Have you ever been in the midst of doing something ordinary and every day and realize just how far you’ve come from who you used to be? I once thought I was so healthy and ate the very best things for me. Until this afternoon, when my boyfriend’s children were eating Chef Boyardee ravioli for lunch. It literally makes me want to vomit watching them eat it. And then I remembered that I lived off of those in college. Like seriously lived off them. And I thought they were amazing! Who doesn’t want to pop open a can, throw it in a bowl in the microwave, and have an instant meal?? That’s pretty much how I lived for much of my college days and even into my early twenties, thinking I was this healthy, nutritious girl doing her thing. Boy, has that drastically changed!
I’ve definitely seen many changes since those poor college girl days of Chef Boyardee and ramen noodles (I mean, who DIDN’T eat ramen noodles?!). I thought cooking meant throwing some noodles in a pot and bringing them to a boil, then throwing some sauce and parmesan cheese on them. Throughout my life, I’ve had stomach issues, but never really attributed it to what I was eating. I didn’t have a lot of skin issues when I was younger nor did I gain weight very easily (god bless a fast metabolism). Plus I was always really active, so eating a ton of carbs was normal for me. Having some eggs and toast for breakfast was normal; then a sandwich (I went through the first several months of my vegetarian/vegan stage eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day for lunch…can we say healthy??); and generally some sort of ravioli or pasta for dinner (but it was from Trader Joe’s, so it was definitely healthy, right??).
I was a vegetarian for about 4 years and a vegan for just about 1. I went this route thinking that it would help me have more energy and not be so tired all the time. Except I was an “unhealthy” vegetarian. I ate the frozen meals and frozen veggies and fake meat products – I mean, come on. If I didn’t want to eat meat for health reasons, why would I think that the fake meat products were any better? Have you ever seen the ingredients on those things??? I decided to become a vegan after I started having more skin issues (namely acne). I thought taking out the dairy products would help. I mean, I literally stopped eating EVERYTHING except veggies, quinoa, rice, beans, and sweet potatoes/potatoes. Oh, and don’t forget the “healthy” sweet treats I’d make with coconut sugar and coconut flour and cacao nibs…because THAT was healthy! Lo and behold, I was tired all the time and my skin didn’t get any clearer. I can remember calling my mom in tears because my face was so badly broken out and that there wasn’t possibly any other food I could take out before I was eating dirt! It was so frustrating because I thought I was doing everything right. I had learned how to cook and use fresh foods instead of the frozen foods; I wasn’t eating dairy and was gluten-free. But nothing seemed to help.
Until I came across the 21 Day Sugar Detox and the Whole 30 and I started doing some more research. It wasn’t necessarily just what I was eating, but how long I’d been eating that way, as well as the high number of antibiotics I had taken as a child. It was also the high amounts of sugar I was eating…I learned I was addicted to it!! I *needed* it! Just like I needed coffee at the time. I learned that all of those things mess up your stomach and digestive tract (very technical here, I know, LOL). I learned that you had to heal your digestive tract first before you were able to start eating whatever you want (in moderation). So I cut out all grains (yes, even rice and quinoa…the “good for you” grains), all sugars and alcohol (I actually stopped drinking for several months to heal everything), and beans.
I ate real, whole foods…I found easy recipes to make, and let me tell you…when I first started cooking this way, it took me FOREVER to make anything. I’d spend hours in the kitchen getting one meal prepared. But over time, I started making the recipes mine and learned that I actually love cooking! I love making my own food and nourishing my body with the things it absolutely needs. And it doesn’t take me forever anymore, LOL. And I know what affects my body now; I can do a little bit of dairy every now and again; gluten and grains don’t really agree with me; and almonds tear my stomach up. I can tolerate a little alcohol every now and again, but when I start going crazy, I can tell…I sleep poorly and my face starts breaking out and I get super irritable. I’m pretty sure it’s the sugar and how it affects me, but at least now I know.
It’s still a work in progress…shoot, I’m still a work in progress, but I’m light years ahead of where I used to be. I make smart choices because I know that I will pay for eating certain things. A little piece of yumminess isn’t enough to make me want to be miserable for hours or days afterwards. And more often than not, I find much healthier alternatives, so I get my “fix” but still feel good about it.
What are some things that affect you when you eat them? Do you need a reset like the Whole30? It’s not something that you do for life, but it’s a good reset of your system to learn what affects you and what doesn’t. And we could all use that every now and then, right?
I hope you’ve had a great weekend! Once again, I can’t believe it’s already Sunday, but it’s been a great one, and an absolutely beautiful, productive one :) Enjoy the rest of your day!
With love and wellness,
Welcome back! I hope you had an amazing Thanksgiving and spent it with loved ones! This was the first year I hosted Thanksgiving with my boyfriend and, if I do say so myself, it was a huge success! We had a great day (albeit a busy one) and we enjoyed great company and even better food! So think back to my last post when I was talking about my health problems and how I was attempting to fix them on my own. I ended it with a discussion on juice cleanses and how they were great, but didn’t really work for me.
So onto 2013…I decided I would become vegan and gluten-free and continue my quest to cook real, whole foods. I’d also been doing a lot of online research about acne and how to cure the underlying hormonal issues that were a problem. A lot of the other issues I was having (anxiety, insomnia, etc.) were also related to my underlying hormone problems. Of course, the dermatologist wanted to put me back on antibiotics or for me to go back on birth control (I took myself off them in 2011 – that’s a whole other post). They also wanted me to try Accutane, but after reading the side effects and seeing how dried out it makes people really turned me off. I already had naturally dry skin; I didn’t need the extra help. Plus, the other side effects in general scared me. So I made it my journey and goal to find out how to cure myself naturally. Being put on a drug, whether it was on antibiotics or birth control, was a last resort…and one I really didn’t want to take.
In October 2013, I was still breaking out and couldn’t figure out what was causing it, even though I was eating pretty healthy and was doing my best to eat real, whole foods. I was eating a lot of nuts (as snacks and in meals as replacement items), still drinking alcohol, and had a wicked sweet tooth. I would make “healthy” sweet treats after dinner almost every night. I think I had myself convinced it was okay because I was using paleo ingredients. That makes it okay, right?! By that point, I had had enough. I came across a 21-day sugar detox that really spoke to me – this is the one I did: http://balancedbites.com/category/21-day-sugar-detox. I knew I needed to break my addiction to sugar…because yes, sugar is addictive. Once you have some, your body continues to crave more and more of it. I stopped drinking alcohol, cut out the sweet treats, limited the amount of fruit I was eating, and quit eating food that had sugar in it or converted to sugar after eating it. Two weeks into it, my skin was clearing up and I started craving meat like you wouldn’t believe. Specifically, I started craving bacon. I learned to finally listen to what my body needed and give it the right fuel to keep me going. I started eating meat again and have more energy and feel so much better than I did before. I have my sugar moments still, but it’s definitely not as bad as it once was. And I learned that sugar and eating a lot of nuts, specifically almonds, triggers my acne. It’s taken me years to figure this out, and sometimes it’s still a learning process. I’ve also tried my hand at a couple Whole 30s – http://whole30.com, which is 30 days of paleo eating; i.e, taking out alcohol, bread/gluten, grains/rice, any sugar, etc. I feel so much better when I eat that way, but it is very restrictive and time consuming. It truly is meant as a reset for your system, not as a way to eat forever.
I also recently started using Essential Oils and became a Wellness Advocate with DoTerra. I was a little skeptical at first as to how using oils like that would work for me. But I don’t like taking medicine and I don’t like using things that aren’t natural on my skin. So little by little, I tried them out. I used different oils for headaches, which I tend to get when I’m stressed. I was amazed when they worked! I also started using different oils for PMS symptoms and cramps. Once I found the right combination and when to use them, I was once again amazed they worked. I now use essential oils for almost everything. I use lemon in my water in the morning to help flush my system and get the day started right. I use lavender, frankincense, and melaleuca as part of my face moisturizer in the mornings and evenings. I also use lavender and a blend called serenity at night on my feet and in a diffuser to help me sleep. And when I get bug bites (which is often), I either use lavender or a mix of peppermint and oregano to help stop the itching. I recently used a mixture of coconut oil and lavender on my boyfriend’s feet when he had a massive amount of bug bites from a night spent in dirty water. Within days, his feet were healed and clearing up with no itching. I’m amazed at how these oils work, and I continue to learn more about them every day.
I also stopped using any products with ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce or had to look up to learn what it was. I use all natural products for my face wash and I use coconut oil and tamanu oil in conjunction with the essential oils as my moisturizer. I buy natural shampoo and conditioner. Anything you put ON or IN your body affects you! Your skin is the largest organ of your body, so whatever you put on it will be instantly absorbed. So it makes sense that if you’re using highly processed lotions and soaps that your internal system is going to have that much more to detox out. Add that to any highly processed foods you’re eating and your body has to work that much harder to flush it all out! It’s amazing how all the little changes add up to a happier, healthier version of myself!
I’ll end this post on that note and hope that you have a beautiful Monday! And a happy first day of December! I can’t believe how quickly this year has flown by! 24 days til Christmas!! How’s your shopping coming along??
With love and wellness,