We are often bombarded with marketing campaigns telling us what we ought to put on our skin to make it better. We sometimes forget that the largest organ of the body, even though external, is affected by what we consume just as much as any other part of our body. Having radiant skin always starts on the inside.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge believer that what you put on your skin can make a whole world of difference. But I also believe that if you eat the wrong foods and drink the wrong drinks all the time, then it won’t matter what you put on your skin until you’ve resolved the issue internally.
I am not just basing this on science, even though it’s proven multiple times that your lifestyle affects how you look and feel, but also on personal experience. I have had a variety of issues with my skin and I’ve been trying, or have successfully managed, to sort some of them out, while still working on others.
Here are some of the issues I’ve managed to get rid of by changing my diet and drinking habits:
- cystic acne
- nail candida
I go over some of these in more detail in my Live Acne Free post.
I am still working on clearing out my Tinea Versicolor, acne scars and blackheads though.
All this to say that I know what you’re going through and how frustrating it can be to find a skin product that works, only to be surprised by the offset of those same symptoms the next day. I can vouch that by changing your diet by following the steps below you will see your skin in a completely different way.
Increase your water intake
The recommended amount is 2L a day, but we rarely meet that. Aim to drink plenty of water at regular intervals until your pee is clear and yes, you will pee a lot. This is a habit for life and not a temporary change. It will make your skin radiant from the inside by helping you flush out toxins.
You can drink freshly expressed juices with no sugar added in the long run, but not during the initial 30 days of the process. Ditch the soda and sugary drinks — follow the 80-20% rule — eat and drink healthy 80% of the time and allow yourself a few small transgressions 20% of the time (that’s 1 day a week).
Eliminate all toxins and triggers for 30 days
A lot of the food we consume on a daily basis is highly inflammatory. Dairy and gluten are in everything. If it’s packaged then chances are it’s processed, if it’s processed it has one of the two – if not both. You can read my rant about the effects of dairy and gluten on our bodies in my post — How Dairy and Gluten are Triggering Inflammation.
Start by following the Whole30 diet — it is tough, but simple. You should aim to eat only whole foods for 30 days and yes, you can eat as much as you want as long as you follow the guidelines in the infographic below.
You should make most or ideally all of your food from scratch. Eating out is not recommended as you won’t know what’s added to the food and what other ingredients it might have come in contact with.
During the first couple of weeks, you should start noticing changes in your skin — some people start seeing the glow immediately as their acne clears. For others the release of toxins can start a cleansing process, where initially you will see more acne, but this will subside after two weeks or less.
Some other side effects you may experience at the beginning are:
- restlessness – mainly due to lack of sugar
- weight loss
- improved bowel movements
- increased energy levels
- clarity – bye, bye brain fog
The main thing to remember is that this is meant to make you feel better, so stick to it. Eat well and regularly. If you allow your body to have energy dips by skipping meals or snacks, then those sugar cravings will kick in and it will be almost impossible to deny yourself some chocolate ice cream.
Start re-introducing some foods after the 30 days
After the Whole30 month is over, you can start re-introducing some of the food groups into your diet on a weekly basis. Make sure to keep track of how your symptoms change. If you notice anything new on your skin or some fatigue kicking in, this may be a sign that you are intolerant to this food type and you should avoid it indefinitely.
It’s also a good idea to get tested for any allergies or food intolerances.
It’s best if you re-introduce gluten, dairy and sugar last. Also, it’s best if you do it on a bi-weekly basis, so you have enough time to see how they affect your body.
For instance, I have been completely gluten free for 3 months now and dairy free for several years. I do allow myself to occasionally have feta cheese and yoghurt but that’s it. In the last week or so, I re-introduced a bit of gluten by eating home made sourdough bread once a week and my body has been able to tolerate it.
For me gluten was the trigger for eczema, psoriasis, bloating, constipation and stomach ache. Dairy was the cause for my cystic acne and even now, if I happen to indulge and add milk to my coffee more than once a week, I immediately get a break out.
I have also been keeping my sugar intake low for years. It caused a lot of inflammation in my body, brain fog and I felt fatigued most of the time, so I decided it wasn’t worth it. I now occasionally indulge in a dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, organic hazelnut ice-cream and let me tell you, I don’t miss the regular kind one.little.bit!
So what now?
Try the above (stick to it!) and let me know how you feel. It’s not an easy process, but trust me, you will feel and look so much better if you just ditch the bad stuff out of your diet.
Make sure you have fun with it and experiment with new recipes and dishes. Impress your taste palette by nourishing your body. In order to have a radiant skin from the inside, you need to make sure that the inside is inflammation free.