Happy New Years Eve my friends! I hope that this last day of 2016 is a great one for you, and I hope that 2017 brings you lots of happiness and health.
This is a special post for me. It's my 200th post! 🎉 I wanted to make this one be special. And I've been thinking and thinking about what to write about, but kept scraping whatever ideas I kept coming up with. Until today.
I wanted to write about my New Year's resolution. No, I'm not trying to work out more, or lose 10 pounds, or eat less chocolate. In my personal opinion, resolving to eat less chocolate is cruel and unusual punishment. My resolution isn't something I will accomplish in a year, instead, it's a lifelong journey.
My resolution is to work on my anxiety. Things are about to get deep. I'm gonna talk about aspects of my anxiety I rarely share with people, because it's embarrassing. But, if I'm gonna resolve to work on it, the first step to it is to admit to it. So here it goes! Please don't judge me.
Anxiety has been something that has plagued me my entire life. It affects literally all aspects of my life. From the minute I wake up to the minute I go to sleep, I live my life in a constant state of anxiety. Literally, living this way is all I know. And, as strange as it sounds, my anxiety has always been a kind of security blanket for me. How I react to things can all be attributed to my anxiety. It's like a scapegoat if you will. Having anxiety makes me feel less crazy, but if I'm like this without anxiety, I'm just crazy.
My OCD and I have a love/hate relationship. The obsessions causes unrelenting mental and physical distress, however, the compulsions cause a calming effect. It's like okay, I've officially locked my door 12x so I know there's no way anyone can break into my house and kill me and everyone I love. Or it's like, okay, all of my remotes are lined up from left to right, big to small, so I know there's no way anything bad will happen today at work. Does it make sense? No, not at all. No one said OCD was logical. But your OCD brain finds a way to make it sound logical.
Anxiety causes me to think and rethink about everything single decision I've ever made, every single thing I've ever said, and every single thing that's ever happened in my life. I can remember something I said to someone on a Tuesday at 4:27pm back in 2004 while wearing my Atreyu hoodie, red tanktop, and red fleece pants from Kohls , and think to myself, OMGOODNESS why did I say that? They probably hate me.
I can barely make decisions on my own, even about the most simplest of things, because I feel like I'll make the wrong one and it'll be the worst decision I've ever made. The amount of times I've asked my husband to make decisions for me is embarrassing. Simple things too. For example, I can't pick which seats we sit at at the movies because they might be unlucky seats and if we sit there, someone is gonna come into the movie theaters and kill us all and it'll be my fault because we picked those seats. By the way, that's one of my biggest fears literally anywhere we go. Even though I can't physically pick the seats, my husband knows to pick a seat where I'm on the end, so if someone comes in I can run away and not be stuck in the aisle. When that horrible tragedy happened with that guy at The Dark Knight Rises, literally my heart sank. I wouldn't go to the movies for months after that.
Another example is what outfit I'm gonna wear. I ask my husband all the time what to wear. If I pick the wrong outfit, something bad could happen, to me or someone I love. Or, what I should eat? If I pick the wrong thing, it could be contaminated (food contamination is one of my absolute biggest fears,) and if it's contaminated I'll get sick. If I get really sick, I could die.
I'm very particular with numbers. There's lots of numbers I don't like. The TV and radio can only be on certain numbers. I have routines for my routines. I live for making lists. Symmetry is the only way to live life. Color coordination is a must. I count constantly. Sometimes I count things without even realizing I'm counting them. Everything has a certain spot, and if it's not in that spot, not situated just right, chaos will ensue. That's not everything, not even close to it, but I think it gave you a good idea of what it's been like living with anxiety.
It's almost cathartic to write this down. It's like airing out a deep dark secret. You're scared to do so, but it's a relief to let people know it. Sometimes I feel like it's all in my head, and I feel alone, but I know anxiety is a real condition and I'm not the only one who suffers.
I'm a pro at living with anxiety, but I'm certainly not a pro of dealing with it. I really don't have much of a game plan for how to work on it. I don't want medication, I know that for sure. I do have a few ideas though.
I think for one, I'm gonna start an anxiety journal. I know that sitting and feeling your anxiety, instead of using a compulsion to calm it, can help you to get used to the feeling and in time lessen it. Writing those feelings down and being able to re-read them might be beneficial for me when I feel them again. Also, I have literally 50 notebooks just collecting dust that I never use, so bonus points for finally using them! I'm also gonna look into whether my insurance covers any type of psychological treatment. If I can find a psychologist covered by insurance, I think it would benefit me greatly to talk to someone who knows and understands anxiety. That's what I've got for now, but baby steps are still steps.
I hope that you're all able to start 2017 on a positive note. It's a new year with new prospects, new beginnings, and new hopes and dreams. I think that 2016 has been a year for all of us. I mean, someone even turned 2016 into a horror movie, which goes to show you the general consensus of how this year was for people. But, I'm trying to go into 2017 with a renewed sense of hope and happiness, and I hope you can too!
Happy New Year friends!
When I was ordering my Paula's Choice products for my face, they had a deal to get a tube of their Ultra Rich Body Butter for free. I'm always a fan of free things. I checked their list of non-vegan items and it wasn't on there, so I was sold!
If there's one thing I love, it's lotion. Lotion is life. I have lotion next to my bed, in my handbag, at work, in my bathroom, in my kitchen.. literally everywhere. Because of my super dry hands, I need a good thick lotion, especially during the cold winter months.
Here's their description:
"Paula's Choice CLINICAL Ultra-Rich Soothing Body Butter is a luxurious nourishing solution for thirsty dry skin anywhere on the body. This superior hydrating formula immediately softens dry, rough skin and keeps it moisturized for hours. A sensational blend of antioxidant-infused plant oils and skin-restorative emollients like pure shea butter work together to renew, enhance, and replenish skin’s surface. Its sumptuous texture helps renew dry rough skin, making it younger looking and giving it a velvety-smooth feel."
But does it work like they say?
-It's thick and leaves a protective layer on your hands after you use it.
-It doesn't burn my eczema patches or any excessively dry patches on my hands. Not even the little tiny cracks and cuts I get! I'm the most impressed with this because even my Sympathy for the Skin lotion by Lush burns my hands when they're like this.
-It doesn't leave any greasy residue on my hands.
-Because it's so thick, a little goes a long way.
-The smell isn't great at all. The main ingredient is Shea Butter and if you've ever smelled Shea Butter, you know it's not a nice smell. It eventually goes away though.
-The tube is so small. For it being body butter, you would think the tube would be bigger than 4 oz. I haven't even used it on my body, I only use it on my hands. It's a great size for purses!
-In addition, its $19 for those 4 oz, so it's not really cost effective.
Overall, I like the lotion, but wouldn't repurchase it. At least not as it stands with the price per 4 oz tube. If they made the tube bigger, I would happily pay $19 for it. I'm glad it was free with my purchase.
Winter is coming. If you're a fan of Game of Thrones and got that reference, we officially just became best friends. If you're not a fan, GET ON THAT, so we can become best friends.
All jokes aside (but I'm serious, watch it), winter really is coming. That means cold dry air and cold dry skin. I love winter, honestly. I would choose the cold over the heat any day of the week. You can layer up, but you can only take off so many layers until it becomes illegal. I love layers. Give me all the layers. Socks, slippers, sweatpants, tank top, long sleeve, robe, blanket, another blanket. It's great! However, that dry skin part isn't so great. And since I take showers at hot as the sun, that doesn't help with my eczema flare ups. Like literally one of the first tips to avoiding eczema is to take warm showers and not hot showers. I live for hot showers, especially when my cold little bones are frozen from the cold winter weather. So what's a girl who loves hot showers and gets eczema flare ups supposed to do? It all starts in the shower.
In comes Acure Organics Ultra Hydrating Coconut and Pumpkin Body Wash. Organic Argan Oil and Organic Pumpkin blend together to moisturize your skin in the shower while you cleanse. It's like a 2 for 1. Your skin needs the extra TLC in the cold months, and this is a great place to start.
The scent strikes me as more spring/summer, with the coconut being the standout smell. Pumpkin doesn't smell like the pumpkin you think of without spices. So this is a pure pumpkin smell, but still pleasant!
In addition to the coconut and pumpkin, there's also Argan oil, a blend of super fruit antioxidants, and Apple Stem Cells to help nourish your skin and keep its silky and youthful glow!
I find when I get out of the shower, my skin is soft and if I chose to, I could go without lotion. I wouldn't, because lotion is life, but I could!
The bottle is super pretty too. All purple with a pretty white design on it. How can a girl say no?!
I got my from Vitacost which is super adorable, it's like $8.50, and sometimes even cheaper depending on sales.
I wanted to talk to you guys today about something that affects a lot of us adults, but doesn't really get much conversation, and that's adult acne.
I've suffered with not great skin most of my life. Between it being super sensitive, having eczema and contact dermatitis, and break outs, it's caused me a great deal of sadness and insecurities. One of my obsessions with my OCD is a fear that people think I'm dirty. Because I'm a germaphobe, I absolutely can't deal with that. Anyone that knows me knows that's absurd, I know that's absurd; I know how ridiculously clean I am. But it's a real fear I struggle with daily. So, when I break out, not only do I feel insecure because of the actual breakout, but I feel even more insecure because I feel like people are looking at me like "Oh she's breaking out. Clearly she's not washing her face enough, and if she doesn't wash her face she probably doesn't wash her hands or shower, and obviously she's a gross disgusting person."
I didn't think at 28, acne was something I would be struggling with, but here I am, living that nightmare. As a teenager, I had oily skin and would break out, like a typical teenager. And my face has never really been clear, even as an adult. My chin is where I have always broken out. I remember reading somewhere that the chin breaking out is a sign of stomach issues, which I have IBS, so it made sense and I had always assumed since many IBS is a life long issue, I assumed my chin acne would be too. However, the rest of my face has been generally clear. My cheeks never broke out. I have blackheads on my nose that will probably never go away. I would get a few pimples on my forehead in the summer from sweating and from my hair, but that was it. Up until this year.
They say your body changes every 7 years, and now that I'm 28 (excuse me while I vomit), it would seem I'm officially stating a new 7 year cycle. That's the only thing I can think it is. I am on the pill, and have been on the same pill for year and years. So I didn't think it had anything to do with that, but I couldn't understand where this face full of pimples came from. They were on my cheeks, around my nose, on my jaw, spots on my forehead, and of course, my chin was the worst. Nothing made sense, it still doesn't. I haven't changed my diet, haven't changed my face stuff (until trying 809 things that only made my skin worse instead of helping), and I've heard everything from its hormonal to it's a food allergy, and everything in between. I don't sleep right but I never have, and I stress constantly, but I always have. Everything is essentially the same, so I can't pinpoint what's causing it, but I can tell you what's (finally) been helping it.
I've got two words for you: Paula's Choice. I've seen her products several times while doing hours upon hours of research on acne, but never made the leap and I'm physically kicking myself for not doing it sooner. They're a cruelty free company with a lot of vegan products. They have a list, which was last updated July 2016, of what's not vegan. If the product you're looking at isn't on that list, then you're good to go.
I originally set out on this journey with a simple email, asking which products they would recommend based on my skin type and concerns. A representative sent me back a list, and I did some research. I am a firm, and I mean FIRM, believer in reviews. But, face care products are hard since everyone's skin is so different. It's like a fingerprint, not one is the same. Out of the list they gave me, I chose which products I thought would suit me best based off reviews and the description. I absolutely love that they offer so many samples sizes or travel kits for their products so you can spend a few bucks to see if you'll like it before investing in the full size. Here's what I purchased:
-Travel Size Extra Strength Clear Kit which contains: Clear Pore Normalizing Cleanser, Clear Extra Strength Anti Redness Exfoliating Solution, and Clear Extra Strength Daily Skin Clearing Treatment
-Resist BHA 9 Treatment
-Earth Sourced Moisturizer
I want you to go into reading this review knowing how much I love everything. I want you to get excited, if you feel like someone who has tried it all and used it all and had absolutely zero luck, I want you to feel hopeful reading this because if I can get my skin under control, you can too.
The face wash is surprisingly gentle. My face feels clean after washing it. It removes my face makeup, and after using my eye makeup remover, it gets the remaining residue from the remover off without burning my eyes. Everything burns my eyes and this stuff doesn't! It's got a gel like consistency and it doesn't really foam much, but I love that because foaming face washes often make my skin feel tight afterwards. I use this morning and night.
The exfoliating solution is clear and runny, it's exactly like water. You can use a cotton ball to apply it, however, I don't like to be wasteful, so I pour a few drops in my cupped hand and use my fingers from my other hand to massage it into my skin. I use 4 drops and that's usually sufficient for my entire face. At this rate this stuff will last me forever. It doesn't burn, it doesn't sting, and it doesn't cause any irritation at all. It absorbs super quick since it's so light. It leaves my face soft after using it as well, but during this time of year for sure, I need a moisturizer afterwards. I use this every morning directly after washing my face.
The daily skin treatment I use sparingly in small amounts because it's got 5% benzoyl peroxide, which can cause my skin to dry out fast. Despite the fact that it's got so much benzoyl peroxide, it actually doesn't dry my skin out that bad. I might get a few flakes if I go overboard, but as long as I moisturize afterwards, my skin remains soft and hydrated. It's a light lotion, and it absorbs quickly. I use this only in the morning, after I use my exfoliating solution.
I went with the Earth Sourced Moisturizer simply because I was using so many other acne fighting ingredients that I didn't wanna go overboard. It's got 98% natural ingredients with antioxidants to renew and rejuvenate skin. It's got a natural smell to it, and it's got a creamy texture. It absorbs pretty quickly too. I use it in the morning before my makeup, and it still leaves my skin prepped for makeup. It doesn't leave it greasy or anything. If my skin feels extra dry at night, I'll use it as my last step.
Lastly, the BHA 9 I was so concerned with. That's a lot of exfoliating. But yet again, with everything else, it is so gentle! Literally, I use this every single night and haven't had any issues with my skin drying out, peeling, or anything. It's a serum so it's it's thick and it's got a weird texture. Some people use it as a spot treatment but I use it on my whole face. The full size (which I didn't hesitate buying after using the samples) is a strange pump that takes some getting used to. Too much pressure and you get entirely too much. Once you get used to it, it's easier to use. I dab a few spots on my face and massage it in. It take a few minutes to absorb. This stuff leaves my face so soft, even without using lotion afterwards. Sometimes I do use it, like I said above, in these colder months when my face gets drier, but most of the time I don't need it.
I've been using these products since about the end of September, and my face has consistently looked better with time. Don't get me wrong, nothing works miracles. You still have genetics and no amount of product will change that. I still get the occasional period break out, or random pimple for no reason, but my face is actually under control for the most part. Hyperpigmentation is still an issue for me, but I think that the exfoliating products help make any post acne scars disappear faster than without using it. The plus side is less breakouts means less hyperpigmentation, so you have to get one under control before the other.
For me, these products are it. I'm not trying anything else, I'm not buying anything else, I've found what works for me. The only thing I can do is recommend giving these products a try. I've never had to pay for shipping, the prices are reasonable, they offer samples to try.. you have nothing to lose. Please give any products you use a fair shot. Exfoliation can cause more breakouts in the beginning (it did for me), as your skin purges all that gunk that's in it, so give it a month at least before you make your decision.
If you try any of these products out, please let me know how they work for you! I know the suffering acne causes, the mental and physical sadness, and I hope to hear positive stories from you guys!
'Tis the season for giving! I wanted to round up some of my favorite small businesses jewelry makers for the ladies (and gentlemen) that like having a little glitz and glamour in their lives!
First up, Compassionate Paws! I've done post before about Jen's shop and I love what she has to offer. Everything is handmade and original. Each stone has different healing properties. You can purchase one made or ask her for a custom piece that's as unique as the person you're buying it for. Her tree of life pieces are my favorite favorites. Also, she donates 5% of her profits to animal rights! Here's some photos of some of my favorite pieces from her store:
Next up, Lava Essentials. Their line of minimalistic oil diffusing jewelry is really unique. You use your favorite essential oil on the lava heads on your jewelry, which is so cool. The jewelry is so pretty too. It matches everything and it's simple but it adds such flair to your outfit that it's gonna stand out on its own. Also, they use gold filled for their pieces. Gold filled is a piece of solid gold heat pressured to a piece of base metal. It's tarnish resistant and it great for people with skin allergies (hi, me!), or those with sensitive skin (hi, also me!) Here's some of my favorite pieces of theirs with photos from their website. I bought the Second Sale Crescent Necklace because I thought it was so pretty!
Lastly, Christy Robinson Designs.
I have two of her necklaces and I just love them. They've held up better than 95% of necklaces I've ever purchased. You can choose from recycled aluminum, which is what I purchased, or recycled silver. She offers necklaces, bracelets, earrings, keychains.. you name it. She's got a lot for both men and women, which makes shopping a whole heck of a lot easier! You can even get items customized. She offers a lot of different options, not just vegan related. She's got zodiac signs, feminist designs, and so much more! Christy is super nice and she'll be willing to work with you to find that perfect gift! I've even gifted one of her bracelets to a friend and they loved it too! Here's some of my favorite pieces of hers taken from her Instagram:
There you have it! These are three of my favorite companies I definitely suggest checking out, if you haven't already!
In light of recent events surrounding the Friends Not Food Sanctuary, I feel I needed to write a post. If you're unfamiliar with this story (which I also was until very recently), here's the deal.
Friends Not Food Sanctuary is a animal sanctuary in Tennessee. I've been following them on Instagram, I've even donated to them before! You're probably aware of those horrible Tennessee wild fires that happened recently, which is just gut wrenching. I tried avoiding pictures but I couldn't, and they made me cry my eyes out.
Well, in the midst of all of that, they said that their entire sanctuary burned down, but that the animals were all safe. They posted such heartfelt things on their Instagram and a lot of very well known vegan Instagrammers got behind them urging people to donate. I'm not a well known Instagrammers, but I was reposting their stuff as well, because I wanted to help the animals! I wanted to do my part to help.
Just recently, it's coming to light that their entire sanctuary could've been a scam. I'm not sure if there was ever a sanctuary, where they got their photos and videos, if there ever was two elderly vegans running it.. basically, we know nothing true or false at this minute.
Nothing has been officially set in stone yet. PLEASE, remember that. I don't wanna condemn a true sanctuary, but there's a lot of negativity that seems justified. Right now, from what I have seen, it's just been a bunch of Instagrammers doing their own research. The Vegan Zombie and Alba Paris are two I have been following for updates. Apparently, people reached out to local Sheriffs offices and they've never even heard of their sanctuary, and the fires were quite a distance away. So these people who have been scamming people for quite some time, had to have had this planned and saw this TERRIBLE wildfire situation as their chance to get the most from people. If that doesn't make you sick to your stomach, I don't know what will.
Things started to get suspicious when these well known Instagrammers wanted to come out and film some of the damage, to really get people to see their desperate need for help. People had asked questions and they got blocked. Their GoFundMe went from $8k, to $35k, to $1M dollars. The GoFundMe page is now closed and they got $35k. Now, their entire Instagram is gone.
I'm going to be closely following this as much as I can. I've googled and tried to Facebook but haven't had much luck, which I find strange. I've never had an issue finding information about sanctuaries I know and trust. The only things I have read are from other people's post. Poor Alba Paris posted a video where she's crying and apologizing for being behind these people and it being a lie. Poor girl, it's not her fault at all! So many of us believed this, and wanted to believe the good in people, but it's an eye opener. It's an eye opener to all of these companies that "donate" a portion of sales to animal rescues, and it's a reminder to really do your due diligence with all these companies and sanctuaries before you donate or make a purchase. I suggest always donating directly at the source. Not through PayPal or GoFundMe or some 3rd party option. Not only that, but this is gonna cause a lot of damage to real life sanctuaries that need help, and now people are gonna think twice. It's good to be mindful, but PLEASE, don't stop yourself from donating to real sanctuaries. If you go to the IRS website, you can find non-profits that are legit.
You can bet that 9/10 times I make purchases, I support companies that donate to animals. There's a few I feel confident from purchasing from, and that's: Alba Paris, The Tree Kisser, Compassionate Paws, Craig Robinson Designs, Meaningful Paws, and Arm The Animals. I know that there is more but off the top of my head these are the companies I've made repeat purchases from and feel confident they are doing their part to help animals. It's heartbreaking because a lot of these companies donated their own products, ones they've created and put their entire heart and soul into, into a giveaway to help them raise money, and these people took advantage of that generosity. It goes to show you just how deep the love for helping animals goes in the vegan community.
But all of this really makes you question things, and so it should. We shouldn't always believe the best in people. It's a cruel world out there and people suck, let's just be real. I'm physically sick to my stomach over this. If this is true, then these people pandered to the vegan community, one of the most generous communities, making us believe we were doing our part to help animals, which is our ENTIRE lives. And to take advantage of that is one of the more cruel dirty and rotten things to do. I hope that these people get what's coming to them, if in fact this all turns out to be true.
Please follow Alba Paris and The Vegan Zombie on Instagram, not just because they're awesome, but because they have been posting updates about this as they find them out. We all want the truth.
Apple Cider is a favorite beverage of mine! This time of year, I literally add spice to everything. It's like an unwritten rule of Fall.
Fall Unwritten Rule #127, as sung by The Spice Girls: People of the world, spice up your life!
When I saw this Apple Cider hand soap by Mrs. Meyers, I didn't think twice about buying it. Geramphobes like me live for hand soap. I go through a lot of it. So, I want my hands to smell good for as much as I wash them!
This hand soap contains Aloe Vera and Olive Oil to keep hands soft and smooth. The essential oils add a wonderful fragrance as well. This soap is plant based and awesome!
I love love love the scent. It smells just like Apple Cider but it's not overpowering. It's the perfect scent for Fall. It's sweet and refreshing, but it's got that spice kick you'll really love. It's not artificial at all.
I might have gotten one with a wacky pump because it's hard to pump out. When I pump it, it shoots out real fast and often times misses my hands. Or, the pump gets stuck down and it doesn't automatically go back up, and I get like a drop of soap out. Other than that, I am a big fan of this soap! I haven't been able to find it since I bought it that one time, sad to say. But if you can get your hands on a bottle, get it!
It's now December which means the days are shorter, the nights are longer, and every day is a little bit colder. This time of year, I like my meals to be warm and comforting. While I don't mind cold weather, and actually prefer it to the heat, I still get cold easily. Like super cold. I've been this way my whole life. Nothing makes me warm up faster than a cup of hot tea and a bowl of hot soup.
Finding good store bought vegan soup is pretty difficult for me. Why? Because I hate onions. Onions is like the second ingredient is every soup. Cooked or raw I find them repulsive. Also, I'm not like the biggest fan of tofu. So like, faux chicken noodle soup with tofu kind of makes me gag. Faux meat, including tofu, is gross. It reminds me too much of the real thing and I want nothing to do with it. I decided to start making my own.
Everyone has always ranted and raved about crock pots but I just found them to be unsafe. People just leave them o all day when they're not home? What?! And these crock pot makers have no clue who my cats are. They're insane. They find their way into everything. Locked up behind closed doors and they will STILL get to it. But I took a leap. My husband saw a 6 QT Philadelphia Eagles crock pot at Walmart and I knew I had to have it.
I am a HUGE HUGE HUGE football fan, and they're my team. Plus when the games on Sunday, I don't wanna cook. I wanna sit my butt on my couch and watch my boys. Now I can just throw something in the crock pot and go watch my game while it cooks. I can't believe I never got one sooner. I still won't leave it on if I'm not home, and I periodically check to make sure my kitchen isn't on fire, and my cats haven't found a way into it. Surprisingly they didn't even go near it, other than when I was taking it out of the box, and I think that's because they wanted the box to play in. Good job cats, Mommy's proud of you!
Last week was my first time using it, and I'm using it again today. I've read a lot of recipes online and just kinda took inspiration from them to make my own onion free soup. Here's what I used:
-Pacifica's Organic Low Sodium Vegetable Broth
-1 cup of Quinoa (uncooked)
-1 can of organic black beans, rinsed
-2 cans of Hunts Fire Roasted Tomatoes
-1 bag Woodstock's Frozen Butternut Squash
-1 bag Cascadian Farm's Frozen Organic California Blend Veggies which contains cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, and carrots.
-Salt and Pepper to taste
-A few dashes of cumin and Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb Seasoning
You can use fresh veggies if you want, but frozen was easier. I didn't use too many seasonings because I enjoy the taste of veggies so I wanted just enough seasoning to flavor them a bit. I threw everything in the crock pot, but it on high for about 4-5 hours, tasting it in between to adjust the seasoning and that's it. I'm kicking myself for not getting one sooner.
I'm not a fan of overly brothy soups so this one was super hearty and thick and was more like a stew. I dipped some tortilla chips in it and it was delicious. My best friend came over for dinner, he loved it. And I gave some to my mom, my aunt, and my boss and they all loved it. It made SO MUCH that I had to share it. I'm thrilled with how it turned out.
I'm currently sick (again!), and my appetite isn't great but I know I need to eat to regain my strength to feel better. So I'm making essentially the same thing today. I'm out of black beans so I'm gonna put some chick peas in around the last half hour or so. High protein and high fiber and it's super filling.
Do you guys have any crock pot recipes you love? I would love to try them!
Vegan often envision each other as picture perfect creatures of good health. Non-vegans often envision vegans as sick and fragile creatures. The truth is, veganism is better for you, so often times vegans are healthier by default, but, at the same time, some people are just dealt a bad hand of cards health wise, and no diet can fix that. I know this because I got dealt that bad hand.
Man, I am a mess, and always have been. Even as a kid, I always had something wrong with me. I had strep throat several times a year. I would often lose my voice. Asthma and allergies were plenty for me. I've still got super sensitive skin. Anxieties and OCD out the wazoo. It got to the point that as a kid I would literally call my doctor and tell them what I had, and often times I was right. Ashley Ronan, then Ashley Lyle, Google MD. I even used to read medical dictionaries, and 10/10 times you can bet that I, in my mind, absolutely had whatever I was reading about. Thanks hypochondria. I was in the ER a few times in high school for belly problems. I had surgery to remove a cyst under my chin as a kid. I had surgery to remove a cyst in my breast that burst from Fibroid Cystic Breast, which is hereditary and of course, I have that. I was shuffled in and out of doctors offices my whole life, even still to this day. If it's weird and uncommon, I probably have it, have had it, or will get it at some point in my life.
One of the things that's plagued me since I was a kid is IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. At this point in my life, I feel kind of like a pro at it. Unlike most people, I could talk poo all day. A lot of people are ashamed and embarrassed to talk about their bowel habits, but when you've lived with IBS as long as I have, there's not a poop convo that makes you uncomfortable. So that's what I wanna talk to you guys about today. I wanna give you some background on IBS itself, on my issues, and tell you what how being a vegan has impacted my IBS.
IBS can go a few different ways. You can have IBS-C, which is where you're more constipated, IBS-D where you're more prone to diarrhea, or you may have a combination of both.
I'm lucky enough to have IBS-D. I've cancelled so many plans as a result of this in my lifetime that I've lost count. I know what my food triggers are and I do my best to avoid them. Anywhere I go, I have to know where the bathroom is. I hate going far from home because I often fear having a flair up in public. Don't get me wrong, I've had to poo in some less than pleasant places as a result of it, but I try my best to avoid those situations.
Food triggers are easy to avoid. The harder part is the other triggers. Your belly literally has its own nervous system. You may be anxious and not feeling it mentally, but your belly knows your anxious. Every single emotion I feel, my belly feels it first. Your belly has a mind of its own. When I'm under a lot of stress, you can bet I'll get a flare up.
A flare up is when my IBS hits peak for an extended amount of time. Sometimes it'll just be a day, other times maybe a week. I've had flare ups lasts almost an entire year, and let me tell you how debilitating that is. Not just physically is that hard on your body, but mentally you just feel defeated. Because no matter what you do, your belly has its own plans.
A flare up is different for every person. One of the things almost all IBS sufferers deal with is pain. IBS hurts. Constipation causes pain and diarrhea causes pain. I get really bad spasms with mine. They're uncontrollable and often times make me cry. It feels like someone is taking my intensities by the handful and squeezing them with all of their might. And it comes in waves. Sometimes going helps relieve that and sometimes it doesn't. Often times, even after you go, you may feel like your bowels aren't completely empty, which causes a whole different kind of pain. It's not uncommon to feel nausea with IBS too. Bloating and gas are also very common as well.
When you have IBS, every day is a surprise. I never know how my belly is gonna be. I can tell you right before my period it's always bad. When I'm under stress (you know, basically every day of my anxiety filled life), I usually have symptoms. Unfortunately and also fortunately for me, I live every day of my life under a certain amount of stress because of my anxiety, so my body is accustomed to that. But anytime it's more than usual, my belly feels it. There's even been times where I went a few months without symptoms. IBS is a lifelong condition, so even when you're symptom free, it's only a matter of time. But, you can do your best to manage your IBS, and what works for me might not work for you, but it doesn't hurt to try.
I have found that being on a vegan diet has surprisingly helped my IBS more than anticipated. I think it's from a combination of things too. Eating basically fruits and veggies all day means I have a higher fiber content than I used to. Soluble fiber, like the kind found in strawberries, blueberries, and carrots, tend to work better with IBS-D patients. Insoluble fiber, like the kind found in zucchini, broccoli, and most root vegetables, works better for IBS-C patients. A balance of both is important though. Certain fruits, like cherries and grapes, can be a little irritating for my stomach, so I eat them in small quantities with other less irritating foods to balance it out.
This one has nothing to do with a vegan diet, but I absolutely cannot drink coffee or anything high in caffeine. The highest caffeine I can do is green tea. I could have one PSL and I'm down and out for days. I haven't had coffee since I was a teenager. Shame too, because I like the taste of it. Even decaf coffee I can't have. It's the coffee itself in addition to the caffeine that kills me. Even chocolate, which contains caffeine, I have to be cautious with. A few bites for me and I'm done.
Alcohol is another one of the biggest triggers. When we face the facts, alcohol really is poison for your system already. Anyone who's ever been a little too drunk can tell you the next day they pay for it, especially their bellies. And that's normal people. IBS people the next day is even worse! I rarely drink. And when I do, I have one glass of wine that I know my belly can tolerate and that's it. I also drink tons of water with it to help alleviate any possible issues it can cause. The last time I was like really drunk was probably my 21st birthday and I literally couldn't leave the house for at least 3 days afterwards. Drinking to me is absolutely not worth all of that suffering.
As a vegan, you tend to eat less junk food. That means less preservatives and less processed sugars, so your body really benefits from not having all that gunk in there. I also stay away from fried and fatty foods, since they wreak havoc on the belly naturally.
The biggest factor in all of this is avoiding meats and dairy. Meat causes colon cancer, especially those horribly processed meats, and that's a fact. Based off of that, you already know how terrible that is for your belly. But dairy is also one of the worst. My entire life I always believed that "cheese binds you up," which is one of the reasons it took me so long to give it up. Turns out, it never did! Our bodies are not meant to digest dairy. That's why lactose intolerance is a very real thing. Milk is meant for baby cows. That's why even people who aren't lactose intolerant have milk or ice cream and have stomach issues afterwards.
My first suggestion is to keep a food journal. Write down what you eat and drink, and keep track of how it makes you feel. It's a long and tedious process but it's worth it. Knowing what food triggers to avoid will make your life so much easier. When you know what to avoid, make sure you avoid them, even if it's a favorite of yours! I love chocolate but I know the havoc it wreaks on my stomach so I avoid it and when I do have it I know my limit.
If you have anxieties and you're pro-medication, see a doctor and see if a prescription is best for you. If not, find ways to cope with your anxieties and your stress. Cook, do yoga, read, write (like a blog, that's what I do!), even unload your problems to your cat or dog! I've found that often times people usually just want to say their problems out loud and don't really need a response. There's something therapeutic about saying your issues out loud. Plus, pets are the best listeners and they never judge you! Limiting your anxieties and your stress will have a profound affect on your belly.
I don't like taking medicine, but Imodium and Pepto are two thing I keep in my house at all times and I always bring them with me no matter where I go. I also have a prescription medication called Hyoscyamine to help with my IBS, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. When I first used it, I noticed a difference, but I think I just got used to it now so I might need a higher dose. I don't often take it because it's got some less than pleasant side effects. It makes my mouth super dry, and it also makes me dizzy and sleepy. Like most medications, the side effects can really outweigh the benefits. Also, taking ibuprofen helps with the pain.
I'm not a doctor, just a girl that's suffered with IBS for longer than I care to remember. These are just tips I've found that have helped me and if I can help someone else, that's all I care about. I absolutely first and foremost recommend seeing a doctor before trying any medication. Make sure you go armed with questions you have, and be fully detailed about your symptoms. Doctors have heard it all before so don't be ashamed to talk about your poo! Remember, everybody potties!
Best of luck to anyone out there reading this and suffering. If you have any questions or just need someone to talk to that won't judge you, please know I am here for you. You don't have to suffer in silence and you don't have to suffer alone. 💜