My Journey With Alopecia

My Journey With Alopecia

I’m not really sure how to start this but I guess I can begin by saying that 2018 was the worst and best year of my life.

The timeline:

In mid-April 2018, a couple weeks before I turned 24, I suddenly noticed a lot of hair in my brush, around my scrunchies, and coming out in the shower. I instantly knew something was up.

The below was the first alopecia related picture I took. I sent it to my mom explaining that the amount coming out from brushing my hair that morning didn’t seem normal.

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I went to my primary care doctor that weekend and had some blood work done. That night my mom and I were checking my scalp and found two round bald patches. I was incredibly scared because although my patches were small and easily hidden, the hair shedding was happening rapidly and I had no idea when or if it would stop.

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The next morning we went to a dermatologist which was a very scarring experience. The doctor started by doing a “hair-pull” test which meant taking a section of hair and lightly pulling the hair between his fingers to see how many hairs came out loose. The normal amount of hair strands to come out during this test is around 2-4 hairs, but when he did the test on my hair, about 20 hairs came loose. The icing on the cake was when he said “this hair loss is quite impressive”. I wanted to say, “Great, doc, thanks, I’m glad you are getting a kick out of this nightmare of mine”. He diagnosed me with Telogen Effluvium which is when hair follicles suddenly go into their resting phase.

I went to another dermatologist the next day because I just didn’t feel great about working with the first dermatologist. I felt he was jumping to conclusions. The second dermatologist diagnosed me with Alopecia Areata, given the signature circular bald spots, and recommended doing a round of steroid injections into my scalp. We continued the steroid injections every 4 weeks for the next 3 months. I was also given a steroid cream as well as Latisse to put on my scalp every night.

I started finding more spots but what I didn’t realize was that my hair was also thinning everywhere. When my bloodwork came back from my primary care doctor, I had a slightly underactive thyroid and elevated antibodies indicating that I had Hashimoto’s disease. I was put on a very low dose of Levothyroxine which I still am taking daily.

 

After only about a week of being diagnosed with Alopecia Areata, I started doing a lot of research on autoimmune disease. From this research, I decided to go on the Autoimmune Protocol Diet. Essentially cutting out all dairy, grains, and eggs among other things. The idea behind this diet is that eliminating these inflammatory foods will reduce symptoms of an autoimmune condition. Although my doctors did not think the diet would help, I was willing to try anything.

In the first month of hair loss, it was still easy to wear my hair down and use headbands to hide the thinning sections.

I was really hoping that after a month of being on the diet, the hair loss would stop but the thinning reached its worst point in June.

 

At this point, I was about 80% sure that I was headed towards Alopecia Totalis, which is when the Alopecia affects your entire scalp. But then, sometime in July, I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. My scalp was no longer a gleaming white underneath whatever long hair was left. My scalp almost looked gray, meaning that my hair was growing back!

It’s important for me to point out that even though my hair re-growth had started, there was still long hair falling out at the same time. My hair shed from the top of my scalp first and then when the hair on the top began to grow back, the hair on the side and back of my head continued to fall out, meaning that the sides were the last to grow back.

By the end of August, I had about 5-10% of my long hair left but no bald spots and you could no longer see my scalp because of the re-growth.

 

By September I felt that the hair fall had really slowed down. The thinning had basically made its way through my entire scalp but luckily I was never bald all at once. I chopped off the little bit of long hair I had left and embraced the change as best I could (even though I felt like a 7 year old boy for the first couple weeks).

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Reflecting on my Alopecia Summer:

Although I shed countless tears dealing with this condition, the growth I experienced actually makes me so incredibly thankful it happened. Losing such a big part of what made me feel feminine and beautiful, really forced me to work on my self-love practice. I was able to emerge from this past summer, with a growing head of hair, a better understanding of what type of food my body thrives on, and so much gratitude for my health.

For anyone who is losing their hair, the best advice I can give is to lean on your family. They will pick you up on the days when you feel hopeless and remind you of how lucky you are to have a condition that isn’t more serious.

The power of positive thinking and love from the people around you and from yourself makes all the difference.

Collagen Chocolate Chip Cookies

Collagen Chocolate Chip Cookies

Every night after dinner, I get a familiar craving. The urge to munch on chocolate or a few scoops of ice cream never fails to hit. Eating to heal my body does not always make these late night cravings for sugar easy to deal with which is where these chocolate chip cookies come in!

While they are gluten free, dairy free, and include gut-healing collagen, these should still be eaten in moderation as the sugar content is still high enough to spike blood sugar and interrupt gut healing.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup coconut sugar

1 cup gluten free flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp pink salt

1/3 cup organic brown sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

8 tbsp coconut oil (unmelted)

1 egg

1 cup Enjoy Life dairy free chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped pecans

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix oil, egg, and vanilla in one bowl.
  3. In another bowl, mix the rest of the dry ingredients (besides the chips and nuts)
  4. The mixture will be dry – add in water until a dough like consistency forms
  5. Mix in the chocolate chips and nuts
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Enjoy!

“Fasoulatha” Greek Bean Soup

“Fasoulatha” Greek Bean Soup

My mom’s side of the family is Greek which lucky for me means I’ve eaten a lot of Greek food in my lifetime. The smell of spanakopita (spinach pie) means its Christmas, biting into a gyro means I’m at my Greek church’s summer festival, and heating up Fasoulatha (bean soup) usually means its chilly outside.

I can’t take credit for this recipe. It has been passed down by the women in my family. I hope you enjoy it as much as we have 🙂

Ingriedients:

1 bag Great Northern beans

3 quarts water

1 1/2 onion, chopped

3 ribs celery, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

3-4 tbsp olive oil

8 oz can tomato sauce

1-2 bay leaves

1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped

1 tsp oregano

salt & pepper to taste

 

Directions:

  1. Soak beans in water overnight, then discard the water.
  2. Saute onions, celery, carrots, and garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes.
  3. Add water, tomato sauce, beans, bay leaf, salt + pepper.
  4. Simmer 1 1/2 – 2 hours until beans are tender.
  5. Add parsley and oregano.
  6. Simmer 15 minutes.

Enjoy!

 

Perfectly Roasted Chicken

Perfectly Roasted Chicken

During my time on the Autoimmune Protocol, this chicken became a staple for weekly dinners. Pair it with sweet potato and a vegetable and you have yourself a delicious, HEALING, easy dinner.

Serves 2.

Ingredients:

4 chicken thighs with skin

4 chicken drumsticks with skin

Olive oil

2 tsp garlic poweder

2 tsp onion powder

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp pink salt

1 tsp black pepper (exclude if on AIP)

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In a large bowl, toss chicken parts with olive oil and spices. Place on tin foil covered baking sheet skin side up. Bake for 35 minutes.

Plate up with your favorite vegetables 🙂

 

Shakshuka

Shakshuka

Looking for a cozy, warm egg breakfast packed with veggies? Girl, I got you!!

Shakshuka is a traditional Israeli dish, poached eggs are nestled in a bubbly skillet of stewed tomatoes and among other yummy vegetables. If you are looking for a healthy, spice filled, bubbly egg breakfast, get to cooking up some shakshuka!

Serves 2.

Ingredients:

4 eggs

2 cups sliced mushrooms

1/3 yellow onion

2 cloves minced garlic

1 can diced tomatoes

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

green of choice: spinach, arugula, parsley

Directions:

    1. Saute onion, garlic, mushroom in olive oil.
    2. Add in spices and heat until fragrant.
    3. Add tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes.
    4. Tranfer tomato mixture into over safe dish if skillet is not oven safe.
    5. Crack eggs on top and place under broiler for 2-4 minutes.
    6. Garnish with greens of choice.

 

Pork Meatballs Over Mashed Cauliflower

Pork Meatballs Over Mashed Cauliflower

Since going AIP, cauliflower has been my new best friend. This cruciferous vegetable is packed with anti-inflammatory properties, loaded with Vitamin C + K, and has even been shown to balance hormones.

Isn’t the word “anti-inflammatory” just so romantic? …Yea, I’ve officially lost it.

Anyway, back to this recipe. These pork meatballs are so yummy, easy to make in a big batch, and so delicious and comforting paired with the mashed cauliflower.

Meatball Ingredients:

1 lb ground pork

2 tbsp spices

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 clove fresh garlic, minced

1 small onion, chopped

Mashed Cauliflower ingredients:

2 heads cauliflower

4 tbsp coconut oil

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 tbsp onion powder

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Combine the pork, spices, vinegar, garlic, and onion – mix with hands in a large bowl.
  3. Form mixture into golf ball sized meatballs and place on lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes.
  5. While the meatballs bake, roughly chop the cauliflower and steam until fork tender.
  6. Add steamed cauliflower, coconut oil, garlic and onion powders to a blender (or leave in pot and use an immersion blender).
  7. Blend cauliflower until a smooth mashed-potato-like consistency forms.
  8. Serve meatballs over mashed cauliflower and enjoy!

Chicken and Waffles

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I have always been in love with breakfast. I could eat breakfast food for all of my meals. So you could imagine my disappointment when I discovered that breakfast on the Autoimmune Protocol is not traditional. No coffee, no toast, no danishes, no eggs, no maple bacon, no yogurt, no cereal, no muffins… and the list goes on.

Why am I depressing you by highlighting that most breakfast foods are not AIP compliant? Because I found a waffle recipe that is so tasty and so compliant!

I made this recipe dinner friendly by adding crispy chicken and it was SO yummy!

Waffle Ingredients: 

1 1/4 cup cassava flour

1/4 cup arrowroot starch

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 course salt (I use pink Himalayan)

3 tsps apple cider vinegar

2 tbsps maple syrup

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

1 13.5 oz can full-fat coconut milk

1 tbsp vanilla extract

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix the wet ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients in with the dry ingredients and mix well. Add your batter to hot waffle iron.

Yields 10 mini waffles or 4 full-size waffles.

 

Chicken Ingredients:

1 lb chicken breasts

1 bag of plantain chips (I used Barnana pink Himalayan plantain chips)

1/3 cup melted coconut oil

1 tsp course salt

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice chicken into strips. In a food processor/ magic bullet/ ninja, add plantain chips and spices. Pour the oil into a shallow bowl. Pour the plantain chip crumbs onto a plate. Dip each chicken strip first in oil, then in the plantain crumbs, and carefully place on baking sheet.

Bake for in oven for 20 minute, flipping the chicken half way through.

 

 

Finally, place 2-3 chicken strips on a waffle and lather on some pure maple syrup over the whole thing!