resolutions, but general intention, plans and goals I love.
It's such a strength if you are someone that can recognize you flaws or general weaknesses and work on them or maybe have someone else help you. Recognize the problem, don't deny it and own it, then you can find a solution. No one is perfect and no one will ever be, but you can try to be the best version of yourself which doesnt mean less drinking, but more of whatever makes you feel good.
Personally I can say that this year I would like to try to overcome my biggest fears carrier-wise. I have the feeling that I could do so much more if I just stopped worrying for a second. I'm a natural over-thinker, from which comes great sensitivity, but also great restrictions. I hope that this year I can grow beyond my own ties and get to do what I love in a much deeper way.
Which is also why I've started this new 'brains' page on the blog, I know that I might be the only one currently in my little book club, but I fight that fear, because the message is so much more important than my insecurities. It has to be!
Here's to a year of dreaming big and acting on those dreams! Here's to the year of change.
I keep thinking about this proverb I read that goes: "May every sunrise hold my promise, may every sunset hold my peace" - That will be my 2017 motto.
With that being said I'm gonna go watch Bridget Jones's Baby now - anyone seen it? ;)