My Food Journey

I grew up in Japan, and that had a great impact on my diet. My mother is Japanese and she cooked a lot for us growing up. We barely had any fast food and rarely ate out, the majority of our meals and desserts were baked by my mother. She cooked everything from scratch instead of buying them from the store both to save money and to eat healthier. My American father is vegan 90% of the time, and my older sister also became a vegetarian in her early years. My mother never stopped cooking meat because she enjoys the taste and many traditional Japanese dishes include meat or fish. But she always cooked lots and lots of vegetables. In Japanese culture, whether you are at home, at school, at a restaurant or at a friend’s house, it is considered very rude to leave food on your plate. So, ever since I was a young girl I was taught to always finish everything, even if I disliked certain vegetables.

Eating at McDonald’s happened once in the blue moon, and for me it was a special treat. At the time I loved the taste of fast food, plus only being able to eat it so rarely made me love it even more.

I moved to United States with my mother and two sisters when I was 13 years old. I remember hating American food. Everything tasted different… and bad. I remember that even mayonnaise and milk tasted very odd. I could not even finish my first bowl of ice cream in the US because it was too big and too sweet. Now that thought will never cross my mind when I eat ice cream. But just like how our body is designed to be adaptable, my palate adjusted to the standard American diet within a few months, so everything tasted fine after while.

My mother still made an effort to cook homemade food – we hardly ever had pre-packaged meals, microwave meals, or “take-away”, and we still hardly ever ate fast food. But my desire for fast food was still there. When I got older and started driving my own car to school, I had a part-time job and had a lot more freedom. I had my own transportation and my own money to buy lunch, which meant I could eat as much fast food as I wanted. I remember skipping my mother’s home-cooked meals to eating at McDonald’s, Taco Bell or Wendy’s. Thinking back to it now, I feel sorry for my mother for favoring fast food over her home cooking.

I was still a teenager and I played basketball competitively for my high school team, so I never really gained weight from my bad eating habits. I remember weighing close to 140lb in my senior year at high school.  I lifted weights regularly and had an athletic physique. It was when I left home to attend University in California that I became conscious of the food I eat. I soon realized that if I didn’t play basketball every single day, if I didn’t make an effort to exercise and eat better I would begin to gain weight. I would turn into one of those “Freshmen 15” (this is a saying for first year University students gaining 15lb in the first year). I didn’t want to gain weight, so I started going to the gym and watching what I ate. I remember drastically cutting down on my fast food intake.

During my University years in California, I was pressured by the media to look skinny. Skinny was beautiful and especially living in the materialistic society of Los Angeles I felt even more pressure to be certain size. I remember counting calories, going to the gym, and trying all those funny weight-loss pills and weight-loss food products the store. I remember my lowest weight was 127lb, since my senior year in high school I had lost 13lb. I also remember my sister telling me to be careful because I was losing too much weight. She said it was neither natural nor healthy. I thank her today for telling me that.

I went to South Africa for a semester abroad during my junior year, and these experiences helped me to slow down and not care so much about how many calories I ate and what jean size I needed to fit into. Compared to the LA culture, South Africa allowed me to forget about the superficial life and just chill and enjoy the good life. I ate a lot, I may have gained few pounds but I was genuinely happy. I never stepped on the scale the whole 6 months I was in South Africa.

A year later I ended up coming back to South Africa to start studying for my Master’s degree. The less superficial lifestyle being one of the reasons that I wanted to come back. I still consciously tried to eat healthily for my own sake. Just because I wanted to be healthier, rather than counting calories or trying to lose weight.

Being vegetarian always fascinated me maybe due to my father and sister being vegan or vegetarian. I was interested in food so when I learned more, it seemed as though eating meat was not necessary for me, for my health, for the planet and especially for the animals. Many documentaries like “Food Matters”, “Supersize me”, “Meat the Truth”, “Vegucated”, “Food Inc”, and “Earthlings” have also influenced me, but those documentaries just reinforced the feelings that I already had.  Previously I had stopped eating meat for 6 months, but I decided to give it another shot. Starting in February 2012, I stopped eating meat again. With one exception, I still eat fish and other seafood. So I guess I am not a strict “vegetarian”, but more of a “pescetarian”? One of my main reason to stop eating meat is due to choosing a healthier diet for my body, I do care about the planet and the animals forgive me for being honest here, my main reason was for ME and MY health. I chose not to give up fish because I like fish, but I also liked meat too, I still eat fish because I believe eating fish is healthy for me. When I do buy fish I try to buy the wild variety rather than farm raised.

Soon after that I developed a strange facial skin irritation. I had a red rash all over my face and it itched like hell. Sometimes my skin was so red I looked like I was a drug addict or being abused by my boyfriend. First I thought I was allergic to some of the facial products I use. So I threw away all of the commercial facial products in my bathroom and started using natural products. I used just water to wash my face and used Jojoba oil and coconut oil as a moisturizer. Nothing improved so I moved on to cutting out all the allergens from my diet. This included nuts, soy, dairy, gluten, fish, and eggs. Nothing helped so then I started to take out all the additives, preservatives, MSG, etc from my diet. I took out anything that was not natural. When I went to the grocery store I would only shop from the fresh produce aisle. During this time I did hours and hours of research on the Internet about food and learned whole a lot about GMOs, all the chemicals that are put inside our foods, and how diet is linked to many diseases, behavior problems, allergies, mental health, etc. So this was the enlightenment part of my food journey. It turned out that my skin irritation according to my allergy doctor; “You appear to be modestly atopic with house dust mite sensitivity, which might be aggravating the skin on your
face with eczema but it is in a distribution of seborrhoeic dermatitis and I suspect you may have a sensitivity to the Pityrosporum ovale fungus which could be contributing towards the flare-up of your facial dermatitis”. So it was nothing to do with food I eat :) Although I am so glad I came across this problem because of this I started my research on food.

I started to watch what I ate on whole new level that I had never even thought of before. When I buy food now I always look at the label, this is not to check calories but to check the ingredient list. You have no idea how much crap is in our food nowadays. I started paying close attention to my body’s reaction to food and started listening to my body.

I don’t like to be put into a box or categories. I am not meat-eater; I am not 100% vegetarian, vegan, pescetarian, gluten-free, or raw food fanatic. My diet today is a mixture of everything. I don’t eat meat 98% of the time, but if my boyfriend is having a damn good steak right next to me I will ask him for a bite. I eat lots of veggies, preferably raw veggies . I still eat fish and seafood. I don’t eat eggs, dairy or gluten at home, but when I am out or someone cooks for me, of course I will not refuse bread, eggs or cheese. I try to keep my sugar and coffee intake to a minimum. I try my best to incorporate as much raw food as possible in my daily diet. I like the raw food philosophy and I agree with many of its tenets. I enjoy trying out unique raw food recipes.

But most importantly I am happy with having a healthier body; my body seems to enjoy this diet. I don’t count calories anymore and I barely ever get on the scale. I eat well and I exercise daily and that’s all that matters. I truly believe in the saying: “You are what you eat” and if you can’t eat it, you shouldn’t put it on your body. Food is medicine and I would like to live my life as an example and a proof to others.




sensitive skin in a toxic world

Since I was a child, I have been indoctrinated into putting chemically overloaded creams and steroids onto my body. I have atopic dermatitis, but it’s not a severe case. However, I have more or less always had troublesome and extremely sensitive skin. Many times I have wished for normal skin, and I have often pretended that I have it. I have used makeup, hair colour, and perfumed beauty products (the list goes on…) quite extensively, even though I have known I had atopic dermatitis.

Ironic as it may seem,the more itchy and red my face became from the makeup, the more I have wanted to use makeup. I have tried every kind of beauty and hair product under the sun. Partly because I have wanted to be like “everyone else”, and partly because I wanted to hide the red and inflamed skin (that was often caused by the products I was using in the first place).

It became a vicious cycle, and I believe that many people with atopic dermatitis can recognise themselves in that too.

It is very easy, as a uninformed consumer, to accept everything we get presented to us. I have tried loads of products that are marked as: “Suitable for sensitive skin and eczema prone skin”. I have always gone for these types of products, as well as products that are without perfume and colour – two things that conventional healthcare always tells people with atopic dermatitis and sensitive skin to watch out for. These things are presented to us as the unnecessary and irritant ingredients. The rest is harmless.

But, with time, I started to investigate what all the ingredients (often with terribly peculiar names) were. It became evident that even products for sensitive skin and eczema prone skin were often themselves totally bombarded with irritants, toxins and disgusting things that no one wants to put on their skin.

So I started to 1). Accept my sensitive skin and my atopic dermatitis, 2). Look for products with natural ingredients, and 3). I started to simplify my beauty / hygiene routines. These three changes have been very fruitful!

1). I have come to the realisation that I have to accept the skin I am in. I am a healthy and beautiful person that sometimes gets eczema and that has sensitive skin. No biggie! In fact, as a person with atopic dermatitis, my skin is a great alarm system. It tells me when I am too stressed it…with full force! My skin does not allow me to apply harmful chemicals that I unfortunately most likely would have done if I had not had atopic dermatitis in the first place.

2). It is not as simple as to basically change everything and go into a natural health shop and pick the first moisturiser you see on the shelf. Many products that are marked as natural, are in fact only partly natural. They might consist of 98% natural ingredients, but still consist of preservatives. These include parabens that are unsafe, and arguably downright harmful to us. Personally, my skin is unmistakably allergic to parabens (this has been confirmed via professional allergy test). Some people react to natural ingredients: such as essential oils. To other people, these ingredients may have positive medicinal effects. Trial and error is the only way forward. For instance, my skin loves aloe vera, but my skin does not really enjoy olive oil…which so many people benefit from. So get to know your own skin.

3). I have started to throw away products that are unnecessary for me. As a modern person (and especially as a woman) you get indoctrinated into what products you need to use in your beauty and hygiene routines. The indoctrination does often comes directly from the beauty and hygiene industry. Question yourself; do you really need to apply cleanser, toner, serum and moisturiser to your face? Do you need to strip your body of its own capacity to clean and moisturise itself? Perhaps you can instead apply natural products that discreetly assist your body in the work it does best…take care of you and your skin?!

These three steps, and so much more, will be extensively illustrated on this blog. We will give loads of examples and ideas on how to adopt a purer lifestyle that you will benefit from. This blog will be of interest to all people that want to be healthy and beautiful inside and out.



who are we?

Our names are Reika and Karin. We are two chicks with many different interests, but we have one in common…pure health and women empowerment. Reika is from Japan and US and Karin is from Sweden. We both live in South Africa and we are studying Master’s in Development studies at UCT.

So what does pure health mean to us? For many many years have a widespread superficial consumer culture fooled us into adopting standards and norms that we do not need and that are even harmful to us. This culture have specifically targeted women. The culture is based on two things; profit and toxins.

The Pure Experience’s philosophy is to oppose this negative culture. We strive towards purity, simplicity and ethical living. Modern day women have too many negative elements in their lives. The Pure Experience is not an extra burden. We aim towards internal and external empowerment, which imply:

  • Internal Purity as in eliminating toxins from your daily diet. Instead of feeding diseases we must feed our health and enjoy our every bite of nature’s gifts.
  • External Purity, as in recognizing your natural beauty. To eliminate the use of toxic and unnatural ingredients on your body in order to embody beauty defined by social norms.
  • Stress relief as in letting your mind breath through exercise and activities. Not in order to embody beauty defined by social norms, but in order to optimize your experience of life.

The Pure Experience will provide you with useful ideas and tools that inform and guide your journey to a pure life. We share this information with you, since we have individual experiences on how a journey towards a pure life empowers women. The Pure Experience provide guidance, it is not an extra burden to an already stressful life.


The Pure Experience