My Health Journey.
I began eating healthy on the first day of 2016, otherwise known as January 1st. I made the unthinkable choice to cut all dairy, sugar and gluten out of my diet. And just to clarify, when I say sugar-free (which in my opinion, has developed a bad rap), I do not mean that I was okay with fake sugars like ‘sweet and low’, sucralose, aspartame, etc.. Also, on top of cutting these things out of my diet, I began eating healthier, whole-foods that benefitted my body. The reason behind my extreme diet was that I hoped to completely cure, or simply subdue, my mild acne. However, at that time I did not know nearly as much about the pesky skin condition as I do now, for example, the fact that my acne in-particular is mostly caused by genetics and hormones.
During the first few months of my lifestyle change, I learned many things and experimented A LOT. For the first three months, I was eating maple syrup and honey in small quantities in place of “sugar”, however, after doing my research, I found that these two natural sweeteners both have a high glycemic index. This really just means that when honey or maple syrup are consumed, they turn into (pretty much) the exact same thing as sugar in your body. And since I was trying to get rid of my acne, which is many times made much worse from sugar, my body couldn’t tell the difference from these natural sugars compared to white, refined sugar. That was my first mistake of many.
After about four months of strict eating, I decided it was time to invest in an actual food allergy test in order to find out exactly what foods my body had a hard time processing. For this, I was recommended a blood test, because it is said to be quite accurate. I went to my natropath, who drew my blood, sent it off to the lab, and voila! three weeks later I was greeted with my results in my mail box. And I’m not going to lie, what I saw really surprised me. The test results show a select number of foods in which many people are commonly allergic to. They are broken down into mild, moderate and avoid categories (but I was only instructed to really worry about the moderate and avoid foods). Eggs and peanuts were the two foods that I was told to avoid. All dairy products, except for goat’s milk, landed in my moderate range, along with almonds and a grain called gliadin. I was very thankful for these results, because for the four months leading up to my test, I was still eating eggs on a normal basis and had been consuming close to 1 and ½ cups of almond milk per day in my breakfast smoothies. Also, I freakin’ love peanut butter, and I may have had an unhealthy addiction. Needless to say, I was sad to find out my body does not process peanuts well and that I shouldnt’ be eating them.
After my blood test, I made another drastic change to my already-strict diet by eliminating all nuts, eggs and honey/maple syrup. In all honesty, I wanted to cry just a little bit after finding out that I was allergic to foods I thought of as “healthy”, and hearing from my natropath that I should steer clear from sugar for as long as possible to help my acne. Even though I had no intention of incorporating sugar back into my diet, this was still hard to hear since I have a major sweet tooth and sometimes I just really want an ooey gooey homemade cookie, ya know?
Now, fast-forward 2 months, equalling a grand total of healthy eating for six whole months, or half a year. I have continued to eat a strict non-dairy (including eggs), non-sugar and non-nut diet. However, I do sneak in very small quantities of gluten once in a while due to the fact that my body can handle a moderate amount of it. I just make sure it’s all natural and organic. In addition to all of the non’s I mentioned, I try to eat whole foods, such as organic, or free range meat, that is not pumped with hundreds of unneccessary hormones. I also try to limit my red meat and pork intake, leaning more towards small portions of chicken and fish whenever possible. I make my best effort to include dark, leafy greens in most of my meals, whether it’s in smoothies, salads, or stews.
As for extra vitamins, I try to remember to take my iron supplements, vitamin a, b-complex and calcium each morning. because I don’t eat dairy, I try my best to incorporate enriched, unsweetened rice or coconut milk at least once each day for the added nutrients and calcium that I am lacking.
My diet is constantly evolving and being minisculey tweaked. This is not a bad thing, it just means that I am continuing to learn from my mistakes and build upon my healthy foundations that I have laid for myself.
What I Have Learned Along the Way.
There is no doubt that my healthy lifestyle changes have impacted me in a way that I never could have imagined. I can 100% say that at the start of this journey I did not believe in myself, and did not think that I could achieve the place where I am at today. I can proudly say that I’ve grown so much as a person while on this journey; I have developed impeccable self-control and have learned how to listen to my body and adapt to fit my own needs.
Of course I’ve gone through hard seasons while being on my diet. Times of unhappiness, cravings, deficient self-worth and the impatient desire for clear skin and a toned body. But in the end, everything has been worth it, and I can now say that I have never felt better. That being said, no my acne has not completely disappeared, and do I expect it to soon? Not really. Like I said, even with my radical diet, I experience breakouts due to the fact that my acne is caused by genetics and hormones. Does it suck? Yes. But does acne define me? No. And hey, even though my dreams of magically waking up with clear skin have prominently let me down, I am in no way saying that I regret my lifestyle change. I have benefitted from my lifestyle change more than I ever thought possible, and I hope to continue with my progress and journey for many months to come. I have experienced unintended weight loss which is an obvious plus and an obvious decrease in acne, which I am very grateful for.
If I had the opportunity to inspire even just one person by my healthy habits, nothing would make me happier.
What’s the number one tip you would give to someone wishing to begin a healthy lifestyle?
You can do it. You are stronger than you think, and have everything it takes to be healthy. I am not special in any way, and it does not come easier to me than it does to you. I believe in you. Begin small and keep progressing until you’re happy with where you’re at. Don’t completely deprive yourself, or think that counting calories is necessary. Just listen to your body, and eat what makes you feel good (things that are healthy, of course). I promise you, you will see a world of difference if you’re consistent and patient with the process of becoming healthier.
I encourage you to never be too hard on yourself. I can say from personal experience that some days it does not make me happy to look in the mirror and only be able to focus on the bad things. For me, my biggest struggle has always been my unclear skin, but for many others’ it can be their weight, hair, teeth, height, etc.. Honestly, anyone can find something to be unhappy about. But before you put yourself down and tell yourself your unworthy, ugly or not good enough, just remember that you were created for a purpose and your flaws are not what define you. You are so much more than your insecurities, even if you don’t feel like it. I believe that trying to better yourself, whether it be through health, spirituality or things like education, is always a good idea, but it should be done with grace and patience.
You are so loved, never forget it!
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Have any questions about my health journey, or want any advice on how to start your healthier lifestyle? Let me know below, I will be answering all comments!