We all know there are general do’s and don’ts when it comes to what food you should be fuelling your body with.
When you are trying to clear your skin it is often recommended to cut back on dairy, gluten, refined carbohydrate snacks, sugar, and alcohol.
Instead, it is suggested to replace those foods with healthy options such as fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, pastured meat, eggs, and seafood, and fibre rich grains and legumes.
So – let’s say you’ve done that. You’ve removed the so called “bad” foods and are eating the “healthy” foods, but your skin just isn’t responding in the way you expected.
Maybe it cleared a little bit but has plateaued, maybe it got worse, or maybe now you are experiencing digestive upset like more bloating or gas.
What do you do now?
Consider what “healthy” means to YOU
What works for one person isn’t necessarily going to work for the next. This is true when it comes to diet as with most things.
For example, while we may know that cabbage full of fiber, it may make you feel gassy.
Quinoa and black beans are a great source of plant protein, but maybe you find you get bloated when you have your quinoa black bean salad for lunch.
What makes you feel healthy?
Which foods make you feel blah?
Use these questions as your guide!
- Fullness (when you haven’t overeaten)
If you experience these symptoms often or after eating certain foods, it is possible that you have a food sensitivity.
Food sensitivities are a reaction of the body and immune system to the protein in foods that is not inherently harmful.
The reaction is unlike food allergies in that it less rapid or severe, and symptoms can appear anywhere from 1-4 days after ingesting the food.
Typically food sensitivities are a product of a condition called leaky gut syndrome where a lack of healthy probiotic bacteria reside in the gut.
The cells lining your digestive tract then shrink which allows the tiny protein particles from the food you’ve eaten to possibly “leak” through the lining and into the blood stream.
Since those proteins should not be in the blood stream, the immune system attacks it as if it is an invader and then symptoms (one of which could be acne) begin.
Do I have a food sensitivity?
- Journal your meals
If you are eating what you consider “perfectly,” “clean,” “healthy,” or “balanced,” and have been for a few months…
But you aren’t noticing a difference in your skin and/or you are experiencing more digestive symptoms, then the first thing to do is journal your food.
Get a notebook or a calendar and jot down your meals and all of the ingredients. Then throughout the day note how you’re feeling, not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well.
Also take note of what the general ratio of carbs to protein to fat was in the meal.
You may start to notice a pattern in what you’re eating and the timing of the symptoms.
Play around with your macronutrient ratios to see if eating more carbs at a meal, more protein, or more fat will keep your energy, mood, and digestion stable until the next meal.
But if that doesn’t improve things, then look to see if there are patterns tied to when you eat certain foods.
If you do notice a pattern, eliminate those foods for a few weeks.
You can test your hypothesis by re-adding the offending foods in one by one (give 5 days in between each new add-in since there can be the lapse in symptoms) and see if there is a reaction.
2. Go for a food sensitivity test
Food sensitivity testing such as HEMOCODE will tell you exactly which foods you are reacting to from most to least.
This enables you to eliminate the offending foods and take a load off your immune system while you restore health.
The tests usually involves a prick of your finger by a Naturopath to get a small sample of blood. The company will then test your blood against 50-250 different types of foods.
Certain testing companies including HEMOCODE will also include sample recipes to get you started.
There is no one universally healthy diet
Just because eating a certain way worked for one person, doesn’t mean your experience will the same and that is okay.
Ultimately it takes a lot of trial and error to figure out which foods are working for you and which aren’t.
And even if one food is not working for you right now, it doesn’t mean that will always be the case.
Aiding digestion, and repairing and healing the gut will often result down the line in being able to enjoy a wider range of foods without negative reaction.
Either way, listen to your body to find your own unique version of a “healthy” diet, whatever that looks like right now. It might look a little different than you thought.
Then be patient with yourself and your skin. Be gentle and give your body the time it needs to heal ♥
Samantha is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Yoga Instructor (200hr) currently working toward a diploma in Massage Therapy. She is also a former acne sufferer, and mentor in the Love Vitamin’s Naturally Clear Skin Academy.
Samantha has a passion for learning and for holistic healing through nutrition, movement, and mindfulness that she brings to her clients. Check out her wellness-based instagram @stretch_therapy
Totally agree with this! I suffered from cystic acne for so many years (30 plus!) despite eating in a way that I considered to be very healthy. I was an ovo-lacto vegetarian for most of that time, eventually becoming raw vegan. Although I was underweight, I felt bloated much of the time. Turns out I was eating healthy foods that just weren’t healthy for me. Quinoa is a perfect example…it just doesn’t agree with me. We are not meant to feel bloated and gassy most of the time. For the past five or six years I have felt amazing (and my skin has never looked better) eating fish, meat, eggs, nuts (but not too many), tons of veggies and some fruit. But I’m always listening to my body. Certain fruits don’t agree with me. So I don’t eat them. And food sensitivity tests, or good old elimination diets, can be so helpful to find out what works for you and what doesn’t.
Hey Elizabeth — awesome you got it figured out for yourself! It gets hard to listen to your body when there is so much nutrition information flying this way and that, but if you do, it really rewards you by leading you to your unique version of health
Since dairy is not recommended, can I drink Almond milk instead? Kindly advise.
Yep unsweetened almond milk is a much better choice if you’re acne prone
I have been suffering with mild form of acne over 7 years.
For the past 5 weeks I have been consuming non-dairy foods, and switched to foods containing gluten. I wanted to get as much protein for weight gain purpose and I do workout in the gym several times a week. Unfortunately, my skin has not been getting any better even though I stopped eating dairy products.
Is it possible that gluten can be affecting my skin?
Any help would be much appreciated x
It’s impossible to say, but it’s not a bad idea to give it two or three months to try completely gluten free to see if it’s that!