Sunday, March 30, 2014

Hair loss and going gluten free.

I love carbohydrates, I love wheat, I love anything that's made with wheat and that also means that it contains gluten. So imagine what it feels like to have your doctor telling you that you are gluten intolerant. The reason? My hair had started falling out like crazy two years before and had not stopped. I saw many different doctors who all prescribed different treatments including minoxidil and iron tablets. They all put it down to stress and one told me I had androgenic alopecia. I was depressed most of the time. I tried putting on a brave face but deep down all I could look at was other women's hair and how full, glossy and thick it looked. My already thin hair became even thinner, my scalp was showing through and I couldn't stand direct sunlight on my head in summer. I didn't want to go swimming anymore because I feared having to wash my hair and seeing more clumps of hair. Minoxidil partly solved the problem but it wasn't a practical solution for the rest of my life. Until one day my mother took the bull by the horns and told me she had made an appointment with my father's pathologist. I went to the appointment and he started asking me loads of questions about my health. After a thorough examination and an hour-long discussion in his office, we decided that I would try going on an elimination diet and cutting out all the gluten. I was to have blood tests taken as well but if I was just intolerant to gluten it wouldn't show in the tests.

I changed my diet and after three weeks I felt like a new person. No bloating, no dizziness, no swollen calves, no headaches. On the plus side, I was always in a good mood. I started laughing again, pulling pranks, creating, designing, projecting. I went back to the doc's and he confirmed my suspicions. I was truly intolerant to gluten.

It was hard adjusting to it. I still craved pizza, Maltese bread, biscuits, crepes, hot dogs, pies and cakes. I hated ready-made gluten free bread, nearly choked on a ready-made gluten free pizza base and could have easily shattered a tooth if my mother had not warned me beforehand that the crostini she had bought me were rock hard. Shopping at the supermarket took me half an hour longer because I had to read the label at the back of each and every food item.

Now I have adjusted quite well to my new diet. I have started baking my own bread which tastes much better that any bread you buy ready-made at the supermarket. One needs to experiment a lot with the dough mixtures as they are not easy to manage. Once you get the right recipe, you'll never look back. Gluten free pasta actually tastes much better than normal pasta. Shopping around and trying different brands will help.

My hair has started growing back. I am much more positive now and I thank the Lord every day for putting that pathologist in my way. I have wasted too many euros on miracle shampoos and treatments. Some of them do help a little but they never get to the bottom of the problem. I never had androgenic alopecia in the first place. Listen to your body and understand what it has been trying to tell you all along.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Do you love yourself?

Have you ever asked yourself this question? Have you ever stopped and thought about how much you love yourself if at all? What makes you convinced that you love yourself enough? These are questions which I have mulled over in recent weeks. What do I actually do that proves to me that I love myself?

1. Do I like how I look? It doesn't matter what other people see or think. It's how much comfortable you are in your own skin that matters. If you look in a mirror and you like what you see, truly and honestly, then nothing else matters. If not, try to first come up with what exactly you do like. There must be something you like in you, be it your eyes, your lips, your straight teeth, your nails or your height. You need to focus on those things you like and maximise their potential. You might try to smile more, put on a lovely shade of lipstick, whiten your teeth, purchase a new nail polish shade and apply it or even pull your shoulders back and walk with your back straight so you seem taller and more confident.

When you've accomplished your first challenge, you might then try to analyse what it is exactly that you don't like. Do not approach this step with a negative attitude. It could be hard but one has to be objective in this case. List a maximum of three things you don't like and work on those. If you are bored of your same old hairstyle, it's time to pay a visit to a good hairdresser. Don't be afraid of change. Change is good sometimes, it can give you the boost of confidence you need. If your skin looks dull, chances are you need to hydrate it more. Drink lots of water, get a facial done, invest in a good cleanser and moisturiser (and actually use them) and try to incorporate as much food containing essential vitamins and minerals in your diet as you can. Simply criticising yourself won't help you in any way. You need to be proactive. Grab the bull by its horns and take control of your life.

2. Do I take care of my body? This is not simply related to outer appearance. What's inside of you is as important as what is on the outside. What are you putting in your body? Have you thought about what you have been feeding your body in recent months? Our body is like a machine. If it's well-oiled it will run smoothly. If it hasn't had a service in months, it will most probably start giving you problems in a short while. What are you drinking? Are you living off coffee and cigarettes? Are you giving your body the necessary hydration it needs to function properly? There is one way to tell. Look at the colour of your urine. If it's clear then everything's fine. If it's quite dark and smells a bit then you'd better start glugging down the water and cut back on the caffeine. Introduce herbal teas to your body as they are most beneficial. All you need to do is some tweaking to your diet. Swap that white bread for multigrain, downsize the portions if they're huge, make sure you've got different colours on your plate (and by that I don't mean brown sauce, ketchup, mustard and mayo) from different veggies, some source of protein and some carbs. Think of the rainbow, make sure you've got at least something green, something red, something yellow and something orange. Avoid food that comes out of a can. It is probably full of preservatives and carcinogenic chemicals.

3. Do I find time for myself? Most of the time we find that we dedicate a lot of time to others but hardly have any left to ourselves. We need some me-time at least each week if not everyday. Do something you really like doing. Go for a walk on your own, read a book, watch a film, relax in the sun for 20 mins (you need the Vitamin D), prepare your own lunch for the next day at leisure, pamper yourself. You need to find what works for you and find the time to do it. Forget everything and everyone even if it's for 5 minutes each morning before everybody else wakes up and all hell breaks loose. You need to be selfish in this regard. You deserve it.