Nov 21

Conquering Acne with Diet

2 Comments / Lifestyle & Health, Personal Growth

Don't dig your grave with your own knife and fork.

In my last post I talked about how I was winning my battle with hormonal acne through the right mindset. Becoming educated about how acne works and doing my best to maintain a stress-free state has proven to be a great foundation for the rest of my efforts to take care of the condition naturally.

I also mentioned that I was taking up a 30-day meditation challenge. I’m not going to lie to you: I did 30 days, then stopped, only to realize that I really needed to make a short daily meditation part of my daily routine. I openly admit that I can be a bit tightly wound, but meditating has made me more aware of that stress in my body while improving my ability to let it go with an intentional focus on my breathing.

I’m not going to suggest that simply meditating every day is going to make your acne disappear, but reducing stress also reduces chemical reactions in the body that can cause or aggravate acne. Even if you’re skeptical, there are no negative side effects to trying!

But today I want to focus on what I’m eating to improve my acne.

I’m far from perfect, but I do generally try to eat healthily. When I eat meat, it’s mainly poultry, and I try to plan my meals so that I’m only eating it a couple times per week. When I eat fish, I go for the wild caught stuff, and I always check for dyes (did you know a lot of places put dye in farmed salmon to make it look more appealing? Gross!). I also try to plan as many vegetarian or vegan meals as I can, but I make sure they are interesting, delicious, colorful things I’m actually going to want to eat. It helps that I enjoy cooking.

Reading “The Clear Skin Diet” was a tremendous inspiration for maintaining a healthy diet, since it talks about the acne-related nutritional benefits of so many fruits and vegetables. I have learned about so many foods, and it has inspired me to make some tough changes. Below is a list of some of the do’s, don’ts and notes for how I am eating my way to clearer skin:

DO:

  • Eat your fruits and veggies, especially purple and green ones. Fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and plenty of inflammation-fighting benefits have me on the hunt for all kind of colorful foods. I discovered purple sweet potatoes recently, and they are beyond heavenly. I highly recommend those.
  • Eat more fish. Especially varieties that are high in Omega 3s. “The Clear Skin Diet” lists mackerel, anchovies, and sardines as the most beneficial, although salmon is a good choice, too.
  • Go for whole grains. I personally go for oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, and whole wheat naan. Beware of labels that say “contains whole grains.” Sometimes these products are made mainly with enriched wheat products, which are missing important acne-fighting nutrients.
  • Drink tea! The power of green tea, especially matcha, is heavily emphasized as a helpful food for acne. I’m also enjoying a custom blended herbal loose-leaf tea with helpful ingredients like dandelion root, rhodiola, motherwort, and red raspberry leaf. Coffee-drinkers are safe here too, since your brew contains plenty of helpful antioxidants. Just skip the dairy and sugar laden cappa-frappa-mochas.
  • Try drinks with probiotics. I’ve been seeing kombucha everywhere lately, and I have become a big fan of it! Probiotics assist in the production of good bacteria in your gut, which studies suggest may be related to acne. If you’re a soda drinker, there are even kombucha sodas that can give you some fizzy satisfaction without the harmful ingredients.
  • Have some chocolate. What? Really? YES! But only chocolate that is at least 70% cacao. Dark chocolate good. Milk chocolate bad.

DON’T:

  • Don’t consume dairy. Apparently cow’s milk is the devil for acne. I really thought that giving up cheese was going to kill me, but the addition of so many flavorful, colorful and fresh foods have really curbed my craving for it. Of all the don’ts, I think skipping the dairy is the most vital – it has made a visible difference for me. Apparently, it is a major contributor to the inflammation associated with acne. The exception to this rule is yogurt, which is apparently fine for you to consume.
  • Don’t ruin your food with extras. I know it’s tempting to take shortcuts or just sprinkle a little something on top for taste, but every little bit has an effect. Skip the sugar on top, drop the processed foods, and ditch the salt. Instead, try to cook with ingredients and spices that are more flavorful naturally. I swear it’s possible.
  • Don’t give yourself an ultimatum. I know this sounds contradictory, but if you have a craving, either find a better way to satisfy it, or indulge in a little taste. Otherwise, you’re likely to find yourself with a belly full of guilt and regret as you skim the bottom of a family-size bag of potato chips. It happens.
  • Don’t forget to plan ahead. For me, meal planning is essential when committing to a healthy diet. I think most people have a hard time because they just aren’t looking forward to eating a pile of steamed vegetables for dinner – I’m not a huge fan myself. If that doesn’t sound great to you, sites like Instagram and Pinterest are full of ideas that are actually appetizing. Figure out what looks good to you before raiding the produce section. I also recommend planning because – obvious statement – fresh things go bad. If you purchase produce without a plan, you’ll end up tossing a significant portion of it in the trash. That’s my experience, anyway.

NOTES:

  • If you’re a cheese lover like me, you’re just not going to make it without a replacement! Avocado has been a lifesaver. I put it on sandwiches, blend it into a creamy sauce for rice and pasta, and it’s excellent with hard boiled eggs for breakfast. It’s creamy, versatile, and guilt free!
  • For breakfast, smoothies are an excellent option. Mine usually consist of ice, spinach, a sweet apple, a banana, another fruit of choice, half of a carrot, chia seeds, flax seeds, wheat germ, and almond milk. The options are endless, so experiment and find what works for you.
  • Search for vegan options. There are some that might not get you salivating, but look around with an open mind. If you want to make a dish (specifically dessert) without the dairy, it’s a great way to find alternatives.
  • Target your weaknesses. Everyone has obstacles, whether it’s a hectic schedule or a craving that just won’t quit. If you know what is most likely to sabotage your diet, make it your mission to find a way around it. If you don’t have time, try recipes you can cook in batches. If you’re low on cash, stick to ingredients that are in season. Healthy doesn’t have to be an inconvenience.

If you’d like a little inspiration, you can peek at my Instagram to see what I’ve been cooking. I have a lot of delicious, acne-friendly recipes coming up, so I will undoubtedly post a roundup of my favorites soon!

If you have any other questions about helping your acne through diet, feel free to post your questions in the comments. I’ll do my best to answer them, but I’d also like to reiterate my recommendation for you to read “The Clear Skin Diet” by Alan C. Logan and Valori Treloar. It is absolutely packed with essential information.

If you have some favorite healthy recipes, share them below!

 

2 Comments

  1. Sage Grayson

    November 22, 2014

    Reply

    My acne cleared up a lot when I became a vegan. I’m kind of addicted to those meditation challenges too, but what really works for me is just 2-5 minutes of mindfulness meditation every morning. The less stressed I am, the less acne I have. Following you on Instagram now too! :)

    1. Ashley Laabs

      November 26, 2014

      Thanks, Sage! I think it’s easy to let go of meditation when you don’t feel in immediate need of it — and that’s my weakness, as well — but five minutes really seems to go a long way!

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