Growing up, I had one of those moms who was super healthy and therefore my sister and I grew up eating healthy, organic, non GMO type stuff. I also cried anytime I saw a dead animal as a young child, leading me to become a vegetarian.
Flash forward to my college years. I was never the kid who did sleep away summer camp, so college was a huge change for me. Living with a random roommate, not having a curfew, drinking in public (I never would sneak out of my parents house to drink… I was a goodie goodie), and eating dorm hall food.
I don’t know if it was the stress from never being away from home or my body freaking out because I was so use to healthy food and not food that comes out of a can, but for whatever reason, I broke out in hives.
My skin was full of little bumps the size of a pencil eraser. And itchy! It was hard to shower because the bumps would become irritated and my skin would literally feel like it was on fire. I tried Cortisone cream and any itch serum I could get my hands on. Nothing worked. I saw a doctor who redirected me to a dermatologist. My dermatologist took a biopsy of a bump on my inner right thigh by using a tool that looked like a hole puncher, but much much sharper. Nothing was found.
So I lived with the bumps for 2 years.
Nonstop itching and discomfort.
The one thing that worked was Benadryl. Benadryl also did a great job of making me fall asleep in lecture halls and in my dorm room when I was suppose to be in class. My mom recommended that I see a doctor by the name of Dr.Hult. With an over a year long wait list, he is highly sought out by many people both within Illinois and from neighboring states. He treats his patients with supplements and herbs.
Dr.Hult preformed test after test. He had a weird machine that was hooked up to a computer. This machine was a long cylinder rod that I held in one hand. Then, with another rod with a tip on it, Dr.Hult would hold the tip of the rod to parts of my finger and click through the computer screen, testing each thing for a reaction. Dairy – allergic; wheat, rye, barley- allergic; yeast abundance- positive… and the list went on and on.
I was put on a strict diet of dairy free, gluten free food. My mom sent me back to school with a bunch of food she had purchased for my dorm room. I dropped 20 pounds in the first month of the diet, and I also dropped thousands of hives. We had finally found the cure to my hives. The hives that had stolen 2 years of my college experience from me. The hives that only let me shave my legs once every other month because it was way too painful and unbearable. The hives that had me sleeping through lectures. POOF. Gone.
After a month and a half, I was allowed to reintroduce gluten (wheat, rye, and barley) into my diet. Man had I missed drinking beer! I made sure to not over consume gluten. I had an allergy, but only an intolerance. A healthy balance of salad and pasta, instead of 4 serving s of pasta, was my new norm. I felt healthy. I felt like a human again. I developed my mom’s love from health after that. I even started working out at the recreational center and got into the best shape I had been in a long time.
I graduated from Illinois State University with an undergrad in Early Childhood Education – my passion. Upon moving in with my now wife, I attempted to maintain my healthy lifestyle. But like any transitions in life, I found it difficult. I slipped. I drank beer and consumed wheat bread, pasta, cheese… lots of dairy (blue cheese is so delicious on salads and I have a slight obsession with mayonnaise). My face broke out. I had weird acne bumps around my mouth that wouldn’t go away. I never had great skin, but at the age of 26, I would have hoped that my skin would be better than that of a 13 year old girl going through puberty.
I needed a plan.
I needed a food plan.
I decided to go back to the diet I had in college. I figured this was my body’s way of saying “I’m not happy! Feed me good food! No more pizza… PLEASE!” I followed a strict vegan diet…. no dairy, no meat, and definitely no gluten.
I went grocery shopping at Whole Foods. I searched and scoured Pinterest for recipes. $250 dollars later, I had enough food for 4 recipes. ONLY 4 RECIPES! I vowed to do this vegan diet for a month just to see if it helped clear my skin and give me my energy back.
I purchased almond butter, quinoa, long grain brown rice, rice cakes, tofu, tomatoes, vegan mayonnaise, gluten free bread, matcha (to make green tea) soy protein powder, ginger tea, coconut milk, coconut water, bananas, frozen fruit, brussel sprouts, and a couple other items.
Two weeks in, my vegan grocery shopping spree of food left over was minimal. I needed to go shopping again. But my face looked great! All of the bumps I had around my lips, that I had had for as long as I could remember, actually disappeared!
My dad invited my wife and I out to dinner around this time. Let me tell you…. all Polish food has meat, dairy, and/or gluten in it. The restaurant we went to was a strict Polish restaurant with the most delicious cheese dumplings. I had failed. I gave in.
I wish I could blame my demise on the restaurant, but diets are all about will power and I obviously was not strong enough. I wish I could blame it on how flippin expensive healthy food is, but if I cared enough, I could have just not purchased all that makeup from Sephora. The truth is….. I gave up. Being healthy has so many rewards, but it is also very time consuming and expensive. Changing a diet is more than just changing what goes in your mouth. It is a complete lifestyle change. Budgeting money for the healthy food and making time to prep the food.
Maybe one day I will try again, as for now…. I will finish my Culver’s vanilla Butterfinger icecream 🙂