The meatless thing has been going well these first five days, so I’m going to introduce a few more habits into my diet. Within my general aim of achieving better health, one of the things that concerns me most—probably more than my thighs or tummy or (lack of) hair—is my skin. I’ve battled bad skin since high school, but after a horrific freshman year of non-stop breakouts and a summer of facials it finally appeared to be gradually improving (I emphasize gradually), and I never felt like I needed to use makeup on an everyday basis… until I got to Shanghai. Almost immediately after moving here, the cycle of breakouts started again, and it’s been like a series of forest fires in which one flares up just as another is dying down. I’ve tried a number of products in desperation, some with better results than others, but it’s never gotten to a point where my face could relax long enough for the scars to heal.
While I’ve been blaming it on the water and pollution, my mom has been trying to convince me that it really comes down to what I eat. I never really took her seriously until this past December, when I went back to HK bearing a gift of home-made peanut butter cups. “You’re still eating peanut butter? How many times have I told you peanut butter is terrible for your skin? And what have I said about chocolate?” And so forth. The peanut-butter cups were not made to feel welcome at all in my parents’ apartment. So when I came back after a week of lectures regarding what to eat and what not to eat—as trips home tend to involve—I cut out PB and chocolate (for the most part…shhh) and I really did seem to break out at a slower rate. But it could’ve been a fluke, the cold weather or something, so when Chinese New Year and Valentine’s came along, chocolate and other junk food happily slipped back into my diet.
But recently, something—maybe chats with my sisters and friends about food habits, maybe the arrival of warmer weather, or maybe the prospect of starting a new job—suddenly prompted me to want to get my body—and especially my skin—back into shape. I spent a good several hours today online filling my head with conflicting information and advice about edible skin savers and skin sinners. (This is the central problem with trying to “get healthy”, in my opinion: the plethora of contradictory opinions and research findings as regards what you should do and eat and apply and not do or eat or apply.)
While I realize there is no one answer to improved health, there seems to be a bit of general agreement on some foods that are best avoided (many of which, like soda, I’ve already pretty much cut out), so I’m going throw them in alongside meat in my forty-day experiment. (Sorry if it’s blasphemic to use Lent as an excuse for all this, but who knows, this may turn spiritual…)
Foods I’m banning… “banning” defined loosely as being very conscious of avoiding, but allowing for exceptions on occasion (why live otherwise?):
– peanut butter
– milk (except in tiny amounts, like in scrambled eggs)
– chocolate (eekk)
– white bread (except Xinjiang nang, which is too freakin good to give up)
Foods I’m introducing:
– green (longjing) tea. One of my Chinese teachers last year maintained that green tea was the reason Chinese people stay skinny in spite all the oily food they eat. I’d tried it out for a few days but got lazy… But apparently green tea is good for skin, weight-loss, AND hair?!?!?! Is it possible??? We’ll see.
– black sesame
– lentils, if I can find them dried (imported cans add up)
– other legumes
First day of work tomorrow after four months of unemployment & boredom-induced snacking! My office is next to a western supermarket called City Shop, which is great (though budget breaking), but also next to a western bakery that sells walnutless carrot cake… and a chocolate boutique and Starbucks and a xiaolongbao and pizza place. Aggghhhh! Temptations everywhere. That’s why I need this list.