In 2013 my boyfriend and I were told that we could begin the IVF process. I knew that I couldn’t get pregnant naturally after a laparoscopy confirmed that my Fallopian tubes were completely blocked due to a serious infection caused by Pelvic Inflammatory Disease which I had suffered from at the age of twenty-six.
I was extremely excited and also trepidatious about embarking on our IVF journey. I decided that to give it the best chance of working, I was going to have to overhaul my diet and lifestyle. I’d been smoking since the age of fourteen (I wanted to be cool and fit in – sad), was drinking a massive amount of alcohol and eating utter rubbish. My breakfast for a year consisted of a peanut butter kitkat and a cup of milky coffee with sugar. Seriously. I didn’t exercise either. I don’t like it, in fact I think I may be allergic to it.
So, I knew that this was going to be a major undertaking. I’m not the sort of person who can just have one glass of wine with a meal, I have to drink the whole bottle. And there didn’t seem to be much point in having the occasional cigarette or one chocolate biscuit. No, I chain smoked and ate biscuits by the packet. I was at this point thirty eight years old and my reckless behaviour was starting to catch up with me. All through my teens and twenties I’d partied hard, rarely removing my makeup at night, sometimes sleeping in my contact lenses, and often getting only the minimum amount of sleep. In my thirties my skin care routine had thankfully improved, but not so my other bad habits. And for a while I got away with it. But now I was not only looking terrible, I was feeling terrible.
I will just mention that at the age of thirty seven the skin on my face had become terribly red around the forehead, cheeks and chin along with developing papules and pustules and my G.P diagnosed acne rosacea. She told me there was no cure for this condition and I would have to live with it, but she could prescribe me antibiotics and something called Metrogel which may help. I declined, knowing that long term antibiotic use is best avoided, and that because my skin was so sore and reactive, I definitely didn’t want to be putting harsh treatments on it. The diagnosis made me feel very stressed which just exacerbated the problem. Stress is one of the worst things for your skin. I pretty much despaired, stripped my skin care regime right back and started to wear heavy layers of foundation, concealer and powder in a desperate attempt to cover the redness and lumps and bumps. It didn’t work.
Skip forward a year and my plan to clean up my act came to fruition. I stopped smoking using nicotine patches and gum. I stopped having alcohol and caffeine, instead drinking just water and herbal teas. I stopped having any dairy products, wheat and sugar. Was it difficult? Yes, it bloody was. Though funnily enough, doing it to increase my chances of success of falling pregnant and to give a baby the best start in life was very motivating. It was easier to do it for the health of a potential someone else than for the health of myself.
Did I just eat mung beans and wheatgrass? No, I had quinoa too! Actually, I ate really well and although it took some imagination, planning and lots of prep I found most things to be delicious. Anyway, due to many, many reasons which I won’t mention here, we chose not to go ahead with the IVF. It’s complicated and I’m still coming to terms with the fact that I won’t be a mum. The point is that in the process of eliminating my bad habits I lost weight, felt fantastic and my rosacea completely and utterly disappeared. My skin was glowing and spot free! Suffice to say, I eventually returned to all my vices, piled the pounds back on and regained my red, spotty complexion. Stupid woman.
Now, I’m forty one and three quarters and have been told by my G.P that I’m at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It runs in my family so potentially I’m doomed to get it whatever I do, however if I change my ways again, I could stop it from advancing and save myself from many other health problems. Which is why I’m writing this post. I thought it might be interesting to document my journey with photos to perhaps inspire others with, hopefully, any positive results.
With the best will in the world, you can buy amazing skin care products that cost the earth, but if you’re treating yourself like garbage it’s going to show on your face. By eating and drinking things which contain the vitamins and minerals your skin needs to glow, any lotions and potions are going to be a wonderful bonus on top.
Now I’m not a doctor and I don’t recommend you give up certain foods or do anything drastic without consulting one first. I’m just sharing what worked for me. I had terrible eczema growing up and knew from past experience that eliminating dairy had helped. I’m also prone to bloating when I eat wheat, though I am by no means allergic to it. Smoking we know is horrific for your skin (how I wish I’d never started) and alcohol can make your skin more prone to redness. And sugar? Well sugar is thought to be as bad for your skin as smoking. My diet consisted mainly of vegetables and fruit. I don’t eat meat anyway, but I do eat fish and seafood, which I carried on having. (If you are a meat eater and can’t do without, try and buy free-range/organic and limit how much you have). Every morning I’d have a homemade smoothie for breakfast, some fish and salad/vegetables for lunch and maybe some soup for supper. Snacks would consist of a handful of nuts, some apple with almond butter, some wheat-free bread topped with avocado and tomato, hummus and rice cakes or crudite or maybe some coconut yogurt with berries.I know this doesn’t sound terribly exciting, but once your taste buds adapt, it’s really rather yumptious. I have to admit that healthy eating can be expensive, however you can’t put a price on health. And it’s better to think of it as a lifestyle change than a diet per se. Looking after yourself takes effort and commitment, but I think it’s definitely worth it. What do you think?