Fast forward to age 25, and my acne was worse than ever. I had painful pustules that no cream, treatment, or even prescription med would fix. Like literally everyone else, I dealt with acne as a teenager. And 13-year-old me assumed the red pimples and whiteheads on my face were just a part of growing up-and that they'd go away when I got older.
Fast forward to age 25, and my acne was worse than ever. I had painful pustules that no cream, treatment, or even prescription med would fix. I was covering my face with Dermablend (the stuff used to cover up tattoos!) just so that I could feel comfortable enough to leave the house.
I wouldn't even take off my makeup when I slept over at my boyfriend's house.
After more than a decade of dealing with bad skin, I was ready for just about any solution that had a chance of working. So when I read about other women clearing up their skin by changing their diets, I decided it was worth a try. 'I never thought I'd ever have clear skin.'
For background: Dairy and high-glycemic foods (think: white bread and pasta) have been linked to worse acne in people who are prone to it. So, I decided to cut gluten, dairy, and refined sugar to totally cover my bases.
This was definitely a big change for me. My diet up until this point was pretty much exclusively sugar, gluten, and dairy. (My typical breakfast was a muffin and a large caramel latte, and dinners were usually fast food or delivery.) Vegetables were definitely not in the picture.
Almost immediately after removing refined sugar, dairy, and gluten from my diet, I noticed a huge difference in how I felt. I had more energy than ever before, I was more focused at work, and I felt more confident, even though my skin took some time to catch up. Little by little, those zits cleared up and they stopped coming back.
Within six months, I felt like I had completely different skin. And after about a year, my complexion was smooth, glowing, and almost free of breakouts. Other than a few pimples when I'd get my period, I had clear skin-something I never imagined I would be able to say. 'The food restrictions forced me to get creative.'
When I first decided to change my diet, I wrote down everything I ate, which really helped me stick with it. I wanted to see the connection between what I was eating and how my skin was looking and feeling. Here's what an average day of eating looked like for me:
- Breakfast: A cup of coffee with unsweetened almond milk, and a smoothie with spinach, kale, bananas, and berries. I'd take the smoothie with me to work to drink later in the morning.
- Lunch: I liked to keep it simple: green salad with a protein like chicken or fish.
- Dinner: This was pretty simple too, usually a vegetable and a lean protein (like cauliflower rice and chicken).
I got really into baking desserts, like cashew cheesecake and chocolate muffins, that tasted delicious and were totally compliant with my new diet. That's when I started my blog, Vibrant and Pure.
You might think that cooking without these three main foods would be limiting, but I found that it really opened the doors for me to get creative. I found my passion for developing recipes and making beautiful, healthy foods like unicorn toast, which became a viral sensation. 'It's been almost three years since I made this diet change, and I am so happy that I did.'
I'm still learning what affects my skin, and I can tell within days if I've eaten something with ingredients that irritate it.
But by far, the greatest part of my food transformation has been how I feel about myself. I don't feel the need to hide under layers of foundations and powders. I'm so happy in my skin because for me, it's a visual representation of how I treat my body right with real, nutritious foods.
Adeline Waugh is a stylist and founder of the site Vibrant and Pure. She is currently writing her first book, and lives in Florida.