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I have to admit that my diet is one for an acquired taste. However, I have been able to find a few things that are wholesome and nutritious that not only fit a vegan, gluten-free diet, but also that you can enjoy with your loved one who loves junk food. Not going to lie, the list is short! But I plan to continue adding to these every time I find something new. Hopefully you can use some of these dishes to con your loved one into eating healthy too 😉
Mom’s no marinara pasta
This is definitely an all-time favorite—everyone loves it!
I adopted this recipe from foodbabe.com and made it both vegan and gluten free. Just switch out the eziekel bread for food for life brown rice tortillas and have it with nut cheese or no cheese at all.
Alana’s Modified coco mocha
This treat is perfect for someone with a sweet tooth. I switch it up a little bit to make it even sweeter by adding banana and berries instead of avocado.
Salad with Homemade Vinaigrette
Yes—anyone can enjoy salad! Here’s a quick and easy salad dressing recipe that’s delicious and nutritious
– olive oil
– nutritional yeast
– dulse flakes
– minced garlic
– sprinkle of adobo
– apple cider vinegar
Whisk together in a small dish and pour it over any salad.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Today I want to write about my journey with vitiligo, a skin disease affecting no more than 2% of the population and known for turning Michael Jackson white. Medical research suggests that vitiligo can be caused by stress, low immunity, or skin trauma; and once you develop the disease, any one of these factors can exacerbate it. I have had vitiligo since the age of 15. It started out when I burnt my forehead with a curling iron; when the scar healed, a white spot came in its place. Then slowly, throughout the years, I saw it spread—to my arms, chin, and legs. I tried everything—UV light treatment, topical ointments, oral medicines—and nothing worked. By the time I was 18, I looked like this.
When I turned 22 years old, I began changing my eating habits. I didn’t even do so with the intent of reversing my vitiligo—I had long given up on that. I wanted to have a stronger immune system. I was constantly getting sinus infections and my stomach was always in knots. I was already vegetarian and only occasionally ate goat kefir, but it wasn’t enough. I saw a holistic nutritionist who gave me some extra tips on how to improve my digestion. She said that healing starts in the gut, and that once I improved my gut flora, the rest of the body would follow. I followed all of her suggestions religiously, and after only 3 months saw the pigment come back to my forehead. While I still have some on my chin and arms, it’s barely noticeable compared to how my vitiligo looked 3 years ago. In addition, I haven’t had any eczema or psoriasis flare ups, which I also used to experience under stress. Here are some of the things that helped make it happen.
Give up wheat, dairy, alcohol, and processed sugar
Most people cannot properly digest wheat or dairy, even if not lactose intolerant or celiac. When someone with an intolerance eats these foods, undigested particles remain in the gut and scratch along the surface of the intestinal lining, causing inflammation and the opening of intestinal pores. Add processed sugar and alcohol to the equation, and you’ve got a breeding ground for yeast. YUK! This yeast then enters through the inflamed intestinal lining into the bloodstream, causing the white blood cells—normally responsible for defending us from disease—to freak out and attack our bodies rather than protect us against sickness. Taking out these foods is the first step towards healing the gut.
Now that you’ve cut out the food culprits, it’s time to fight off the yeast that have fed off these foods for years and to restore the good bacteria to your gut. This is where a high quality probiotic comes into play. For my first couple of months, I used metagenics probiotic powder. It’s expensive, but it does the trick, and I was able to switch to a more affordable one for maintenance as my symptoms subsided.
L-glutamine is an amino acid that is often used by body builders to help with recovery. However, in small doses and on an empty stomach, it also helps to rebuild the intestinal lining. I took a half of a teaspoon of l-glutamine along with my probiotic upon waking and going to sleep.
Like L-Glutamine, NAC is an amino acid, which helps with tissue formation. In addition to this, studies have shown that those with vitiligo tend to have lower levels of glutathione, which NAC can help supplement. Aside from vitiligo treatment, NAC has tons of benefits, including increasing immunity and thinning out mucus. When my vitiligo improved, my nutritionist claimed that taking the NAC probably did the most to help.
While not everyone has a b12 deficiency, studies have connected vitiligo with low B12 levels. If you are vegetarian, you want to make sure that you are taking a B12 supplement. Make sure to take it in a dissolvable sublingual form, as it can be destroyed by stomach acid otherwise.
Once you start taking all of these supplements and changing your dietary regimen, your body will be better able to absorb the sun’s rays and the vitamin d that is essential to re-pigmentation. I first noticed a stark change in my vitiligo when I was on summer vacation in Toronto, where my friend and I explored the city by bike. It was a sunny day, and by the end of it, I was worried that I would have gotten a blotchy, uneven tan that would require me to put on pounds of specialized dermatologic makeup. When we got back to our hostel, I looked in the mirror and was ecstatic to see that I had gotten a normal tan! We took this picture that same day—with no makeup! Check out that spotless forehead!
I know, I know. It’s easier said that done. When I was told that my vitiligo was exacerbated by stress, I thought, “Great. Not only am I stressed, now I’m stressed about being stressed which just makes me more stressed!” My best tip for this is to buy some makeup and forget about it. Dermablend actually does a pretty good job of covering it up. Make all the necessary dietary changes, but let your skin be your second reason for making dietary changes—otherwise you will simply obsess over it; at least I know I would.
There are a ton of diets out there. From low fat, to low carb, to raw, vegan, paleo—the list goes on. On one diet, fats are the devil. On another, oil is a magical elixir. Every diet has some accomplished physician backing it up or some story about how it’s backed by human evolution. So what are we supposed to believe? Don’t worry. I’m not here to tell you that my way is the answer. It might be. It certainly is for me. But eating is a very personal thing. Every piece of food you eat has a story—a personal reaction with your body, a relationship to the earth, to those who cultivated it, and to the life cycle of living things. The right diet for you depends on you and your body’s interpretation of that story. Here are my keys to a good diet:
A good diet…
Keeps the doctor away
If you’re getting sick all the time, look at your diet. I used to constantly be sick—sinus infections, coughs, stomachaches and so forth—but since giving up dairy and wheat, I haven’t felt healthier. It’s been over a year since my last cold! Clearly, a vegan, gluten-free diet works for me. But it doesn’t work for everyone. Some people go vegan and their bodies can’t handle it—no matter what the studies or I or anyone else says. So listen to your body and decide what it really wants from your food.
Is full of vegetables and water
From the very first health class we all took, we’re told to eat our vegetables and drink tons of water. There is no conflict on this. Absent some rare disease-specific diets, every mainstream diet out there advocates eating lots of vegetables. They are low calorie, sugar, carb, high fiber, high vitamins, antioxidants, water-content, cancer-fighting; basically they contain all the good with none of the bad. And water is the best detoxifier there is. So eat your veggies and drink up, because this stamp of approval is here to stay!
Keeps your conscience clear
Ever since I was a child, the thought of eating animals was very difficult for me, even without knowing about poor farming practices. However, I was always told that eating meat was the right thing to do, so I did it. It wasn’t until I went to college and learned about factory farming my first year that I finally gave it up altogether, and my conscience never felt clearer. And while for the first 4 years of my diet I was extremely unhealthy (I ate a ton of processed/fake meats and sugar), I felt much better than I did when eating meat. Even though my body hadn’t started healing, my conscience had. There’s something about me that strongly empathizes with animals—sometimes more so than with humans—and I just can’t eat them. That’s what my gut tells me—both figuratively and literally. Your gut though, may tell you something different. It may tell you not to eat GMOs, not to eat exported food, or to be very cognizant of the labor going into your meals. The point is that you need to live with it. Find out what’s important to you, and stick with it.
And keeps something else clear too…
Alright— I have to be at least a little blunt here. If you’re not having regular, solid bowel movements, something is wrong with your diet. And keep in mind that a lot more goes into a good poo than you think—check out Dr. Oz’s segment to get a better idea!
Above all, it’s important to remember that you are the best judge of your own health. Listen to your body and your brain!