Bitte Björkman, 51, radiates vibrant health and energy. Switching to a low-carb diet brought dramatic results. It also inspired her to change her career, so she could help others to experience the benefits of a low-carb diet to mind and body:
How long have you been eating low carb?
Since 2009. One year earlier, I came across the blog of Annika Dahlquist, Swedish LCHF pioneer, but it too me a year to take the plunge because I was so afraid of fat. When I finally did it, my stomach calmed down after just three days. I was also suffering migraines ans sinusitis – I was a big snorer. These went away too.
Was it a smooth journey?
I had no problems adapting to LCHF. After losing 9-10 kg (20-22 lbs) in the first three months, I plateaued for about five years, although I was still losing inches. When I moved back to Sweden after living abroad for a year, I suddenly dropped 4 kg (9 lbs), just like that.
How has it changed your life?
It has made an incredible difference to both my physical and mental health. About 15 years ago, I suffered from severe burnout and changing what I ate helped tremendously to come back from that. LCHF made my body calm, it was like this was exactly what it needed to heal properly.
I changed careers, too, and became a dietary counsellor – my life is now 24/7 low carb. Last summer, my friend Hanna Boethius and I began planning for the first European LCHF event on Mallorca in November 2017. We also work with a non-profit body to spread awareness of LCHF for people with diabetes. We have Facebook groups with more than 17 000 members. It is fantastic to have the opportunity to inspire and help others!
What has been the biggest challenge?
I haven’t had any really big challenges. My friends warned me, they thought I was crazy, but I didn’t care about that. Though when my husband said that he was afraid my health was at stake, I promised to get regular medical check ups and he can now see that I’m healthier, more energetic and more beautiful than ever!
What are your top tips?
- At the beginning of your low-carb journey, read a good book. The Food Revolution by Andreas Eenfeldt MD, for example, gives you all the facts in a digestible way. It’s a great one for newbies as it’s best to get the basic information before you look at blogs and forums for inspiration, ideas and advice because people generally have differing views about what works.
- I changed my diet completely overnight and it wasn’t difficult – I felt my body had been waiting for this kind of fuel. But you could also start by skipping bread and see how that goes for a week. If that goes OK, stop pasta and see how you feel. And so on, eliminating other carbs.
- Be prepared – bring a packed lunch to work or on a journey.
- Be patient. Don’t expect to drop 5 kg (11 lbs) the first week – this isn’t a quick fix, it’s for life.
- If I drink regular wine I can put on 2 kg (4 lbs) of water weight overnight, but if I drink a glass or two of sparkling wine I don’t retain water or feel intoxicated.
What’s in your fridge?
Butter, bacon, cheese, a lot of vegetables – cabbage, onion and lettuce. And champagne… On low carb, you are easily affected by alcohol. I’m not a big drinker but I enjoy a glass or two at the weekend, and it doesn’t intoxicate me or make me retain water. I’ve found a perfect fizz that has less than 3 g of sugar per liter.
What’s your favorite recipe?
- 1½ kg (3.3 lbs) cabbage
- Hearty knob of butter
- 500 g (1.1 lb) ground beef
- 500 g (1.1 lb) ground pork
- 250 milliliter (1 cup) heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 200 g (7oz) cream cheese
- 2 eggs
- 500 ml (2 cups) broth (any flavor you like, I use vegetable broth)
- 300 ml (1⅓ cups) gravy from the cabbage casserole
- 300 ml (1⅓ cups) cream
- 1.5 tablespoons soy sauce
- salt and pepper
- (Add a little arrowroot or cream cheese if you want a thicker sauce)
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
- Shred the cabbage finely and fry soft in butter.
- Mix the ground meat, heavy cream, onion powder, eggs and cream cheese in a large bowl.
- When the cabbage is soft, mix it all together.
- Pour the broth in and place in the oven.
- Take the casserole out after 30 minutes and add 3 cups of the gravy to a saucepan.
- Put the cabbage casserole in the oven again, raise the heat to 225°C (450°F) and bake for another 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the sauce:
- Boil the gravy along with the heavy cream. Add soy sauce, salt and pepper.
- Serve with lingonberries.
I cook at home and my family mostly eat like me. My youngest daughter is gluten intolerant and, when I began, I used to make Bolognese sauce with normal pasta for my husband, gluten-free for her and broccoli for myself.
What do you wish you had known when you started?
I wish I had known about low-carb when I was younger, when my daughters were small. I would never have given them formula or canned food – I would do so many things differently. I have never eaten or felt better than I do now. I love my life and a lot of that has to do with my diet – having good health creates joy in your life.
Earlier with Bitte
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