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I Lost 20 Pounds on the Anti-Inflammatory Diet — And Fixed My Skin Forever

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I Lost 20 Pounds on the Anti-Inflammatory Diet — And Fixed My Skin Forever

I first developed eczema in seventh grade. For me, it meant that at 12 years old, the skin around my eyes became red, swollen, dry and peeling — and stayed that way, on and off, for the rest of my life.

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My doctor in middle school, and the dermatologists I saw later, prescribed a topical steroid cream. That stuff isn’t really meant for long-term use, so I would try to only apply a little bit. It didn’t help much, anyway. I just got used to applying a ton of makeup to distract people from what was happening on my eyes.

Then, a few years ago, I came across a book called The Plan, by Lyn-Genet Recitas. It’s a diet book that promises to work by decreasing chronic, low-grade inflammation. I’ve always been interested in wellness — I like working out and keeping an eye on what I eat — so I decided to give it a try.

BUY NOW: The Plan, $8.99;

Her book teaches that certain “healthy” foods might not work for everybody. Before, I had worked with a personal trainer who advised me to eat meat and egg whites, just a ton of protein. Her book teaches that stuff like Greek yogurt or protein powder isn’t necessarily healthy if it makes your own unique body feel bad. And it’s true: When I listened to my trainer and focused on meat, my skin went out of control.

I followed the book’s three-week meal plan, and within a month, I dropped 15 to 20 pounds. I found that whenever I strayed from the exact foods she suggested, the weight would creep back on. The idea behind it is to eliminate any foods that might be inflammatory, starting with taking out meat and dairy products and then slowly adding them back in. It wasn’t hard to eat so strictly; I thought I’d be hungry all the time, but I wasn’t. What was hard was the time it took to prepare everything. That’s where I got off track. I just didn’t have the time.

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Then, last year, I decided to re-read The Plan and do more than just follow her exact diet. I followed the real science of it, and tried examining the foods that made me feel bloated or tired or cranky after I ate them. I started with a vegan diet and studied the precise foods from there. Within four days, my eczema was gone — and now it’s actually stayed away for good.

The hardest part of the anti-inflammatory diet is going to restaurants. It’s shocking how often dairy sneaks into things! Even when you order veggies, they’re coated in butter. But I enjoy cooking, so as long as I’m home I find the diet super easy to follow. Something I learned from the book is that it’s not about the amount of food or the amount of calories you’re consuming. It’s about whether or not a food works for you. If it causes inflammation, then your histamines go up, which causes cortisol levels to spike, which means your fat is stored more permanently to protect you, which can mess up your hormones and your thyroid. It’s this chain reaction caused by foods that your unique body can’t handle. But once you find the foods you can handle, you can eat them in abundance. I never feel restricted.

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