When people today ask me how or what I eat, they often cannot believe that anyone could eat such a clean, wholesome diet consistently. Some people just focus on certain foods that are not a part of my diet and exclaim things like, “I could not live without that”. Well, there was a time when I thought so too about some of these foods, but have transformed my eating habits in such wonderful and beneficial ways that I never look back, crave or miss those things. How did it happen? Simple. I educated myself about those foods, which created enough motivation and inspiration for me to remove them from my diet, as I realized that they were completely out of alignment with my health values. I seek optimal health, and teach people how to thrive, not just survive. So yes, over the years so many foods and food products feel away and saw me lose all desire for them.

To help you see what you may be ready to release and how I approached my changes, in this article I will share with you 5 foods that I once thought I could not live without. As most of us go through life we adopt so many of our eating habits first from our families, then from our friends and of course along the entire way from society. And so we get to those points in our life, where we hold certain foods almost “sacred” to our survival and swear “we would die”, if we could not have them.

Well let me tell you, I was there and now I am still here, and nobody died. Aside from the many changes that have ensued in my diet over the past couple of years, like everyone else I had those “favorite foods” that I really thought I could not live without. Well I can, and I am doing better than ever without them. So today let me share with you 5 foods that I really thought I could not live without and invite you to share your stories about yours.

1. Cheese

I have to say this one takes the number one spot for me. Ever since I was a child, but especially a teenager, I was heavily dependent on cheese. I loved all cheeses: cottage, ricotta, mozzarella, Camembert, brie, bocconcini, cheddar, cream, feta, and let us not forget cheesecake. When it came to cheese, you name it – I loved it! It wasn’t until about 3 years ago (2007), when I finally pieced together enough nutritional information to realize that not only was I not helping my body or bones, I was greatly hurting them. What I once thought was the right thing to do, and eat, was finally seen as the health and nutrition disaster that it is. Most people have no idea how much harm cheese causes, and this is just one of the reasons why today I see it as one of the most repulsive food products ever.

The rude awakening came when I was in my mid-20s and found out that I had elevated cholesterol. This caused me to research every aspect of my diet, and quickly enough it led me to the connection between dairy and cholesterol, and later down the line heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases. The downsides of this animal product, along with the problematic saturated fat, trans fat, high sodium and processing just completely erased my desire for this substance. It also made me re-evaluate everything I had ever been taught, and made me aware of how destructive dairy is in general. I knew that in my case, cheese and dairy were the significant culprits behind my elevated cholesterol. So I released both, and increased the amount of fruits and vegetables in my diet, and within 8 months another blood test showed that my cholesterol was back to normal. (Update: That was then. Fast forward over 10 years, and I have had perfect cholesterol ever since, consuming the whole time a whole-food, plant-based diet.) And so started my cheese-free life, which has been so much better in every way, and makes me never even crave or want to eat all of the non-dairy cheeses that are widely available today.

2. Shrimp

I was a great connoisseur of sea food and generally enjoyed all sorts of fish or squid, but nothing beat shrimp. I loved them plain, buttered, in coconut, as an appetizer or main meal. They were one of those foods that I really thought I could not live without.

Well I am sure they did not help my cholesterol either, but besides that I soon came to fully learn about the high contamination of all our seafood today, never mind the ethical treatment of animals.

So when all the “meat” products went, along with them went the shrimp and I have never looked back since.

3. Chocolate

Well I am sure many of you will share my love for this food – if we can even call it that. When I used to eat chocolate, it was not that I ate a lot of it, in fact I had great self-control when it came to it. It was instead about that feeling within, that comfort feeling that you got just knowing it was there, that feeling that made you think “you could not live without it.”

Up until about half a year ago, I thought I could find some “healthy” chocolate and enjoy it very sparingly and very responsibly. Unfortunately when I really looked into things, there is no such thing as healthy chocolate. I even examined the the ones that claimed to be 99% pure and didn’t even bother trying them, as I knew their deeply bitter taste would not make up for the saturated fat levels one bit.

My health than peaked a high evolution point, when a few months ago I decided to give up all refined sugar sources. The chocolate was a no-brainer at that point. And yes to my surprise too, not only CAN I live without it, I don’t even miss it – well perhaps the better word would be “crave” it. So yes for all of you who may think that it is impossible, there is life after chocolate.

4. Ice Cream

This one may not surprise many either. Most of the world after all is in love with ice-cream and many of those people I bet “feel” as if they cannot live without it. Well I was one of them too.

Ice-cream for me was such a seasonal food – ice-cream meant summer. It meant that delicious cold, sweet, creamy taste.

When I look back now, I have no regrets, I just realize how unconsciously many of us eat. We simply pick up the habits of all those around us and don’t stop to question whether a particular food choice is right for us.

When we look at ice-cream at its essence, we have highly processed cow’s milk with sugar and there we pick up fat, sugar and tonnes of nutritionally-deficient calories. So when I looked at it that way, it was just the logical choice to let it go and evolve to a new dietary lifestyle that I could start calling my own.

5. Cranberry Juice

Well really any fruit juice for that matter, but cranberry topped the list. I was never one for soda pop and for many years actually did not enjoy drinking plain water. When I went out to eat, cranberry juice was always the drink of choice. At home I would often have a glassful of that or of another berry or tropical blend of juice.

My reasoning seemed so logical too, I was getting the benefits of the cranberries and it was based on water right? Uh, not quite. One huge detail was missed in that picture – the added sugar. So the cranberry juice went and I scaled down to tropical juices with no added sugar, thinking that was a better choice. And as much as it was, it was not until last year that I realized that even when the sugar is not added, the fruits are obviously processed so much, where they are stripped of their fiber, that it ultimately still comes down to drinking sugar.

I think this change surprised me the most. I loved fruit juice and relied on it many times each day, and then one day I just did not buy it again, and guess what took its spot – water! It feels so good too! I know that with water my organs and body benefit multiple-fold and there are no unnecessary processed sugars going into my body. And if I ever want a fruity drink, I blend my own fresh fruits, fiber and all and make a fruit smoothie or better yet have the fruit itself!