Healthy food bloggers. Their Instagram grids are filled with gorgeous spreads of candy-colored fruit smoothies, luscious green salads, and of course, perfectly bronzed avocado toasts stacked high with toppings like micro greens, hemp hearts, and yolky fried eggs. We’d be lying if we said we didn’t drool over the feeds of Insta-famous foodies like Alison Wu, Laura Wright, and Jeanine Donofrio.
But one of our favorite accounts to double-tap, @LeeFromAmerica, went through a bit of a transformation this year. Lee Tilghman became known as the informal “Smoothie Bowl Queen” thanks to her incredibly photogenic frozen fruit creations.
But it turns out that even though everything Tilghman was eating was crazy-healthy on paper, it wasn’t working for her body. According to her blog, she found out she had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in April of 2016:
In April 2016, I finally decided to go to an endocrinologist. She asked me my symptoms and ran a blood test, and diagnosed me with PCOS. She told me it was completely incurable, and told me birth control was the only way to keep symptoms at bay. I was determined not to go this route, as I really didn’t want to take artificial hormones to fix a hormonal issue. This just did not make sense to me.
That’s when I asked a friend about PCOS who recommended the book Womancode by Alisa Vitti to me. I ordered it that night and read the whole thing in 3 days. I learned so much from that book, and followed her 4 day detox and learned so much about feminine energy and how important it is to honor our cycles and listen to our bodies when they tell us to slow down.
PCOS is a hormonal issue that affects from 5 to 10 percent of women of childbearing age. Unfortunately, the estimated number is cloudy because many women are never actually diagnosed; PCOS is often mistaken for heavy periods, a thyroid issue, or just ignored by doctors and patients. Sadly, this means that many women live with painful menstruation, hormonal dysfunction, and infertility without answers.
So Tilghman decided to take matters into her own hands. Along with adding in self-care practices and stress-relieving techniques, cutting out alcohol, cycle syncing, and staying active, she decided to ditch the high-sugar foods from her diet—including those beloved smoothie bowls.
I didn’t realize that sugar was feeding so much bad bacteria in my body, and putting my hormones and body so out of balance that I developed PCOS, lost my period, and had to deal with hormonal acne around my neck and chin. As a vegan, I was supplementing the lack of protein with fruit-heavy breakfasts and that would send my blood sugar on a spiraling roller coaster throughout the day.
Now, nearly a year and a half after her diagnosis, Tilghman has fully embraced the low-sugar lifestyle. It’s even changed the types of recipes she puts on her blog and Instagram! We’re big fans of Lee’s fruit-free nice cream and banana-free smoothie bowls (which are just as beautiful as before, FYI).
When I eliminate sugar I feel amazing, calm, light, clear-minded, ready to tackle anything that comes my way. As soon as I eat something with sugar I can immediately feel the negative affects- hyperactivity, anxiety, migraine, bloat, indigestion, constipation, scatter-brained. In general, fruit makes my blood sugar spike, which negatively affects my hormones and thus makes me feel lethargic, scatterbrained, anxious and not myself.