Emotional Acne Stuff that I Still Need to Work On

Last year, I won a full day white water rafting trip for four people from a local radio station. The other day, my boyfriend, Luke, my best friend, Jesse, her boyfriend, Lee, and I all hopped on the ferry over to Vancouver Island and made a point to use my free rafting trip before it expired.

Lunch was included on our rafting trip, and… I mean… they’re packing a lunch for all these people for an adventurous day on a river. I knew it was obviously going to be sandwiches.

That’s okay. I don’t eat gluten, and definitely try not to eat anything processed like weird lunch meats, but I have been eating incredibly well lately, and … hey… it’s one lunch. So it didn’t bother me that much, and besides – I really didn’t want to be the one making a fuss and asking them to change their menu just for me.

Number one thing I need to work on: Self Control.

Okay, so I ate my sandwich with my bread, and my lunch meat, and my giant dollop of processed mayonnaise and mustard. And I liked it. I am a strong believer that if you eat poorly once in a while, and in moderation, it probably isn’t going to do anything to you.

But instead of doing that and feeling good about having my one “bad” meal, my brain went “Well, you already ate some bad stuff. May as well just keep going”. So I ate a bunch of veggies dipped in gross, processed oil infested Kraft salad dressing. Then Jesse pointed out how amazing the sugary granola bars were, so I had one. And then I had another. And then…. well I had that many…. so what’s one more gonna do? So I had another. Then after we were done rafting, we were all shivering, so they offered us some processed packet hot chocolate for our bus ride back to town. I didn’t have to have it, but …. I did anyway.

After rafting, we raced to catch the last ferry home and missed it by one second. We pulled up just as it was untying from the dock. Stuck on Vancouver Island, we all went out for dinner to a Mexican restaurant. Not that Mexican food is ridiculously healthy or anything, but I could have at least had a corn tortilla instead of a fluffy, white, flour tortilla. But I wanted a burrito, and I had already had gluten that day, sooo…..what’s some more gluten gonna do?

Then because Luke and I had to work the next day at 8:30 am, we camped in the woods next to the ferry terminal and caught the first boat back home before a race to get there on time. I’m not one for a long day of work with no breakfast, so we decided to order the on-boat cafeteria plate of greasy breakfast food. This wasn’t classy breakfast, it was like… nasty sausages, a pile of unappetizing scrambled eggs, and fried hash brown patties. You know… like… Denny’s style.

Then because I obviously couldn’t pack a lunch that morning, I had to pop over to the bakery midday to grab me some grub. I drew the line with myself by ordering some gluten free chili polenta – maybe not what I would normally eat because it had lots of cheese on it, but I had to stop myself from continuing my free for all with some pizza – I guess it seemed pretty good by comparison.

Ooookay. Soo…. wow.

I’m giving myself an inch and my brain is trying to quickly eat up several kilometres!

Why? Is it because I secretly despise having to look after all the details of my health all of the time? That I’m jealous of those that can just eat whatever they want whenever they want, and not care? Is it just because I’m sick of cooking the same things (even though they’re delicious) and I just crave some variety?

I don’t know.

Anyway. I didn’t feel very good about this whole thing as the day went on. It’s not even the fact that I ate bad food….I don’t even care. I enjoyed that part. I mean.. heck…it tasted good, and it was fun to just throw my self control out the door and have fun with my friends for ONE day. I knew I’d be returning home soon and I knew for sure that I will just get right back into healthy eating, so whatever.

That’s what my rational mind said. But because I wrote that article the other day about hypnotism and using hypnotherapy to release ingrained reactions to our acne, it made me really think about what sort of fearful reactions I still have ingrained in my own head.

I know that one is my fearful reaction to eating unhealthy food.

It seems my mind is still trained to fear that it will directly cause acne, even though I have no evidence that it will necessarily translate into that. This reaction has become much less pronounced – I remember how utterly terrified I used to be when I first started improving my diet to treat my acne. Now one or two unhealthy meals honestly doesn’t bother me anymore, but I can tell that an uncontrolled binge still sets those fireworks of fear off in my head. They are more like wimpy firecrackers now than huge cascading light shows…. but they still seem to be stuck there due to habit.

Second is my reaction to the fear, and one habit of mine that still seems to crop up when I get nervous about my skin is my tendency to touch my chin.

I realized that since I haven’t been worried about acne much lately, I subsequently haven’t been doing this either…. but here I was, doing it again. My hand mindlessly begins searching for spots that are coming up. This is obviously a habitual, nervous reaction, because even though my mind KNOWS that if this unhealthy binge was going to give me zits, they wouldn’t come up right away. Yet, my hand begins it’s search right away.

Anyway… I just wanted to share that with you. I’d really like to get to the point where I can disassociate unhealthy eating with my fear of acne. I know that most of my motivation to eat healthy now stems from other things – a general respect for taking care of the body so that it can serve me well in the future. But that residual fear of acne is still clinging a little bit and I don’t like it. And like I said, my article about hypnotherapy really reminded me that I’m not emotionally unbound just quite yet.

Hopefully one day I will be though. It’s all a beautiful process, right? :)

You can totally be happy, healthy and acne free!

Just grab my free gift to you, ‘7 things You Can Start Doing Right Now to Clear Your Skin’ and get started right away!

Join over 15,000 women who are on their way to gorgeous skin and an amazing life


  1. Amber says

    I have had very similar experiences with self control. A few weekends ago I was at a large family reunion/party and I definitely strayed way too far from my diet during those few days. I guess I’m an all or nothing kind of person, so once I eat one bad thing I tend to keep at it. The only time I would worry is if it goes on for a long period of time. I love your honesty on this blog. It is comforting to know that even those who have cleared their skin mess up and still struggle once in a while. I bet that years from now the emotional issues will fade away. I just hope I can get clear too. Don’t be so hard on yourself! I suppose that wanting clear skin is a good motivation for staying away from bad food, but you gotta remind yourself: we only live once! That is how I don’t get upset if I have a treat…or two…or three. ;)

    • Tracy says

      Hahah I agree…. I don’t think we should ever not have our favourite bad foods ever again… I guess I’d just like to have the bad foods once every once in a while instead of binges hahah. Meh. It’s life! I’m back to the usual healthy fare now and all is well!

  2. Sampson says

    It might sound kind of defeatist, but I’ve long given up on trying to get over these feelings of “omg I’m going to break out” when I eat crappy food for extended periods of time.

    I don’t ever really think that hazardous thinking is going to leave my head and I’ve come to terms with it. However, I also know the value of such thinking in that it helps you get back on track because you’re quickly able to ascertain “ok, today I didn’t eat healthy by any means. Tomorrow I need to get back on track.”

    • Tracy says

      Hmmm its nice to hear you say this actually. I suppose a little bit of guilt is necessary to keep us on track. I guess I’d just like my built to be for some other reason than acne. Maybe that won’t ever happen and I’ll just have to accept that :/

  3. Sandy Crow says

    Uuuugh I broke out at the very beginning of a vacation with my family I’m on right now. We had McDonald’s for breakfast and lunch on the road, and pizza for dinner. The next day we had junk food for breakfast, and then I ordered a vegan burger on whole wheat for lunch (still feeling crappy knowing it probably would make a difference). I think if I had just relaxed I probably wouldn’t have broken out as badly as I did – I’ve eaten worse and been fine!

    • Tracy says

      Yes…. that’s the thing……. I’m also having a couple small pimples that weren’t there before…. and was it really because of the food? OR THE WORRY??? I don’t know.

  4. Steve James Small says

    One of the most difficult things is saying ‘no’ to unhealthy food offerings haha – especially when they are giving out free tasters in supermarkets.

  5. Tyler says

    TOTALLY FEEL. haha my nervous tick when I know I have just ate unhealthy is looking in the mirror wayyy to much, again like magically the pimple will pop up immediately after binging or something. I also wonder if it is the food or the stress over eating that food that actually caused the skin problem haha. I feel really bad sometimes because I’m kinda a bipolar eater. When in public, I feel so self righteous turning down junk food and secretly judging people that eat it because to many of my friends/hockey teammates I am known as “the healthy kid” and I have to live up to that reputation. Yet I of course secretly want to eat that food and miss the days when I honestly didn’t care about food and food was just that, food (in a fun good way). Now it is like this nuisance and I always have to stress about being healthy and how i’ve heard gluten, dairy, red meat, soy, sugar…blablablablabla will make me breakout when its probably just in my head. I wish I could get to the point where food is more fun for me like when I was younger. I mean I have never had severe acne, but never perfect skin either so when I learned about how powerful food can be is when it all became more than just food. I am trying to find the balance in my life between being in control of my health and not so restrictive or a health freak. I am also a young male athlete and wanna put on muscle and feel drawn to the paleo style of eating but my parents think I am taking it too far eliminating all grains/legumes and I agree that feels way to restrictive and not practical living in the U.S. considering we live off grains/dairy and whatnot. I think my greatest fear is commitment. I never stick to anything, I want to change but I put change off for fear of what others will think of me/fear of losing myself in the process. Sorry for the long rant, but your post really resonated with me today and wanted to tell you where I am coming from.

    • Tracy says

      Thanks for the rant Tyler… it was well said! I still grapple with this stuff fairly often, but not as much as I used to. I remember feeling very trapped by food when I first started this whole thing, but I have come so far. So I know there is still even farther I can go to heal this sort of … torn feeling between eating healthy because I want to and because I have to, and being okay with not eating healthy when I want to. If that makes any sense :/ So don’t worry…. !

  6. Andrea says

    I hear you Tracy. Friday night I ordered my daughters a pizza for an end of school term celebration. They were ecstatic b/c I dont let them eat take out. So here I was at the dinner table with my yummy quinoa & veggies, but I was truely salivating over this pizza they were eating. Mind you I have never liked pizzas & dont eat them, but the smell got my tastebuds going, so I had to have one bite, then a second & well 2 slices later I was telling myself I was going to “hell”. It’s been 3 days after my pizza craze & no new spots have surfaced, but my mental has been fantastic…I dont know, maybe that helped me get away with it?

    By the way, I’m curious, do you not eat any bread at all? Like gluten free, essene/ezekiel. Bread is my biggest weakness, but I buy an expensive one here that has (Kamut flour,kamut sourdough,sea salt & olive oil). I know kamut still is gluten, but I really dont like gluten free bread. I’m trying to find a rice bread, but it’s very hard to find ones that dont have yeast.

    • Tracy says

      No I don’t eat any bread, although that is the ONE thing that I kind of wish I could, and only because of the convenience. Kamut is an easier gluten to digest, I think, so it’s much better than wheat gluten. Is your skin behaving on your diet most of the time? If so, then don’t worry about it and keep eating the bread if you really enjoy it!

      • Andrea says

        thats true, my nutritionist told me if I have to eat bread to eat kamut b/c it has less gluten & therefore easier to digest, but she prefers me not to eat any bread at all, unless I can find a good rice bread. To be perfectly honest, when I dont eat any bread like kamut, & I’ve tested this theory for a month, my acne clears up & I’m not blotchy. So I have started to ween myself off it again….

  7. Lauren says

    It’s refreshing to hear someone else admit to these bad food cravings and occasional overloads. At least if we’re guilty we’re not alone!

    • Tracy says

      Yep, I’m not perfect and no one is… I deal with human frustration all the time. I’m so happy I found the natural route to healing my skin, but of course like anything, it comes with its trials!

  8. says

    “Well, you already ate some bad stuff. May as well just keep going” – This happens to me all the damn time!

    OK, well it did. I am lucky to say that I have more self control and am able to back off more these days. I’ll once in a while lose it but most of the time I am good.

    I think one problem is the fact that we are trying to be perfect. This is why Tim Ferriss idea of having one dedicated cheat day can benefit millions of people. I love to eat healthy. I love it to death. I feel awesome and am at the top of my game in everything when I am 100% primal.

    When I get away, even when I eat 10 raw almonds with the skin on I feel like crap. So why eat crap? Because sometimes its fun. I am very intolerant to most dairy… but the smallest order of ice cream less than once a month has more benefit then harm. How could I say this?! Stress. I still personally believe that stress is a larger factor in all diseases then we give i credit for. Everything is related to everything else but stress seems to be the underlying cause.

    You ate 3 granola bars because you were stressed. You were worried. In fear. I lived my whole life in fear up until just a few years ago. This led to other things including acne. Stress is HUGE. Get sleep and your stress will be reduced. Play more, be social and work less and your stress will be reduced.

    Stop desiring so many material things unless you are the richest man in the world. Your stress will be reduced.

    If I am at an ice cream shop with friends or family and I want ice cream and feel AWESOME then I will order the smallest size without guilt. Without any whatsoever. I have decided to live my life the way I want to live it. My siblings will always say… “that’s not primal.” I now say it is. I define primal MY WAY. If I want ice cream once in a blue moon then I’ll do that.

    If it seems like I am about to get off track a bit too much then I engage in a 1-4 week challenge where I am super strict with my eating – no excuses!

    Phew… that was a fun rant :)

  9. Maryssa says

    Hahaha love this article :) I used to do the same thing in such a BAD way. Now that I have a better diet though I get too sick to do that to myself anymore. So hard to eat correctly when you’re away from home though. Hope you’re doing well!

    • Tracy says

      Yeah it is really hard to eat well when away from home!! I just went and did the same sort of thing as I did in this article at Diversity this past weekend… but this time I didn’t feel as bad about it. I don’t go away that often, and I’d rather just have a good time than spend all weekend worrying about how healthy my food is. I kind of paid for it today though as I felt fatigued and drowsy and not the greatest….. ohhh well. Hope you’re well too Maryssa!

  10. Tess says

    oh wow. i’m so glad i read this. i’ve been holed up in my apartment writing a paper for the past few days and binge eating like crazy. i keep telling myself, “eh, i’ve been so good lately, a little gluten and dairy can’t hurt. and i deserve a little sugar for all this hard work!” and now, instead of focusing on my work, i’m stressing about the breakout i’m anticipating….I’m only half-way through this article but i had to post because right as i read, “one habit of mine that still seems to crop up when I get nervous about my skin is my tendency to touch my chin,” I realized that I was feeling my own chin! Ugh.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Want to know who comments after you? Get updates by email. You can also subscribe without commenting.