I am a sucker for skincare. I take care of my face so much that I don’t let anyone touch it unless they can prove that they’ve just washed their hands. And I refuse to use skincare products with preservatives such as parabens, sulfates, and phthalates. And I never miss my vitamins, as well as my monthly dose of probiotics.
All this effort adds up and pays off greatly – I have small pores, I barely get acne, I have no pimple scars or problems with pigmentation on my face. And it saves me a lot of prep time cause I can skip primer, foundation, and concealer. With lipstick and mascara on, I’m good to go.
I enjoy it so much that I hate it – terribly uncomfortable and sad – when the unfortunate happens and I do get acne. And this only possibly happens 2-3 days before I get my period.
But here’s the good news: I’ve proven that if I follow a special diet during the “critical phase,” I don’t get acne! *victory dance*
It’s been working for 4 cycles now and I plan to keep on doing it. And now, I’m sharing it with you! Yay!
First, what is acne?
Acne are despicable spots that show up when the skin’s pores clog up with dead skin cells, excess oil, and sometimes bacteria. It’s often triggered by hormonal changes in the body, so it’s common with teenagers who are going through puberty. They can occur on any part of the skin, and exist in three kinds: whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples.
How can my food choices affect my skin?
Certain foods can raise your blood sugar faster, and this causes the release of the hormone called insulin. Having excess insulin in your blood can cause your oil glands to produce more oil, increasing your risk of acne. These foods that trigger spikes in insulin are called high-glycemic carbohydrates and are made of simple sugars.
Is there a timing for this special diet?
Let’s define “critical phase” as the span of time wherein you usually get acne, in relation to your period. For example, since I can get acne 3 days before my period, my “critical phase” are those 3 days plus a buffer of 2 days before that. This means that I have to follow this diet for the entire 5 days before my period starts.
Your “critical phase” can be different than mine, so you need to determine when your acne shows up, then add the 2-day buffer, and make sure you get notified when it starts. For this, I find the Clue period tracker app very useful since I can set notifications on specific days, and even personalize the message for my purpose.
What food will you avoid?
Personally, I do not restrict my food choices so I get to eat anything I want but always in moderation, and only during my set eating window. But during the “critical phase,” I refrain from eating food that fall under 3 main umbrellas:
1. High-glycemic carbohydrates. These foods are usually very sweet and highly processed; but they also come in the form of fresh produce that are high in starch and low in dietary fiber.
- breakfast cereals
- white bread
- instant oats
- sugar (fructose, sucrose, glucose)
- dried fruit
- white rice
- sweet corn
- juices and smoothies
- pre-mixed beverages
2. Dairy. Cow’s milk and milk products can cause inflammation, as the hormones in milk react with the testosterone in your own body. This increases the production of sebum in your skin, the oily substance that clogs your pores. Although some studies say that fermented milk products such as cheese and yogurt may not contribute to acne in some people, it’s better to be on the safe side and refrain from consuming either at least during your “critical phase.”
3. High fat and oily food. Though there are good types of fat too, it is still best to lower your total intake of these if you want to control breakouts. Definitely refrain from eating visible or obvious fats, and also be cautious with invisible fats which are absorbed into food while it is processed e.g. fried food or in pastries and chips.
- butter, milk, and cream
- vegetable oil
- pastries & baked goods
- nut butters
- salad dressing
- chips and fries
What food will you eat then?
1. Low-glycemic carbohydrates. These are also called complex carbs as they take more time to digest, allowing gradual and controlled changes in blood sugar and insulin levels. They are also high in dietary fiber that binds and eliminates fat, as well as antioxidants that will keep your skin looking fresh and young.
- unprocessed fruits and vegetables
- yellow & orange: carrots, apricots, sweet potato
- leafy greens: lettuce, spinach, bok choy, arugula
- citrus fruits: orange, pomelo, kalamansi
- brown rice, rolled oats, couscous, quinoa
- legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils
- nuts such as cashew, pumpkin, almond
- whole grains
- whole wheat bread
2. Lean proteins. Choose leaner cuts of meat and cooked them without any fat. For poultry, remove the skin and fatty layer before eating. For chicken eggs, limit to one boiled or poached piece per day. You can also opt for legumes such as soy and soy products as they also serve as a low-fat source of protein.
3. Omega-3 fats. The healthiest types of fats are polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids since they balance out the inflammatory effects of omega-6 fatty acids that are more common in the diet.
- canola oil (if use of oil is inevitable)
- flax seeds
- chia seeds
The best diet advice in dealing with acne is eating a wholesome, balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy protein sources, and whole grains which are also high in dietary fiber, vitamin A, E & zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids. Time these guidelines with your “critical phase,” but for best results, incorporate these guidelines to your daily meals too.
Don’t forget to observe proper hygiene too! Like washing your hands, moisturizing your face, and sanitizing anything that touches it – like your phone or make-up tools.
Cheers to your new acne-free life!