How Eating Plant-Based Meals Helped My PCOS-Related Acne and Weight GainWritten by Ali Donahue
Ava Myette struggled with acne and fluctuating weight since she was twelve years old. Eventually diagnosed with PCOS, Ava wanted to find natural ways to heal hormonal imbalances, alongside medication.
Today, Ava eats a mostly plant-based diet and enjoys clearer skin and more balanced hormones. She's also reached her healthy weight loss goals along the way. MamaSezz co-founder Meg Donahue caught up with Ava to hear her transformation story firsthand.
What was your life like before you changed your diet? What was your life and diet like? What was your struggle?
I have been extremely fortunate with my relationship and access to food in my life. Part of this came from growing up in Vermont and having access to a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, local dairy and meat and a farm-to-table mindset. Another part of this came from the privilege that I had; my family was able to afford and had time to prepare healthy food for our family growing up. With that said, I enjoy eating well because that is what my body has gotten used to with a fair balance of indulging in pizza and sweets every now and then.
I attribute my healthy relationship with food to my parents because they showed me how amazing food can be, how it can fuel my body, bring me joy, and how to practice everything in moderation.
I have struggled with acne prone skin and weight fluctuation since my teenage years and I attribute a lot of that struggle to the beauty standards that are forced onto young people. I always played sports which led to more muscle mass than the average girl my age, as well as a higher food intake depending on workouts and games, etc.
My weight was constantly fluctuating from the age of twelve through college. When I played lacrosse, the goal wasn’t too look the way society told me to; the goal was to be strong and energized on the field and sometimes that meant extra weight and extra food.
I have struggled with acne since I can remember and it took a lot of my own research to finally learn that it was hormonal and not anything that I was or wasn’t doing topically.
Once I learned about what was going on inside of my body, food helped me fuel and maintain a body that I not only felt confident in, but also allowed me to do all of the things I wanted to.
What happened? Was there a defining moment that triggered change or did you have a gradual journey?
My best friend, Caroline, a chef at MamaSezz, became vegan and told me about her new diet changes. There are fewer things I love more than a challenge so we decided that I would go vegan for three months and see what happened. I was really excited to try something different and who doesn’t love doing something with their best friend?
How were you able to stick with such a dramatic diet change?
It felt fairly easy to transition into a vegan diet as I had always struggled with eating meat and the inhumane feeling that came along with it, so that was the first thing to go.
Dairy was a bit more difficult as I grew up eating Vermont cheddar with everything but I almost instantly felt better without dairy and that was motivation enough.
I also remember thinking that giving up eggs would make breakfast a nightmare but I don’t miss them at all. It forced me to be more creative in the morning with plant-based meals, which translated to other parts of my life as well.
I’ve also always loved vegetables and legumes so I enjoyed making them the center of my meals instead of the side dish. I learned to love things I had written off like Brussels sprouts and asparagus.
What is your life like now? How did a plant-based diet impact your health and life?
It’s been about three years since I began to eat plant-based meals and I can honestly say that I feel significantly better than I did before. It has encouraged me to look at food not just as something I needed to live but as something that could be creative and beautiful. I am more thoughtful about what I am putting into my body, thinking sometimes, “What is this going to do for my body, will it fuel me for the rest of the day or not?”
I also think it’s extremely important to let yourself go sometimes and eat those cookies or chips and be happy — it’s okay to do that but to also keep the larger picture in mind as well.
With this change in diet I felt more motivation to take care of the rest of myself and took the natural steps to do that. I found that my sleep was better which increased my energy levels significantly during the day – this not only encouraged me to work out more but made it easier to push myself physically.
I recognized that I had a hormonal imbalance caused by PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) — that was the main cause for excess weight that I had gained along with hormonal acne that I had suffered with since the age of twelve.
I began eating hormone-balancing foods, cut dairy out almost completely, and began to take medication, all of which contributed to weight loss and clearer skin.
I think it is important to note that when our bodies are going through something hard, whether it be a physical or mental health issue, it is always important to love your body and appreciate all the good things that it does.
I don’t think that I would be here today if I had stopped every time I didn’t see immediate results or woke up to bloating or a new pimple. As long as you are trying your best to provide for your body, then give it time to catch up and work with you; it won’t happen overnight but bodies want to be healthy and happy and it will get there.
I am, again, very fortunate to have a family that was supportive and willing to eat meals that I prepared and never made me feel isolated in the journey. If I can make my “meat, potatoes and vegetable” Dad plant-based meals that fill him up, anything is possible!
Speaking of plant-based meals that fill you up...what is your favorite MamaSezz food/dish?
If I had to pick just one it would be the Lazy Lasagna, there truly is nothing better!
Name one item on your bucket list?
I’m going to be part of a movie – acting, writing, production. I’ll get the damn coffee as long as I’m on set!
Have Your Own Plant-Based Transformation Story to Share?
We'd love to hear how the healing power of plants has impacted your life. Shoot the MamaSezz team an email and tell us your story!
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