So you see, this was me when I was 18. I was the fattest girl in class. I would try to get myself exempted from physical education lessons because I was ashamed of my body. And the problem wasn’t just with my size. I had cysts in my ovaries and wrists, severe constipation, menstrual irregularities….
I was 18, but I could have been 80.
So how did this happen?
I grew up in Romania in a farm, with chickens, and pigs and cows and rabbits, on sustainably grown organic food we produced ourselves.
All was well, I was a happy, active, skinny child, until one fine day that I remember very well. I was 12 years old. That day mom cooked the dishes without adding salt because grandma was advised by the doctor to reduce salt in her diet due to her heart disease. That day I wasn’t very hungry and the chicken soup my mom made tasted very bland. I did not feel like eating it and I said to my mom I don’t like the soup and wanted to go out.
But Mom panicked. She wasn’t generally happy to see me so skinny and picky with my food. She was worried for me. That day she took a decision that changed our lives forever – she gave me an ultimatum: “You don’t leave the table until you finish the food!”
I stared begrudgingly at my soup. The soup looked back at me, unconcerned. At the end of 45 minutes, I finally drank it. But I was angry. I still can recall, even now, those anger hormones surging through my body.
From that day on, I started throwing away the food. Secretly, of course.
But later on I would feel intensely hungry. I would look for the jars of jam Mama made. The jams were made from rose petals, raspberries and plums picked at their sweetest – with an equal amount of sugar mixed in. I would eat an entire jar.
In time, I was addicted.
One more spoonful, just one more – I couldn’t stop. My record was one and a half jars in a single morning. I felt my eyes bulging out and my tongue pickled from the mounds of sugar I was gorging on. I felt horrible. But after 4 hours, when my sugar level dropped, I went back and helped myself to the rest of the second jar.
Nobody could be worse than I was. As a medical doctor, now, even my worst cases pale in comparison.
Attending medical school was a privilege, yet possibly one of the most trying and stressful experiences. With hardly enough time to prepare our own meals, I turned to junk food to refuel myself quickly.
While munching on a bag of chocolate-coated corn chips one day, I happened to pass by a rubbish bin, and that was when it hit me.
In the course of my studies, I had the great fortune to meet Prof. Constantin Ionescu-Târgoviște, Director of the National Institute of Diabetes, Nutrition and Metabolic Diseases in Romania. He opened my eyes to how optimal nutrition can be a form of disease therapy – or food as medicine if you like.
Staring at that fateful rubbish bin with its lid open, I remembered with a wince those times when my brain felt foggy, when I was all puffed up and suffering from painful throat infections once every few months. I realised I was killing myself with the way I was depriving my body of the essential nutrients it needed.
But I also realised there was a way out of this. I promptly dropped that bag of chips in the bin and never looked back since.
Over the years, as I learnt more about nutrition, exercise and the importance of mental wellness, and applied them to practice, I could feel myself feeling lighter, happier, and more energetic than I’ve ever been – strenuous exercise even after three consecutive days of fasting is not a problem for me.
I came to Singapore about 9 years ago. Once when I was visiting my daughter’s school, I passed by the canteen and saw something that made my heart sink. A young boy was having a meal of just white rice topped with a few pieces of hash brown. I knew too well what could result from a sugar-heavy diet like this. My childhood struggles flashed across my mind.
I realised then that I had a duty to share my knowledge and experience with others, so that they need not have to go through the same harrowing experiences as I did.
If you are seeking to turn your life around, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.
Let’s have a chat