Is a Vegan diet really best for healing acne?

When I first wanted to heal my acne through nutrition, Google became my best friend. I honestly didn't know much about nutrition, and I definitely didn't understand how food affects our body and our skin. One of the first concepts I encountered while researching adult female acne was a vegan diet.

Vegan noun, a person who does not eat or use animal products.

While my cystic acne was at it's height in severity, I went vegan for many months.  In the beginning I did notice some improvement in the appearance of my acne. However, in the end being vegan didn't win out for me. While my diet is still largely plant based, I don't eliminate all animal products. I want to share with you my thoughts on the vegan diet, specifically as it relates to acne. 

nutrition for acne


The benefits of a vegan diet can be the large number of plants consumed. When you're not consuming animal protein, you need more fruits and vegetables to fill you up. Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants which help fight inflammation in the body. Acne is a sign of too much inflammation in the body so, logically, it makes sense to consume more fruits and vegetables. The problem that often arises here, and the reason I put can be  in italics, it's easy to be vegan and lose sight of nutrition. It's easy to become so focused on whether a not a food is vegan that you forget to evaluate nutritional value. Technically, Oreo's® are vegan. Although I don't think anyone would argue that eating these cookies will help clear your skin. I've seen many times, including in myself, where consuming a vegan diet quickly turns to lots of vegan baked goods, pastas and baked potatoes. These things are fine in moderation but they aren't the super-foods needed to boost our immune system, and can give acne a kiss good-bye.

The downside to a vegan diet is its neglect of healthy fats. When researching a vegan diet I was quite alarmed at how many proponents of this diet still had the low fat mentality that plagued the 90's. The concept of following a low fat/no fat diet is outdated information that was never actually correct. In fact, during the 90's when the low fat craze really took off, heart disease increased as people's waist lines grew. Why did this happen? Most likely it was due to high insulin levels. Instead of eating healthy fats, which keep you fuller, longer, people were eating low- fat crackers, highly refined pastas and low- fat yogurts. All these things spike our insulin levels which leads to excess belly fat, AND many people felt constantly hungry because the very thing that helps keep us full fat was removed from food. What I'm discussing here pertains to weight gain and heart health but, please make no mistake, it's also connected to the appearance of your skin. Warning signs of internal excess inflammation in the body, such as acne, should help us connect the dots: a low-fat/no fat diet won't give us the skin, or the overall health we want.

Vegan diets also eliminate the intake of wild-caught, sockeye salmon. I really can't overstate its benefits to our skin health. First, wild-caught salmon provides a hefty dose of omega-3 essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids simply means our bodies don't make these fats, therefore, we must get them from food.  Omega-6's are also essential fatty acids. However, because of deficiencies in our food supply these days (such as eating grain-fed instead of grass-fed beef, or consuming processed foods containing unhealthy, shelf-stable oils) we are ingesting too much omega-6's and not enough omega-3's. The ratio of these oils should be 1:2 omega 3 omega 6. Unfortunately, our modern diets tend to have a ratio of 1:10 of omega-3 (anti-inflammatory) to omega-6 (inflammatory). [William Sears, MD, The Inflammation Solution,©2015]

Vegan diets also lack astaxanthin. Here we go again with salmon the prize winning fish! Astaxanthin is another reason to love this fish. Astaxanthin gives salmon its beautiful pink color. It's a nutrient that has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect. Astaxanthin paired with beneficial omega-3's in wild-caught salmon make this fish vital to our diets. Notice I keep writing wild-caught. It is important that you avoid purchasing farm-raised salmon. It doesn't contain the same amounts of the powerful antioxidants. In fact, farm-raised salmon may have pink color added, so it appears more like wild-caught.  I also take a fish oil supplement and have noticed a difference in my skin, hair and nails.

Tip: On the days you enjoy salmon for dinner it's okay to skip your fish oil supplement. This will help you stretch your budget a bit farther as well!

Lastly, I encourage you not to place yourself in a "diet camp." What I mean specifically is avoid anything that promises weight loss as its single goal.  It can lead to an all or nothing mentality, in which you feel guilty if you are ever in a situation that makes it impossible to eat and still stay within the diet's strict guidelines. What I do encourage, instead, is focus on real, whole-food nutrition. Shop the perimeter of your grocery store. Opt for organic produce and meats when possible.  If unavoidable, be very selective in the purchase of processed foods. If you're curious what to look for when purchasing processed foods, you can read more here




Have you ever tried, or are you currently following a vegan diet? Have you noticed an improvement in your skin, hair, and nails? How are you currently eating, and how does it make you feel? Please comment!

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Posted in Acne, Nutrition. Tagged as acne, acne coach, acne remedies, acne scars, adult cystic acne, best diet for acne, heal acne holistically, health coach, nutrition for acne, skin health.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie has always been a favorite of mine - regardless of the time of year! After the birth of my second child I began dabbling in a gluten free diet after reading the book, Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis.  I was trying to eliminate those last stubborn pounds of pregnancy and sure enough ditching wheat really helped. During this time I would make pumpkin pie without the crust and literally eat it for breakfast. I'm now gluten free for reasons other than simply maintaining a healthy weight (although it does help). I discovered gluten is related to a lot of digestive issues and was contributing to what seemed like an endless cycle of my skin breaking out. Whatever your reason for being gluten free, this pie won't disappoint. 

While the crustless version of the pumpkin pie is certainly delicious, I feel for social gatherings and holidays it makes a much prettier presentation to present a pie with a crust. 

Gluten Free & Dairy Free Pumpkin Pie

This version of pumpkin pie also happens to be free of dairy as well as refined sugar. I imagine if you keep it a secret, no one will know the difference. It's simply delicious! 

For the crust I used this recipe. Although I altered the instructions a bit. I did not chill the dough and I also did not roll out the dough. I simply worked the crust into a ball and then gently pressed it into my pie plate. 

gluten free and dairy free pumpkin pie

Filling Ingredients: 

  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • 1 can (15 oz) organic pumpkin 
  • 1 cup  coconut milk  - It's important the coconut milk be full fat, from a can such as the one in the link. You will need to chill the coconut milk ahead of time in the refrigerator. Be careful not to shake the can as you want the fat of the milk to separate from the liquid. You can use the fat that rises to the top of the can for your whip cream. I use this method.  Use the remaining liquid for your filling. I have made this pie several times and almost everytime the liquid measures to 1 cup. If you are slightly under, it's okay to add a bit of water to the milk. The milk should yield fairly close to 1 cup. I wouldn't recommend using more than 1 or 2 TBSP of water. 
Directions: Mix coconut sugar, sea salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in a small bowl. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Stir in pumpkin puree and sugar-spice mixture. Once combined, gradually stir in coconut milk. Pour into your prepared pie crust.  Bake at 325 for 55 to 60 minutes. 

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through these links I earn a small commission that helps keep my pantry stocked with chocolate and coffee. Any purchase is greatly appreciated.
 

Posted in Recipes. Tagged as dairy free, desserts, gluten free, gluten free desserts, gluten free pie, gluten free pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving.

Processed foods - what to look for & what to avoid for clearer, more beautiful skin

For optimum health it is better to avoid processed foods. But it's  difficult these days to do that.. Life seems to be busier than ever and it seems we have less time to dedicate in the kitchen than in years past. It's no wonder women resort to picking up boxed packaged items, and foods in the freezer section.

I'm all about balance nutrition shouldn't be viewed as all or nothing. When clients come to me for coaching I make it a point to meet them where they are. It's all about giving yourself grace. Do what you can with the knowledge, information, budget and time you have.

While I do cook mostly from scratch there are a few things I purchase prepackaged. However, there are KEY things I look for before buying a processed food; and there are certain factors I won't compromise on.
processed foods what to look for - what to avoid

In order to manage acne it is best done from the inside out. Focus on nutrition to bring your skin to an improved state of health. Examine all facets of your diet.

If, for example, buying jarred marinara sauce works for you right now, great! That's what works in my house as well. Let me share with you some key things to look for in any packaged food you buy.

 
  1. INGREDIENTS: This is an instance where less is more. The fewer the non-food ingredients (such as stabilizers), typically the better the food is for your body.
  2. WORDS: This one is simple. If you read the ingredient label and you don't recognize half the words, or it sounds like something you'd be reading in chemistry class, look for an alternative. 
  3. SUGAR: Here's where it can be a bit tricky. One of my favorite packaged foods Larabar ® - has a sugar content of around 16 grams per bar. However, the ingredient list is short and it's all REAL foods. The sugar content comes from whole foods not highly processed, refined sugar. Also, they contain some dietary fiber and protein which brings me to the next item.
  4. PROTEIN and FIBER: Look for items that are high in protein and high in fiber. These foods will help slow the release of sugars into your bloodstream and will help keep you fuller, longer.
  5. MSG (monosodium glutamate) and HFCS (high fructose corn syrup): Honestly, I could write an entire paper on why these two should be avoided but for now let me keep it simple. MSG is used as a flavor enhancer but it's linked to respiratory, gastrointestinal, cardio vascular, circulatory, muscular, visual and urological conditions. Should I say more? As for HFCS this is a sneaky little devil. HFCS is a highly processed sweetener that (studies indicate) interferes with your body's natural ability to recognize when you are full. It may, in fact, "tell" your brain, "You're not full. Keep eating." If true, there is little wonder why it would be added to processed foods. 
  6. OIL: Cheap, highly refined oils to avoid include corn, cottonseed, palm kernel, partially hydrogenated, safflower, sunflower and soybean. It can be really tough to find products that don't contain those oils. Most processed foods use cheaper vegetable oils for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately they do nothing for the beauty of our skin (or our insides). These oils are found in obvious places like potato chips but they also hide in sneaky places like jarred sauces and salad dressings.  Instead look for oils and product-containing oils made from coconut, flax, olive, avocado and nuts.
  7. NON-GMO: Genetically modified organisms (GMO) have altered DNA, changed by genetic engineering. 75% of all United States processed foods contain a genetically modified ingredient. The concern is genetic engineering hasn't been around long enough for us to know its long term effects. Dr. Sear's motto is "When in doubt, leave it out". I have adopted this attitude as well. 
  8. ORGANIC: This last one I don't adhere to 100% of the time because organic isn't always an available option. If it is available, I typically choose organic over conventional. Organic foods eliminate your consumption of pesticides and herbicides, which is a plus.
    • Note food labeled organic are also non-gmo. However, any food labeled non-gmo doesn't necessarily mean it's organic

Become a label reader. Take the extra 15 seconds needed to read the ingredient list on every packaged food you buy. I even periodically re-check the labels of foods I buy. Sometimes manufacturers change ingredients, or start using GMO's where they had not previously.

Know what you're putting into your body! For healthy skin, avoid too many processed foods.
This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through these links I earn a small commission that helps keep my pantry stocked with chocolate and coffee. Any purchase is greatly appreciated.
 

 

Posted in Acne, Food, Health, Nutrition. Tagged as acne, acne coach, heal acne, heal acne holistically, non-gmo, organic, processed foods.

when change is slow to come & you lack support

We live in a world of quick fixes. It seems like everywhere you look there is an advertisement for something that will help you to "look good and fast." This can be tempting and many of of us fall prey. After all who doesn't want to look good in a bikini by Friday or have perfectly clear skin in only one month? I know there was a time in my life when I fell for this stuff all the time! And guess what? Some of it worked! The problem was nothing worked for long and then I was right back where I started.

Today I want to talk to you specifically about treating acne and how those changes may look.

We tend to think of acne as being only an external issue. After all, it's clearly visible on our skin so a really good face wash should clear that up, right? It's not that simple. Acne is often a sign of a deeper internal issue. Where I see women face trouble is they only address the visible signs the acne. By failing to look deeper their acne continues to resurface causing them to move on to the next greatest skin care.

Our skin is an organ. In fact, it's our body's largest organ! When we view our skin this way, instead of simply an outer barrier, it's rather silly to think our skin doesn't paint a larger picture.

change is slow to come & you lack support


For years I was on an acne skin care line. My face remained clear as long as I continued using the product and it worked for 8 years! This led me to believe my acne had been eradicated. I thought it was gone and all I had to do was continue to buy this certain face wash. I could not have been more wrong!! The acne skin care line was simply a band aid, masking a much bigger problem. All at once the product failed to deliver it's usual results and I was left with an enormous mess my skin had never looked worse. I was devastated.

For the first time in my life I was forced to look at other options. I naturally tried a few other skin care lines all to no avail. After a bit of research I learned there was a holistic side to healing acne. What?! I had never before even considered that there was a root problem to my acne, never mind addressing it.

The most important shift I made was my mindset. You can read about that here. The second shift was changing the way I ate. I created a plan and stuck with it for a solid 6 months no cheating, no slipping. What I noticed were slow changes and sometimes the healing was cyclical there were a few times my skin 'purged' during this period.

Because of this, some people thought I was nuts. Some questions I received:


Shouldn't your skin be completely clear with all the dietary changes you've made?


Is your body getting proper nourishment?


Why are you doing this to yourself? Aren't you miserable? You know I have a friend who sells acne skin care. You should call her.



Maybe you've heard a few of these yourself?


I do believe all these things were said with good intentions. Spoken by those who cared about me, it really was an act of love not malice. However, I knew deep down inside that I was on the right track and I had to tune these voices out.

I have seen this same scenario with my clients who are working so diligently to get to the root problem of their acne. Family members and friends think they are nuts! I think the two main reasons why are:

  1. People still largely view acne as only an external problem and one that can only be treated through skin care.
  2. Healing acne holistically from the inside out takes time and results don't always come quickly.


What do you do when you face these roadblocks?

It's important to remember who you are doing this for. You! You deserve to look and feel your best.

It's important to remember that external remedies are only a band aid. It's not that you can't use them, it's that you have to also address the underlying issue or you will never truly be free of your acne.

It's important to quiet the external voices. Don't try to argue or reason with those who find your new dietary lifestyle to be crazy. You'll never win the argument! It's better to smile, thank them for their concern and move on. Which brings me to my final point don't overshare!

I know this may seem odd because when we're trying to lose weight or step up our fitness game, we're often encouraged to tell lots of people so we hold ourselves accountable. Treating acne is a whole different ball game; one that is often misunderstood. Because of that it is better to not overshare with too many people. Having one or two people close to you who you trust is the best option. They can help hold you accountable and offer encouragement and support. This support may not come from immediate family. It's nice if it does but it doesn't always happen that way.


Where are you on your journey to healing your skin? What approaches have you tried? Do you feel you have proper support? Leave a comment I'd love to chat!














Posted in Acne. Tagged as acne, acne scars, acne skin care, acne treatment, heal acne, heal acne holistically, health and wellness, how to eat to heal acne, skin care.

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