When it comes to changing your habits, nothing is ever simple. No one with an addiction to sugar suddenly wakes up one morning craving a veggie scramble in place of their morning donut. The change will always be a process, and it will almost always be a painful one until we see the light from the other side.
There are endless motivating factors that prompt us to eat better. Weight loss, illness, lack of energy, food intolerance, hormonal imbalances, or acne, to name a few. Whatever your reason for reading this, you have decided to take the leap and that- the first step- is the hardest part.
Okay, so it won’t be a cakewalk from here on out or anything, but finding your determination to do a hard thing is never easy, so I commend you.
For me, it was adult acne that became the push I needed to change. I started breaking out in college, tried all of the skincare products on the market, and after five years of suffering with acne that just got worse until I was literally in tears, I decided to finally take a look at my diet.
My “diet” back then consisted of carbs and dairy. That’s it. The only time I ate a vegetable was if it was in my fried rice. Sweets were the bottom of my food pyramid, (which, by the way, the standard food pyramid is a completely incorrect guide, but that’s a topic for another time.)
and my only physical activity was the occasional shopping spree.
Of course I had known that a person’s diet affected the appearance of their skin, but I was in a state of denial until my long-distance boyfriend (now my husband) was coming home on military leave, and I couldn’t stand the thought of him seeing me with those awful angry red spots all over my face. That’s when I knew it was time to get serious.
The first thing I did was quit dairy, cold turkey. At the time of this decision, I had a huge block of cheese in the fridge that I was making my way through as my “healthy snack”. To say that it was an easy decision would be a huge lie. But I was determined that if dairy causes acne, I would not touch it ever again.
After two months, I began seeing a huge improvement in the appearance of my skin. And guess what? In six years, I still haven’t gone back. In the meantime, I discovered that my body was actually trying to tell me that I was intolerant to dairy, and acne was its way of trying to push out the buildup of mucus my body could not digest. Eww, I know.
Since then, I have made other decisions to alter my diet and lifestyle, each one bringing me more energy and health.
But how do you make such drastic changes? For me, it was all or nothing. Had I tried to cut dairy little by little, I never would have had the determination to stick to my decision. And when I decided to cut processed sugars, fried foods, white bread and pasta, etc. from my diet, again, I had to do it all at once.
This method works well for me because it gives me a clear guide. I am not working towards a goal, I am simply sticking to my plan. By cutting out cheese first, then milk, then butter, then bakery items containing dairy, and then finally checking labels to make sure every item I bought was dairy free, I might have made it easier, but I know myself well enough to know I would never have made it past milk.
This does not mean that taking it slow is a bad thing! If you are better at setting goals for yourself and you know you can see them through, then, by all means, take those baby steps to get to where you want to be!
Changing your diet takes a lot of preparation and thought. By taking it slow, you can give yourself time to do research and ensure that you encounter less trial and error on your journey.
Another thing to consider when choosing your path to health, is that drastic dietary shifts, especially if you are planning to cut dairy or gluten, often cause something like withdrawal symptoms. Your head may feel very foggy, you might develop flu like symptoms, acne may become worse at first, you might have diarrhea or constipation, gas pains and bloating.
All of that sounds awful, I know. But it actually means that your body is working hard at throwing out the old and bringing in the new. DON’T STOP if you experience these detox symptoms, keep doing what you’re doing and trust that you will feel MUCH better at the end of a week or two.
Starting slowly can help you dodge those symptoms, though you may still experience them on a smaller scale depending on how much processed food you eat now.
Ultimately, there is no right or wrong way to begin your journey. It is all up to you and what you feel is going to be the best way to set yourself up for success. Now that you have made your decision to start, the most important thing is that you keep going!
You’ve got this!
Fit Mom Frahm