NUTRITION FOR VITILIGO
It is perfectly normal to want to control your vitiligo, due to its erratic nature, and for many, trying new diets or supplements can be a really positive way of contributing to your overall health, and feeling more in control.
It’s important though to avoid any extreme diet or restricting completely healthy food groups, or pinning your hopes of a cure for your vitiligo on a regimen that you find on the internet because you may end up doing yourself more harm than good.
Read more about diet and supplements from John E Harris, Director of Vitiligo Clinical Care and Research UMMS, a champion of vitiligo in the United States, here
And from Science Based Medicine here
And above all else, do yourself no harm.
This area of the website is divided into six sections:
Most people know about the principle of eating five fruit and vegetables a day. You may also have been told to reduce the cholesterol you consume to control adverse symptoms related to a high cholesterol reading. You may know that we need 25gms of fibre a day, less than 6gms of salt (2.4 gms of sodium) and to balance your Omega 3 and Omega 6 intake in favour of the former.
But what should we actually eat?
First of all, if you have any medical condition, be sure to consult with your doctor, patient support group or body, for example Diabetes UK, to ensure that you are taking care of your specific health needs. For diabetics or those on the brink of diabetes, this may well mean reducing your carbohydrate intake.
The important thing for everyone is to find a way of eating that really nourishes you.
Here are some principles for improving your overall diet.
1. VEGETABLES AND FRUIT
Increasing a rainbow of vegetables and fruit in your diet can only contribute positively to your health. If you can afford the extra expense, buy organic or local produce. But increasing your levels of fruit and vegetables in any shape or form will help you. Dietary experts emphasise the importance of vegetables over fruit.
As an example of getting some more of both into your diet, you could try adding grilled tomatoes and cooked mushrooms to your breakfast, on wholegrain toast or with bacon or turkey bacon if you are carb-free. You could try a small portion of green juice on the side – which you can buy in supermarkets, but check that they don’t have added sugar.
You could add red or yellow pepper and carrot batons with guacamole or a dip to your lunch, or a minestrone soup made with either summer or winter vegetables. For dinner you could choose some protein, with either a large mixed salad, dressed courgette noodles or a mix of roasted vegetables. You might even try kale crisps!
Try reading the great book by Nina Teicholz The Big Fat Surprise before choosing your protein sources. You can choose from any kind of meat or oily fish, dairy produce or nuts and seeds as the protein source in your meals.
Brown or wild rice are a much better source of nutrition than white rice, and according to the British Dietetic Association, contain more:
fibre – both soluble (the type that dissolves in water) and insoluble (the type that doesn’t)
B vitamins and folic acid
essential fatty acids (omega 3 fat)
antioxidants including vitamin E, selenium and
Vitamin B in particular can be a deficiency risk for people with vitiligo. It is covered in more detail in the “Supplements” section below.
You can buy a wide range of grains to include in recipes or to use as a side dish such as quinoa, bulgur wheat, buckwheat and freekeh.
4. FATS AND OILS
Recent research showed strong heart benefits if you had a portion of cold olive oil (50 mls) every day, for example on a salad or drizzled on vegetables or soup. You can add chilli or lemon peel to a bottle of olive oil to flavour it. It is probably better to choose a fat that is not refined, like butter or olive oil, for cooking and spreading. Refined fats like margarines have been shown to be less healthy.
5. OTHER ESSENTIALS
Adding spices, a small quantity of salt, freshly ground pepper and fresh herbs all increase the taste of your food, making it more pleasurable while avoiding less healthy options. If you use a high-taste cheese like parmesan in cooking, you get a great flavour, with less saturated fat. Adding flavours to a small bottle of olive oil and letting it steep for a few days gives you a natural condiment with no artificial additives. Try out the delicious Togarishi pepper, available from Amazon, as an addition to vegetables and chicken. Please see our note on turmeric below though!
We also recommend the principles of Intuitive Eating. Many women and some men find that the daily rigours of living with vitiligo may lead to comfort eating. Intuitive eating is a way to focus on the pleasure of eating when hungry, and enjoying the mouthfuls, ending when you are full. Though this may seem simple to many people, to others the messages about food may have become skewed by depression or family pressures from the past.
10 Principles of Intuitive Eating
1. Reject the Diet Mentality
Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently. Get angry at the lies that have led you to feel as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you gained back all of the weight. If you allow even one small hope to linger that a new and better diet might be lurking around the corner, it will prevent you from being free to rediscover Intuitive Eating.
2. Honour Your Hunger
Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Otherwise you can trigger a primal drive to overeat. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant. Learning to honour this first biological signal sets the stage for re-building trust with yourself and food.
3. Make Peace with Food
Call a truce, stop the food fight! Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing When you finally “give-in” to your forbidden food, eating will be experienced with such intensity, it usually results in Last Supper overeating, and overwhelming guilt.
4. Challenge the Food Police
Scream a loud “NO” to thoughts in your head that declare you’re “good” for eating minimal calories or “bad” because you ate a piece of chocolate cake. The Food Police monitor the unreasonable rules that dieting has created . The police station is housed deep in your psyche, and its loud speaker shouts negative barbs, hopeless phrases, and guilt-provoking indictments. Chasing the Food Police away is a critical step in returning to Intuitive Eating.
5. Respect Your Fullness
Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that show that you’re comfortably full. Pause in the middle of a meal or food and ask yourself how the food tastes, and what is your current fullness level?
6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
The Japanese have the wisdom to promote pleasure as one of their goals of healthy living In our fury to be thin and healthy, we often overlook one of the most basic gifts of existence–the pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience. When you eat what you really want, in an environment that is inviting and conducive, the pleasure you derive will be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content. By providing this experience for yourself, you will find that it takes much less food to decide you’ve had “enough”.
7. Honour Your Feelings
Without Using Food Find ways to comfort , nurture, distract, and resolve your issues without using food. Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, anger are emotions we all experience throughout life. Each has its own trigger, and each has its own appeasement. Food won’t fix any of these feelings. It may comfort for the short term, distract from the pain, or even numb you into a food hangover. But food won’t solve the problem. If anything, eating for an emotional hunger will only make you feel worse in the long run. You’ll ultimately have to deal with the source of the emotion, as well as the discomfort of overeating.
8. Respect Your Body
Accept your genetic blueprint. Just as a person with a shoe size of eight would not expect to realistically squeeze into a size six, it is equally as futile (and uncomfortable) to have the same expectation with body size. But mostly, respect your body, so you can feel better about who you are. It’s hard to reject the diet mentality if you are unrealistic and overly critical about your body shape.
9. Exercise–Feel the Difference
Forget militant exercise. Just get active and feel the difference. Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie burning effect of exercise. If you focus on how you feel from working out, such as energized, it can make the difference between rolling out of bed for a brisk morning walk or hitting the snooze alarm. If when you wake up, your only goal is to lose weight, it’s usually not a motivating factor in that moment of time.