Anouk welcomes me in her beautiful, spacious home. She’s just putting her two daughters to bed. We sit down to drink tea and she tells me her story. Her husband, Bram, joins us and nods enthusiastically. It’s evident at a glance that Anouk and Bram are bon vivants. Anouk wanted to lose a little weight after her pregnancies. Counting calories, eating tasteless diet products, small portions are not for her, she only becomes irritable and in addition she loves to cook. “We’re not made to spend our lives watching what we eat”, Anouk says.
Then, she learned about Pascale Naessens and her method. She read multiple books on foods and health and found inspiration in the knowledge and expertise of people from the past, and their ideas about food, which is at odds with today’s excess and industrial production. Pascale taught her that we, through natural ingredients, could get back to learning about our own nature and power. Nature provides foods with powerful, nourishing properties that can bestow health, so why not make extensive use of them?
“Pascale shook me awake.” Anouk realized that health is not simply a question of finding the right medicine, having the right operation or searching for a panacea; it starts with taking responsibility for your own health. We have one body, after all, which we should take care of as well as possible and that’s why she deeply regrets that so many people are more concerned with their smartphone than with healthy eating. After all, you are what you eat or rather you are what your ancestors once ate. So she keeps saying that you must shift your focus and reap the benefits.
Anouk lost the weight that she wanted to lose, but much more important to her is the fact that she has found a new balance in her life. She now realizes that healthy and tasty go hand in hand and that after a while you simply don’t want to have anything else. “The vision and drive that Pascale has in her books is truly a life philosophy that you can relate to”, Anouk tells me. “Not only is healthy food important, but also finding sufficient calm in your life and the energy to be active. These are important pillars in my life that are also touched upon in the lifestyle that Pascale offers.”
Anouk feels fitter and more energetic. She can easily manage her busy job and her family and still find time to go jogging and cycling.
She’s very committed to passing on the good feeling that she now enjoys. Her husband and children also share her tasty dishes; her children invariably have a portion of vegetables and nuts in their lunchbox, but even her family, friends and a lot of colleagues are convinced by her lifestyle and in turn pass it on to others. “Yet, all too often, we’re offered a typical bread-based lunch. If I know that in advance, then I bring something tasty and healthy from home, if not, then there’s an extra serving of vegetables for dinner in the evening.”
With all the people that Anouk has inspired, I ask if she has any specific tips to get me started. This is her advice:
- Avoid fast carbohydrates
- Eat larger and above all varied portions of vegetables
- Make sure cupboards, fridge and handbag are filled with healthy products
- Devise a ‘health challenge’ together with your partner and family, friends and colleagues…
And above all: you have to want it. People often say: I have stomach and intestinal problems. But actually, your body has a problem with you! Put the right fuel in your fuel tank and you’ll fly.
Photograph: Benno de Wilde
'People often say: I have stomach and intestinal problems. But actually, your body has a problem with you!'