Okay, so lately we’ve been talking about relaxing on your acne diet, repairing your unhealthy relationship with food, and healing the fearful emotions that are causing you to be so strict and scared about what you eat.
But the question is …. what happens if you actually do legitimately, and significantly break out every single time you indulge in unhealthy food?
I’m not talking about you just *thinking* you break out. When you put so much emphasis on your diet, it’s so easy to get paranoid and wrongly attribute a breakout you would have gotten anyway to this food or that food.
But for example if you have very clear skin as long as you eat a certain way, and it is completely obvious that you do in fact break out shortly after indulging in “unhealthy” food…
What do you do?
Well in my opinion, it may be caused by one of these three things (or a combination of them):
Stress Might Be Stealing Your Nutrients
Sorry to beat the whole “stress & acne” thing over your head like a dead fish, but how much are you freaking because you ate something you didn’t think you should have?
That acute stress attack could create acne on its own, so believe me, it’s much better for your skin and mental health if you just enjoy it when you indulge. If the nervous feelings start coming up, just acknowledge that they are there, but realize that they are not useful to you and don’t feed into them to the point where you get yourself into a frenzy.
You also need to look at the rest of your life and find ways to reduce your overall stress, and deal with the stress you can’t change in a more positive way. It’s also very important to learn to stop putting yourself down (not enough self love is a huge source of stress for us), as well as dealing with and processing old hurts and emotional traumas that you may have pushed deep down inside and never worked through.
You see, your body needs huge amounts of nutritional resources to process and create the chemicals and hormones it needs to get through stressful events. So for some people, they might find that they can have clear skin if they eat a totally “perfect” diet because they are getting enough nutrients to keep the skin clear + deal with all that stress effectively.
But the minute you fall off the wagon, you suddenly don’t have enough resources, and you break out.
You don’t want to live like that. So it’s really, really is important to work on the stress & emotional stuff because the less stressed you are, the more lenient you can be with your diet and still stay clear.
Your Diet Might Be Too Restrictive
Another thing that might be the problem is if your diet is too restrictive.
For example, some people find that when they eat a low carb diet, their acne clears up (and they’re thrilled). But then they have a bunch of carbs and their skin breaks out again.
Or maybe someone’s on a raw vegan diet, but then they eat cooked food again, and their skin breaks out.
As a result, they feel a bit trapped in that one diet.
This may be because you’re training your body to run on a certain set of foods and your body doesn’t really know what to do when you suddenly reintroduce those foods you stopped eating.
It’s kind of like … you know when vegetarians don’t eat meat for years and then when they eat it again, they get sick? It’s like that but with your skin.
Many people use that as validation that the food they were avoiding was bad for them. Maybe that’s true. I very well might be wrong about this whole point, or it’s just that everyone is different.
I can’t really say for sure, but I think in many cases it’s just because your body isn’t used to it anymore. But once it gets used to it again, it’s probably not going to cause any major freak outs.
Like if vegetarians keep eating meat after reintroducing it, soon it won’t make them feel sick anymore. And if it does, it’s probably more to do with the state of your digestion than anything (which is the next point).
That’s why I don’t tend to think that super restrictive diets that cut out many whole food groups are really the way to permanently clear skin. It’s better to eat a well rounded whole foods diet.
Diets that are very restrictive may clear your skin while you’re on them, but you don’t want to feel trapped in that diet forever. You want some leeway.
You Might Need to Strengthen Your Digestion
Another big thing with acne and food is how your digestion is (this may be the biggest thing, actually). Sometimes it’s not what you eat but how strong your digestion is.
So if you eat really good food that doesn’t set off any digestive distress, then you might be clear. But as soon as you go off a bit, your digestion can’t handle it and you end up breaking out.
So the trick to being able to eat a well rounded, whole foods diet, with plenty of leeway, is strengthening your digestive capabilities.
Now how do you do that?
It’s tricky because unfortunately sometimes the way to heal it is contradictory to what I’ve already been saying here (ie. relax a bit, and don’t eat such a restrictive diet).
Obviously it depends on how bad your digestion is. If you get mildish to moderate digestive symptoms sometimes – occasional constipation or diarrhea, occasional bloating, occasional mild heartburn, occasional gas, etc…
Then likely the answer is taking plenty of probiotics and fermented foods, drinking plenty of water (maybe with psyllium husk to help things along & sponge out the bad stuff), and maybe a short period of strictness like a three week candida cleanse to give your gut a break, kill some of the bad bacteria in there, and kick off a healthier bacterial balance.
You may also consider seeing a naturopath about getting a food sensitivity test, and strictly cut out foods you’re reacting to for a period of 6 or so weeks, while taking plenty of probiotics.
You could also have other issues like low stomach acid that could be contributing to the problem, in which case not drinking too much liquid with meals and supplementing with HCL betaine could help.
If you have serious digestive issues – reacting strongly to tons of foods, constant pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, and / or heartburn (caused by something called severe leaky gut syndrome)… or if you have diagnoses with Colitis, Chrohn’s disease, SIBO, IBS, GERD, or other digestive diseases …. often the answer is a bit more long and complicated.
Unfortunately you may have to go through a period of strictness (several months to a couple of years) in order to heal this, on such a gut healing protocol like the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol, GAPS, or SCD diet.
Your therapy may also evolve into using things like colon hydrotherapy…. or even fecal transplant therapy (where they take the healthy bacteria from a healthy person’s poop and transplant that into your bum. Like probiotics on steroids. Yep, that’s a thing – a pretty gross, but apparently can be very effective if things are bad enough to warrant it)
Definitely suggest getting help with this from a licensed naturopath or professional to choose the best path for you.
Okay. That is all. Do you have any stories, experiences, tips, or tricks on this topic? Share in the comments below!