My Week in ‘Skin’ Food: Debbie Thomas

Anna Hunter 11 May 2016
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My Week in ‘Skin’ Food: Debbie Thomas

Even though I have been a vegetarian for more than 25 years, I’ve not always been the healthiest of eaters, as I’m naturally slim I just assumed you only had to pay attention to your food if you had a weight concern. It is very easy as a vegetarian to rely on heavy carbs, copious amounts of cheese and chocolate to get you through the day. But in more recent years I have finally started to look at my food as a way to nourish my body and my skin and I now eat for better health and I feel great!

In 2016 my new year’s resolution was to go vegan by the end of the year, and there were a few reasons for this. I am a strong believer in animal rights, and for years I have bought free range eggs and organic milk etc, thinking that I was doing my bit and paying extra to ensure cruelty free produce. I’ve since come to realise that many of these labels are subject to interpretation, or plainly misused. Short of having my own farm, I couldn’t guarantee that my choices were having the impact I wanted. So to avoid the grey areas I gave it all up for a clear conscious. I’ve now been vegan for eight weeks.

My second motivation for going vegan was that my skin hates dairy. Too much milk, yogurt, ice cream and the next morning I would be rewarded with a cluster of spots. As I had always eaten lots of cheese daily and regularly suffered with breakouts I didn’t put two and two together, but after trying a detox which excluded dairy I suddenly had much better skin, but it was only when I had a milkshake and saw my skin the next day that it dawned on me. As a result two years ago I dramatically reduced my dairy intake. I still had a little here and there, so the jump to full vegan wasn’t as hard as it could have been.

For the first few months of the year I experimented with various vegan cheeses, yogurts, chocolates and milks. The hardest thing was finding a good cheese substitute; there are a lot of really funky tasting vegan cheeses, but I didn’t give up and I finally found some pretty good ones which has made the whole process easier. Eating in has never been so good; I am cooking better, healthier and tastier food than ever. I love experimenting with flavours and have discovered a whole world of herbs and spices that I had never considered using before. Eating out is definitely much harder, unless you are in a vegan eatery, while vegetarian options are pretty good in most restaurants now, vegan choices aren’t quite there yet. However, with a few requests to tweak salads and sides I am managing fine. I am only eight weeks in so hopefully it will get easier as I work out where’s best to eat out.

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Breakfast: I’m not a big eater in the morning so a glass of warm lemon water to start, half an hour later my only coffee of the day and a slice of seeded toast with coconut butter spread and marmite.

Lunch: An almond milk matcha latte and an avocado, split in half with a sprinkle of himalayan rock salt and pepper. I literally just eat it out of the skin. Its quick and easy when I don’t have a huge amount of time.

Dinner: Met up with friends at the Ivy Brasserie in Kensington. My first thought was ‘chips it is’, but after talking to the waiter I ordered the roasted butternut squash with grains. It came with buckwheat, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, and then I asked them to drop the feta and harissa yoghurt and replace them with avocado (can you have too much avocado in a day?!), adding a side of chips (just in case-my plan B), plus kale and green beans for added nutrition.

I rarely have dessert but the dairy free coconut panna cotta screamed ‘try me’, so I did. All four of us tasted it and agreed it was yummy. I couldn’t eat it all but was happy to see a really good vegan dessert on offer.

Throughout every day I drink lots of water and herbal teas or warm lemon water.

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First thing: A glass of warm lemon water and my coffee fix for the day.

Brunch: Smashed avocado on seeded  toast, seasoned with pumpkin seed oil, lime, himalayan rock salt, pepper and chilli flakes.

Early afternoon: Green Juice by Juice Baby. I needed a quick energy boost so went for cucumber, celery, spinach, parsley, lime and ginger. It certainly had a zing to it.

Dinner: I have just been introduced to the genius that is Mindful Chef,  a delivery service that arrives at your door with perfectly fresh, seasonal and organic ingredients and super easy step by step cooking instructions. One option is vegan, so of course I had to give it a go. Tonight I had romaine lettuce wraps with spicy chickpeas and cauli-rice- it was easy and tasty. I also made a potato salad using vegan mayo as I had some potatoes that needed using up.

Let’s add in water, water and more water...

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First thing: A glass of warm lemon water to start and a coffee.

Breakfast: Organic muesli with almond milk.

Lunch: Fresh vegetable and tofu spring rolls with sweet chilli sauce. Lettuce, cucumber, herbs and tofu wrapped in a rice paper roll.

Dinner: Ate out with a friend. We headed to Kurobuta, where I was given a vegan menu when I asked to ‘change some bits around’. Needless to say that made me happy. I had sweet potato and soba-ko fries with jalapeño sauce. I also had mixed cucumber and avocado maki, grilled aubergine with candied walnuts and a raw nuts and grains salad. I loved it. Japanese food has always been a favourite choice of mine.

Hydration as always, water and mint tea.

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First thing: A glass of warm lemon water and my coffee.

Brunch: From Le Pain Quotidien. Avocado on toast with seeds and beans, and an almond matcha latte.

Dinner: Vegetable fajitas, homemade guacamole, spicy tomato salsa and refried beans, with spicy sweet potato chips and salad.

Water, green juice and green tea.

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First thing: A glass of warm lemon water to start and a coffee.

Breakfast: Almond yoghurt with mixed berries and granola (all organic).

Lunch: Avocado seasoned and eaten out of the skin.

Snack: Edamame beans, rock salt and chilli flakes.

Dinner: My second Mindful Chef meal (both created by Aine Carlin). This time a miso and buckwheat noodle broth with marinated tofu pieces. It didn’t look as good as the picture on my recipe card but it tasted amazing.


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First thing: A glass of warm lemon water.

Brunch: Toast, pain au chocolate (yep, vegan), fruit salad and coffee.

Dinner: Vegan cottage(ish) pie, with sweet and normal potato mash, soya mince, chopped vegetables and gravy. I added extra spinach and green beans on the side, and drank a glass of vegan prosecco (some are made using animal products).

I stayed hydrated by drinking water and green tea throughout the day.

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First thing: I’m sure you can guess by now- warm lemon water and coffee.

Breakfast: Muesli with almond milk.

Snack: Avocado, seasoned and eaten out of skin.

Dinner: Not quite a Sunday roast but not far off; I made a sausage casserole with coconut oil roasted potatoes, peas, spinach, carrots and courgette. My not so vegan fiancé loved it as much as I did, so I got a big thumbs up.

During the day I drank water and a matcha latte.

Make an appointment with Debbie  here