Logbook: 3/10 days low sugar challenge – completed!


Day 1.

First day, as expected, I feel hyper motivated and am not missing anything. Even though my team was not really cooperative in this sense and bought an extra package of mini Snickers, I feel determined.

Instead I bought bananas, grapes and apples. These fruits are actually also very sweet, but, first, it is good sugar and if I eat one banana and a bunch of grapes during the day, I am sure to have my sugar intake lower than 25 g.

Result: 1 banana, 100g grapes. I feel good, the first day after a long time, I had no sweets. Easy! 

Day 2.

Second day, It’s getting harder. I feel like fruit sugar is not quite the same as sugar in sweets, well, I am sure you know what I mean. On my way to work I catch myself starring at the bakery shops. I am passing by. I must admit, today the look of Snickers on table does not leave me as unemotional as yesterday. But I manage to keep my fingers away from them. Sugar is everywhere. And is if it was not already difficult enough to abandon all the desserts, it is so much more than that. We had an indian curry, very sweet. But my sugar hunger is on the rise and I eat banana immediately afterwards.

I have my first very simple and important learning:

Out of sight – out of mind. It works better than I ever thought.

While we are having a team meeting a bowl of sweets is in the middle of the table. And I am continuously keep starring at it. It is more than simple to grab something. But since my dear team is not really supportive, believing I can not really abandon sweets, I find my inner strength to prove they’re wrong. Haha 🙂 I take those Snickers and put them behind the vase so that I cannot see them. And it works immediately, as if my brain forgets about their existence. Nice one!

Result: 1 banana, sweet curry and lot’s of thoughts spent with snickers and Co.

Day 3.

Third day. Already in the morning I feel tensed. The moment comes when I strongly feel like rewarding myself for 2 previous days. Remember, I signed for a low sugar challenge, not for a „no sugar“ one.


We do a break and around 4pm go to a coffee shop. I already know that my reward is there! I can hardly wait for it – the one and only Chai Latte. I can almost feel like sugar is injected into my blood and I feel so much more relaxed. I feel like reward model does really work for me. And I think that “no rewards” for too long is the reason for the yo-yo effect with the most of diets. It is all in our head when dieting you abandon so many things your brain is craving for and than you start rewarding yourself massively for all the sufferings. It is not a surprise diets do not work in a long-time perspective. So giving myself small rewards would hopefully would hopefully give positive results. 🙂

It would have been all totally fine, but we spontaneously decide to have a team night out at the legendary burger place “White Trash” in Berlin.

First issues: ordering sweet potato fries instead of usual ones was probably the right decision in terms of taste, but not in terms of sugar intake. And the bbq sauce is pretty sweet too and alcohol… to be precise beer, 2 beers. For today I feel like I’ve lost the battle.

Sugar and alcohol.

That’s why when coming home I immediately google for „sugar and alcohol“. Surprise-surprise. Beer has lots of carbs, but it has no sugar, meaning less then 0.5 g per serving! This is so cool!

I find also that red wine has only around 1 g and white wine – 1,5 g sugar per serving. But cocktails like my favorite Pina Colada are even more sugary than a glass of Coke. A 4-ounce (112 g) pina colada contains 28 g of added sugar, though from ingredients other than the alcohol!

What about sweet potatoes? Green flag again! Sweet potatoes is a really misleading name! Two things: it has a lot of calcium in it (which is great) and it is also not having lot’s of sugar, what’s more it is even good for people who have diabetes. Good to know!

I feel relieved and great about making right decisions and rewards 🙂

Result: 1 Chai Latte and bbq sauce. I think I am slightly above my limit because of the bbq sauce but it is not nearly as bad as I thought. Even though it was not a lowcarb dinner, but it was not my goal anyway! 


10 days low sugar challenge. How come?

A couple of weeks ago I spotted a new issue of GEO with a main theme – Healthy Nutrition [in German]. Curiosity is one of the biggest drivers of my daily decisions, the reason why I constantly try new products. The proud price of 9,00€ almost shocked me at the cashier but curiosity did its job. It was my premiere, I have never bought any magazine that expensive. I assume the price is too high to reach the broader public. Unfortunately. While 2-3€ cheap women magazines are usually full of cheap diet tips. You can hardly call it quality journalism.

25g sugar suggested, 3x25g consumed.

I enjoyed this issue, many interesting articles, but one did caught my attention the most. „Sugar” article made me rethink my sugar consumption. The most eye-opening fact for me was: suggested serving of sugar per day for an adult is 25g! Only 25g! While an average adult in industrial countries consumes daily more than 3 times as that. Overweight and obesity are developing as epidemic. And although I am not a victim of any of those (yet), nothing is forever and I felt I have to think.

Sugar cravings

People who know me, also know that I have an extreme sweet tooth. I like eating sweet food badly. I am not a big fan of soft drinks or fruit juices though, but I adore fruits, cakes, chocolate, pastries, ice cream, cookies, should I continue?… Recently I became an absolute addict of Chai Latte – which btw is very sweet and creamy. Mango Lassi is a must almost every time I have an indian meal.

I had an honest talk with myself and became very conscious:

Mornings I have a croissant, sometimes plain sometimes with chocolate.

Coffee-break When coffee-drinkers have a coffee break, I tend to grab a Chai Tea Latte. Sounds healthier, but is not actually.

Lunch After lunch I am crying for something sweet. So, it is officially “cake time”, some packaged sweets from the sweet box at work are generally fine too. In the best or worst (it’s how you see it) case it can be even both.

Dinner When I come home, cook a dinner, I would also eat at least a small piece of something for dessert. Usually plain yoghurt with honey. But being from Ukraine and having a very strong relationships with “tea”, I usually eat cookies.

Sounds like I have really sweet days, ha?


When calculating all together, I could easily come to 75-90 grams of sugar per day! Don’t think I exaggerate: one glass of apple or orange juice contains around 25g of sugar. If you don’t believe me, google it.

Halleluja I neither drink Soft Drinks nor I eat fast-food or other hyper-processed foods like ketchup, ready-made dressings, supermarket-pizzas, lasagnas or other trash such as industrially made fruit yoghurts.

No “no sugar” – Yes “low sugar” Challenge

That’s why I am up for a „low sugar” challenge. I challenge myself to eat the max of 25g sugar per day, counting both natural fruits and industrial sugar. I would not do and not suggest doing “no sugar” diet, since we all need sugar as a source of energy, but I want to learn how to control my sweet hunger.

My goal: For 10 days I will eat the max of 25g a day, while cutting on my desserts.

Not my goal: Losing weight is not my primarily goal, but if it happens even better. 

Efficiently what does it mean. If I have a Chai Latte for lunch, I will not eat a cake afterwards and vice verse. If I don’t have a cake for 2 days, I am allowed to reward myself with one, since the challenge is not about abandoning sugar, but about learning how to consume it consciously.

I will share here my logbook, what I eat and how I feel about it. Who wants to join or support me, please do! I do not know what I should expect and how it ends, but I am excited.

“Frisch auf den Tisch” magazine review. Random thoughts on gardening.


These rare early hours when you wake up surprisingly earlier than your alarm clock was set and you have time for breakfast in bed with a new magazine. Priceless.

I adore flowers, but you can barely call me a person who has a green thumb and my home isn’t a green oasis. The only green plant in my apartment that managed to survive inspire of my non-disciplined watering for 6 years!!! is a money tree. Just because it is really not demanding in terms of watering.

I have tried. But it didn’t work. R.I.P.

A couple of days ago a new magazine about gardening?! caught my eye – “Frisch auf den Tisch“.  Does it mean I am a grown up now? The claim did it’s job to catch my attention: Grow it – Cook it – Eat it. 

In my urban life there was no time and no space for gardening.  After skimming through a magazine, I find myself pretty „wowed“.

Maybe it was a lack of motivation and not me? Maybe I still have a chance to get better if i have a motivation of not only looking at my plants – but also eating the results of my work!

I have my favorite stories in this first issue:

First one is an interview with Alys Fowler, those gardeners between you, may already know this urban garden lady – she used to be a part of BBC-broadcast „Gardener’s World“. Wild red hair. Red wool jumper. I already like her.

She got me with her down-to-earth attitude and her, from my opinion, provocative saying: „gardening relaxes me“. Till now I could say this only about painting, but gardening is supposed to be a hard work, isn’t it? Or maybe it is an attitude.

Alys doesn’t want to save the world, not being altruistic. she just wants to have freedom of eating homegrown veggies, herbs and fruits. Agree on that! Her garden is rather chaotic, just like an artist’s workroom and it makes me like her even more. I start considering of having a garden myself… but stop, I live in a tiny apartment in Berlin, with no balcony. Too bad.


But the idea of gardening is becoming more and more attractive with every single page. On page 21 I read the headline „Gardening with friends“. The story is about three young guys who have a collective garden. Working on weekends is also only half as bad as it sounds, cause at noon they open a bottle of wine and enjoy this new green urban freedom. I assume, gardening with friends is just like jogging with friends, brings more fun and consistency.

For people like myself who just want to give it a try, rather start with a modest garden with pots, you’ll find some helpful infos about various pots on the page 24. And eventually to give it a real try – start for example with a herb garden in pots. Everybody loves fresh herbs! Read some tips on the page 64.


All in all, starting from the cover and ending with some DIY tips, I seriously enjoyed the magazine. Now I am thinking of planting cherry tomatoes on my window bench. Give it a read.

One day with punks

Last week with KptnCook we made it to the cute polish town Poznań, it was the closest I have been to my hometown Kiev in the last couple of years. And I was extremely looking forward to have some traditional food. We had a super tasty traditional polish dinner, you have to take my word for it, cause I don’t have any Instagram prove, pierogi were too tasty to let them become cold.

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My travels last month were accompanied by strikes, so my Air France flight was canceled just a day before I had to fly to Berlin. And another surprise: in the morning of the event in Poznań, our DB-train was cancelled as well. But we had a fallback plan – great that Poznan is less than 3 hours drive from Berlin.

The occasion was the invitation from Punk Internet that made it to their goal to build up and foster the local startup scene in Poznań.

Honestly speaking, you get used to pitching your startup in front of different crowds, in small rooms in front of a couple dozens of entrepreneurs or on the stage in front of investors and industry experts. Mostly 3 to 5 minutes, mostly the sentences craved in my brains: problem, solution, traction, business model…

But the invitation from Waldemar was different, because it was not about pitching, he asked us to talk about our experience as entrepreneurs: about things that motivate and inspire us every day, about problems and mistakes we’ve experienced, about our dreams and hopes. There was no typical Q&A afterwards, instead after the talks we had time to mingle with some drinks and great music, making the atmosphere very welcoming.

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It was a new kind of experience and it was great sharing our story with others, without any time constraints. It was also relieving to be able to laugh about our own past struggles.

We were blessed to meet another serial entrepreneur from Eastern Europe, Yoanna Gouchtchina – CEO at ZeeRabbit, who has just moved with her team from Moscow to Berlin. Several times during her talk I had heebie-jeebies. I am sure she will be a great enrichment for the Berlin startup scene.

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It was also very interesting to see how the startup scene outside of Berlin looks like. The first event from Punk Internet took place in a really cool Kreuzberg-like location that was almost full. IMG (6)Majority of people were considerably more reserved than those you meet at the startup events in Berlin. At the same time, I felt like these people really mean it and take it serious. And I believe that if we were able to inspire at least one person to make the next step, our mission was accomplished.

Punk Internet has a hard nut to crack, but it is really needed. We need more entrepreneurs and I am looking for more success stories from Poznań. P.S. I believe there is a great potential, cause even our DJ revealed himself as a person willing to become entrepreneur and looking for cofounders.

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Food Tech Event with KptnCook in San Francisco

Go Cook Yourself!DSC_0041 (1)


With outstanding food-tech companies like Sprig (on-demand healthy meals delivery), Instacart (same-day grocery delivery), Foodily (social recipe engine), Love with Food (all-natural snack delivery) and Feast (online cooking school) to name a few, San Francisco has proven to be the capital of food-tech in the past decade.

The good news is: “The trend is on the rise” as Krysia Zajonc, Local Food Labs, said.



20140724-foodtech-37Food is something everyone is confronted with almost on an hourly basis. As a Cornell University survey reveals people make more than 200 decisions on food and beverages everyday. Seeing that, food-tech comprises enormous business potential.

It’s no surprise that we had to close the event registration in less than a week, since we were fully booked.

Food-tech is simply a tasty topic.

KptnCook San Francisco Event 1KptnCook San Francisco Event 2


Even Hollyfood, oh I mean of course, Hollywood agrees with us on that. 

Food is one of my favorite parts of the day. Jennifer Lawrence

Food is one of my favorite parts of the day. Jennifer Lawrence

Thanks to the friendly support from Capital One 360® Café and awesome  Lindsay Thornton, we gathered 250 food and tech inspired people in the very heart of San Francisco to share new trends in food-tech and to have a possibility to introduce KptnCook and two other brand-new food startups who are making a positive difference in the way people are buying, cooking, and consuming food:

KptnCook is launching its mobile App this August in the U.S. and is following in the footsteps of HotelTonight, that made hotel discovery instant and enjoyable. KptnCook solves the choice overload problem and adapts recipe discovery to the afterwork weeknight needs. KptnCook equips you with a portion of daily inspiration, a smart shopping list with real products and prices, as well as step-by-step pictures. With this 3-in-1 approach, KptnCook aims to build the habit of daily cooking!

KptnCook_Prelaunch_140724-36KptnCook_Polina Marchenko

KptnCook San Francisco Event 6KptnCook San Francisco Event 3

TalkToChef (Cookstream.tv) is a San Francisco based startup, proclaimed to be the world’s first “culinary 911” platform for all desparate home cooks who were not successful with recent culinary experiments. TalkToChef provides you with the possibility to have a real-time chat with a chef any time you need it. You can take a look on my interview with Daniil, CEO of TalkToChef.



DSC_0087Found Eats is another startup from San Francisco providing customers with an online, social marketplace for artisanal food. Customers of Found Eats can follow friends and tastemakers to find amazing new foods made in small batches by artisans across the U.S. and be at the front of the line to take advantage before small producers sell out. The launch of the platform is highly awaited in October, but first samples are arriving everyday.


Panels with food-tech enthusiasts and experts provided various perspectives on the emerging food-tech space.

KptnCook San Francisco Event 5

20140724-foodtech-162A big thank you goes out to our guest speakers who made the discussions extremely interesting:

Jean-Paul Bulow – food evangelist dedicated to fighting for good food as part of FullSpoon, Whole Foods Market and currently Blue Apron,20140724-foodtech-146

Chef Clare Molla – a Michelin restaurant trained Chef, published food stylist and recipe tester for SF Chronicle Food & Wine Section,20140724-foodtech-150

Krysia Zajonc – dedicated social entrepreneur, CEO of Local Food Lab, a platform for innovation and entrepreneurship in local food systems,20140724-foodtech-145

Nicole Szanto – the heart and soul of the Sprouts Cooking Club – organizing cooking camps in cooperation with various restaurant chefs for school children in San Francisco 20140724-foodtech-165

Ron Rodrigues – a native San Franciscan and a long-long time foodie supporting the new restaurant Kinfolk – “a great neighborhood restaurant with Michelin quality” currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter.20140724-foodtech-164

All in all event was full of networking, free drinks and many inspiring stories and has the potential to be organized again soon.


KptnCook San Francisco Event 7KptnCook San Francisco Event 8

It’s a boy! His name is Plug and Play Accelerator…

 And one more step closer… We have some news to share! 

In May we were accepted into one of the most international startup accelerators in the world, Plug & Play. They have partnerships from Singapore to Germany and so on. We are lucky to have been accepted to the 3-month program in the heart of Silicon Valley.photo 1

Why did we decide to go to Plug & Play in Sunnyvale and not apply to Plug & Play in Berlin?

Plug & Play in Germany partners with Axel Springer (one of the largest digital publishing houses in Europe) and has other focuses than we need. For this reason, we were very excited to have been selected into the Plug & Play Brand & Retail program. Here we are going to be exposed to different companies from the retail space. A perfect match for us!

And another reason is simply, Silicon Valley. I believe that in order to succeed as an entrepreneur you have to be a bit foolish. We were foolish to dream about establishing KptnCook in the U.S. from the very beginning. A great quote I recently heard from Vinod Khosla (founder of Khosla Ventures),

“Difference between dreamers and entrepreneurs is the following: dreamers dream about the Mount Everest. Entrepreneurs dream about the Mount Everest and think and plan how they can get to the basecamp!“

Our basecamp was a successful launch in Germany, our next step is being accepted into the accelerator in SV. Of course we are realistic and paranoid enough to realize that the way is much longer than that.photo 2

What are we working on now?

We are razor-sharp focused on our launch in the U.S. We plan to be live in August. Preparing the grounds, we are organizing together with 2 other food startups a big Food Tech Event in San Francisco, where we present KptnCook to local foodies.

Entering the program in Sunnyvale…

First day – introductory event with all startups, a huge surprise for me: 17 out of 19 startups in our program have already raised $500K to $10M and are mature companies. But we have something in common, they are also looking for leads to corporates. I was proud and confused at the same time. How come we are actually in? So, I asked Michael – director of the program. The answer was flattering and encouraging, “We selected you for a reason” 🙂

How were the first two weeks?photo 3

I expected more startups to be working in the co-working space. Since most of them have big teams and real offices, only a few seat with us in the shared office. However I didn’t mind because it’s not loud and I can concentrate well.

Within two weeks we had two events with representatives from Kohl’s and Hershey’s. Both interesting and very different.

I was impressed by the way Kohl’s approached us, startups. The representative literally said: „We need you, we need your creativity, we want to work with you“. This is something I have never heard nor felt from German corporates.

In fact, how collaboration with Kohl’s works is another story, but it seems like a positive start.

Hershey’s made a good impression too by their honesty:) The speaker said that the way of a startup to the Holy Grail of partnership with Hershey’s is rather long and rocky road. I was a bit demotivated after the presentation, but after a very positive talk one-on-one, my motivation returned back.

As an international startup it’s a valuable experience to be exposed to the corporates and have a chance to talk with them in an informal setting.

This week, BBC visited PnP and held interviews with several startups. I was in the right place and at the right time and gave interview too 🙂

New Kptns on Board…

Last week was also the very first week with our gorgeous interns. We advertised 2 positions and received over 60 applications. We have interviewed around 20 candidates and selected 4 who are going to support us through the summer. Folks here keep asking how we were able to attract so much talent. I believe it is because KptnCook is cool:)

I am definitely looking forward to our next week.

P.S. Before entering Plug & Play I have heard that this accelerator has a controversy reputation. Some not so positive founders’ stories are supposed to exist. At the same time, I have never heard a single negative concrete story. My experience till now has been very positive and I believe that any accelerator program is what you personally make of it. 

Words to think of for entrepreneurs

My favorite quotes from recent events:

Steve Blank (Lean Launchpad)

Big companies execute business models while startups search for business models.

Business Plan does not belong into entrepreneurial studies, because it has nothing to do with entrepreneurship.  Although it should be taught in English language studies, since it teaches you creative writing.

Lean Launchpad helps to find out if you are a visionary or you are hallucinating.

Guy Kawasaki (Evangelist)

There are bakers and eaters. Eaters see the world as a zero-sum game: if you eat more of a pie, I will get less of it. While bakers are able to bake a cookie, a cake or a pie. Be a baker.

Gagan Biyani (co-founder of Udemy, advisor to Lyft, CEO of Sprig)

In early stages competitors to startups are not other startups, but the existing markets and the status quo.

I am Polina, originally from Ukraine, in my very late twenties, I am entrepreneur & live in Germany and travel between Silicon Valley and Berlin. This is my blog about my personal experience with things I am passionate about such as startup life and food.