Health · Lifestyle · Uncategorized

Cookbook Review: Roz Purcell’s Half Hour Hero

In last week’s post I touched on the topic of anxiety and how I have learned to manage mine. One major anxiety suppressant for me is cooking. I absolutely love food and everything to do with it and, over the years, have come to favour healthy alternatives in cooking and baking. I spend a lot on my time on social media scrolling through blog posts and recipes by health food figures such as Deliciously Ella, The Happy Pear, Madeleine Shaw and, my personal favourite, Roz Purcell (Up Munster!!!).

Having been a huge fan of her blog (Natural Born Feeder) and first book I was particularly looking forward to the release of Roz’s newest book; Half Hour Hero. So you can only imagine my delight when I woke up last Thursday to see that the book had downloaded onto my phone (I forgot that I had pre-ordered the book on iBooks when it was first announced).

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The USP of this book is that it offers healthy recipes with minimal ingredients which can be prepared in under 30 minutes. The book offers recipes for all sorts of dietary requirements as Roz chooses to follow an unrestrictive diet. Roz has centred the recipes around 20 ‘Hero Foods’ which readers stated were regularly stocked in their households. This is a major advantage as you don’t need to go on a shopping spree every time you choose to make something from the book.

Since downloading the book, I have spent the last 7 days putting it to the test. On release day I chose to make the Banana Bread Porridge which was divine. There were a lot of different textures to the dish as well as a mix of spices which fully satisfied my huge appetite. The following day I prepared the Post-Workout Omelette following a tough gym session. I struggled to keep myself from eating the dish straight from the pan as the smell was unbelievable and I can say the same for the taste.

In terms of main meals there is a huge array of options with meat and fish recipes as well as vegan and vegetarian options. One of my personal favourites is the Teriyaki Chicken Zoodles which substitutes pasta with spiralised courgette. While you can prepare the dish with any sauce I would highly recommend Rozanna’s teriyaki recipe. I also loved the Sweet Potato Sliders as an alternative to having bread every day. I prepared two savoury sliders and one sweet to have as my dessert after lunch. I’m excited to try out more of the lunch and dinner recipes from the book in the coming weeks.

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When it comes to snacks and desserts Roz has you sorted. You may have seen her on last Friday’s episode of The Late Late Show where she demonstrated how easy it is to prepare her Peanut Butter Brownies. Although Ryan managed to mess up the recipes, we were assured that this was down to a ‘fault’ with Ryan’s oven (in other words he can’t cook to save his life).  I tried out Roz’s Peanut Butter + Raspberry Scones as well as the Chocolate Digestives. My attempts at both even got the stamp of approval from Roz herself as she gave the pictures a share on her Instagram!

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My overall opinion is that this book is a must have for anybody who’s looking to lead a healthier lifestyle. The recipes in the book are suitable for meal prep so you can prepare your meals for the week in under an hour including the time it takes to separate the food into containers. The recipes are easy to follow and do not call for a huge amount of ingredients which helps to keep costs low. It is very easy to adapt the recipes to any dietary requirements and you can be sure that they will always taste incredible.

For the sake of spending €19.99, you really can’t go wrong. Thanks for the food Roz!

Until next time,

Lauren

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Lifestyle · Uncategorized

Struggling with Anxiety

When I started this blog I made a promise to myself that I would be 100% open and honest in every post that I write, so today I am going to write about something that I haven’t shared with many people; My struggle with anxiety. Anxiety is something that I battle with daily and, over the course of a few years, have learned to control. Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems that people struggle with yet isn’t considered important by some.

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I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that I first encountered anxiety but I know that I was roughly thirteen years of age. My earliest memories are of being in the in the first year homeroom at school and feeling nauseous and nervous whilst being surrounded by my classmates. I would get the same feeling every day and continued to do so for the following three years. I would rarely answer questions in class as I didn’t want to draw attention to myself and I had a fear of being called upon. On one occasion I was asked to write on the whiteboard and having completed the task, I excused myself to the bathroom, locked myself in a cubicle and cried.

I hated social situations involving my peers apart from my closest friends whom I had grown to be comfortable with. I refrained from taking part in things such a youth club and going to discos as I knew that my time there would be spent on the verge of tears. I was embarrassed that I felt this way and chose to keep it a secret from my family and most of my friends. My best friends were quick to pick up on my anxiety much to my dismay. However, I soon learned that confiding in them when I was at my worst would help me to relax. I spoke to the doctor about how I was feeling when visiting him for a check-up and he informed me that anxiety is very common in teens and is often linked to hormones. I spent hours researching ways to manage anxiety and found that walking, painting and singing were very effective in calming me down. Over the next three years my symptoms had decreased dramatically.

When I reached the age of sixteen I began to experience problems with my hormones and developed PCOS (which I didn’t find out until a few months ago). My anxiety came back and it was worse than ever. I feigned illness on multiple occasions as I felt that I couldn’t handle going to school. Between anxiety and regular throat infections I missed a lot of fifth year and fell behind in many subjects. This increased my anxiety as I had a huge pile of work to catch up on in a short amount of time. Around the same time my relationship with my closest friends had become strained and teachers noticed some changes in me. My parents also noticed these changes which eventually forced me to open up to them. I received a lot of support from teachers and family and formed new friendships with some amazing people.

Being more honest with really helped me as I no longer had to make excuses as to why I couldn’t do something. I began to challenge myself to go to events and spend time away from home. Sometimes I would really enjoy myself while other times I would have a panic attack. Luckily I had formed a good support system which consisted of my best friends and family. I remember being on the verge of a panic attack at my debs and heading straight for the bathrooms. I was followed by my best friend who refused to leave the bathroom until I felt better and proceeded to drag me out to dance with her once I was okay again.

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The most difficult aspect of anxiety for me is not knowing when it is going to show its face. I was able to take a week-long holiday by myself to Barcelona and manoeuvre my way around the city for my 18th birthday without feeling anxious yet I couldn’t enjoy a big family dinner in my hometown and had to leave as soon as I had eaten just a few months later. I only go out and drink alcohol a few times a year as I know that this will make me feel anxious but I can go to a busy café for lunch on a regular basis and feel completely fine.

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I think it is important to be honest if you suffer from anxiety as it allows for others to provide the support that you need. You may feel embarrassed or think that others may not take you seriously but there is always somebody out there that can help. Some people find it difficult to understand anxiety and I believe that this is due to the lack of information out there. That is the exact reason that I am sharing my story and I hope that this can help in some way.

I will be writing a lot more on this topic in the hopes to spread awareness for the disorder as well as helping people to understand what it means to suffer from anxiety.

Until next time

Lauren.

Health · Uncategorized

Health Tips 101: Does Eating Fat Cause Weight Gain?

Disclaimer: I do not intend to offend anybody by speaking about certain diets or by using the word ‘fat’. I am a strong believer that nobody knows their body better than themselves and happiness is more important than appearance once you have a clean bill of health.

Low fat diets have become extremely popular within the weight loss industry in recent years. Each time we enter a supermarket, there are more and more low fat groceries available to buy. Whether it’s cheese, meat or biscuits you are looking for, you are sure to spot a wrapper with the words ‘low in fat’ printed on it. While diet plans such as Slimming World and Unislim are great in helping people to lose excess weight, the programmes encourage people to stay away from full fat foods.

One very common misconception is that eating fat will ‘make you fat’. What most people don’t realise is that many ‘lower in fat’ foods contain twice the amount of sugar/salt than the original product to compensate for the loss in flavour. People are becoming more and more obsessed with calories and grams of fat in something rather than the ingredients. If people were to focus on eating more wholefoods over processed foods there would be less of a need to worry about how many calories or grams of fat that you are consuming.

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Much like anything in life there are good kinds of fat and bad kinds of fat. For people who are trying to lose weight it is very beneficial to add good fats into your diet. If you have been following a low fat diet for a long time and have hit a plateau with your weight, this means that your body have gone into defence mode. This is when your body isn’t being fed enough fat and it clings onto any bit of fat on your body to protect your vital organs. By re-introducing fats you can kick-start your weight loss yet again.

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It is vital to include healthy fats in your diet as it allows for you to absorb vitamins A, D and E, helps to shed unnecessary pounds and keeps you feeling full for longer. You should be eating more monounsaturated (found in olives, nuts, seeds and avocado) and polyunsaturated fats (found in fish, poultry and nuts) as they lower cholesterol and provide essential fatty acids, while you should reduce saturated fats (found in dairy and meats) and try to eliminate trans fats (margarine, chipper food, processed biscuits etc.) fats. There is no need to completely remove saturated fats but they should be met with caution.

The following is a list of benefits that come from incorporating more healthy fats into your diet:

  • Easier to Lose Fat: As your body knows it is being fed fat and doesn’t feel the need to hold onto it
  • Better Skin and Hair: Omega 3 and 6 boost hydration of skin cells and hair follicles as well as boosting collagen
  • Stronger Immunity: Fats found in coconut oil are anti-viral and anti-fungal which gives support to your immune system
  • Better Mood and Brain Function: Your brain is mainly made up of fat and is responsible for the creation of serotonin A.K.A the happy hormone. By feeding your brain more fat you are providing it with the energy it needs to produce more serotonin.
  • Balanced Hormones: Fat is used in the manufacturing of hormones in both men and women as well as gene improvement
  • Reduction in Belly Fat: When you eat more healthy fats your body will start to re-distribute fat around your body and allow excess belly fat to be shed as you are eating enough to protect your organs.

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Although eating healthy fats is good for your body it is important to remember to eat it in moderation. Fats should be incorporated into a balanced diet which included all of your essential macronutrients and micronutrients. Next time you are having a bowl of porridge you can add a small handful of nuts and seeds to your bowl or swap out cheese in your sandwich with avocado. The smallest of changes can make a big difference.

Until next time,

Lauren

Health · Uncategorized

Holistic Heroes: Superfoods

If you are into cooking, are on social media or read a newspaper/magazine regularly then you have probably come across the term ‘superfood’. Headlines are constantly being flung in our direction urging us to include more ‘superfoods’ in our diets. The only problem is that half of us don’t even know what a superfood is. Sure, you probably get the gist of the term from its name but do you truly know what it means for something to be categorised as a superfood?

So, what exactly is a superfood?

You might be surprised to hear that there isn’t an official scientific definition for the word itself nor is there a list of characteristics that a food must have to be included in the category. A ‘superfood’ is understood in the health community as a substance that contains very high levels of beneficial vitamins and minerals. These foods will generally contain a high concentration of a nutrient in a small amount of food.

It is useful to include these foods in our diets to ensure that we are meeting the recommended daily amount of nutrients that our bodies need. Most people will be surprised to hear that a lot of the foods that they include in their weekly shopping list are considered to be a superfood. There are also a lot of superfoods that are difficult to source unless you live near a health store but for the purpose of this post, I’ll keep things simple. I like to buy groceries based on their benefits rather than their taste but I have yet to try a superfood that I don’t find delicious.

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Here’s a list of a few of my favourite superfoods that can be found in your local supermarket and an explanation as to why they are so good for you

  1. Blueberries

I have a handful of blueberries with my breakfast every single day. Not only do they taste delicious but they are also low in sugar and are very high in antioxidants. Antioxidants are essential to fight off free radicles which damage your cell walls. Blueberries are also packed with fibre and vitamin C and fight off cancer cells

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2) Chia Seeds

These little seeds are full of goodness and so easy to incorporate into your diet. Chia seeds are loaded with essential fatty acids, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium and are high in fiber. Simply sprinkle them onto cereals, yogurts and soups or you can make a delicious chia seed pudding for breakfast or as a snack (there are plenty of recipes to be found on google).

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3) Greek Yoghurt/ Coconut yoghurt

If you are partial to a bit of yoghurt then I would recommend swapping out your usual choice with a tub of the Greek stuff or coconut yoghurt. Not only is it high in protein but it is also packed with probiotics to help feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut.  Greek yoghurt is also a great source of vitamin B12. You can even make a superfood-packed snack with greek yoghurt, chia seeds and blueberries for a nutritional punch.

4) Oats

We all know that it’s better for us to choose porridge over a big bowl of sugar-filled cereal but do you know why? Oats are packed full of fiber to keep you fuller for longer as well as aiding in digestion. They are also high in antioxidants, boost your metabolism and are great for your skin. On top of that, oats are known to lower cholesterol which is a problem that many people have.

5) Avocados

Avocados have been available in our supermarkets for years but it is only recently that these fruits have become a hit. Avocados are packed full of nutritious benefits such as protein, fiber, vitamin b, potassium, healthy fats…. The list goes on and on. The great thing about avocados is that they are so versatile and can be mashed onto a slice of toast, blended into smoothies, turned into dips and can even be used in dessert recipes. Avocados are also great at keeping you full.

6) Sweet Potatoes

I would choose sweet potatoes over their white counterpart any day of the week. Not only are they far tastier than white potato, they are also higher in vitamins A and C and have a lower glycaemic index (meaning they won’t spike your blood sugar levels). They are also high in beta-carotene and antioxidants which have been shown to help fight cancer. There are multiple ways to eat them too! I love to make them, mash them, chip them and you can even cut them into long slices and pop them in the toaster a few times to make sweet potato toast.

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7) Almonds

Almonds are so easy to eat and contain a high dose of protein, zinc, iron, fiber, magnesium and fatty acids. They can be added to a wide variety of dishes or are great as a snack when paired with an apple. You can also buy or make almond butter to spread on toast, rice cakes or simply eat it by the spoonful (which I do far too often).

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8) Salmon

Salmon is a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Its fat content also aids in maintaining healthy skin and hair and maintaining insulin levels. I love eating baked salmon fillets with a side of vegetables and sweet potato or topping a slice of sourdough with smoked salmon and poached eggs.

9) Bananas

Believe it or not, bananas have also been granted the superfood status by many health professionals (much to my joy! I’m obsessed with bananas). While bananas are quite high in fructose, when eaten in moderation they are very beneficial to ones health. Bananas are packed with potassium and tryptophan, an essential amino acid that boosts serotonin production which will put you in a better mood. Bananas are also a great snack to have before working out as they are light on the stomach, provide a quick energy boost and aid in muscle recovery.

10) Courgettes

This is probably one of my favourite superfoods due to its versatility. Courgettes are an excellent source of vitamins E, A and C, contains high levels of antioxidants and contain all of your essential amino acids. You can make a huge range of dishes with courgette as it has a neutral taste and sucks in any flavour you add to it due to its high water content. I love to add courgette to salads, smoothies, stir-fries, curries etc.. You can make noodles our of courgette by using a spiraliser and frying them for a few minutes on a low heat. Name a dish and I’ll find a way to add this veg. I have even grated it into my saucepan when making a batch porridge as it gives the dish a creamy texture and makes it more filling. I eat 1-2 courgettes on a daily basis and could probably eat more if I tried.

So there you have it! Ten superfoods that can easily be added to your shopping basket on a weekly basis and help to improve your overall health. Now that you have the basic information here’s some of my favorite recipes that can be made using the foods listed above

My favorite superfood combos

  1. Sweet potato toast topped with almond butter and banana
  2. Overnight oats: oats soaked in coconut yogurt overnight and topped with blueberries
  3. Chia pudding: chia seeds soaked in milk and topped with banana slices and sliced almonds
  4. Roasted sweet potato and courgette wedges
  5. Courgette porridge: oats cooked in a saucepan with grated courgette and topped with almond butter an sliced banana
  6. Avocado and salmon toast: a slice of sourdough bread toasted and topped with mashed avocado and smoked salmon
  7. Superfood supper: Baled fillet of salmon with roasted courgette and mashed sweet potato topped with avocado
  8. Stuffed banana: banana sliced in half and topped with almond butter and chia seeds

I hope that this post has been somewhat helpful to anybody looking to lead a healthier lifestyle. Stay tuned as I’ll be posting more health tips, recipes, etc. over the coming weeks.

Until then,

Lauren

Beauty · Uncategorized

Product Review: Vanity Planet ‘Spin For Perfect Skin’

Hello Again,

As you may know by now, I am very passionate about the topic of skincare and spend a lot of my free time researching and trying different products that can improve the condition of your skin. One product that seemed to pop up regularly was face cleansing brushes. You’ll find many conflicting reviews on different face brushes online, some saying that they are a waste of money and others claiming that they are a ‘life saver’. I wanted to try one for myself so that I could form my own opinion on the product.

I looked into a lot of different brands and decided that I would try the Vanity Planet ‘Spin For Perfect Skin’ as it was highly rated by a bunch of beauty bloggers. I purchased the product at the beginning of May 2017 and have been using it every day for the past 4 months. I bought the brush in the hopes that it would help to clear my breakouts and removed dead skin cells.

Here’s my experience with the product.

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The Product

The Spin Brush comes with four detachable heads for both the face and body. These include a daily cleansing brush, an exfoliating facial brush, a body brush and a pumice stone. You can choose from a range of 6 different coloured handles (of course I chose pink). One reason I was drawn to the brush is that it is 100% cruelty free. It also runs on batteries which I liked as I can be very forgetful and wouldn’t remember to charge the product after each use.

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What It Does

The product claims to do the following:

  • Reduce pore size
  • Cleanse and exfoliate to reveal radiant skin
  • Remove bacteria from the skin
  • Remove dead skin cells

My Experience

After One Month

I started by using the daily cleansing brush twice a day in conjunction with my usual cleanser. I would first wet the brush with warm water, add some product and use the brush for about a minute on my skin. Twice a week I used the exfoliating brush head to target dry flaky skin and blackheads.

In the first week I didn’t notice a huge difference other than a reduction in the amount of dry skin on my face. I still had many blemishes and blackheads in my t-zone. However, I continued to incorporate the brush into my daily skincare routine in the hopes that it would live up to my expectations.

I loved using the body brush in the shower as it wasn’t very harsh and found pumice stone to work efficiently.

After using the ‘Spin for Perfect Skin’ for four weeks I noticed a big improvement in the texture and appearance of my skin. Not only had my dry patches completely disappeared but there was also a huge reduction in the amount of blemishes and blackheads. I also noticed that my pores had shrunken slightly.

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After Four Months

I still use the ‘Spin for Perfect Skin’ on a daily basis. I use the cleansing brush head once a day before I go to bed. I have found that once a day is enough to use the product as my skin doesn’t need to be thoroughly cleaned after waking up. I use the exfoliating brush once a week in the shower as I find that this is when any dry skin on my face has softened and I don’t need to concentrate the brush on one area for longer than a few seconds.

There is now a glow to my skin that I have never had before and I’ve managed to clear up the majority of the breakouts around my t-zone. I have also noticed a significant reduction in the amount of oil that my skin produces on a daily basis. My acne has not disappeared completely but I am aware that a lot of my blemishes are due to an imbalance in my hormones, something that can’t be helped by topical skincare.

My Verdict

I can honestly say that the Vanity Planet ‘Spin for Perfect Skin’ does exactly what is promised. I accidentally left my spin brush behind after leaving home for a few days and experienced a huge breakout. Upon returning, I was able to clear up the blemishes in no time once I incorporated the brush back into my skincare routine. I never found the product to be too harsh and I have not yet replaced my brush heads as they are still in perfect condition. I would 100% recommend this product to anybody who is looking to improve the condition of their skin.

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I hope that this review can be of help to anybody who is looking into purchasing the ‘Spin for Perfect Skin’!

Until next time,

Lauren

Health · Uncategorized

Bake with Me: Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Hello Again,

If you’re anything like me then you’ve been glued to the new season of The Great British Bake Off which aired last week. There is something about that show that brings me so much comfort and although Mary Berry, Mel & Sue have parted ways with the series, Paul Hollywood’s charming smile still keeps me hooked.

21476238_1869602413066819_1584645860_nThe only downside I find to watching Bake Off is that every time the baker’s creations are shown on screen my mouth starts to water and I crave delicious baked goods.

Seeing as this week was Biscuit Week on the show I thought would post a recipe that fits the theme. These aren’t quite like the butter and sugar riddled biscuits that were baked by the contestants though!! Oh no! These are low carb, refined sugar and dairy free, paleo-based cookies. Inspired by a recipe posted recently by health and fitness guru Sarah Stevenson (Sarah’s Day on Instagram and YouTube), these cookies are soft, sweet, moreish and most definitely don’t taste healthy.

My favourite element of the cookies was the chocolate chunks as I used my favorite brand of vegan chocolate called Loving Earth which is made with natural ingredients and is also organic. If you don’t have any allergies to dairy and you’re not fussy about refined sugar then you can definitely swap out ingredients as this recipe is very versatile.

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The second time I made these cookies I added a scoop of plant-based protein powder by Third Wave Nutrition which supplies all of your essential amino acids and the chocolatey flavor is to die for! It is also made with refined sugar free as it is naturally sweetened with stevia leaf extract. One scoop is enough for the whole batter as you don’t want to go overboard on your protein intake (unless you’re a body-builder).

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Ingredients: 

100g almond flour

2 tbsp coconut flour

1 tbsp milled linseed/flaxseed

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp coconut sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsp coconut oil

2 tsp organic honey

1 large egg

60g chocolate (broken up into little chunks) (I used Loving Earth Mylk)

Dash of milk/ milk substitute (I used Almond Dream)

Pinch of Himalayan salt

20g chocolate/vanilla protein powder (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients excluding the chocolate.
  3. Place a small saucepan on low heat and add the coconut oil and honey. Stir until the mixture had melted and combined (do not let the coconut oil heat up too much).
  4. Pour the wet mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients, add the egg and combine.
  5. Pour in small amounts of the milk whilst stirring continuously until you get the consistency of cookie dough.
  6. Add in the chocolate chunks until they are evenly distributed. throughout the mixture.
  7. Put some baking paper on a tray and roll up teaspoon amounts of the dough into balls. Place your dough balls on the baking tray and flatten them.
  8. Put the cookies in the oven for 10-12 minutes.
  9. Once cooked, removed your cookies from the oven, allow them to cool and enjoy 🙂

21442977_1869602433066817_496439658_nThese cookies are the perfect treat for when you’re in the mood to curl up on the couch with a cup of tea and a blanket. The consistency is the perfect mixture between the texture of a cookie and a cupcake.

 

I hope that you will enjoy them as much as I did.

Until next time,

Lauren

 

 

Beauty · Uncategorized

My Top 10 Tips: How to Manage Your Acne

As promised in my last beauty post, I’m back with my top tips on how to manage your acne. I’m saying ‘manage’ rather than ‘cure’ as there are plenty of factors that contribute to having acne and many of them (such as genetics) cannot be helped. I am not implying that if you follow all of these tips that your skin will be perfect. They are simply just ten guidelines that, when I follow, keep my acne at bay.

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Here are a few things that have worked for me:

  • 1) Hydrate

I’m sure you have heard it a thousand times already but drinking water really is one of the most efficient ways to keep your skin clear. Drinking water helps to clear toxins from the body and transports oxygen and nutrients to skin cells helping to keep it nice and hydrated.

  • 2) Eat the Rainbow

I’m a strong believer that what you put into your body is just as important as what topical products you use when it comes to how your skin looks. You can have the best skincare routine in the world but have a rubbish diet (or vice versa) and it will tell on your skin.

Yet another tip that you will have heard before. Fruit and veg contain skin soothing vitamins and help to clear toxins (often the cause of acne) from the body. They are also high in antioxidants which kill bacteria and fight free radicles. Eat an array of different coloured fruits and vegetables as different colours carry different benefits. Not everything has to be bland or green 😊

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  • 3) Get Tested

Often times we are eating foods that we are intolerant to without even realising it. Unfortunately for us, our skin knows all too well that our body isn’t breaking these food items down. Studies show that roughly 65% of the population are lactose intolerant but only 12% are aware of it. Cutting out dairy was the biggest factor that led to me having clearer skin.

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Dream is an amazing dairy free milk brand that is available in supermarkets all over Ireland and is a great substitute for cow/goat milk.

A trip to your GP/Allergist could be very beneficial if you have tried everything to clear your skin but nothing has worked. It could also be of benefit to have a hormone test done as unbalanced hormones often make themselves known in the form of spots.

  • 4) Hands Off

As tempting as it is to squeeze that bugger on your face, don’t do it! When you pop a pimple you actually spread bacteria and the wound is left open to all sorts of nasty infections. Not only does this cause even more spots but you are also increasing the risk of scarring and pigmentation (I got many scars before I learned my lesson). When you touch a blemish, you are not only pushing the bacteria further into the skin but you are also causing it to become even more inflamed. The only time you should be touching your face is when you wash it in the morning and evening.

  • 5) Stay Sanitised

If you are someone who gets spots on your cheeks, your phone may be the cause of the problem. We are all in the habit of having our phones attached to us 24/7 which means that whatever bacteria our hands come into contact with are then transferred to our phone screens. Keep a bottle of hand sanitiser and some disinfectant wipes in your bag at all times to prevent spots from developing.

  • 6) Make it Personal

Just because your favourite celebrity says that a certain skin care product cleared their acne doesn’t mean it will work for you. Whether it’s a beautician, a makeup artist or dermatologist, ask a professional to examine your skin and tell you your skin type. This will make it ten times easier for you to find products that work for you. Most brands write what skin type a product is suited to on the packaging so you have no excuse!

  • 7) Have a Routine

It’s no good having a press full of skincare products if you’re not going to use them. Make sure to wash you face when you wake up and again before you go to bed.  Having a routine means you are less likely to forget to look after your skin and allows for any unwanted bacteria to be washed away on a regular basis. I tend to wash my face as soon as I get up (with clean warm water) and again before I go to bed.

  • 8) Get Pampered

I noticed a huge improvement in my skin once I started going for facials. Getting a facial every two months unclogs any blocked pores and allows for your skin to breathe again. The girls at Beauty by the Beach (the local beauty salon in Ballybunion) always made sure to use products that were suited to the condition of my acne each time I payed a visit and this made a massive difference in the look and texture of my skin. They also recommended products that would be suited to my skin which was extremely helpful.

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  • 9) Keep it Simple

You don’t need to splash out on expensive products to have clear skin. The majority of my skincare products are made with natural ingredients that have healing properties and they seem to be working a charm.

Face washes and spot creams containing tea tree oil are very efficient in reducing acne because of its antibacterial properties. You can make a simple toner out of rose water and apple cider vinegar to remove bacteria from your pores. Face masks are often most effective when made with products from your kitchen. Avocados, honey, cinnamon, lemon and cucumber are just a few food items that have amazing healing power.

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Companies such as Lush and The Body Shop have amazing moisturisers and other products that are cruelty free and made from natural ingredients so it may be worth your while investing in a few if you don’t feel like making them at home.

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  • 10) Don’t Forget to Moisturise

If you are anything like me, your skin can sometimes be so greasy that you could fry an egg on it. When you have combination or oily skin it can be so tempting to skip the moisturiser once you have washed your face but I’m telling you now that that is a HUGE no-no!

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When you use a cleanser and toner on your face, all of its natural oils are stripped away and your skin then needs a way to re-hydrate. If you choose to forego moisturiser, your skin will produce a lot more oil than it usually does to compensate for the oil that was removed. There are plenty of moisturisers out there that are made for oily skin that hydrate the skin without leaving a greasy residue. So there are simply NO EXCUSES to skip the moisturiser.

  • 11) (Sneaky Extra Tip) Relax

Stress and sleep deprivation are two huge factors in the development of pimples. Try to get to bed a few hours earlier each night with a book and a cup of tea, take some time to unwind after a busy day and catch a few extra Z’s before you start a new day.

I know that dealing with acne can be very stressful but the more you stress, the longer it will take for your skin to improve. Try to embrace the skin you are in and love yourself and your body will start to love you too!

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I hope that these tips might be of help to anybody who is trying to manage their acne. I will be posting my skincare routine and the products that I’m loving right now in a few weeks once I am sure that they are the products that work best for me. Until then, try to keep a skin diary and keep track of your breakouts. This can help to pinpoint the cause of your acne.

Keep an eye out for a new blog post in the coming days 😊

Until then,

Lauren

 

Health

An Ongoing Battle: My Health Story

The last nine months for me have been a huge struggle as the condition of my health has tested me. Here’s my story:

I woke on the morning of 2nd December 2016 feeling excited and ready for the day ahead. It was the day that my sister, my cousin and I would be going to our Nana’s house to put up the Christmas tree, a tradition that had begun in my early childhood. The day would unfold in the same manner every year: we would arrive at Nan’s house and sit down for a chat, we would then piece together the branches of the artificial tree whilst dancing to cheesy x-mas tunes (I’m talking about you Mariah Carey), we’d spend an hour untangling last year’s fairy lights only to plug them in and find that they didn’t work (cue the impromptu trip to Supervalu for new lights and a sneaky bar of Galaxy chocolate), we would decorate the tree and finally we would then sit down to a big ol’ bowl of Nana’s homemade stew (the taste of my childhood).

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After following our usual routine we all sat back and admired our handy work when something that hadn’t been expected occurred. I felt an unusual pain in my stomach (around my naval area) which, in the space of an hour, went from a mild cramp to a severe throbbing pain which I could no longer ignore. I decided to take a trip to the doctor’s office. After my examination he stated that although the pain wasn’t in my lower abdomen, he would like for me to go to A&E to rule out appendicitis.

21360918_1864756243551436_844569094_nI spent hours sitting in the uncomfortable chairs of the A&E department with my father whilst multiple nurses ran various tests. The pain slowly worsened and traveled along my abdomen as we watched The Late Late Toy Show on the small tv of the waiting area. I was not allowed to eat as it was still undecided whether I would have to have surgery that night. Six hours passed and it was eventually decided that I would stay overnight and I would undergo surgery in the morning to have my appendix removed.

I had the surgery, was sent home to recover and was told that I would be back to normal within a week…. Or so I thought.

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After spending a week lying on the couch, watching tv and having my parents cater to my every need I was still unable to sit up by myself or stomach anything other than toast, mashed potatoes and fig rolls. My stomach was extremely bloated to the point that it looked as though I were ready to give birth to a fully-grown baby. This resulted in another trip to A&E where after running a bunch of tests and an overnight stay, they simply flushed my body out with fluids and said it would do the trick. Another three weeks passed by, and by Christmas Day I was feeling much better.

One strange thing that happened in those three weeks was the fact that I had suddenly dropped 2 dress sizes and 13 pounds in weight (despite the fact that I hadn’t moved from the couch and spent my days snacking on bread and biscuits). I was also no longer able to eat meat, dairy and poultry without feeling incredibly nauseous and my stomach blowing out like a balloon. Over the course of the next two months I went back to my life at university where I continued to lose close to a pound in weight every week as well as developing intolerances to more foods such as eggs, fish and grains. It was decided that this was caused by my body experiencing toxic shock due to the surgery.

Eventually my health had reached a new low as I had lost all of the muscle mass in my body, was underweight, experienced very low moods and anxiety, lost my period, lost a huge amount of hair, was always hungry and had terrible joint pains.

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I dropped 3 dress sizes in the space of 6 weeks 

 

 

 

21325927_1864747050219022_1570594983_nI was no longer able to exercise as I couldn’t afford to lose anymore weight and I simply didn’t have the energy to do so.  This was one of the hardest things for me to accept as prior to my surgery I was the fittest that I had ever been. I had found a love for fitness after moving to university as it managed my stress and anxiety and allowed me to clear my head.

I was fortunate enough to meet with a nutritionist who suggested that I follow a vegan diet until I could process animal products and although this helped, I still felt unwell and was not successful in gaining any weight back. I spent countless hours on the internet searching for ways to regain my health.

I continued to tweak my diet and after a few more months decided it was time to see a homeopath. My homeopath was very helpful in explaining what was happening to my body and provided me with a plan to improve many of the symptoms that I was experiencing. I finally began to gain some weight and muscle mass back, the condition of my hair improved and I finally had some energy.

The past month has been the biggest revelation for me as, after countless more tests being run, I finally have an official diagnosis for my condition.

I suffer from two conditions known as PCOS and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and (unknowingly) have done so my whole life. Unfortunately for me, having my appendix removed weakened my immune system for a short while and allowed for these conditions to flare up dramatically and take control over my health.

For those of you who don’t know, PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is a hormonal condition whereby a woman’s hormones are unbalanced and cysts form on the ovaries. Symptoms include acne, weight gain/loss, irregular menstrual cycle, depression and infertility.

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease whereby the immune system attacks the thyroid gland which can have a huge effect on hormones. Symptoms include fatigue, anxiety, sensitivity to cold, hair loss, joint pain and increased sensitivity to certain foods. Although medication can be used to control many of the symptoms of these conditions, there are no known cures. I have chosen to withhold from taking any medications as these can cause severe harm to the liver as well as causing many negative side effects.

After spending countless hours doing research on both conditions I have found that they can be treated by diet and lifestyle choices alone. My health has improved dramatically whilst following what is known as a ‘Paleo based diet’. I also use superfoods to supplement my diet as well as herbs, spices and homeopathic medicines. I will speak about my diet in greater detail in a future post.

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And so, this brings us to the present day. While many of my symptoms have improved, I am still not back to my full health but I am most definitely on the road there. The events that have taken place over the course of the last nine months have sparked a huge love for health and wellness within me. I choose to spend my time doing research into how my health can be improved with nutrition and exercise suited to my body.

I hope that you will choose to stick around as I continue to heal and hopefully we will learn something from each other!

 

Until next time,

Lauren.

foodbethymedicin

Lifestyle

Acne: A Spot of Bother

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I’ll never forget my very first experience with a blemish. I was ten years old and upon rising to get ready for school, I passed the bathroom mirror and noticed a big red mark on my chin. My first response was to poke it with my finger which I quickly regretted as I winced with pain. I ran out to the kitchen where my sister was hunched over a bowl of Kellog’s Rice Krispies and flicking through the Argos catalogue in search of possible birthday presents to ask our parents for. I dramatically pointed to the foreign body on my face only for her to roll her eyes and explain that it was ‘just a spot’. She assured me that it would go away if I rubbed some Sudocreme on it before bed and went back to munching on her cereal.

And there began my 8-year (and still ongoing) struggle with Acne.

I’ve never understood why the topic of acne is such a taboo in modern society. We constantly search for ways to cover it up and avoid the subject like the plague. I remember sitting at my desk everyday with my chin resting in my hands in an attempt to hide my blemishes from my classmates. In the weeks leading up to my confirmation I attacked my spots every night with all sorts of lotions that had been suggested on google but to my dismay I woke up on the day to an acne ridden reflection in the mirror. I begged my mom to let me use her makeup (which was about 5 shades too dark) to cover my spots so that they wouldn’t be seen in photos.

The fact of the matter is that 85% of people between the ages of 13 and 20 will suffer with acne at some stage and it will affect between 5 and 10 percent of those over the age of 20. The percentage of people who experience a few blemishes every now and then is even higher. I don’t know one person who has never had a spot on their body in their lifetime. Even babies get milk spots for goodness sake.

So why is it still such a problem to talk about acne? Why do we feel that we must use filters when taking photographs to hide our spots? Why can’t people just accept that this is a common skin condition? There are multiple things which contribute to acne. Some which can’t be helped such as hormones, undiagnosed food intolerances, certain medications, stress and genetics. But people still choose to comment on other people’s skin and go as far as to bully those with acne.

I was given the nickname ‘Spotty’ on my first day of university by an arrogant person (who will remain unnamed). I had a huge breakout on my chin due to stress from moving away from home as well as being off of my usual diet in the previous few days. I had chosen to forego makeup on this given day as, after 8 years of dealing with this condition, I had learned that cosmetics would only slow the healing process.

Unfortunately, this is only one of many examples of people commenting on my skin. I have dealt with low self-esteem because of my acne. For a long time, my mood was determined by the condition of my skin on that given day.

The strange thing is that when I have spoken to close friends and family members about my struggle with acne, many say that they didn’t even notice until I drew attention to it. We tend to be so consumed with our own appearances and assume that others are staring at our ‘flaws’ that we often don’t regard the appearance of others.

I would like to remind you that suffering with acne can have profound psychological effects on people such as poor self-esteem, social anxiety and depression. This can have a severe effect on people and has sadly resulted in suicide.

I am writing this post to encourage anybody who may be reading it to try and embrace the skin you are in because. Don’t let something that is experienced by everybody around you have such an impact in your life. Remember that you only have one life… so go and live it.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post about my experience with acne and my top tips on how to keep it at bay.

Thanks for reading everybody!

Until next time,

Lauren.

Note: I would encourage all of you to watch this incredible Youtube video by Em Ford (A.K.A MyPaleSkin) which has demonstrated the bullying experienced by acne sufferers to millions of people!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWTRwj9t-vU

Lifestyle

Introducing Me

Hello and Happy Wednesday! Welcome to my first official blog post.

I’m delighted to have finally begun my venture into the world of blogging or the ‘blogosphere’ as some may call it. I’ve been wanting to start a blog for quite some time now but between university, work, exams and a fear of others judging me, I continuously pushed the thought to the back of my mind.

I’d like to consider myself to be a creative person, having grown up with a love for arts and crafts as well as singing and playing the guitar. However, I did not discover my love for writing until I started an arts degree in university in which English literature was one of my main subjects. While others despised writing essays and assignments, I secretly loved the thoughts of sitting down to discuss my opinions and views on the work of the greats.

I have never been much of a socialite or party goer both at university or at home so whilst my peers were in the pub downing a drink or two, I would be curled up in bed with a cosy blanket, a cup of tea and my laptop, reading blog posts and watching youtubers. I always wanted to start a blog but my dreams were constantly shot down by shyness and fear of what others would think of me.

This year I have taken an interest in studying a different course from the one I initially pursued and luckily for me having a creative outlet such as blogging, writing for journals or creative writing is a requirement in order to receive a place. Therefore, this is what gave me the push that I needed to finally dive into the sea of bloggers that are ever so present on the internet.

So here I am writing this blog post, still fearful of the haters, still unsure of what exactly this space will come to be but one thing that is for certain is my ongoing passion for all things beauty, health and well being, and pop culture related.

I hope that the content that I create will somehow be of interest and offer some help to anybody reading this.

I’ll being seeing you guys real soon!

Lauren