I’ve had people asking me if I made products for acne-prone skin (which I’m working on)! While I’ve been working on different formulations it made me reflect on my own acne journey. I want to take the time over the next few weeks to tell you my story, to let you know how I finally was able to kick my acne to the curb, along with the other negative symptoms that my body was trying to tell me ‘something’s not right’.
I’m going to talk about the importance of our choices, and how our body and skin reacts. While acne is a symptom that something is off in our body, a skincare product is just one piece to the puzzle. I myself struggled with acne for most of my life and hope I may help you or someone you know in their journey too.
When I started taking my Diploma in Holistic Nutrition in 2014 the light bulbs were turning on all over the place. I learned how our bodies work, and how important what we eat, drink, how we sleep, exercise, and how we take care of our emotions can mean to all aspects of our body and our health. The more I cleaned up my food, skincare and household cleaner choices, the better I felt, and the better I felt, the better my skin became. I hope by hearing my story it can help you to think about how your body is reacting to what you are filling it with, putting on it or what is in your environment.
When I was a young teenager and my menstrual cycle started, I suffered monthly from painful cramps, vomiting and constant acne breakouts. For at least 1-2 days per month, I would be in the fetal position, crying and vomiting. I would miss days at school and it was really horrible. I finally went to my family doctor to see what I could do to alleviate the symptoms. He gave me Birth Control pills. I remember saying, “I don’t need birth control pills” But he said they would help, and you know what, they did. My painful cramps and vomiting stopped. I still had minor cramping and some acne, but not to what I previously did.
Jump ahead to when I was ready to start a family. I went off my birth control pills, became pregnant, and my acne became worse. After I had my son, I was nursing him and went to a dermatologist who prescribed me a cream that didn’t do anything. Then I became pregnant again, and still the acne. When I had my second baby, and I had finished nursing her, I went to my obstetrician about birth control options. She gave me some more birth control pills and off I went hoping it would help my acne. Again, it did, but I knew I wanted to get off of the pill because I knew it wasn’t a long-term option and I wanted to get it out of my system.
When my husband and I decided our family was complete, he had a vasectomy and I went off my BC pills. I was happy, but at the same time, fearful of my acne returning. I was in my early to mid-’30s and I figured that I was over the acne age. Boy, was I wrong!! It was back again and this time leaving scars on my face, I figured I had to do something besides trying all the over-the-counter acne face creams over and over.
My doctor prescribed me pills and creams and then I went to a dermatologist again, more creams, stronger pills, liquid nitrogen, you name it, I tried it. Then the talk about the big A started. Accutane was the last available option that could help me. I read up on it with the pamphlet he gave me (this was before the internet where you can find much more information). Accutane is a strong oral retinoid used only in the case of severe acne and gives you large doses of Vitamin A. I had to have my blood tested, and have a pregnancy test done every month to make sure I wasn’t pregnant as this drug is so strong it can cause harm to a fetus if you were to become pregnant while on it.
My skin and body felt the effects; it’s a very strong pill that dried out my skin, all over my body.
It did eventually help to clear up my acne, for a few years, and then it just slowly started coming back. Not to the degree it was before, but still, adult acne in your 40s is no fun! Why was this still happening after all the work I had done to clear my acne?
Now I want to talk about my food choices during all of this:
I grew up eating a pretty normal diet when I was younger in the ’70s & ’80s, then in the ’90s along came the discovery that fat was bad for us, and we were told to stay away from it! All sorts of new foods were made and labelled low fat! We were told by the media not to eat fat, and instead were encouraged to eat all the new packaged foods that were low in fat, and they were supposed to be ‘healthier’ for us. They made us feel like they had done all the work to prepare healthy foods for us and of course with the ‘convenience’ of grab-and-go foods.
- My breakfasts included low-calorie cereals with low-fat milk or flavoured instant oatmeal.
- Lunches were made of low-fat turkey sandwiches, low-fat mayonnaise, low-fat cheese slices, flavored fat-free yoghurt, and a piece of fruit.
- Snacks were wheat thins crackers with low-fat cheese, low-fat granola bars or 100-calorie No Fat snack packs.
- Dinners were pasta, potatoes and meat, or Lean Cuisines.
- In between were a few coffees per day (to help with my energy I thought).
My goal was to eat LESS as that is what was told to us by the media and TV. Fewer calories, less fat, less food in general. Every magazine cover was about getting rid of fats to lose fat.
But I could never really do it; I was always hungry and unsatisfied – I love food 🙂
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was doing it all wrong. Based on what I now know as a Holistic Nutrition Practitioner, it’s no wonder I wasn’t able to lose weight, I was always hungry, anxious, stressed, and having unexplainable health and skin issues.
My body was depleted. Not for lack of calories, but for lack of nourishment!!
I was filling my body with sugar and refined carbohydrates that were spiking my blood sugar – making it impossible to lose weight and EASY to gain weight. My energy levels were low. My body needed healthy fats!
The way I was eating was:
- causing inflammation
- starving my brain
- triggering cravings
- sabotaging my energy levels
- wreaking havoc on my hormones
- causing digestive issues
- definitely not helping with acne issues
And all along, I was being told by the health and diet industry that I was doing the right thing. I was eating “healthy” foods! I was watching my fat intake! I was trying to eat less…
But I wasn’t a picture of health. My skin was showing signs of nutrient depletion, I was putting on extra pounds and my digestion was telling me something was not working!! I felt discouraged and frustrated by how I felt and I was unsure why. By mid-afternoon at work, I would be unbuttoning my pants and suffering from horrible headaches.
Here I was in my early 40s, having raised 2 children and hoping to start enjoying some time with my husband. But all I wanted to do when I came home from work was put on my sweatpants and not do anything, my energy level was zapped.
This is when I thought that I need to start looking at things differently; the internet was full of things to look up. I started to become more interested in nutrition and enrolled in a nutrition course. This is when my eyes opened up and I realized I was doing it all wrong!
Next week I’m going to tell you what I learned, what diet I followed and how simple changes made a world of difference.