In my many years of battling with acne, I came across all kinds of articles that would tell me different things I should or shouldn't eat, if I wanted clear skin.
Many times, after reading these articles, I would feel hopeless that I would never get my acne under control. I am a total foodie, and all my favorite foods were always at the top of the "do not eat" list.
I was like a yoyo. I would go cold turkey on the “bad” foods, telling myself that once I got my acne under control, I could go back to enjoying life.
However, after a month of “clean” eating and not seeing any real results, I would say screw this and have a binge day, like it was my last day on Earth.
Good intentions slowly faded away, and I would go back to eating all the things I loved over the next few weeks. After I threw myself a pity party because I had terrible skin, I would once again be on the warpath to figuring out how to clear my skin.
I would research further and read yet another article that mentioned diet. Guilty and frustrated, I'd go right back on the “clean” eating program.
If you are anything like me when I was battling my acne, you're here for answers and quick results.
Perhaps you're also confused as to whether or not food really does have anything to do with acne. Perhaps you've read the same statements over and over, all contradicting themselves one way or another.
I battled acne for 16 years, and it wasn't until I fully delved into acne and how it works that I finally had a light bulb moment on how food does affect your skin. That's when I became serious about my diet.
I've heard so many other people ask, “Does food affect my acne?” Many of the forums I read would be peppered with replies like, "No, food does not affect your acne," "It's just your hormones" or "It's just your genetics."
While those statements are accurate in their own way, food is the fuel your body uses to produce and regulate hormones, among other things. So yes, whether directly or indirectly, food does affect your acne.
However, here are a few points you should be aware of, so you can make the best decisions about the food you eat:
Acne, at the topical skin level, is comprised of four components. When they combine, they create the perfect storm, and then you have a breakout.
One of these components is the pores producing excess oil. How does this happen? Certain foods can trigger and turn on this excess production of oil.
So, what food is our culprit? Unfortunately, it's pretty simple and hardly ever talked about.
The biggest problem is sugar or anything that turns into sugar when consumed. Think refined carbohydrates and fast foods (white bread, pasta, cookies, cake and candy, among other things).
When you eat these types of food, your blood sugar spikes. Then, insulin is released, and the oil production in your pores goes up.
Acne bacteria loves and feeds on this oil, leading to a very cramped and inflamed pore.
Next to sugar, dairy is a common food talked about in relation to acne. Why?
Two reasons: Dairy, whether organic or not, contains naturally occurring hormones. When consumed, they also increase oil production in the skin. Second, milk contains naturally occurring sugar.
So, simply put, food that spikes blood sugar levels lead to problems with overproduction of oil, which leads to a breakout.
Can we avoid these foods?
The problem is, sugar is in almost everything we eat. So, am I telling you that you have to go on a water and celery diet to get rid of your acne?
No way! In fact, when I fully got rid of my acne, I was eating things that had sugar and refined carbs in them.
The plain and simple truth here is, while it is important to watch how much you consume of the above mentioned foods, cutting them completely out of your diet will not guarantee you clear skin.
Remember, food is only one key to the very convoluted puzzle of what causes acne.
So, how can you find the perfect balance of enjoying the foods you love without stressing about whether or not they are causing you to break out?
Here's what I do: During the week, I eat clean and healthy, meaning no fast foods, minimal amounts of sugar, no dairy (with the exception of heavy cream, butter and cottage cheese) and no refined carbs. I still consume red or white wine.
Then, on the weekend, I eat what I want and still have a social life. I find that usually by Monday, I am looking forward to healthier eating, and by weekend, I eat my favorites like cookies, pizza and strawberry margaritas.
If you are a coffee drinker (like me) and love your morning coffee with cream and sugar, try using organic heavy cream as your creamer and a dash of cinnamon.
Heavy cream does not contain the same amount of protein or lactose that traditional milk has. Milk protein is where the growth hormones occur and lactose is the sugar content.
I have found this does not break me out like traditional milk does. However, if you find you are still sensitive to this, try experimenting with other choices like coconut or almond creamer.
Also, instead of sugar, try adding a few dashes of cinnamon powder. This not only makes the coffee have more of a sweet taste, but as an added and very helpful bonus to someone suffering from breakouts, it helps keep your blood sugar levels stable and from spiking.
In fact, use this on anything you choose to consume for this added bonus.
The other little hack you can do to help with combating your blood sugar levels is by taking a Vitamin B complex as well as one with pantothenic acid (B5).
Vitamin Bs help metabolize sugar, so when you decide to eat that delicious pink sprinkle doughnut your co-worker brought into work for National Doughnut Day, you'll have some backup for your skin.
So, while it may be hard to cut out your favorite foods, with these tips, you'll be on your way to better skin.
I hope this makes the battle between acne and your love affair with food a little more easier to cope with.