Slipped: the consequences of flavor enhancers

Last week, I slipped. With my food, that is, or what else were you thinking?
For me, starting to eat healthy was the very first thing that changed in going natural. By healthy I don't mean eating a lot of fruits and veggies, because that I always did. It was a bit more drastic than that. It started about ten years ago, when my health (or should I say, doctors) told me to avoid all sugar. And gluten too. As the years went by, I had times when I did return to old habits and didn't mind the sugar anymore, but did leave gluten alone. Or the other way around. Fact is, for over ten years, I didn't ever eat "normal" again.
Question is: are our standard western food patterns normal? When I see people drinking coke as if it was water, when there is never time to make anything but a quick micro waved dinner, or when I see children being able to eat sweets and desserts all day when they feel like it, I frown. I don't think that's how we're supposed to treat our bodies.

Before I take a side road too much, the point is that I have learned long time ago to be self disciplined about food. And I’ve learned you don’t need food to make you happy. That's why the next transition wasn't really that hard.
Last year, I decided to learn more about food additives. We were doing a great job cooking fresh every day, but still you use some processed things, and more than you realize actually. In addition, there's more crap in there than you realize too. 

Monosodium glutamate

Did you ever hear about monosodium glutamate or E621 and its family? If so, I really hope you’re doing all you can to avoid it. If not, please read this article by the Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine. This really is a must read. Glutamate is, like aspartame, an excitotoxin. That means it overstimulates neurotransmitters, and damages your cells in the process. It is linked to cancer, MS, ALS, heart problems, alzheimers, but also irritable bowel syndrome, autism, obesity, ADHD, migraine, and much more. This stuff is extremely neurotoxic, yet almost everyone is consuming it. Another “fun” fact: it actually tells your brain you want to eat more and more of it. Oh, and as more people become aware of this and want to avoid it, food companies are hiding it on their labels now, under all sorts of names like yeast extract, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, or the vague “herbs”, “spices”, “natural flavorings”. And then they put on the front of the package: “No artificial flavor enhancers”!

As we learned more from these flavor enhancers, artificial sweeteners and a lot more of the enormous list of stuff thrown in our foods, we decided to ban all bad or questionable additives from then on.
The next step would be to buy everything organic, but as our budget doesn't stretch much, we're not able to do that fully yet. But we’re working on it, step by step.

The slip: junk food all the way

Now, on to the slipping part. Every once in a while, we order take out. Not because we just like to do it: it's only the case when I'm too ill to cook, and boyfriend gets home from work late, and he is beaten too. On those moments, our weak sides take over. Of course, it tastes delicious and it really feels like a treat, and I know that’s actually because of all those flavor enhancers affecting our brains. So every time I regret it big time. Plus, the consequences are not so fulfilling… 

Immediately after dinner last week, my head started to hurt. My legs became increasingly sore, and my knees were killing me. My stomach felt so sick, and I could do nothing but lay down and suffer (This coming from someone who almost always lays down suffering, you get the picture of how bad I felt). That night, I couldn't sleep, and my heart was giving me an extra hard time.
And once again, I was like "Never again! I'm never eating this junk again! Why do I keep forgetting how bad it makes me feel?". Really, every time I eat junk food I'm the same way as other people cursing themselves when they have a hangover, and swear to never drink again.

Now I hear you all thinking: "I don't have such symptoms after eating certain things, so it can't do any harm to me".
Sorry to disappoint you, but when you don't eat bad foods all the time, it's much more obvious to notice the effects when you do. My boyfriend used to have migraines A LOT, but since we've been eating clean, and especially since he’s left his addiction to crisps containing E621 alone, they migraines stayed away. And when he slips now, he sure feels it too. Last time, he was having, how should I put it, bowel problems. He felt bad and I was all like “Where does this come from? We didn’t eat anything special, did we?”. The next day, he confessed: “I think I do know where it comes from. At work, I ate a lot of gummi bears…”.

Treasure your body

Even if you don’t feel direct consequences now, long term effects are being found too.
The documentary below about the dangers of monosodium glutamate is really interesting and I remember it was watching this that really got me thinking about what is being put in our foods. Flavor enhancers and aspartame were the first things I let go at the time.

I believe with food, it's just the same as with cosmetics, housekeeping products, and everything else. Going natural is the way, eating real food is equally important as using natural make up.

For the people that don’t want to give up their treats, here's the good news. You don’t have to! There are so many healthy, good recipes out there. (You can start by looking at the food category on my website of course ;-)) You can eat things like cookies, cake, ice cream and all the rest of them, but with healthy, real ingredients instead of just indulging empty calories. If you’re going to enjoy it, at least let your body enjoy it with you!

Nobody’s perfect, and every once in a while you can say “Screw it!” and let yourself go, and enjoy it bigtime, but don’t make it a habit of ingesting these toxic substances.

Treasure your body, it's the only one you have!

PS: I plan on making a bunch of glutenfree, healthy pizzas from scratch over a weekend, and freeze them for those nights we can't manage healthy dinner. Recipes are welcome ;-)! Will write a post about it of course!


  1. Al vele jaren een haat-liefdeverhouding met eten. Toen ik nog 'gezond' was was ik vegetariër, kookte ik biologisch, ging mijn interesse daar echt naar uit. Toen ik ziek werd moest ik op dieet, geen suikers, vetten, gluten. Een jaar een half geleden woog ik nog 43 kg. Sinds ik nieuwe medicatie neem ben ik aangekomen en kan ik veel meer eten. Zuivel is wel voor altijd van het menu geschrapt. Door het jarenlange diëten en gruwen van voedsel loopt het nu volledig de andere verkeerde kant uit. Eten lukt nu en het lijkt alsof ik mijn schade moet inhalen. Het rare is, daar waar ik vroeger ziek werd van een koffiekoek of frieten gebeurt dit nu niet meer (of denk ik dat het niet meer gebeurt). Ik ben nu heel slecht bezig maar ik heb gewoon de energie niet om gezond te eten en te koken. Ik heb een echte weerzin om zelf met eten bezig te zijn. Komt dit nog goed? Als ik jouw artikels lees besef ik dat ik héél wat werk aan de winkel heb maar het lukt me gewoon niet ...

    1. Ik snap het heel goed, heb ook vaak de energie niet... Het is de kunst om dan wat snelle alternatieven in huis te hebben (ik heb bv boekweitpasta van de natuurwinkel, moet maar vier minuutjes koken, dat met een potje pesto zonder brol,...) Ik heb het er ook moeilijk mee hoor, en inderdaad als je ziek bent ontbreekt het juist aan energie om je lichaam extra te verzorgen.

      Ik merk het ook niet altijd, en zeker de gluten merk ik niet als ik zondig, en dan heb je inderdaad minder de neiging om streng te zijn.
      Ik plan om eens in een weekend bv wat glutenvrije gezonde pizza's from scratch te maken (met hulp van mn vriend), en die dan in te vriezen voor op die avonden dat het echt niet gaat.
      Dat ga ik effe toevoegen aan het bericht hierboven want dat wou ik er nog bij vermelden en ben het vergeten, hihi!

      Niet te streng zijn voor jezelf, stukje bij beetje komt het wel goed, je kan niet perfect zijn op een dag tijd! X

  2. I totally understand the weakness. We try to eat whole foods as well, but everyonce in a while I just have to eat crap...and then I feel like crap and wonder why I want it in the first place.

    1. Exactly! Always wondering that too. It's maybe the addictive properties of those flavor enhancers? Thanks for stopping by Kate! X Sofie

  3. I find I suffer a host of problems from less than ideal foods such as migraines and stomach problems, it also has a big effect on my energy levels if I am not eating correctly, your post was a good reminder to really think before ordering the take out! :)Xx

    1. And so many people suffer from symptoms but don't have any idea it could be from your food intake.
      For me writing it was also a reminder again actually, once in a while you really have to see it black on white what this stuff can do... So I'm definitely stricter now too!

  4. MSG = Instant migraine for me. They should ban the stuff but in the USA hardly anything gets banned.

    It's almost a vicious cycle. You feel bad so you want either take out of fast food but that makes you feel worse. :(

    1. I don't think it's banned anywhere, and it it will be, I'm sure companies can find "creative" solutions and still use it in slightly different forms or something.

      Indeed it's like a vicious cycle! Eating fresh is always best but there are those days... Or when you think you're making fresh stuff but the herbs you put on top, or the broth you're putting in your fresh veggie soup are filled with MSG...
      It's everywhere and that's scary!


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