I've seen the profound power of food firsthand—and throughout my life, I've made significant changes to my diet in order to support my health and well-being. Ever since being diagnosed with diabetes at 22, there are certain foods I just won't touch anymore.
People often ask me if it's hard to avoid certain foods and if I miss them—and my answer? Not at ALL.
I'll admit, it's true that changing the way you eat is often incredibly difficult at first. (Believe me, I remember the mood swings and the cravings!) But after some time—for me, it was about three weeks—those cravings disappear and taste buds change. Honestly, I feel infinitely healthier and more vibrant after giving a few specific foods the boot—and I wouldn't go back for the world.
Of course, everyone's journey towards their optimal health looks a little different, but saying goodbye to the following foods has made all of the difference for me (particularly in regards to managing my diabetes).
When I was 19 or 20 years old, right before I was diagnosed with diabetes, I was a complete sugar addict. I started the day with some sort of sugary cereal like Lucky Charms or Cocoa Puffs and I always, always had a candy bar or some sort of hard candy (Jolly Ranchers were my go-to's) on me. I was sugared-up all the time.
After my diagnosis, though, it was like a switch flipped. My health was on the line, so I went cold turkey on my sugar-filled ways. Out the window went the candy, the desserts, and even super-sweet fruit. At first, it was hard. I'd relied so much on sugar my entire life that I had headaches and terrible mood swings when I quit.
Within a few weeks, though, I started to feel better. Eventually, my desire to eat sugar completely disappeared. I didn't even like the flavour anymore. Now, even if you put a giant plate of dessert in front of me, I am zero percent interested. The only time I eat sweets these days is on my kid's birthdays—and that's for them, not me! I'll snack on low-sugar fruits like blackberries and raspberries, but that's about it.
2. White Carbs
After giving sugar the boot, I quickly learned that the body breaks down refined carbs straight into sugar, so I swore off those in order to better manage my diabetes, too. I ditched rice (yes, even brown rice), pasta, and bread—and never looked back.
I know some of you are wondering, how could you ever swear off bread? But just like with sugar, when you give your body enough time without it, your palette changes and it loses its appeal. (Bonus perk: I no longer miss out on a beautiful meal out at a restaurant because I've filled up on the breadbasket.)
As I cut these white carbs out of my diet and learned more about a keto lifestyle, I began to cut back on high-carb foods further and swap in low-carb alternatives and plenty of healthy fats.
So, instead of having mashed potatoes, I make cauliflower mash with butter and salt. It's so delicious and creamy, my kids don't even know the difference. Or, when my kids eat pasta, I opt for zucchini noodles. These simple swaps make it easy for me to enjoy a meal with my kids and still nourish my body in the way that works for me.
3. Conventional Wine
For me, the final piece of the puzzle was wine. I have always loved wine, but as I upgraded the rest of my lifestyle to manage my diabetes and feel as healthy as possible, I wondered if there was a better way to enjoy my wine.
When I discovered Dry Farm Wines a few years ago, I was intrigued. Their natural, organic, and biodynamic wines don't contain any added sugars or chemicals, so they're low-sugar enough to be keto-friendly and don't have as much alcohol as the average bottle.
The earthier, hearty flavour of these wines took some getting used to at first, but now I'd rather drink them than anything. While conventional wines often got me buzzed fast and left me with a headache, these did not. Yet again, I wouldn't go back to the old stuff for a second.
Halle Berry is a producer, director, and actress. Now known as one of the fittest women in Hollywood, Halle recently launched rē•spin, a community for stories, conversations, and products for health and wellness seekers. In her weekly WH column and #FitnessFriday Instagram posts, she shares a personal look into her own health and fitness—along with the tips, tricks, and advice behind her famously fit physique.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health US.