Hey lovely, today I’m going to be talking about how to manage your blood sugar to prevent acne.
This was spurred by last week’s acne success story by Meagan, who said that she was not having the success she wanted just by changing her diet and that things got better when she started being vigilant about managing her blood sugar levels throughout the day.
Now I’ve always known that acne has a lot to do with blood sugar and insulin (amongst other things)…. when your blood sugar spikes up high, your body pumps out a lot of insulin to bring it down, and that triggers androgen hormones, which can trigger acne.
When this happens all the time for a long time, your body starts getting less sensitive to insulin (called ‘insulin resistance’), which means you have to pump out even more insulin to bring the blood sugar down, and it kind of spirals out of control.
Well, my usual recommendations are that you eat what are called ‘low GI foods’, meaning foods that don’t spike your blood sugar too much when you eat them. Like vegetables, whole grains, natural sugars, meats and proteins, nuts, etc.
Not processed sugary foods.
However, I’ve never given much recommendation beyond that, because I’ve personally never taken a specific approach beyond that (although I definitely have sung the virtues of making sure you eat enough food throughout the day and don’t skip meals).
But if you’re continuing to have problems with your skin even though you’re eating only really healthy foods… or eating really well most of the time and only having “cheats” (I hate that word) every so often and then always breaking out after them… managing your blood sugar more closely might be worth a try to see if that’s the culprit.
So How Do You Keep Your Blood Sugar Levels Stable?
Well, you know that feeling when you’re really hungry, and you get really crabby and irritated, or sleepy, or .. you just feel crap?
Well that means your blood sugar is super duper low.
So you absolutely want to make sure that you are eating or snacking on something before you get absolutely starving to death… essentially eating around 6 meals a day (although it could be meal / snack / meal / snack / meal / snack… not necessarily 6 big meals).
And of course, these meals and snacks should not be sugary, processed things… instead choose nuts, eggs, a bit of meat (proteins are best) …. beans, whole grains, a piece of fruit, are good… perhaps cheese if your skin doesn’t react to dairy (although dairy in general is supposed to be quite bad on blood sugar, especially a big heaping glass of milk).
See, even though the above things are quite good on blood sugar and don’t spike it that high, the lower your blood sugar is when you eat food, no matter what it is, the higher it will spike after.
So by avoiding allowing your blood sugar to get super super duper low throughout the day, then you can prevent the big spike after.
This also means you should eat breakfast within a half hour or so of when you wake up, because your blood sugar is already pretty low at that time… the longer you go the worse it’ll get.
How to “Cheat” and Not Break Out
Usually we end up eating the sugary stuff or having an unhealthy meal because we are so hungry and our blood sugar is crying for something to bring it back up. But that’s when the spike is the most disastrous.
So this might be hard to plan out for that reason… but you can make a pact with yourself that it’s totally cool to eat some unhealthy stuff now and then… like a few times a week even… as long as you don’t go more than that and that when you do go to eat this (especially if it’s something really sugary), that you have a little protein about 15 minutes before hand, or you eat it with a small meal.
What this does is start getting your body to produce insulin and then the spike won’t be so caraaaazy when you eat the sugary thing.
I highly recommend doing it this way and giving yourself permission to have the unhealthy food a few times a week under the above circumstances….. because total deprivation is a big cause of the binges which cause the huge spikes.
So if you just allow yourself, and allow yourself to TRULY enjoy it, then you won’t feel deprived and your skin will actually do better for it.
Everyone’s Blood Sugar Shiz is Different
That being said, how much trouble you have with blood sugar / acne is definitely affected by how “insulin resistant” you are (remember how I explained that your body becomes less sensitive to insulin over time; needing more and more insulin to do the job?)
So everyone’s reaction to foods and their related spikes will be different, depending on where you at on this scale.
The good news is that a healthy lifestyle full of healthy, low GI foods, as well as exercise and low stress and all the other good stuff we always talk about here… over time, this will make you much more sensitive to insulin again.
So in the beginning, you might find that even the smallest fluctuations in blood sugar results in acne and that being super vigilant about the 6 meals a day is really important for you.
Also, depending on your level of insulin resistance, you may also find that in the beginning a lot of natural sugar is too much (like fruit, fruit juice, maple syrup, honey, dates, etc).
Natural sugar doesn’t spike your blood sugar the same way as processed sugar, but the more you have of it in one sitting, the more it will affect you (although, whole fruit will always be better in the blood sugar department than the other things listed above, as they are more like isolated sugars… so don’t be too afraid of fresh fruit)
So basically, you might need to be a bit more strict about blood sugar in the beginning, depending on your own body, but over time, things should get better in the insulin department and it won’t be such a big deal as long as you keep up a healthy lifestyle overall.
This is likely one of the reason that I can cheat now… like, a lot, with very little consequence to my skin.
I say one of the reasons, because the other major one is learning to let go of the fear and stress over my skin and things I eat. Sounds kind of paradoxical, but the less stressed you are, the easier it is for your body to heal, including your insulin sensitivity. And therefore, the easier it is to stay clear…. and it goes in an upward spiral from there!
If you found this helpful and you want my full system on clearing your skin and keeping it clear.. check out my Naturally Clear Skin Academy for the full meal deal! 🙂
Are you pretty good about keeping your blood sugar stable throughout the day? Or not so much?
Lots of love,