All the dermatologist could tell me was, “Yes, it is eczema” and could give me creams but nothing was working and in fact, everything we did aggravated my chin even further. I even subjected myself to a full week without getting my back wet to determine what possible skin allergy I might have. So after 5 different dermatologists tried to treat a chronic case of eczema that had mysteriously invaded my face, I finally sought a different type of treatment.
One of the parents in my Kindermusik classes, a Naturopathic physician, had been talking with other families and helping them out so I figured I’d see what she could do. I pointed to my face and she looked at it and, without hesitation, immediately said, “It’s dairy.” After all these tests and creams and opinions, that’s it? One look? She said I was likely sensitive (not allergic) to something I was eating and that was showing up on the outside as lots of little red spots.
I was exhausted of the doctor visits so I thought, “What the heck, I’ll see where this goes.” Now, at that point, I was pretty much the picture of a very good diet: vegetarian for about 14 years, exercised 6 days/week, not a lot of junk food. Still, she said something in my diet, she suspected dairy, was causing inflammation at a cellular level and that’s what was coming out—literally—on my face.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it. The treatment was just plain miserable: to completely clean out my diet for a minimum of 3 weeks, then gradually add in one food at a time to identify the culprit. This wasn’t for wimps because those first 3 weeks, when I couldn’t have dairy, sugar, corn, soy or gluten, I thought I was going to starve (that left, um, a few plants—nuts, beans, fruits and veggies). The entire clean out/add in process took an entire summer.
It didn’t come easily. I spent at least an hour at Whole Foods on several occasions reading labels in total awe. Even though I was a healthy eater, I hadn’t taken the time to read what was in stuff. It was shocking how few choices I could find of clean food. So, in desperation, I just went crazy with fresh stuff, plus nuts, beans and flaxseed. Thank goodness it was summer when everything was a peak flavor and freshness!
But I did it, strictly and exactly, because I was determined to get my skin cleared up and guess what? It did, almost magically. And as I added in each food, I could see, with perfect clarity, my body’s reaction. When I added in gluten and corn with no adverse affect, I was relieved. But when I added in dairy, wow, it was instant. Immediately, the little redness cropped right back up and my skin was inflamed again.
Now, up ‘til this time, I was committed to vegetarianism and for ethical and environmental reasons, would have liked to have been a vegan, but I thought it was too difficult. So during that summer of clean eating, exactly 4 years ago, I converted to a full vegan diet and haven’t looked back! And because I experience slight inflammation when I increase sugar in my diet, I have mostly eliminated it as well. So now, my diet consists of all fresh foods all the time with very little sugar and no animal products and no processed foods.
Yes, it is a lot of work, but more rewarding than I could have imagined. I remember when I first switched to vegetarianism and got a huge energy boost. I couldn’t imagine having more energy but that’s exactly what veganism did for me. (If you read any vegan literature or websites, most people testify the same is true, even if it does seem counterintuitive.)
I eat very clean about 95% of the time. (1-2 meals a week out, plus an occasional vegan dessert). Everything else is prepared at home, usually raw or lightly cooked and fresh. Our refrigerator is always stuffed with fruits, veggies, and lots of green stuff! We don’t eat much of anything that comes from a box or a can in this house. Yes, groceries are pricey but no pricier than eating out. And I look at it as health insurance. The benefits of eating this way are well documented and the vegan movement is gaining a lot of momentum.
I will add that my husband is NOT a vegan but he IS a clean eater, as much as possible with his work and travel schedule. He still loves his meat and eggs and I won’t ever try to make him vegan. He no longer eats dairy and rarely eats anything processed. Our philosophy for his diet is to eat “close to the ground.” I don’t have any problem with his eating meat because as long as it’s not processed or full of hormones, it’s as natural as my veggies. The trouble lies in the processed foods that look nothing like what’s growing out of the ground or in the pastures.
So we make it work in our house. We eat a lot of salads in the summers and soups in the winters. But besides the delicious food we enjoy, we both have much better energy, my skin is clear and better than any pill, Robert has reversed what was diagnosed as coronary artery disease!
-posted by Miss Lisa of SoundSteps, who in her 5% of non-clean eating, enjoys treating herself to a vegan chocolate chip cookie.