I have a brain-bending question about acne, hormones, diet and overeating...! I am a fully-fledged paleo convert, student of natural medicine, and total healthy living geek, but I also struggle with persistent acne around my jawline (i'm female, 23, worse since coming off the pill last year) coupled with a bad habit of binge eating every 1-2 weeks. I'm usually very 'strict' with my diet and eat only organic, grass-fed meats, eggs, veg and limit nuts as I suspect they make my acne worse. I do include tahini because i'm shamelessly addicted, so perhaps this is sustaining the skin thing? Who knows. I feel like everything is a possible culprit in my continued acne woes (mild/moderate, but damn frustrating!) and wonder just how 'perfect' you have to be to clear your skin with the paleo diet? This weekly/fornightly binge may occur when i'm really tired, stressed and in front of the computer and I go to town on either dark choc/'paleo-ish' treats, or end up downing my flatmates terrible ice-cream and cookies. Is this resulting in a continuous cycle of breakouts? I watch my buddies eating these foods on a regular basis without dramas, and wonder why the seem to suffer no ill effects!? Should I stop worrying about being 100% 'clean' and accept that it is just a hormonal problem? The dr. suspects I may have pcos (don't fit symptom picture but no cycle for 1 year + acne) so this may be the potential cause of the skin stuff. Tis a mystery! I don't even enjoy the non-paleo foods and tend to do it as a form of relaxation and 'zoning-out'. Is this normal? Does everyone slip up occasionally? Gosh, there's a lot of self-pity contained in this message, but would love some extra input and advice from this awesome community! Thanks for readin'!
For me, the big culprits seem to be wheat, the protein casein (found in milk), and soy. I read the labels on the dark chocolate bars and avoid even soy lecithin. Sugar itself doesn't seem to effect acne.
So I am strict about this when I am cheating. Dark Chocolate, coconut-based ice cream products, fruits- I've recently figured out that if you combine really good pastured butter with dried figs it tastes awesome. I'll probably try it with dates eventually. But I digress.
Now, the good news is, I don't feel deprived at all. In fact I often feel like I've just fallen off the wagon. If I keep eating too many carbs, I'll start to feel bad, but as far as acne is concerned, I don't have a problem anymore. Contrast with years ago when I baked bread every week, and had outbreaks every week, to now, when I occasionally get a single pimple and can almost immediately connect it with a suspect piece of food at a restaurant or at a friends house (they sneak soy into everything these days).
The bad news is the pill. You have to be patient as the body finds its equilibrium. Hopefully any damage is reversible. You may need to drop the tahini and get really strict on your Omega-6 intake. Many people seem to be fine with tahini, but since you are already coming at this in a fragile state you really want to squash anything that encourages inflammation.
Its funny because I felt somewhat like this post till I really committed to the ray peat diet. Face has never been clearer in my life and it stays clear despite eating a diet based around what people claim are the two biggest trigger foods(sugar and dairy).
There is a reason you get hormonal problems and cravings on a low carb paleo diet.
Most of us eat bad stuff sometimes; please don't beat yourself up! I'm not sure how much the dietary slips could be contributing to your acne, but when you mentioned it's around your jawline, it made me wonder about how often you rest your chin on your hand, or use a landline-phone that touches the area? Given the location of the breakout, that could be a factor. What's your skincare routine like?
If you are still binge-ing and having symptoms of PCOS, you still have a ways to go. You might want to try the leptin reset or an autoimmune protocol. Pay attention to your omega's, keeping the 3's higher. The sesame in tahini is really super high in omega 6. I can't eat more than a little bit of sesame or I have problems. If you need a binge, go eat a bag of plain coconut.
for me, being off wheat and dairy certainly helps... as does limiting dairy and getting tons of sleep. Oh and remembering to drink tons of water and take things like milk thistle... but whether i like it or not it's hormonal. and WHENEVER i take a break from the pill it all comes back. i stopped the pill last year and had the worst break out of my life, i had to go back on it. i'm cursed hormonally and just need to deal with it! i suppose things like evening primrose, zinc, starflower etc all might help, but for me i just have to take the pill. (20 years of mild acne...)
I don't think you should stop worrying about being 100% "clean"...because lets face it, its VERY difficult. That would mean no wine (or alcohol of any sorts), no chocolate (take a look at the ingredients on most), no eating out...EVER, so on and so forth. What you should focus on (which I need to tell myself quite frequently) is that its okay to have "binges" every now and then...but you need to prepare yourself accordingly.
...what do you mean "prepare yourself accordingly?!"
What I used to do was buy small pints of ice cream or frozen yogurt every now and then...I would take a few bites every few days if I felt like I was starting a craving, then put it back and leave it. About every 10-14 days I would go on a raging binge spree and eat everything. I would start with my Paleo foods (bacon, eggs, meat, veggies, fruit, nuts...) to try and kill the hunger and eat approriately...and eventually Id give in and eat the rest of the pint of ice cream. This usually made me hungrier within a few hours, and not to mention HYPER after trying to eliminate all processed sugars. Eventually I went from ice cream to coconut milk ice cream (has a little less sugars...and supposedly low glycemic, but couldnt tell you how accurate that really is)...
Eventually I told myself I could no longer binge on processed sugary foods because I'd feel like straight shit and the rest of the week Id want to make bad choices, so I set myself up for partial success. I have chosen to keep dairy in my diet because I tolerate it well, enjoy it, and find it quite satisfying. Instead of buying ice cream, I will buy a container of FAGE TOTAL (none of that low fat, fat free crap) and keep in in my fridge. When I have a craving for ice cream I will have a half cup of that with a tablespoon of almond butter and a teaspoon or two of RAW honey (has a Glycemic Load of 35...no more than berries. Plus has fiber, minerals, and antioxidant factors). You said you try to limit nuts, so maybe try some unsweetened cacao powder with the honey...i havent tried this but its just a suggestion. I will eat this MAYBE once a week now...and when my friends are eating ice cream, I dont feel so deprived. ;]
Another "binge preparation" is frozen berries and heavy cream. Enough said....the frozen berries will solidify the cream around them and it is DELICIOUS! I also make a cobbler with almond meal (add eggs, butter, coconut oil, cinnamon, a tiny bit of raw honey, and vanilla mix it up so its crumbly) and put over berries and bake until theyre crispy and the berries are hot and yummy.
You could also try making cookies or other baked goods with coconut flour or almond flour so when you binge on cookies they are Paleo Cookies :D Find ways to Paleo-ize your binge foods so even when youre "being bad" youre still being a million times better than anyone else...because what is bad about ANY of the stuff I listed? :D
As for the acne, it could very well be stress related. I'm assuming you are in college (or just graduated), as I am, so I understand the whole stress messing your hormones up thing...it sucks. I will admit though, I never had problems with major acne (except for breakouts on my back every 7-10 days or so during the early years of high school) and found a skincare regimen called "Natures Cure" that helped...but I couldnt tell you what was in it. Maybe your skincare regimen is too harsh? The binging on non-Paleo foods can definitely be affecting you though....gluten and processed sugars are highly irritating to the body (as we all know)...so until you are able to COMPLETELY eliminate everything processed and gluten-filled its hard to say whether its hormonal or dietary. It takes a long while to get gluten out of your body (isnt it like a month to COMPLETELY remove it all from your body?!) so if youre on consisten binge cycles that could definitely be the reason your skin is not improving.
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