Going Plant Based for 21 days..
Over the last 5 or so years I have been more aware and interested in my body. How I feel, how it functions and how my mood is affected after eating certain foods along with my digestion. I love food and enjoy learning about nutrition and how different foods can benefit or negatively impact our bodies.
I've suffered with eczema my whole life, ranging from mild to severe at different points of my life. As a child I was always prescribed steroid creams as the cure.
Once older, I became more aware of how foods or how my lifestyle choices would have an affect on my eczema. Not wanting steroid creams to be the first thing I would use or the only thing to reduce my symptoms, I started exploring a more holistic approach to living. On the search to finding a way that could allow me to be more in control of my eczema and to have a greater understanding of my body.
Alongside eczema, my digestion has always been slow and sluggish leading to severe bloating, discomfort after eating and constipation. At the beginning of last year I had had enough. It was causing me discomfort, affecting my mood and something needed to change. From doing my own research and also seeking professional advice, I followed the Low FODMAP diet, from there I found that gluten, in particular wheat was a huge trigger for me. Last year I cut out gluten, it was daunting and hard due to specifically wheat being hidden EVERYWHERE. Companies use wheat as a 'filler' in a lot of processed foods, makeups, cleaning products etc. So to avoid it you have to prepare a lot of foods from scratch and adapt eating habits when eating out. This can be a big change for someone, especially if you love bread, pasta and all the beige carbs...however it is possible.
Fast forward 6 months without gluten, I felt GREAT. My digestion was great, regular and I didn't find I was having the pain or discomfort in my stomach after eating. No more brain fog and my energy levels had increased.
A year on and gluten had slipped back into my diet, my previous symptoms had returned along with a pretty extreme eruption of eczema on my arms, neck and wrists. Its funny because it takes something to break or disfunction in order to provide the wake up call for us to change our ways (or at least it did for me). However this was a breaking point for me and I knew I needed to re-evaluate my diet and lifestyle once again.
I'm a strong believer that what we put into our body has a dramatic affect on not just how we feel but also how we look, meaning the texture of skin, hair and nails.
This is when I came across Earthy Andy's 21 day plant based challenge. Looking to make a change, hearing lots of positive things about plant based eating and being curious to see how my body would react, I decided to join.
Go check her out! - www.earthyandy.com/21-earthy-days
TWO WEEKS IN..
One week into eating a plant based diet and the first few days I felt fine. Towards the end of the week, once my body realised what was happening it went into what I can only describe as a detoxification process. From reading other stories, this is normal when you transition to a plant based diet, as your body adapts and expels old toxins, hormones, bacteria etc. I felt on the verge of getting ill, tired, my skin flared up and was extremely dry.
1.5 weeks on and those symptoms started to disappear.
Despite the above symptoms, one thing that pretty much had an immediate effect is the flow of my digestion - HURRAH! Within a week of taking out wheat, processed foods, increasing the amount of fruits, vegetables and water intake..my digestion is loving me. This is a major thing for me. Constipation has such a negative affect on the body as you are retaining the bodies toxins, it can make you feel uncomfortable, lethargic and can also affect your mood - There are no benefits!
Up to this point I haven't found it too difficult sticking to a plant based diet. I love fruits and veggies so I have been focusing on what I can have instead of what I can't. The hardest thing for me is changing my cooking habits, we are creatures of habit and tend to cook in the same way. Meat and veg or eggs are an 'easy' meal for me so I have to think a little differently now. However removing something from your diet challenges you to cook in a different way. I enjoy mixing it up and finding new ingredients to use and substitute.
Removing gluten from my diet last year meant I was already aware of substitutions that work for me. However last year it took me a while to adapt, especially when eating out. Sticking with the process, having snacks pre prepared and focusing on what you can eat definitely helps.
Within 1 week I could noticeably see how my cravings have reduced. Processed food, especially sugar sends me wild. I can eat everything and never feel full. Eating a higher amount of plants is allowing me to feel full and satisfied after eating. I'm finding I'm a better judge when my body is truly hungry as opposed to just eating for the sake of it and then reaching for those sugary processed foods.
Second week in and my skin is feeling extremely smooth, especially on my face. Exercising and sweating usually aggravates my skin, especially if it is constant which isn't easily avoided as I am a Personal Trainer and love to get a sweat on. So far my skin is coping pretty well and not flaring up from sweating. My mood has also been elevated recently.
I am roughly 2 weeks into this new way of eating, I couldn't tell you if this will be the way I eat forever. But, the benefits I'm personally seeing are great and currently makes me want to continue. I'm a believer in listening to your body and to what it wants/needs. So for me I don't want to make any food off limits, I am just trying to find a balance and to have a better understanding of what works best for MY body. With the intention of living that way the majority of the time.
Stay tuned for part 2 once I have completed the 21 days...