What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
Along with “always pee after sex,” “Always eat breakfast” is probably the most important bit of health advice I have ever received, and something I abide by every day. You can bet that within 20 minutes of waking, I am eating.
Not only am I a huge breakfast fan, but I have been eating the same damn breakfast every day for the past 5 years because when I find a good thing, I stick with it. This has been a trend in my personal relationships, and my commitment to hot breakfast cereal. Every morning, I enjoy a bowl of oatmeal.
Oatmeal, oatmeal, heavenly oatmeal. It's reason number 893 that I have more in common with your average 95-year-old woman than your average 25-year-old woman, along with my love of split pea soup and my strict 10 pm bedtime. I have been eating oatmeal on the reg since college, squirreling it away in my purse if I am going to be out of town. I like it with cinnamon and peanut butter. I even sprinkle some spirulina in there to turn it green and get some B vitamins and iron. Last month, my oatmeal routine got a bit of a shake up.
I was visiting fam in Hawaii when my mom suggested that I see her friend for a free consultation about my skin, which occasionally erupts in angry adult acne. She also mentioned offhandedly that her friend specializes in hydro colonics. (I Googled this and it spit out the term “colonic irrigation.” Yikes!)
When I got to this appointment it turned out, surprise!, that on top of a skin consultation, her lovely friend -- a colon hydrotherapist -- actually expected to give me a free hydro colonic. I actually pitched an article about this, but (SURPRISE AGAIN), no one wants to read about that experience, so I will focus instead on the fact that the doctor told me my daily oatmeal intake might be pissing off my skin.
The specialist, Susan, explained to me the link between the health of your gut, and your skin. She told me about oxalates, which are naturally occurring compounds found in certain foods, and that a diet full of high oxalate foods (like grains and bread) wreaks havoc on your gut and can lead to gas and bloating and skin eruptions.
On top of avoiding high oxalate foods, Susan said I should include more fermented veggies into my diet, to improve my tummy flora.
Eating more kimchi? Sure. But she also suggested I switch to a grain-free breakfast, like a big green smoothie. I reminded her that I live in New England, and green smoothies at 6 am in March sounds like a worse idea than that time at 14 I Naired my nipple. Plus....I am kind of attached to my oatmeal. I don't like change!
Her suggestion for weening me off my grainy breakfast? Chia seed pudding. WTF is that, right? Chia seeds are the very same seeds that used to be stuffed inside the sensational Chia Pets of the 80s and 90s. (Also of the last presidential election.) Not only are they trendy and raw, but most importantly -- and this is how she won me over -- chia seed pudding is absurdly easy to make and it tastes great.
Another note on oxalates: Soy, beans and legumes are also oxalate infested. Avoiding all of these things would be pretty impossible for me, as I am a vegan and literally live off beans and legumes. While giving up beans and legumes would be difficult I wanted to give this grain-free thing a shot, and figured that nixing oatmeal would be manageable if I had a worthy substitution. I would do it for one month to see if my skin improved. So I went out to the store and bought some chia seeds, which you can find in the bulk section of most health food stores.
Here is how to make it:
Chia Seed Pudding: Serves 4
You will need:
¼ heaping cup of raw chia seeds (Get them in bulk at a health food store)
1 cup of coconut milk, almond milk, or other milk*
A jar, Pyrex or other container for storing overnight
1/2 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp vanilla
1 tsp agave or maple syrup
Optional: 2 tablespoons chopped nuts, shredded coconut, dried fruit, etc.
*You can use dairy milk, but as I am vegan, I suggest coconut milk. The full fat kind! It makes the creamiest pudding...but it's hella fatty. Your brain needs fat to function, and I am pro healthy fats all the way. Just be aware of the fat content so you can acknowledge that if you down the entire recipe in one go you will have consumed like 3 days of saturated fats.
To make: Place all ingredients in your container and stir with spoon. Put in the fridge overnight to set. Eat in the morning as is, or with some sliced bananas. I have been trying my hardest to make my chia seed pudding a few times a week so that I can have some every morning, and I have been about 90 percent successful.
I have slipped up a few times and gone back to oatmeal because I forgot to chia it up, or maybe I just got a little drunk and wanted to wake up in a familiar bed with someone who just GETS me, you know? Also there are PANCAKES to be had every now and then. I don't think I would trade the cleanest, clearest skin in the world for a life without the occasional banana pancake.
Avoiding grains when I can seems to have helped my skin, but I am also back on my holistic skin cocktail, which I stopped doing for a while. The combo of the two seems to be kicking major acne butt. A friend of mine who does that cave man diet (paleo?) also says that when she stopped eating grains, her skin became all sorts of luminous.
Do you enjoy chia seeds? Is your skin luminous? Tell me all of your skin secrets, oh yes and follow me on Twitter at @SexyTofuBlog if you like. I promise I won't Tweet about oatmeal OR my surprise hydro colonic.