All through college, I suffered from terrible breakouts. I tried every face wash and acne cream you could buy at the drugstore, ordered kits from infomercials and even spent money on some department store regimens, all to no avail.
I cleaned up my diet, went vegan, worked out more, worked out less, slept more and yet, nothing made a significant difference on my face. I hated it! I was so embarrassed and hated how much makeup I had to wear on a daily basis to not be self conscious.
Fast forward a couple of years and I was living in the New York City. I'd just had my heart stomped on by a guy I fell way too hard for. I was distraught, a shell of my former self, walking aimlessly around the city barely able to eat or sleep. It was not a proud moment.
I was just dabbling in wellness as a hobby and hadn't truly begun on my spiritual path. With a broken heart and without a guiding principle, I was more vulnerable than ever. Like a comfortable old sweatshirt to keep me warm during a cold time, I slipped back into a pattern of fad dieting that felt easy, safe and familiar.
The Dukan Diet prescribed eating only lean protein for a week before alternating days of only protein and then protein and vegetables. It even encouraged drinking Diet Coke. The whole thing makes my skin crawl looking back, but I was leaning on it as a crutch during a tough time. Something I could fully control when the rest of my life seemed out of control. It was totally unhealthy behavior that I now see as a lack of self-love and an inability to trust in the universe, but at the time, I was doing the best I could.
Amid this ... interesting diet, I began to notice my skin clear up significantly. It looked the best it had in recent memory, and I realized that years of eating refined carbs was seriously messing with my skin. I never thought of myself as someone who ate a lot of crappy refined carbohydrates, but if I was being honest with myself, my vegan cupcake habit was exactly that: a habit.
I'd traded regular desserts for "healthier," vegan, gluten-free versions, but I was far from living a lifestyle free of refined carbs. Just because I was snacking on gluten-free options didn't mean I wasn't still pumping my body full of stuff my skin probably didn't like. Once I realized the connection, I was able to keep my skin clear for years by really paying attention to what I consume and what my skin looks like in the days that follow.
I can get by with a little bit here and there, but if I want my skin to be as clear as possible, vegetables, plant-based protein and grains are my friends. It's also worth noting that drinking a ton of water is also extremely helpful, especially once you've figured out what your trigger is since it can help flush out toxins and keep your skin looking fresh and radiant!
Now, I'm not saying this is the answer for everyone, but I will say that a lot of skin issues are directly related to what we eat. Some people are sensitive to dairy, some to sugar or oils, but you won't truly find out what causes your breakouts unless you spend a week or two completely eliminating all the culprits from your diet to see if your skin clears up.
What you eat can affect your skin in as little as a day or two! I know it can be hard if you're not used to skipping your favorite go-to foods,
but trust me: finding out this way is so much better than taking some of the harmful acne prescriptions on the market that can tear up your gut and give you a laundry list of unpleasant side effects.
Make it fun, play detective, get to know what works for your body. This information will be valuable for the rest of your life and who knows, you might even discover that a particular food group or allergen affects way more than just your skin.
The fad diet that led me to discover how to treat my skin was just that, a fad. It wasn't sustainable and it's certainly not an eating pattern I'd recommend to anyone. But it was a valuable tool. Not only did I learn a lot about my skin, but I also gained more energy and better focus when I stopped eating pancakes, bread and confections.
If you suffer from ongoing breakouts like I did, I bet you'd be willing to trade a few cupcakes for clear skin. I'm a girl who loves her treats, but waking up in the morning and feeling great about my skin in its natural state is priceless.