Skin, digestion, and liver update

Confused button | Living Consciously Blog

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that it’s been about a year since I’ve actively been trying to solve my stomach and clear my acne naturally. I’ve had them all my life, to some extent, but I had a blessed reprieve while pregnant back-to-back with my children from 2009-2011. Both issues resurfaced 2 years ago. Last January, I did the 30 day macrobiotic cleanse complete with probiotic superfood supplements. That did not work, unfortunately. Then I went to a naturopath who discovered that the issue was most likely my liver (and that my gut has become very averse to probiotics, which is why I reacted poorly to the probiotic-based cleanse). I then did a Paleo-ish cleanse for two weeks, followed by a liver detox. I felt good for about a week after that.

After about a month, the acne came back FULL FORCE.

In fact, my face is pretty flared up right now. I have had to switch back to the less-eco-friendly makeup options to cover up the severity of the breakouts. Honestly, I am kind of at the end of my rope here. I do NOT trust conventional Western medicine after that supposedly holistic doctor tried to give me an extremely harsh blood pressure medicine while telling me it was perfectly safe to use for acne. But I feel like I’ve also kind of exhausted the holistic options. Chiropractic, reflexology, essential oils, naturopathic treatment…?

I had to quit the probiotic supplementation because it was making me sick again, just like before. I took probiotic supplements for 2 months, which should have been more than enough time for the “detox effect” to subside. I actually got sicker and sicker the longer I took them.

On the bright side, my digestion hasn’t been too bad overall. Eating fast food twice on our trip home from Thanksgiving made me sick for about 2 days, but I think that’s probably to be expected. Since my two cleanses this year, I have been eating even more cleanly than ever, and any kind of change back to the Standard American Diet throws my body for a loop. But the acne is seriously OUT OF CONTROL. The Board & Batten Begin Again that I recommended in my Holiday Gift Guide has actually been very helpful in restoring some balance because it helps the damage heal faster and when I use it as a mask it restores moisture.

If you have any random suggestions, please throw them at me! And yes, I do oil pulling every day. I am taking Maca (which seems to help my skin, weirdly enough?) and I am taking a supplement recommended by my naturopath for my liver.

10 Surprising Foods That Contain Sugar

10 Suprising Foods Contain Sugar | Living Consciously Blog

During my 28 days of no sugar or sugar-like products (honey, molasses, agave, coconut sugar), I was surprised to find that some staples of the kitchen contained added sweeteners. Before this cleanse, I thought my sugar intake was probably pretty low already. And while my regular eating patterns are probably much lower in sugar than the typical American diet, I found that I had been inadvertently consuming far more sugar than I thought. Here’s a list of things that I found were off limits.

10 Surprising Foods That Contain Sugar

  1. Organic Vegetable Broth – contained 2 kinds of sugar!
  2. BBQ sauce
  3. Stir fry sauce
  4. Bread – even my homemade wheat bread does
  5. Tortillas
  6. Canned beans – not even the “baked beans”, but just regular black beans or navy beans can contain added sugar or molasses
  7. Lasagna – prepackaged organic spinach lasagna that was served at a family event contained several types of sugar
  8. Gluten free cereal – there is literally no type of a gluten free cereal that does not contain some type of sweetener
  9. Coconut milk in a carton
  10. Salsa

Are there any on the list that surprised you? Where else have you found unexpected sugar?

Gluten free, sugar free oatmeal alternative: rice congee

One food that I’ve really enjoyed while on my macrobiotic eating plan is brown rice congee for breakfast. It’s a great gluten-free, sugar-free oatmeal alternative. I used to eat a bowl of oatmeal with chia seeds for breakfast every day, but I always sprinkled it with brown sugar. With the addition of soaked dates and apple juice to the rice congee while cooking, no refined sugar is required to make this yummy hot breakfast. It reheats really well, so you can make a larger batch and store in an airtight glass container (affiliate link) in the fridge for a faster meal the next day.

About the creamy rice cereal: you can buy creamy rice cereal already prepped (affiliate link) or you can make your own. I have not made my own, but apparently all you need to do is take brown rice and chop it very fine in your food processor. I would recommend starting with the pre-packaged kind to get an idea as to how fine to make the grains when you do venture to make your own.

About the soaked & pureed dates: I learned this from browsing vegan treat recipes! I buy organic Medjool dates (affiliate link) in the produce section of a large grocery or natural foods store. They should be stored in the refrigerator. I pop 5-6 of them into a small juice glass full of filtered water and let them soak overnight. When they become soft, it’s easier to squeeze the seeds out, if there are seeds. Then put them into a food processor and puree until smooth. With meatier dates, I sometimes have to add filtered water (not the water they soaked in, I throw that out) to help with a smoother consistency.

Gluten-free Sugar-free Oatmeal Alternative (Sweet Brown Rice Congee) | Conscientious Confusion

Sweet Brown Rice Breakfast Congee: gluten-free, sugar-free

1/3 cup unsweetened organic apple juice

1/4 cup soy milk

1/2 tbsp. soaked, pureéd dates

1/2 cup creamy brown rice cereal (buy here – affiliate link)

additional soy milk as needed

toppings, such as berries, bananas, nuts (optional)

 

Pour apple juice into small saucepan and begin to heat. Right as it begins to simmer, add soy milk and quickly stir in. When soy milk is warmed, add pureéd dates and whisk to combine. When dates have incorporated, add creamy brown rice cereal. Simmer for 5-7 minutes, adding additional soy milk when mixture becomes too thick.

Rice congee cooking

Remove from heat, top with optional toppings.

Enjoy!

Patience, Flexibility, and Living

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When I started my #30daycleanse, I’d been told that cleanses can be spiritual, or that there were things I’d learn about myself. I think the idea is that in the midst of intentional longing and desire, you rely on something outside yourself. For me, that is God. But there are other things I’ve learned as well.

Things have happened outside of the cleanse in the past few weeks that have perhaps sped up the thinking part.

Patience

It was so difficult for me to wait for the fog of the detox to end (3-5 days). It is sooo difficult to wait to be able to eat bread and fruit. I’ve had to wait to see the results of this eating plan, if any. I am still waiting to feel AMAZING. Where is the amazing?!

With the beginning of my kids yoga classes, I’ve had to wait to solidify my schedule as I see which locations meet minimum enrollment and which don’t. So difficult for someone with control issues.
Patience.

Flexibility

Without access to sugar or fruit, I’ve had to think differently about breakfast. Instead of daily oatmeal, I’ve had to substitute rice congee or barley. I’ve finally come up with a pretty yummy concoction of congee, barley, soaked & pureed dates cooked in apple juice and soy milk. Yum!

I was also able to attend a long-anticipated arm balance workshop this weekend at one of the studios where I practice. It was amazing! Going into the workshop with an open mind, I was able to do poses that were unimaginable before. So fun!

I might actually be slightly obsessed with balances, and frustrated often when I don’t have an opportunity to practice. I need to do them when I can, find the time.
Flexibility.

Living

The author of my particular regime emailed a reminder last week: are we eating to live or living to eat? I have actually never been someone who ate for fun. Sure, I enjoy the taste of many foods. But eating takes time and, for me, is often followed by feeling sick. So I ate to survive, not for enjoyment.

Spending the last 12 days restricted to only a few foods has made me examine why I eat. I realized that I miss flavor and variety. I miss eating a colorful array of fruits, vegetables and even breads. I don’t miss “junk food”, I miss fruit the most.

Another thing happened that reminded me to enjoy life: someone close to our family took their own life. The person was our age, so young. So many things to process, and so sad.

For this reason, we find ourselves on an unplanned quick-turnaround trip to a funeral. When you read this, we may already be back. Unfortunately, things have been a little chaotic since we found out. I stuck with macrobiotic eating until the last minute, sauteéing butternut squash in coconut oil as we left the house. I have brought all my macrobiotic foods that are portable. But when we reach our destination, we’ll be staying with family. It won’t be my kitchen, and I’ll need to eat what is served. Which is ok because I’m flexible. And so blessed to be
Living.

The words of the day are: patience, flexibility, and living. Go out & do it!

Macrobiotic Snacks

Macrobiotic Snacks on-the-go

From what I’ve read, the macrobiotic lifestyle (and it is a full lifestyle, as I’m now able to see) does not encourage or promote on-the-go snacking. One of the tenets is eating slowly and consciously.

However, my lifestyle as a SAHM and part time fitness instructor in urban Dallas does require both on-the-go snacking and even meals on the go. Most playdates don’t take place at a macrobiotic restaurant, you know.

Google really failed me, so I came up with my own macrobiotic snacks. Here’s what I have so far.

  1. Organic brown rice cakes (affiliate link) – make sure there is nothing added. No oil, no flavor. I like the Lundberg brand.
  2. Mary’s Gone Crackers (affiliate link) – the only crackers I can find that don’t contain binding agents, sugar, preservatives or oil. Rice and quinoa.
  3. Organic freeze dried strawberries (affiliate link) – regular dried strawberries use tons of sugar, so freeze dried is the way to go. According to the guy who gave me the diet, strawberries are ok.
  4. Tahini – I put it in small containers to dip rice crackers or crackers.
  5. Hummus – look for brands without canola oil or olive oil, because those oils are often avoided by macrobiotics. I found a local brand, the texture is a bit different but I grew accustomed to it. You could also make your own.
  6. Dried nori seaweed (affiliate link) – it’s actually pretty yummy on it’s own. There is some oil in these, so watch your intake. My kids love it!

That’s it for now, I’ll update this post if I discover more.

Are you a macrobiotic eater? Any snacks you can share?