When you think about processed and refined foods and how it effects your body, what comes to mind? 

When truly asking myself this, the first thing that comes to mind is food that is easy to make and convenient.  When I think back about five years ago and would ask myself this question I don’t think I would have known how to answer this as I was so unaware of my body and what foods nourished my body as there is so much contradicting information.  What I know now is completely different.  So as of today I would answer that question how this way of eating would affect my body is bring it back into a state of sickness, low energy, mood changing way of life. 

In today’s society we have so many options of food choices that come in some form of package or box.  This is due to the current lifestyle that we have come accustomed to.  Rushing around, being highly stimulated, which is not always a good thing, and creating a stressed body by not stopping and taking a breath.  Often, In this type of lifestyle we end up making not good food choices for our own bodies.  I noticed when I would change and pull back, breathe deeply and try not to do so much that the better food choices rose up.  When we are rushing around getting ourselves and family ready for work, get to work, work through our lunch and then rush home through traffic to pick up kids to take them to after school actives/sports; or maybe you’re in meetings until real late; or for those in the big cities you just might have a night were you get stuck in traffic.  Whatever your rushing life is like, when we get home after our rushing and stressed out day, the last thing we want to do is be making a nourishing meal.  So we go for the easy and convenient option and for those on a tight budget it’s about what is the affordable.  Packaged up dinners can be much easier and more affordable at times.  It is sad to see that what is more affordable is packaged up and highly processed.

In the past five years, I have been really looking into and trying different ways of eating but, through my eyes, I have always tried it in a manner to lose weight rather than nourishing my body.  This shift of looking at food to nourish and fuel my body has changed in my health and wellness journey since I had found out that I have a kidney disease.  I have now been more focused on nourishing my body and supporting my kidneys rather than looking for that magic weight loss.  From my research of reading many different books and articles about various ways of eating they all say that when the kidneys are not in full working order, or any other organ to say the least, that processed and refined foods are even harder for the body to process.  These types of foods put stress on the kidneys or any other organ that is not working properly, especially when we have gut issues.  So when people are looking to bring their body into a healthier state, we have been imprinted with the statement of “I need to go on a diet.”  I personally don’t like the word “diet” as people have a negative attachment to this word.  It brings the cringe look into people’s faces when this word comes up, plus it puts high expectation on people which they start being hard on themselves.  Then the whole thing of falling off the wagon comes into play and the vicious circle comes out and we end up chasing our tail, so to speak.  So this is why many people fail on diets.  With that in mind, I prefer to use the words eating habits/choices or eating lifestyle.

As I have changed my eating lifestyle into a  more organic, high consumption plant base, as best as I can, whole real foods I have noticed this has helped me not just physically but mentally.  With my partner going on a trip and it was just me and Alsa dogs in the house, I thought why don’t I do an experiment of reverting to refined sugars, processed and refined foods for one week but no more than 10 days as I don’t want to really put too much stress on my kidneys but needed enough time to notice any difference, which I’ll be using my body awareness rather than medical test.

With having picked a day out and putting the plan into action by eating takeaway foods, fast foods, pastries and refined sugar like candy, I was nervous.  I also knew what I was in for, as we have all seen on many various documentaries like The Sugar Film; Fat, Sick and Almost Dead and Super Size Me, to name a few, how refined and processed foods affect their body.  Even the ones in packages that have the health check mark or star rating, which is what I saw all he ate on the documentary The Sugar Film.   With these documentaries being presented by different people, that means different body types which means bio individuality.  But, either way, they affected them all in the same way as it made their bodies sick.

So, off I went and started eating the non-nourishing, empty foods …

At first I noticed how much my taste buds have changed as I could really taste the salt and how sweet stuff was.  With this in mind, I did notice is how it was affecting me with mild headaches and within days in how it affected my bowel movements – they became soft and runny.  Well, at times it was like my bum was a missile and a huge explosion happened in the toilet.  Even though no one new, what was really embarrassing is that I had to clean the toilet after doing a number two, most times.  Another thing I noticed it also would make my bum sore from the missiles.  I thought to myself, this is not normal!  This is happening from eating processed foods that people crave and eat day in day out for their whole lives.  Thinking back to when I used to eat this way I had no idea and thought this was normal.  Many years back I was very unaware of my body but this changed through my journey into a healthy lifestyle.  This made me wonder what my digestive system and organs could be going through for this to be happening.  I have learned that bowel movements do tell us how our body is processing anything we put into our mouths so this was certainly telling me NOT good for my beautiful body!

Next was the changes in my stomach.  Have you gone through waking up where your tummy is flat (meaning not bloated) and then by the end of the day you look like you could be six months pregnant?  Well, this is what started happening to me.  At times the bloating would cramp me up which the only way I felt better was in a foetal position with a hot water bottle on my tummy.   I would get so bloated that it would even affect how tight my pants feel.  I even thought to myself, I need to get some fat pants.  Even my yoga tights felt tight which I normally think my yoga tights should feel comfortable and free moving.  I love my tights and normally they feel more comfortable than jeans but not during this experiment.  Even times when I was not bloated I still would get these nasty, sharp stomach pains .  This made me question myself, is it really worth it eating foods like this?  Some people don’t know the difference and think it is normal and continue eating this way and others is the cravings that make the choices.  But it is not until we experience the effects of healthy eating does to us can we truly compare.  With the bloating of the stomach was also a mixture of water retention.  With having a Kidney disease if you eat high amounts of salt you end up retaining water.  With my ankles becoming kankles, my face is puffy and my ass and thighs are growing and making things feel uncomfortable to wear.  Is another sign that this way of eating is not doing any good to my body as it holding on to the water rather flushing it out.  That means the toxins are staying in my body and making me even more ill.

With the bum feeling like a bomb is going off and my stomach bloating out like I was pregnant and water rentention is making me feel like I have added 5kg.  I did notice that my food cravings and consumption grew each day.  This also affected me when I was full – I wanted more food, there was a voice in my head saying, “Feed me,” even though I couldn’t eat any more.  Not saying I did what the voice said but it was there either way.  This had also proven to me how empty calories and lack of nourishment really does nothing for you besides making you hungry sooner than whole real foods and, to say the least, the cravings were crazy.  This surely made sense that the consistent hunger and cravings are a sure sign that this is feeding the bad bacteria, bugs and viruses in my body.  By eating more than my body requires, this surely affected the bomb going off, the stomach bloating and pains.

All these put together really affected my sleep.  When someone has a kidney disease they already have interrupted sleep as the kidney disease also effects the adrenal glands and our adrenal makes our lovely cortisol.  So with having a dominance of cortisol this will affect your sleep.  The food I was eating is toxic to my body which gave me broken sleep because my body was still trying to process the food, which didn’t help as I would be craving.  I even had a night or two where I was eating up to the point before I go to bed.  This would also wake me up in the middle of the night feeling thirsty from the processed salt in the food and some mornings I woke up with a dry mouth.  At times, it felt like I was hung over from a big night of drinking.  This cause can be from refined sugar.  Even though knowing this is still blew my mind that food can have this type of effect on you.  Having to go to the bathroom to do a number two in the middle of the night tells me that this is not right, either, as this is the liver trying to push out the nasty toxins in my body and it can’t wait until the morning.  This experience surely told me how these types of foods really affect my body physically.  When going through this in the middle of the night all I can do is think, my poor body, my poor kidneys.

Some people who have emotional or mental issues can also suffer without knowing it.  I have suffered from depression and one thing I really noticed is how it affected me mentally.  I normally have a great self-care morning routine which includes meditation, a yoga practice, tongue scraping, writing and dry brush body scrubbing.  But due to my lack of sleep I had no energy to get up so I would stay in bed, go back to sleep, which was most mornings or when in such a blue state look at social media and see how prefect people’s lives where.  Then started to be really hard on myself which brought on the blues even more, as  my energy level and drive has gone down.  I came to realise that this is not a good habit to be creating as it also affects the rest of my day by having a lack of motivation to get things done that I want and need to get done; my work ethic went down the drain and the foggy brain and lack of concentration didn’t help, either.  When it came to teaching yoga, that was a big effort.  I did see how this empowered my negative self-talk and thoughts.  Things like, “Why did I eat that?  You are fat enough,” “Why should I care about them, they don’t about me,” to a point they were very dominant and at times very overpowering.  It felt like the grey cloud was following me around.  This was scary to see as I have been working very hard on reprogramming the way I think with meditation, breath work and gratitude writing.  This now brought my attention to people who suffer from any mental illness and how poor foods choices don’t support the healthy brain and mind.

I never understood in my younger years when people would say, “My body is my temple.”  I always thought, what hippies why don’t you just relax and enjoy life.  But how can you enjoy life when you are sick either physically or mentally?  What I now can see is that you can’t and I really understand that my body is my temple.  We may live longer but that extended life span we tend to die slowly with all the disease that are becoming more common now.  It was scary to see in 10 days how this has affected me.

With going on this little experiment, it has brought a stronger awareness on how whole real foods help support and nourish our body, not just with weight control but our overall health body, mind and soul.

Namaste,

Nadia