The title of this post should actually be “I’ve been doing an elimination diet for two weeks” but you get the idea. I’ve been hesitant to share this the past two weeks because I’m nervous to talk about why I’m doing an elimination diet, but here goes nothin’. I decided to do an elimination diet a few weeks back when I was frustrated about how bad my skin was.
I have always had pretty bad skin, which, of course, was exacerbated during puberty. Since then, I have seen two dermatologists and a medical esthetician, and paid god knows how much for tons and tons of face creams and pills. I’ve suffered through Accutane and its horrible side effects, with little to no reward. I’ve gone on and off the pill. And I still have acne. There have definitely been periods where it’s better and periods where it’s worse and since going off the pill a year ago it has definitely gotten worse.
I finally put my foot down a few months ago and decided to tackle things through diet. I heard that dairy is often a contributor to acne because of the hormones given to cows, so I decided I was going to eliminate dairy from my diet for a month or two and see if that would help. The verdict: dairy is not the culprit. I was super strict and didn’t eat any dairy for six weeks and my skin definitely did NOT get better. In fact, a few weeks ago when I was in Burlington, Vermont I decided to break my no-dairy diet and have
some lots of ice cream and cheese. Well, I didn’t see my skin get any worse after eating those foods. In fact, it just stayed the same, so I knew that dairy was not the main cause.
While in Vermont I decided it was time to try a more intense elimination diet. I bought a few books and started doing research to find out what other foods cause acne. Let me tell you- I learned a lot! And these were things that I had never been told by a doctor. The doctors were always trying to fix my symptoms but we rarely talked about the causes. After all my research, I’m convinced that I have some kind of food sensitivity and determined to do this elimination diet.
Next, I had to decide which foods I would eliminate. I reasoned that I would rather have 4 weeks of eliminating lots of foods to find out which are causing my breakouts than eliminating one food at a time. I used this ebook and The Anti-Inflammation Diet and Recipe Book to create my long list of foods to exclude for 4 weeks. At the end of four weeks I will add one food in at a time and wait three days to see if that causes breakouts. If not, I can continue eating it and move on to the next food.
What am I eliminating?
So here is a list of the foods I am eliminating, with a helpful list of alternatives that I can eat on the left:
I know, I know. It looks like I can’t eat anything. The main items I am focusing on eliminating are dairy, gluten, vegetable oils, and sugar. I have also read that peanuts/peanut butter, soy, caffeine, and nightshade vegetables (eggplant and tomato as examples) can cause inflammation and acne.
What the heck am I eating?
Breakfast: green smoothie with Vega One protein powder OR over medium eggs with bacon and avocado
Morning snack: nuts and dried fruit OR hard boiled egg
Lunch: Butternut Squash Soup OR mixed greens with chopped deli turkey, roasted vegetables, avocado, and homemade dijon, apple cider vinegar, olive oil salad dressing OR spaghetti squash with sautéed kale and sausage
Afternoon snack: apple or pear OR Salted Caramel Cashew Bars made with raisins instead of dates to keep the sugar low OR dried apple rings dipped in homemade pecan or cashew butter
Dinner: fish or chicken with roasted veggies OR butternut squash risotto
Dessert: I made myself a gluten free buckwheat apple crisp one night as a treat but haven’t had much dessert
I’ve been pretty good about keeping up with the diet and have only strayed two or three times by eating tempeh and a gluten free apple cider beer. I’ve probably been eating too many nuts as they are high in Omega 6 fats which can cause inflammation and acne, so I will try to be better about those during the next two weeks, but it’s hard to find other snacks that fit into my list. I have also been eating dried fruit that is unsulphured and without preservatives or added sugar/oil because that’s a good snack too. In addition to a little bit of stevia I have had maple syrup once or twice in small amounts.
*There are some changes to the chart: black pepper is not in the nightshade family so it is on the Foods to Include list.
How are things going?
As I said above, I have been really good about following the diet. The light at the end of the tunnel is the hope that my skin will really clear up and I will finally know what is causing my breakouts. Even though it has been hard to stick to the diet at times I’ve been able to completely cut out things I was probably a little addicted to like sugar and my morning coffee. My energy has been great and I didn’t have any caffeine or sugar withdrawals.
The first week on the diet my skin immediately cleared up and I was feeling really positive that something I eliminated was the cause of my acne. Then during the second week things started to get worse again but I thought maybe it was just my skin going through its cycle from a few weeks before. On the third week my skin is still not very good and I’m starting to think of ways I can improve it during the final week and a half of the elimination diet.
I am going to stop using all of the harsh topical products I’ve been using to see if that will help my skin find it’s natural balance. Instead, I’m going to look for some natural face oils and wash with just warm water once a day. I am going to cut way back on the nuts since I’ve heard that they can have a negative impact on skin and I’ve been eating a lot of them lately. Hopefully those two things will help since I’m started to get frustrated again.
Phew- I know that was a lot of writing but if you’re still reading, thank you! I hope that sharing my journey will be helpful to someone out there. I’ll keep you all posted during the next two weeks and beyond.
Let’s chat: Have any of you been on elimination diet before? Any tips? Have you dealt with any diet or hormone related skin issues?