Özge Bezirci Dikici, the founder of the sekersiz21gun Instagram account and author of Şekersiz 21 Gün (21 Days Without Sugar), talks about how we can eat healthy and stay away from sugar.
Due to air pollution, pesticides, GMO foods, stress and sleep disorders, we have all sought and tried all kinds of ways to protect and improve our health. And since healthy nutrition is indispensable for a healthy life, we have recently started to read research, posts, news, books and even articles and try healthy recipes to see how we can switch to healthy nutrition, what is the easiest and sustainable way to do this. Based on the question of how to eat healthy, what we talked about in an interview with Dietitian Özge Bezirci Dikici once again showed me that this is not difficult at all. Mrs. Bezirci, the owner of the sekersiz21gun Instagram account and the author of Şekersiz 21 Gün, helps her clients, who benefit from her guidance both in her office in Levent and online, instead of giving lists that come to mind when it comes to diet, a matchbox of cheese, 5-6 olives as a source of oil, or no sweets. establishes a diet that they can survive and continue to maintain. Its aim is to always give you the necessary motivation for a healthy life, and it provides you with healthy recipes, meals that you can find or prepare in your daily life without putting you in trouble, and most importantly, always with a nice supportive conversation.
In our conversation with Mrs. Bezirci, we first clarified the misunderstood definition of diet. We all think of boring lists, calorie calculations, weight loss, many classic phrases such as “don’t eat fat, carrots are high in carbohydrates, don’t consume it” when we talk about diet. Mrs. Bezirci sums up the misunderstanding very well with her statement, “We can say that our diet is determining our lifestyle and transitioning to a healthy life. Diet is not just forbidden or eat this, not that; indeed, it means our meal and diet. But people think that being hungry, eating less, calorie restriction. What we do is to establish a normal healthy diet. Everyone’s diet is different. I also have a 10-year-old client who came to me. There are those who do not necessarily want to lose weight, but who want to put their life in order or who come because of illness. It should not be thought of as just weight loss. And when it comes to diet, it doesn’t have to be a list. It can be verbal, in the form of a framework where rules can be set. But the diet should be about changing the lifestyle, not like a very strict, rigid list.” In this way, she explains that diet is not just list items.
Surely, the transition to healthy eating is a process and there are many foods that we need to add and remove from our diet. Although, I think what really upsets us is what we got out. But when I asked what things, we should never eat in this process, Mrs. Bezirci relieves my concerns with her answer: “You know, Şekersiz 21 Gün, we remove sugar, artificial sugar and packaged products, but there is nothing to say never to eat in a normal diet, there is portion control. There are foods that should be consumed less frequently. For example, we say not to exceed one glass per week for alcohol, or limit carbohydrate meals such as pizza, hamburger, and pasta to once a week. There are some portions, yet no such thing as a ban.”
When I said that otherwise, it would not be sustainable, Mrs. Bezirci said, “Yes, there are some people who recommend not eating for a month or two, but it takes two months at most, in the third month, there is a state of eating and attacking more,” she explains that it is not a permanent solution and adds: “I liken it to wanting to eat everything when I’m hungry. When you don’t eat and don’t eat and see it all of a sudden, it becomes a state of attacking with longing. Of course, the habits of the years do not change immediately. But when we give ourselves a break once a week, we can say let’s eat chocolate, eat pizza or drink alcohol this week and gradually put them in order and create an order in that way.”
I was constantly seeing the Şekersiz 21 Gün groups on her Instagram page. So many people join these groups, so many people say praiseworthy things that I think it must be tried. Also, 21 days is not a very long time and I see that everyone continues this healthy eating process afterwards. No one quits because everyone sees how easy and feasible it is. They see that a good order can be easily established. Özge explains what inspired her Instagram account and the Şekersiz 21 Gün: “After we got married, my husband and I started consuming snacks and junk food at home. We were consuming french fries, packaged products, chocolates. Although I did not consume before, my husband’s habits also affected me. When you’re at home, you don’t eat one, you don’t eat two, you can’t stand the third, you keep up with the person next to you. Then, just on New Year’s Eve, at a time when guests came and went and the food was eaten a lot, I said to my husband, “Let’s not buy packaged products for the house. ‘For ourselves’”, I said. Knowing that it takes 21 days for habits to change, I asked, “Let’s eat natural foods for 21 days, let’s see what happens, are you there?” He said, “I’m in.” After that, I wanted to make it official on my new page with 2,000 followers, to motivate ourselves. “We do not consume artificial sugar for 21 days, we do not buy packaged products at home, only fruit, dried fruit, etc. we are consuming, how about you?”, I shared a post with these words. A lot of messages and comments came at once from people who are not normally my followers have seen it. There was an unexpected positive response. We started, other people got involved, they asked me to share what I ate. That’s actually how it came about Şekersiz 21 Gün. At the end of the day, my husband didn’t fit, but I went ahead and decided to do this on my page from time to time. This is what people demanded. “Let’s not do it, let’s do it again and start again. We are motivated by you,” they said. Of course, they also know the rules, I share them, but it was good for them to have a control mechanism. Then, I wanted to open the sekersiz21gun page in case everyone from my own account might not be following me for this reason, they might not want to see Şekersiz 21 Gün. For those who are interested to come there. I opened it and that account went past my own page. The followers increased. I started to put more effort into it. I put words of the day, song of the day, motivational sentences apart from what we ate and drank. My followers really liked it. The topic came out of diet and started to return to the healthy eating motivation I wanted. This made me very happy too. Everyone started sending the page to each other. They started to encourage each other, saying, “You should do it too. But social media is a temporary medium. Instagram may not be permanent, and I did not want what I wrote to be lost. I decided to turn it into a book, a guide. For people to have something permanent in their hands. I said that if the worst is not read or sold, I will have a memory, and that’s how the book was born.”
It really takes motivation to switch to healthy eating. It is very important not to feel alone, that someone is doing it with us. This applies to both the diet, the Sugar-Free 21 Days, and the gluten-free diet. It feels so lonely that one can take a break. Everyone eats everything, we can only think that I can’t eat. We go to the workplace, we see all kinds of harmful foods. But we cannot eat. But knowing that someone else is doing it and seeing it in a way gives great encouragement and ensures continuity. When I see that Şekersiz 21 Gün is starting on her Instagram page, I immediately say what I am doing, what we were doing, what we were not eating. I’m getting into that mood because togetherness creates motivation and excitement. Likewise, the word of the day and the song of the day in the book are also effective in this. You want to open and listen to all the songs. I must admit that I read all the words without waiting for the day. All of these acts as tools to encourage healthy eating and enable you to change your diet with pleasure and excitement.
Of course, being healthy is not possible only by regulating nutrition. We need to organize many things in our lives so that we can talk about full health. Özge Bezirci Dikici also says the following on this subject: “Nutrition is effective to a certain extent. Water, sports, stress and sleep are also very important. I also see from my clients that s/he does everything right, eats, but if s/he is tired or sleepless that week, his/her body may swell, s/he may collect edema and we may not see a decrease in weight. We are multidimensional, not just what we eat, but everything that affects our body. Simply put, we go on a plane trip, even if we don’t eat or drink anything, our bodies swell from the pressure. So, we have to consider many factors.”
We met Mrs. Bezirci when she was a consultant at a sports center, something she told me at that time that affected me a lot and made me add sports to my life. I asked her, “Should I exercise on a hungry stomach or a full stomach?” I asked, and her answer was short and very clear: “Do it the way you feel good.” This word encouraged me a lot about sports and frankly relieved me. Because, for example, when I exercise when I am hungry, my sugar rises and I feel very bad, but I get the most efficiency when I do it an hour after a meal. I always felt guilty until I talked to her. I was not hungry, I was thinking that I would spend less calories, it was a sport that I was doing that would not do any good. Actually, there was no such thing. “Actually, it is the best sport. The time doesn’t matter. Everyone feels good when exercising at different times. For example, when I’m on my own, I like to do sports after everyone is asleep. This makes me feel better. I always split in the morning. We should include as much as we can in our lives. People set very strict rules. They say I will do it every day of the week, for an hour, for two hours, but this may not be possible for everyone, especially for working people. But if we say 30 minutes 3 days a week, everyone can do it and it will be sustainable. The important thing is that this is what I recommend,” Özge Bezirci Dikici explains how easy it is to do sports and how it can be included in our lives.
Of course, we are talking about herbal teas, which are indispensable for healthy nutrition and weight loss diets. Özge is not in favor of mixed teas when it comes to herbal teas that help both nourish our cells and speed up our metabolism. She explains the reason for this as follows: “Mixed herbal teas can negatively affect blood pressure and sugar. Blood pressure can also be adversely affected by some plants. All plants have different functions and effects. Some are fat-burning, some are edematous, some are heart-raising… If we use them all together, we cannot know what causes what. Therefore, it should be consumed individually. So, we know that green tea accelerates fat burning and metabolism, and it is possible to see its effect when used alone. Teas such as sage, lemon balm and chamomile also accelerate edema removal and they should be used one by one. Of course, they can be put together with the formulas we wrote. But the plants need to be brought together by an expert. Teas with 9 herbs and 5 herbs on the market do more harm than good. What is good for everyone may not be good for you. For example, water with lemon also lowers blood pressure. My blood pressure is already low, if I drink it in the morning, I feel sluggish and tired. But it can be very good for someone else, it can rejuvenate your body.”
We must know our own body and its reactions well. The plant hibiscus, which was once on everyone’s lips and stands out with its appetite suppressant feature, lowers my blood pressure and when I first started to consume it, I felt like I was going to faint all the time, but it took a long time before I realized this. However, if I knew that not every plant would be good for everyone, I would never have consumed it without consulting my doctor and watching the reactions of my own body. It wasn’t a good lesson either.
I think that teas that accelerate metabolism are most needed after New Year’s Eve, holidays, birthdays or special celebrations. “Well, after such times, what should we do instead of regretting and eating ourselves and saying that the end is gone, I will continue to eat from now on?” When I ask her, she answers: “Actually, at that point, healthy nutrition comes into play. We can pack it the next day. If we recover in two or three days but continue to eat because we say sunk fish, then we will gain weight and spoil our diet. Otherwise, no one gains weight in one night or two evenings. But if we say that I ate now, let’s eat for one more week, eat for a week and eat for another month, there will be weight gains and deterioration in our health.”
After such days, the best thing to do is to return to normal order. By returning to our healthy eating steps, we can make our body accept that day as if it never happened. She has a little advice for such times: “Maybe less carbohydrates can be consumed the next day, within 24 hours, in order to balance it. Bread, pasta, fruit group can be reduced, but not zero. If we do not consume carbohydrates at all, the body enters the consciousness of scarcity. Then the vicious circle begins. The next day you’ll be hungrier and eat more. So, a day with less carbohydrates will be enough.”
When we return to our normal routine, that is, to a healthy diet, I wonder what we should consume in one meal, and she comes to my rescue. “The protein group must be consumed. For example, if we go over breakfast, I definitely recommend eggs, as it keeps you full and is a complete protein source. If the person can digest cheese, that is, if there is no lactose or casein intolerance, I definitely recommend cheese. According to the season, tomatoes, cucumbers and greens must be available. There is no limit to these. As a beneficial oil group, we should include olives, avocados or walnuts. We can convert like 6-7 olives = half avocado = 2 whole walnuts. We must also add a carbohydrate group. It can be a slice of whole grain bread or gluten-free bread. Etimek may be from grain Wasas. When we combine protein, carbohydrates, fat and greens, it is both filling and eye-catching.”
After preparing and consuming a balanced plate for breakfast, it is time for lunch, which is the most challenging meal. When we spend time outside or at work, we have a hard time finding healthy options, or we don’t really look at healthy foods. Özge, after counting what we can eat when we are out, we see that healthy options are not far away. “The healthiest might be grilled meat, meatballs, chicken or fish. Tuna or cheese salads are also good options. The best sources of protein are buttermilk or yoghurt and a slice of multigrain bread. I do not recommend eating vegetables outside because it can be very oily or olive oil cannot be used. When we want to eat vegetables, we can consume more harmful things. We can choose legumes such as chickpeas, lentils and beans. We can consume them without water in restaurants. But let’s say we didn’t find anything, we could have a bowl of soup. It is possible to find lentil soup everywhere. When we consume it with a small salad, yoghurt and a slice of cereal bread, we will not skip a meal.”
While talking about the carbohydrate sources that we should add to our every meal, I can’t help but think of many different diets that are gluten-free, dairy-free, ketogenic recently. There are methods that constantly say to remove a certain thing from our lives, not to include it in our diet. I mentioned that as a type 1 diabetic and Hashimoto thyroid patient, I see a lot of benefits from a gluten-free and dairy-free diet, and that it is effective in regulating my sugar. I would like to get her opinions on this matter. “Actually, if a person has no intolerance, s/he should not remove a food from his/her life if s/he can digest it. Every food group is very valuable and should be in our diet. If the person does not have a health problem, s/he can consume anything. Some groups may be temporarily excluded from feeding. I also apply it to my clients. ‘Let’s go gluten-free for 2-3 weeks,’ I say. The swelling decreases, intestinal problems decrease. We can apply a ketogenic diet for 2-3 weeks to surprise the body. These can be done in the short term, but if there is no health problem, there is no need to do it in the long term,” she said, and if the sensitivity does not continue after the intestines are repaired, she favors returning to the consumption of foods. I find elimination programs very useful in this respect. By removing foods that may cause complaints such as bloating, abdominal pain, edema, swelling in the body, rash, fatigue, and not being able to wake up in the morning, we can understand what is harmful to us or whether anything touches us by removing them from the diet for 21 days and then introducing them to the body day by day. Believe me, life gets a lot easier after finding the culprit, if any. But there’s no point in punishing an innocent person if the food isn’t the culprit, is there?
We switched to a healthy diet, we got rid of packaged foods, we removed white flour and refined sugar from our lives, healthy fats, complete proteins, legumes took their place in our kitchen and everything is going great. Until we see someone taking a bite of the crunchy wafer in her hand… Then all our efforts are faced with going to waste. Because it seems like nothing can get in front of your sweet cravings. However, it is not. Let’s listen to what we can eat when a sweet craving arises, and from Özge, who left her followers without sugar for 21 days and made sure that none of them complained with her advice: “Dried fruits and fresh fruits are the usual alternatives for dessert. But there are also very nice cakes, cookies and dessert recipes made with dried fruits, dates, almonds and walnuts. You have to activate them. They are like refined sugar cakes and cookies. There are brownie, tiramisu, pudding recipes in my book and these are the recipes that everyone who eats likes and does not understand the difference. Because we make it using honey, molasses and natural sugar sources.”
We agree with Özge that people are very prejudiced about these desserts, which are actually no different from normal desserts. “They don’t understand if you don’t say it, but when you say it’s a diet cookie or a diet cake, they might say, ‘Oh, it’s not that good.'” Unfortunately, when people say healthy, there is a thought in people’s minds that a recipe would not be good. She explained the reason for this, “Because there are many recipes in this way, tasteless and without salt. It can be tasteless when the carbohydrate, protein, fat balance is not provided, drier, leaner, and low in sugar.”
There are also recipes that are called diet and healthy but contain tons of fruit paste, molasses, carob extract or honey. And I think the real danger is these recipes. Because it’s very easy to say “healthy” and miss the measure. Özge also warns us about this issue: “Recipes with 15-20 dates also exceed their purpose. Then it becomes very high in calories and sugar. Then we say it’s better to eat normal cake.”
Speaking of healthy dessert recipes, I wanted to share with you my favorite dessert recipe from Özge Hanım’s Şekersiz 21 Gün. When our inner voice starts to provoke us that it is sweet, sweet, wonderful truffles that you can make right away without cooking are life-saving. At the beginning of the recipe, Ms. Ozge did not neglect to say a few things to comfort you during your sweet crisis. Let’s get to the tariff:
Sometimes we have chocolate crises, it happens to all of us, of course, it is a very normal situation and we should not panic. For those who want to have a different alternative that is very similar to the taste of chocolate instead of eating chocolate every time in your chocolate cravings, there are dates and cocoa balls, namely date truffles. Moreover, it is so easy to make. Consisting of dates, cocoa, milk, oatmeal and molasses, it is made without cooking.
Ingredients (for 4 people):
-1 cup of oatmeal
– 8 dates
-1/2 teaspoon of milk
-2 tablespoons of raw cocoa
-2 tablespoons of molasses
Run it all through a rondo or mixer. You can make 22 mini balls in total and eat 6 of them with tea/coffee in a single snack.
She answers when the continuation of this book, which also includes this beautiful recipe, encourages everyone to eat healthy with information, songs, words of the day, and various recommendations, will come: “I have thoughts in my head, and as soon as I have time, I’ll put them all down on paper.”
Özge Bezirci Dikici is a dietitian who aims to approach everyone with the same care as her client, both in her Instagram accounts and in her book. It seems that everyone will step into a healthy life with the Sugar Free 21 Days program, which allows us to see that healthy eating can be organized in as little as 21 days and that there is nothing to be afraid of or be afraid of. All you have to do is remove refined sugar, packaged foods, junk food, white bread, plates of pasta and rice from your life and replace them with fresh and dried fruits, seasonal vegetables and greens, healthy fat and protein sources, and complex carbohydrate sources such as whole wheat, buckwheat and quinoa. What follows is a happy and healthy life as the songs at the end of each chapter of the book.