Wellness Wednesday: Healthy Eating Update

I have been consistent with some dietary changes for about 5 months now, so I thought I would take this post to share some of the results I have been seeing. I don't know if Wellness Wednesday is going to become a thing or not, but I think the name makes it a little more fun. I think it is also important to say I never really grew out of being a picky eater from when I was younger. Anyway, I mentioned back in October that I had started taking dairy out of my diet.   I quickly saw changes in my skin, and got rid of some persistent adult acne. You can read more about that here, but I basically made the change after experiencing a side effect of an antibiotic prescribed for acne that affected my digestion. I also was working on improving my diet at the time, but was still eating quite a bit of dairy (mostly cheese) and carbs. I now only use topical prescriptions to keep acne in check, and have stopped taking antibiotics for the first time since high school.

The major changes in diet:
I first thought the digestive side effects I experienced from the antibiotic was my body becoming lactose intolerant. So naturally, I tried to avoid dairy to see if I felt better. It did not help much, so I went to a doctor and she suggested I stop taking the antibiotic and see if the symptoms stopped. I was worried about how my skin would react without it. But when I was also avoiding dairy, I realized it was not even needed! Without really intending to, I also started eating less carbs. This is because I typically ate them together in things like sandwiches, pizza, mac and cheese, and quesadillas. I know, that is not quite an ideal diet of someone in their mid-twenties that works out almost every day. I haven't completely cut out dairy, I just eat much less than I used to. I have been looking for some dairy free options, but I still eat some lighter cheeses like feta and goat cheese regularly. It is a change I knew I had to make at some point soon for my overall health. But, this is what got me to actually go for it and stick to it! I have also been influenced by the fitness community around me, but I think I still needed an extra push.

The effects:
As I mentioned above and in this skincare post from a few months ago, the most obvious change I saw was in my skin. The biggest change was the spot on my cheek that was constantly broken out, finally cleared up. I was typically a little broken out on my chin and some on the other cheek as well. Which doesn't seem like much, but at 24 years old, it was not something I was expecting to deal with anymore. I used to have clogged pores throughout my face that luckily were not very visible, but they were also quickly cleared up.

After a few months, I slowly started to see some other changes that I was not expecting to see.
Only over the last 6 weeks or so, have I noticed other changes in my face. I am not sure if dairy and carbs were making my face bloated, or I had some fat around my chin and jaw line. Regardless, it was always a point of insecurity for me. But my jaw line has become more defined since I have been eating less dairy and carbs. Sure, it may have also been from increased cardio in my workouts. But I started that months before I made the diet change, and did not notice until recently. Again, it seems small, but I was not expecting to see that change! And it makes me feel more confident about my appearance, so I have to consider it an added benefit.

The first photo is from about 2 years ago. I had just started getting into working out after college, only going once a week and still eating terribly. The second photo is from last spring, and shortly before I made the big dietary changes. I was working out almost every day and had started to make some progress with food, but was still eating a decent amount of dairy and carbs. The last photo is from just last week, but I first really noticed that change in November.

Looking back, I am starting to realize that eating healthier has made me feel less tired throughout the day. I think before I got into working out I felt tired all the time, so exercise also helps with that. But I have memories from the last year or so just feeling so tired and not knowing why, while I was keeping up a consistent workout routine. I also used to get some occasional heartburn, that I was worrying was becoming more constant. Which was another sign I knew I needed to make some changes. But thinking over the last few months, I don't think I have experienced it once since I made these big diet changes. So I think it is safe to say changing my diet has me feeling more confident externally, and with just a general better feeling internally. I am sure these changes have helped me in other ways I am not yet aware of as well!

What I have been eating:
I have been documenting this as I go along in my Fitness Friday posts (usually with recipe links), but for a typical week:
I have been replacing the sandwich I used to have for lunch every day with a hard boiled egg and a protein bite, made of: oats, almond or peanut butter, flax seed, raw honey, and chocolate chips. I also pack an apple, some grapes, an orange, and some Skinny Pop popcorn. However I had been bringing those same snacks since before I started to eat less dairy.
I have been replacing carby dinners like quesadillas, pastas, and pizzas with salads and bowls. My favorite salad at the moment is: spinach, apples, avocado, with chicken and an apple cider vinegar based dressing. If I make a rice bowl, it is made with: chicken, avocado, rice, and salsa. Or an egg bowl, made with: chicken, avocado, spinach, egg, and feta.
It has also been easier than I was expecting to keep up with at restaurants. At Mexican places I have been opting for chips with the salsa already on the table instead of getting queso dip, and either a burrito bowl or tacos without cheese instead of my old favorite quesadillas. I also never ordered salads at restaurants before (I know, I'm weird), but now I have been really enjoying them!

Again, I aim to limit, not eliminate the food I used to eat. I still enjoyed my holiday season full of carby food, even enjoyed some cheese plates, and slices of pizza. But I have also been trying to avoid buying some of my old favorites, because I do not think about them much if they are not in my apartment.

My next goal:
My main New Years resolution is to try to eat less sugar.  This is difficult for me at work where there is almost always some candy or sweets around. I also have a bit of an addiction to some sugary protein bars for after workouts. And during the holidays I had basically no self control in front of a plate of cookies. I do not feel guilty about it, I just know it isn't healthy. If I can feel so great without dairy and carbs, I can probably feel even better with less sugar. Again like dairy, I will not completely cut it out, just limit it. And I will not be avoiding natural sugar like in fruit, just the artificial and refined kind. So hopefully I will have another post in a few months with an update on that progress!

Thanks for reading!


  1. I love hearing your progress, that's amazing and I'm glad you've figured out that it was dairy that's caused you problems. I have to confess though, I LOVE cheese and I hate the fact that I know I need to start trimming it from my diet. This post reminded me of that lol so it's bitter sweet, but a good reminder.

  2. kudos to you! glad to hear you feel {and look} healthy and happy! I limit dairy for sure, except cheese and eggs which is hard!