Breakouts & My Diet, The Selfie Experiment
You may have seen a preview of this blog on my Instagram a while back, and if you did I apologize for the serious delay, but it's finally here!
I decided to do this like a classic lab report, 1) because I honestly loved doing lab reports in school, 2) because it seemed like the most easily digestible format. So, here it is:
Despite my balanced, healthy lifestyle, I found myself frustrated with the state of my skin more often than not. This started about two years ago when I made the decision to stop taking the birth control pill (for a number of reasons, but mostly because the way it functions just doesn't align with what I'm about). Breakouts, and acne started popping up way more than they ever had because my hormones were all out-of-whack without the pill. At first, I just thought: they'll balance out after a few months, once my body gets used to regulating its hormones, but that didn't really happen. In fact, right before I started this the right corner of my jaw had been in a constant state of breakout for literal months. I even tried googling what it means if that area is breaking out, I didn't find much aside from "hormone imbalance." So, after trying new skin care routines, masks, face washes, and some hormone balancing superfoods in my smoothies, I started wondering about how food itself might be playing a role, I mean I knew it definitely was but I was specifically curious about sugar, and dairy. So I decided to test it out, and document it to share!
One of the coolest things about our bodies is that they’re kind of like our very own nutrition lab. You can do nutrition research until you’re blue in the face, but no peer-reviewed journal, or carefully crafted google search will be able to truly tell you how your body will respond to certain foods - luckily, your body can tell you itself. Have you ever thought about how much information there is about “how to eat?” There are hundreds of different theories, studies, and ideas - but what did we do before the internet, tv commercials, radio and newspaper ads telling us what’s “good for us?” I’ll tell you what we did…we just ate. Don’t get me wrong, I am one of the biggest possible fans of nutrition research, and information, I think it’s incredibly interesting, ever-evolving and easily one of the most important research areas there is. That being said, all of our bodies are different, the available research is helpful for guiding us, and learning new things but if you want to know what’s best for you - try something, and see how it feels.
- I decided the best way to document a difference in my skin, was to take a photo - so I started taking a selfie a day.
- Days 1-3: I ate no carbs, no fruit, nothing with sugar of any kind, no dairy, and no alcohol - this sucked because I love carbs, but I survived it - I made my smoothies in the morning with just veggies, which I didn't mind but most people probably would have hated (they weren't the tastiest).
- Days 4-7: gleefully added my usual carbs (quinoa, millet, oats, sweet potato, etc.) back into my life, but still no fruit, sugar, dairy or alcohol.
- Days 8-19: added fruit back in, but sparingly. Still no sugar, dairy, or alcohol.
- Day 20: Here's when things got compromised, I had planned to do it for 30 days, but a girls weekend resulted in a couple tequila-sodas (which, in theory still has no sugar), and at dinner my meal came with a dairy-based sauce on it that I wasn't expecting, and because I had forgotten to ask for no dairy, I didn't want to send it back over it.
- Days 23-36: got back on the wagon, until a bachelorette party that included smores, and beer.
- Days 37-now: Just lived life.
So, I think these photos are pretty telling and it was really interesting to me to watch the changes in my face (please excuse the resting bitch face). In hindsight, I should have taken a side-profile photo everyday as well, because a lot of my skin problems happen on the periphery of my face. In fact, that right corner of my jawline, that I was beginning to think might never go away, completely cleared up!
- Day 6: visibly improved skin
- Day 7-13: almost flawless
- Day 14: PSA - don't forget your sunblock!
- Day 15: When you do forget sunblock - treat it with Apple Cider Vinegar to heal overnight and prevent peeling
- Day 23-25: sick days, after indulging
- Remaining Days: fluctuating due to inconsistency but still improved
So, as I mentioned in one of my insta-posts, and as you can see in the details of the days, life got in the way of this experiment a few times. Because of the way that things happened I wasn’t really able to pin-point a cause for breakouts, dairy? sugar? alcohol? There was no way to know what may have impacted my skin in the days following. Which is why I tried to get back to it. At first, I was really determined to achieve a full 30 days, and have a day 1 and a day 30 photo to put side-by-side, I said I was going to do it…so I mentally needed to do it. I wanted a definitive answer which, honestly, is a bit unrealistic, there are so many things we do, eat, use, interact with, are exposed to, in a day that even if you control the parts that you can, you can never truly prove something without a shadow of a doubt. In considering this, I began to realize that what I was doing, was something that was kind of against one of my biggest beliefs, by putting restrictions on myself. Just the fact that I used the words "life got in the way" at the beginning of this paragraph illustrates a problem. Life should never be in the way, life is the way. I do think it can be valuable, enlightening, and important to experiment with foods and how they are effecting us, but in saying that I want to emphasize, that self-imposed dietary restrictions should never get in the way of living your life.
I truly did feel great those first 20 days, my skin was the clearest it had been in years, I felt light, and never bloated, it was very evident that my body loves minimal sugar, dairy, and alcohol, and I honestly didn’t feel restricted because when a time came to indulge…I just did. To really emphasize the impact it was having on me, I literally got sick the Monday after that first indulgence weekend (see: Day 23), it was almost as if my body was revolting against me for putting junk back into it. Like I said in the beginning, our bodies tell us what they need, it’s our job to listen and so many of us don’t even realize the different ways in which our bodies try to communicate with us. Stomach troubles, acne, headaches, sickness, emotions, all of these things can, and often are directly related to the way that you are eating, so next time your body’s talking to you, try listening and changing up your food choices.
What I learned is that my suspicions were correct, that my diet does affect my skin health, and even the best face wash isn’t going to solve what’s happening on the inside. So now I’ve accepted that when I choose to indulge, I’m also probably choosing to break out. So, you better bet my indulgences will be worth every delicious bite (as they should be)!
So, there you have it - my very own little experiment. Thank you so much for reading, let me know what you think!