The Junk (Food) Experiment

How it Affected Me in a Short Space of Time

Personal Experiences

We tend to neglect the value of personal experiences when exploring societal questions. Such subjectivity is often regarded as bias or prejudice. While it is essential to remain objective when providing good quality research, it is also important to remind ourselves that we are humans after all and not robots. French philosopher, Paul Ricoeur reminds us that: ‘Understanding is ( … ) no longer a mode of knowledge but a mode of being which exists through understanding’. That is to say, as individuals, we gain understanding through our own personal experiences.

Listen To Your Body

I have mostly had a well-balanced diet throughout my life. Plenty of fruit and veggies were part of my daily eating habits. I have been a vegetarian since the age of 11, for over 40 years. And there was no social media to influence my decision back then. I never really appreciated meat; even at a young age, I was aware that I could, and wanted to do without it. And I was blessed that neither of my parents forced me to eat meat. About five years ago I gave up dairy. I amazed myself and everyone in my entourage. I loved milk, cheese and butter but I drank/ate the unpasteurised form (unrefined and less sweet) which is better than pasteurised and homogenised — think about all those hormones and antibiotics. One morning I just could not bear the thought of drinking another drop of milk. Out of the blue, the whole idea made me feel queasy. There and then I quit. And decided to stop eating cheese too which was a huge thing for me. I had lived in France — the country of great cheeses! But I thought, why not try the dairy-free challenge? Very soon afterwards, I realised that my breathing was even better than usual. I said goodbye to my persistent dry cough and runny nose. I felt great. That is why it is so important to learn to listen to your body; watch out for the signs, it is your body telling you that it is feeling uncomfortable, perhaps worse!

I have had an innate awareness that food is the pathway to optimal health. I have always had a keen interest in the provenance of the food I eat. I embarked on this journey with CNM to become a practitioner in nutrition in order to help and support others. I wanted to gain more knowledge about how the body functions and how all the systems interconnect. Observing people’s eating habits in current society encouraged me to explore and experiment with unhealthy eating and in so doing, I have realised the damage it does to both the physical body and the brain; as a result I can recognise the difficulty people have with boarding the ‘optimal health train’ and when they do, it gets derailed rather quickly. Gosh, did I underestimate the challenge! But I’m satisfied I did it. It’s been a little over a year since I began this experience; I have looked forward to the moment when my carb cravings would cease and I would return to ‘the normal’ I know and appreciate.

My Junk (Food) Encounter

Let’s travel back to when I commenced this personal research study. For the first few months, I didn’t observe much change. I ate a lot of bread — mostly brown sourdough to start with as I don’t particularly appreciate white sliced pan! Then began the takeaways — Chinese mixed vegetables, chips (French fries), pasta, pizza — even with cheese on top! Then came biscuits, cakes and so forth. Every time I’d have some junk food, I would feel dreadful with a heaviness in my gut as digestion took place yet I would feel hungry quite soon afterwards. And every time I would tell my husband this is the last takeaway as I was struggling to embrace this way of eating.

Nevertheless, I continued with this unpleasant journey. Months passed and I became addicted. I didn’t see it coming. Refined sugar calls for more sugar. Do you know that refined carbohydrates are just sugar? They have gone through a process that removes most of their nutritional value including fibre. Fibre slows down the release of glucose into the bloodstream thus sustaining energy and blood glucose levels.

You feel fuller for longer and less tempted to binge on sugary/processed junk products. Also, fibre is essential for regulating bowel movement. To be honest, my gut felt as if it were a train wreck every other day. My bowel movements remained in check for most of the experiment but when it changed (for the worst) I decided it was time to get back on track. I was fed up with having a bloated abdomen; an experience I never previously experienced. I am unfamiliar with gut/bowel movement issues and thought enough is enough. This lifestyle was survival mode not living to the fullest. Towards the end, there were times when I wanted to nap — in the middle of the day! I found it difficult to engage in any physical activities, even just going for a walk. Pain began creeping into my joints; I felt like an elder. Yet, I was far from indulging in the amount of junk that most people would. I am glad to say that there were days that I managed to tackle both physical and mental activities — thanks to vegetable juice! Movement is vital to life and goes hand-in-hand with healthy eating patterns.

Returning to My Normal

It is true that I do not have a whole life of junk behind me. Yes, I am fortunate to have received the gift of a good constitution at birth. But living a healthy versus an unhealthy way of life is about your personal choice at the end of the day. Indeed, vegetable juices had sustained my energy levels during this challenging experiment.

Having said that, despite the vegetable juices, my brain was starting to get noticeably foggy and I dreaded the thought of this trend becoming the norm. So it was time to put an end to my junk experiment, that is, my personal choice to get back on track to enjoy life to the fullest. I am gradually getting back on track. The brain fog has lifted and the joint pains are slowly reducing. Daily progress results in a day being healthier.

Empower Yourself

It is important not to lose sight of where our food comes and why we eat. Remember that food is fuel. Food is nourishment for our body and brain alike. We can easily overlook the real reason why we eat but with baby steps, we can all journey forth towards optimal health. Taking responsibility for your own health and well-being will empower you. And it’s not about dieting; it’s about introducing a varied amount of veggies and fruit — think the colours of the rainbow.

Reach out for support and make contact with a naturopathic practitioner. It is not easy to make changes but it is never too late and with the right tools, you can embark on that journey of self-exploration and learning with the help and encouragement of a nutritionist who will guide you along the way. Wipe the slate clean. Reset the meter. Eat your way back to optimal health. Do not underestimate your willpower.


Chen, P.J. and Antonelli, M. (2020). ‘Conceptual models of food choice: influential factors related to foods, individual differences, and society’, Foods, 9(12), p.1898.

Farah, M.F. and Muhammad, F. (2020). ‘Fast food addiction and anti‐consumption behaviour: The moderating role of consumer social responsibility’, International Journal of Consumer Studies, 44(4), pp.379-392.

Ricoeur, P. (1974). ‘The Conflict of Interpretations: Essays in Hermeneutics’, Illinois: Northwestern University Press.

Written by: Elaine O’Driscoll-Adam

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