June 04, 2018
Credit: Aine Carlin
'How cutting dairy from my diet transformed my skin'
At the beginning of the year I decided to change up my diet. I’ve suffered with patches of cystic acne for years and years, never enough to be debilitating but enough to knock my self-confidence at times and make me want to hide away until they disappeared again.
I cut out milk around five years ago, as I’d read it was particularly inflammatory for anyone with skin issues, replacing it with almond or coconut milk and it definitely improved the situation but it never totally resolved it and I’d still get the odd flare up.
Over the course of 2017 I’d already toyed with the idea of becoming vegetarian and had dramatically cut down on my meat consumption, tending to choose vegetarian options the majority of the time.
However I was definitely one of those people you hear saying, “I could NEVER go vegan, and I love cheese & eggs far too much."
Things really began to change when my husband and I, along with a couple of friends, did the food matters programme together. He was getting ready to go off on another tour with his band for six weeks which inevitably involves lots of snacks and booze on the rider and fast food stop offs. I just thought I’d have a go with them to see if I felt much better. To be totally honest I just missed cheese and felt a bit tired most of the time. I struggled with the menu, even though I’ve eaten healthily for most of my adult life (I’d be the one turning up for work with porridge, an avocado and some nuts) It all just seemed a bit of a shock to my system and like hard work, so I pulled out after a couple of weeks.
But then straight after the tour and the usual Christmas indulgences we both decided it was time for another try. After watching the classic documentary’s available on Netflix like ‘What the Health’ and ‘Cowspiracy’ the deal was sealed for us.
I wanted to be sensible and make sure I was making the right choices, and yes, you have to be super organised and educated as to what you need to eat to replace all the foods you’ve taken away. I take a few daily supplements including zinc, vitamin B12 and vitamin D plus I incorporate flaxseed and chia seeds into our meals for an extra boost of omega 3, fibre and protein.
Pic: Aine Carlin
I did some research and purchased some amazing vegan cookbooks (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Keep-Vegan-Aine-Carlin/dp/0857832522 and https://www.amazon.co.uk/BOSH-Recipes-Amazing-Fastest-Selling-Cookbook/dp/000826290X are brilliant) and I now have my own little arsenal of tasty home-cooked meals.
Eating out can prove tricky but it has become so much better over the past year or so and the vegan market is growing exponentially with lots of independents and chain restaurants now offering complete vegan menus. Check out https://veganuary.com/eating-out/
There’s also an abundance of vegan treat foods available and a whole host of ‘accidentally vegan’ foods too, like ketchup, Bisto gravy, Walkers prawn cocktail crisps, hummus, crumpets, bagels, most fresh bread, ciabatta, the list goes on.
This time around I haven’t looked back. I felt great within a couple of weeks – no lethargy or headaches or cravings. I actually don’t even miss cheese anymore - there are now some delicious fake cheese options available – the game changer for me was discovering Violife - Mozzarella style. (It turns out there’s a reason behind our cravings. Cheese contains casein. It also contains casein fragments called casomorphins, a morphine-like compound. Basically, dairy protein has opiate molecules built in. When consumed, these fragments attach to the same brain receptors that heroin and other narcotics attach to, just strong enough to keep you coming back for more).
Six months on, my mind set has changed and my body is thanking me. My digestion has improved, I feel stronger now than I have for years (thanks also to the Hot Yoga classes I take) but best of all, my skin has dramatically improved – I have not had one single cyst flare up since January and my skin is all glowy and hydrated.
I’ve also had none of the dry skin issues symptomatic of central heating and cold weather, which can be incredibly harsh on the skin.
PLUS this is the first year since I was sixteen years old that I’ve had no hay fever symptoms, which is just astonishing.
It may purely be coincidental (I’ve read that allergies like hay fever can run in seven year cycles and suddenly stop) but it does seem like now I’m on a plant-based diet any allergies or inflammation in my body have dramatically been reduced.
There is a wealth of information on the Internet around whether or not it’s all a myth, whether it’s good for you or bad for you. All I can say is for me personally it’s certainly made me feel healthier and the results are showing in my skin.
Credit: Aine Carlin
I can’t ever commit to being vegan for the rest of my entire life and I’m certainly not militant about it– being vegan is clearly more than just cutting out meat and dairy, it’s a whole lifestyle choice.
I still wear leather shoes and I’m slowly trying to figure out the whole animal cruelty side of things plus I won’t be all judgy with myself for eating the occasional egg anytime in the future.
I’m not here to be an advocate for veganism but if you’ve suffered with any skin/allergy issues over the years I would definitely suggest eliminating the potential trouble makers one at a time to see if your situation improves too.
My vegan restaurant shout out’s:
For a really delicious vegan breakfast option including a free tea/coffee.
Offers an array of plant-based meals plus THE most amazing vegan cakes.
A variety of modern vegan tapas are available upon request.
Now offer a whole vegan menu including lovely pizzas plus an award winning vegan dessert
A great selection of vegan meals (Moqueca de Palmitos is particularly tasty)
Open since 2004, one of London’s favourite totally vegan restaurants.
A vegan friendly Indian street food restaurant in Leeds.
Manchester’s first and only 100% vegan diner in the hip Northern Quarter.
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