The Problem With Restrictive Diets, and What I Did Instead for Clearer Skin
You are what you eat! I'm a skincare junkie for sure, but now more than ever, skincare is just as much what you put into your body as what you put on it. The internet is swimming with articles about people who swore off dairy or meat or gluten, only to emerge with clear, radiant skin.
I’m a sucker for anything claiming to clear my hormonal acne, so naturally I’ve tried a number of these diets to supplement my daily skincare regimen. Long story short, none of them have worked for me. In fact, they always made my skin worse. This, I believe, was because of one big factor that came along with my dietary restrictions: stress. Constantly examining labels, wondering if “May contain milk” means that it has milk or it doesn’t, having to ask restaurant staff to double check ingredients for me - it would put a serious strain on my daily eating habits, and my face showed for it.
So after a good deal of trial and error, I decided to ditch restrictive skin-dieting and made an important resolution: I resolved to change my mindset on skin-friendly food to being inclusive rather than exclusive. Instead of constantly worrying about cutting out foods I shouldn’t eat, I started paying more attention to foods that I should be incorporating into my diet. And guess what? It totally worked.
I was gifted a really great book called Eat Pretty: Nutrition for Beauty Inside and Out, by Jolene Hart. It's basically my second bible. In it, Jolene does talk about “Beauty Betrayers” (aka the foods to avoid) but more importantly, she gives a long, detailed list of “Beauty Nutrients”: foods that are rich in skin-beautifying agents. These include whole, organic, plant-based foods (eaten raw when appropriate), colorful fruits and vegetables loaded with antioxidants and essential nutrients, and omega-3 rich proteins like eggs and wild caught fish.
With my new inclusive diet, I still ate dairy, I still ate meat, I still ate grains and enjoyed the occasional slice of pizza on the weekends. But the conscious effort of adding more whole, colorful, unrefined foods to my daily diet did wonders for my skin (and my peace of mind). The best part? Gradually, the skin-friendly foods in my inclusive diet began leaving little-to-no room for “bad” foods.
By adopting an inclusive diet of good-for-you foods, my skin has made some major improvements. Acne in between periods is a thing of the past (if I do get a pimple or two it’s the result of a weekend of one too many sugary alcoholic beverages and greasy foods - not what I strive for on the reg but hey life happens) and breakouts during my period have reduced to minor blemishes that typically subside before they come to a head.
Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to nipping acne in the bud for good, but eating healthy, whole foods has been helping me win that race a lot quicker. If you’ve been stressing over the pressures of a restrictive diet, make the change! Your skin (and that beautiful mind of yours) will thank you.
If you’re curious about what my skin-friendly meals and snacks look like, here’s an example of a day’s worth of food for me (approx. 1,600 calories):
BREAKFAST: 2 free range eggs cooked in avocado spray oil, 1 cup mixed berries, 1 tbs all-natural almond butter
SNACK: 1 oz organic grass fed whole cheese, 1 apple
LUNCH: Colorful salad with 1 cup kale/spinach mix, ¼ cup red cabbage, small handful of pea sprouts, ⅓ cup chopped mini bell peppers, ½ mango, ½ avocado, 1 tbs sunflower seeds, 4 oz organic chicken, 2 tbs Annie’s Lite honey mustard vinaigrette
DINNER: 4 oz baked wild caught salmon, 1 small baked sweet potato, 1 cup steamed broccoli
Until next time!