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flowerchild1990

food obsession, eating disorders and acne

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Hello,

I thought this might apply to a lot of people here, not just those who suffer with an eating disorder.

I am in the process of recovering from severe anorexia and I am well on the way but as a consequence I have developed acne as my body is readjusting to all the hormones and proccesses that come along with regaining weight.

As a consequence I have become very aware of what food triggers/aggravates acne and it has made me completely obsess over what I put in my mouth.

If something has more than 5 ingredients I put it back on the shelf, and although that may be a good thing it has just got to the extreme. I can't eat out or round other peoples as I'm scared that some sugar or dairy has crept into their food.

I went to the grocery store and spent an hour trying to find a desert for me and my friend to enjoy, but all I ended up buying was a mango.

I was wondering if anyone else finds this with themselves? I think its worse for me perhaps as I still have fear foods and a very limited array of foods I will consume, and now I have acne this selection of food has depleted.

Any advice/suggestions/experiences would be lovely, I could do with the support. I feel like I've started to tackle one issue and only gained another.

x

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I am in EXACTLY the same position. I've had severe anorexia for over four years, been hospitalised several times, and am currently still significantly underweight. My hormones are completely out of sync, as I've only had 3 periods since I was 13 (now 17), and at the minute my acne problem is really worsening my anorexia. I worry even more about the foods I eat because of the effect they may have on my acne - I no longer eat dairy, which is a real danger because of the lack of calcium and the risk of osteoperosis. I would also really appreciate any advice anyone has to offer! I'm trying to use wanting to clear my acne as motivation to get better, but since I started researching how diet affects acne things have been so much harder. Doctors have told me, 'If your nutrition improves, so will your acne' - but that's not necessarily the case, because I fear that the more weight I gain, the more my hormones will kick in - thus, the more acne I will get :(

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I am in EXACTLY the same position. I've had severe anorexia for over four years, been hospitalised several times, and am currently still significantly underweight. My hormones are completely out of sync, as I've only had 3 periods since I was 13 (now 17), and at the minute my acne problem is really worsening my anorexia. I worry even more about the foods I eat because of the effect they may have on my acne - I no longer eat dairy, which is a real danger because of the lack of calcium and the risk of osteoperosis. I would also really appreciate any advice anyone has to offer! I'm trying to use wanting to clear my acne as motivation to get better, but since I started researching how diet affects acne things have been so much harder. Doctors have told me, 'If your nutrition improves, so will your acne' - but that's not necessarily the case, because I fear that the more weight I gain, the more my hormones will kick in - thus, the more acne I will get :(

We really are in the same situation, I was diagnosed at 8 and now I'm 21 and I'm hoping to have seen the end of hospital admissions. The advice I can give so far, although its obviously not helping me that much as I'm still asking for help, is go to your doctor. My doctor said he knows acne will increase my self image anxieties, so he has put my on the pill to help with the hormones and clear my acne (fingers crossed), it just takes a long time to kick in. From my last admission they told me your body goes through puberty again, particularly if you have prevented your body from going through puberty in the first place which I'm guessing your like me in that area. The thing is this is temporary, I keep telling myself acne is a sign I'm getting better and can have children etcetc. Ohhh its difficult, I feel like I have just shifted my anorexic thinking towards a health obsession, and I think I'm pretending I'm recovering when I'm actually just using food in another way to control. Recovery will help acne in the long run, as will it help every other aspect of your life. Did you find it got any better when you left hospital, or did you just do a risk reduction admission?

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I'm so sorry you've been suffering with this horrible illness for so long :(

My first hospitalisation was absolutely useless, it was a local mental health unit, and when I left within a few months I was in a general hospital. Then I went to a specialist ED clinic for around 9 months, and things improved there - although since being discharged I've lost a lot of weight. Having said that, I've managed to gain some back recently due to being motivated to eat because of my exams.

I have a feeling that's what's happening, since both times I gained weight in hosp my acne worsened. I'm really sorry if this is too intrusive, but you said you're on the pill - does that mean you were having your period before? I really, really want to go on it, as I've a feeling that's the root cause of it all, but with my not menstruating I'm not sure I'll be able to.

Well, I went through puberty pretty early, when I was around 12, and that's when I developed acne. I got ill when I was thirteen and due to the suppression of hormones my acne completely disappeared, but now my weight has fluctuated for quite a long time around the same point, and there's no real correlation between weight gain and acne - sometimes I lose weight and my acne worsens too. I think it's just the imbalance of the hormones more than anything, but possibly the overall lack of nutrition too. As you know, when you already feel so down about your appearance, acne makes things ten times worse :( Especially when you worry it's connected to food/weight.

Are you finding things a little easier now? I really hope so! x

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I'm so sorry you've been suffering with this horrible illness for so long :(

My first hospitalisation was absolutely useless, it was a local mental health unit, and when I left within a few months I was in a general hospital. Then I went to a specialist ED clinic for around 9 months, and things improved there - although since being discharged I've lost a lot of weight. Having said that, I've managed to gain some back recently due to being motivated to eat because of my exams.

I have a feeling that's what's happening, since both times I gained weight in hosp my acne worsened. I'm really sorry if this is too intrusive, but you said you're on the pill - does that mean you were having your period before? I really, really want to go on it, as I've a feeling that's the root cause of it all, but with my not menstruating I'm not sure I'll be able to.

Well, I went through puberty pretty early, when I was around 12, and that's when I developed acne. I got ill when I was thirteen and due to the suppression of hormones my acne completely disappeared, but now my weight has fluctuated for quite a long time around the same point, and there's no real correlation between weight gain and acne - sometimes I lose weight and my acne worsens too. I think it's just the imbalance of the hormones more than anything, but possibly the overall lack of nutrition too. As you know, when you already feel so down about your appearance, acne makes things ten times worse :( Especially when you worry it's connected to food/weight.

Are you finding things a little easier now? I really hope so! x

Honestly feel free to ask me anything, I would rather share my experiences and help someone a little than keep them to myself. Believe me, whatever you have been through I probably have as well. I haven't had a period for about 4 years naturally, not eating and eating both have a big impact on your hormones but hormones can be controlled. Although the pill induces a 'fake period' and doesn't stop the fact we are damaging a reproductive system, it does help regulate any imbalances. And pills such as Dianette and Yasmin are specifically for acne, so will help in an additional way. Maybe ask your doctor about these two? I'm on Dianette, and have been for about 4 weeks, it takes about 10 weeks plus to see any results but it will definatly help. Don't lose hope for having children, as I know people who have had this illness for a long time and now have had children since they have recovered. It is possible. But it only comes from weight gain and good nutrition.

I do find things easier, I was meant to go back into inpatient at christmas but I realised that it comes from myself and so I stupidly ran away from it all and stayed with my family. I have managed to get my bmi to 16.5, which is the highest I have ever really been, so it is going well weight wise. My advice is do not aim to high, I have always been told I need to get to a bmi of 20+ but I know its all about little changes and little goals. Stick to reducing your risk first, aim for a bmi of 17.5-18. The way I deal with it is planning, I plan my meals the night before and stick my plan on the fridge. These include times, like I will always without a doubt eat breakfast at 7, lunch at 12.30, snack at 3.30 and dinner at 6. I try to have supper at 9 as well. Times really help. It keeps the element of control and lets your body adjust to eating at certain times. Also if you have problems with binging/purging it helps stop any urges.

You probably know this through treatment, but I thought I'd share.

Its weird I always find exams help me eat, what part of the world are you? Are you doing your A levels?

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Yes, I'm in the UK studying for AS, my first exam is in four weeks. I'm quite a stereotypical sufferer, really - extremely perfectionistic. I'm expected to do really well and people don't realise the amount of work it takes :( I think the stress probably contributes to the acne too. Last year I managed to get all A*s in my exams despite having missed the majority of the course, and people think that it's just natural ability, but I worked soooooo so hard. But my work is really my biggest motivation, because I really want to go to uni and I know I need to manage things if I want to achieve that. The last thing I'd want would be to have to drop out!

That sounds like a really good plan, and even though everyone keeps telling me to do that it just feels a lot more... feasible, or useful, I suppose, coming from someone who really understands. I've struggled with lunch the most since I got ill (it started off with skipping lunches at school), which is disastrous in terms of revision because I get really tired throughout the day. I also tend to eat a lot of fruit because that feels safe, but I think sugar is one of the things that provokes acne too.

I really admire you for taking the steps to recover after suffering for so long. I always ache about the fact that anorexia has taken my adolescence, but it's eaten away some of your childhood too :( But I always think that everything happens for a reason, and that hopefully the hardest part of our lives is over and things will only get better from here :) And I would never have met some of the most amazing people in hospital!

For me, I've been in denial about the whole periods issue because I've never really thought much about having children, but I know I need to become healthy again for the sake of my bones. Did your doctor have any issues prescribing you Dianette when you don't have periods? x

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Yes, I'm in the UK studying for AS, my first exam is in four weeks. I'm quite a stereotypical sufferer, really - extremely perfectionistic. I'm expected to do really well and people don't realise the amount of work it takes :( I think the stress probably contributes to the acne too. Last year I managed to get all A*s in my exams despite having missed the majority of the course, and people think that it's just natural ability, but I worked soooooo so hard. But my work is really my biggest motivation, because I really want to go to uni and I know I need to manage things if I want to achieve that. The last thing I'd want would be to have to drop out!

That sounds like a really good plan, and even though everyone keeps telling me to do that it just feels a lot more... feasible, or useful, I suppose, coming from someone who really understands. I've struggled with lunch the most since I got ill (it started off with skipping lunches at school), which is disastrous in terms of revision because I get really tired throughout the day. I also tend to eat a lot of fruit because that feels safe, but I think sugar is one of the things that provokes acne too.

I really admire you for taking the steps to recover after suffering for so long. I always ache about the fact that anorexia has taken my adolescence, but it's eaten away some of your childhood too :( But I always think that everything happens for a reason, and that hopefully the hardest part of our lives is over and things will only get better from here :) And I would never have met some of the most amazing people in hospital!

For me, I've been in denial about the whole periods issue because I've never really thought much about having children, but I know I need to become healthy again for the sake of my bones. Did your doctor have any issues prescribing you Dianette when you don't have periods? x

My doctor didn't have a problem prescribing it to me, but I did have to ask for it. I asked about the whole no periods thing and if it would create any problems but he said not at all. You can still take it.

From experience, going to University not recovered and still struggling with an eating disorder is the worst thing to do. I was so wanting to just go to Uni and escape my home and create a 'new persona' that doesnt have an ed and that no one knows. But it was a recipe for disaster. First year I coped for about 4 months, then it got really bad as the world load got worse and the stress of not being able to have the support I needed for food from my housemates. I ended up in hospital after year one, and I went back in year 2 and completely ruined my second year as it just got so bad. I went back into hospital. Then came back in third year and then was meant to go back in again but didnt. This is just my experience, I'm not trying to scare you, but its meant to be the best time of your life and I regret not taking the time to recover before to fully enjoy the experience. It did ruin it quite a bit, and although at the time I was a) too eager to consider taking a year out and b) too scared to recover if I could live it all over I would go back and invest in the rest of my life right then.

You should not let this illness hold you back, don't let it steal any more of your life. One thing I did realise from coming to uni is that I have experienced a lot and it has made me a really open person to all sorts of people and all sorts of problems, honestly meeting people from sheltered backgrounds and postcard picture lives (the people I always wanted to be) just sort of made me appreciate that good things can be taken out of everything and that winning such a battle can give you an immense amount of strength. When we both beat this we will be in such a good place in life to take on anything. If you perhaps tell your doctor your acne is making your ed thoughts worse he may be more tempted to take a more radical approach to help you quicker, I think I cried to mine and he seemed to take the whole matter very seriously. Are you on antibiotics/any prescribed topicals or anything?

and dont threat about as levels, you can retake them so many times.

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I'm on doxycycline at the minute, I was on Tetralysal for years and that helped at first, but I suppose I became resistant. I'm also on a strong dose of antidepressants (I wasn't prescribed them by a psychiatrist, but a woman at our local GP who wasn't even my actual GP :S) and I do worry that they worsen my acne.

I have spoken to them about it several times, my GP once referred me to a dermatologist to be prescribed Accutane but she said that it wasn't appropriate because of my weight and my history with depression. The frustrating thing is is that I know I would be so much less depressed if I had clear skin! People really underestimate how much it can affect people! I will definitely bring up BC pills when I next go and really emphasise how bad I feel about it.

I think that I'm in pretty much the same mindset you were in before uni. I just convince myself that 'everything will be better when I leave', but I know that that won't be the case. I want to tackle a lot of my negative emotions now, because I want uni to be the best years of my life. It's been pretty much my only motivation to get better so I hate the thought of ruining it for myself.

Do you know what it is that motivated you to change? And are you using anything else for your acne? x

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I think what motivated me to change stemmed from when I was told in december that I had to go into hospital and drop out my third year, spend my christmas there, my 21st birthday and live there for 8 months. And I just thought what did they actually do with my other admissions, they are all things I could do myself. All they do is force you to eat, make plans, give you encouragement, and stop you from any inappropriate behaviours. And they do it unhealthily and fast, which I always struggled with. So I decided I was going to mirror hospital and do it myself, but do it with healthy food at a slower rate, and as everyone knows I have anorexia it was easy to find the support when I needed it. They may force you to eat but its still you doing it, the power comes from us not any nurse or doctor or whatever.

And I wrote all my motivations out, the little things I want from life, and stuck them on my wall. I think it hit me that I was about to turn 21 and had spent more of my life sick than well, and that all the good experiences I could have had were gone and I did not want to miss any more. Its bloody hard doing it on your own, as I have plateued majorly as the truth is you do need a lot of food to put on weight, particularly for us. For me I have had 12/13 years of treatment trying to tackle my issues and define why I have this, but I think I just have to accept I don't need to know, it wont make it any easier. Forward and not back.

If your thinking that now I highly advise you consider a gap year. I don't know what treatment is out there for you, but you could do day patient, get a weekend job, save up and then go travelling the summer before uni so you have something to work towards. Then you would feel you havent 'wasted' a year, I don't reccomend doing it on your own as it is very hard and you need a lot of determination to do it. My main motivation at the moment is that I am going to Guatemala in Central america on an animal refuge to volunteer for 4 weeks, they cook all your food and you eat with 15 people every day. Its such a challenge, but in a very good way.

As for acne, because I just got put on dianette they want to give it a few months before any antibiotics. I use duac once daily from my doctor, but thats all hes given me at the moment.

do you feel you are at a point when your ready to change? I think something has to click, you can have all the best treatment in the world but if your not in the right mindset it is just pointless. q

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I really hope awareness for this is raised on these boards. For a long time, I figured I was the only person who dealt with this.

For about a year, I dealt with borderline anorexia, mostly acne based, but partially based on my overall body image. I felt disgusting and I literally hated myself; I would tell myself this every day. I would starve myself one week, binge for a few days, and starve again. I was in a deep depression and I started to cut as well. Every time I failed myself; by getting a bad grade, or eating something bad, or hurting someone's feelings, I would add a cut to the tally. It wasn't a cry for attention or anything like that. I would cut near my elbow and cover it with a bandaid or wear long sleeves, or on my hip. I would eat dinner with my mom, but it was normally my only meal of the day. I purged for a while as well, which reeeeally damaged my skin.

I think that everyone should at least consider looking into holistic health in regards to the skin as well as their whole body. But I think a lot of people also look at it the wrong way, and they start dieting the way someone would as if they wanted to lose weight and obsessing over food like us. That's not what it's about. It's about making the right eating choices, and those choices can be delicious and wholesome. You don't have to punish or starve yourself.

It's been over two years since that time in my life, and I've come out of it 100x stronger than I've ever been. I feel better about myself. I don't hide anymore; even if my face is broken out, I taught myself to live in the moment. It's a very difficult lesson to learn, but not impossible. It takes time.

I don't like telling this story, but I've already told it a few times on these boards because people need to know. My case probably wasn't nearly as severe as you other girls, but it still had a major psychological effect on me, and it completely changed who I am. If there's one thing I can do on these boards, I'd hope it would be to prevent this happening to at least one person.

And if you are suffering from this, know that I was able to pull myself out of this, slowly but surely. You can too.

You are not alone.

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I really hope awareness for this is raised on these boards. For a long time, I figured I was the only person who dealt with this.

For about a year, I dealt with borderline anorexia, mostly acne based, but partially based on my overall body image. I felt disgusting and I literally hated myself; I would tell myself this every day. I would starve myself one week, binge for a few days, and starve again. I was in a deep depression and I started to cut as well. Every time I failed myself; by getting a bad grade, or eating something bad, or hurting someone's feelings, I would add a cut to the tally. It wasn't a cry for attention or anything like that. I would cut near my elbow and cover it with a bandaid or wear long sleeves, or on my hip. I would eat dinner with my mom, but it was normally my only meal of the day. I purged for a while as well, which reeeeally damaged my skin.

I think that everyone should at least consider looking into holistic health in regards to the skin as well as their whole body. But I think a lot of people also look at it the wrong way, and they start dieting the way someone would as if they wanted to lose weight and obsessing over food like us. That's not what it's about. It's about making the right eating choices, and those choices can be delicious and wholesome. You don't have to punish or starve yourself.

It's been over two years since that time in my life, and I've come out of it 100x stronger than I've ever been. I feel better about myself. I don't hide anymore; even if my face is broken out, I taught myself to live in the moment. It's a very difficult lesson to learn, but not impossible. It takes time.

I don't like telling this story, but I've already told it a few times on these boards because people need to know. My case probably wasn't nearly as severe as you other girls, but it still had a major psychological effect on me, and it completely changed who I am. If there's one thing I can do on these boards, I'd hope it would be to prevent this happening to at least one person.

And if you are suffering from this, know that I was able to pull myself out of this, slowly but surely. You can too.

You are not alone.

Thank you so much for sharing, its inspirational that you can speak about your experiences and what you have learnt from it. Honesty it is what is needed for people to see the reality of these illnesses and the effects acne can have on peoples lives and wellbeing. I think people get obsessed with the can't and not with the can, and see food as a rigid treatment process, like antibiotics, when really it should be viewed as a healthy way of life.

I'm a firm believer that anorexia should not be defined by bmis, as people with healthy bmis can still struggle majorly and it can still destroy their life. You can always say theres someone worse off than you, but it doesn't take away the detrimental impact something like this has on your life.

I do relate to you a lot, I also used to tally my days where I gave in or didn't do as well as I hoped, and its all over my thigh where no one can see. Its another misconception that its just a 'cry for help'.

Thank you for showing people that you can get through this, its really a comfort to read this post x

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I think what motivated me to change stemmed from when I was told in december that I had to go into hospital and drop out my third year, spend my christmas there, my 21st birthday and live there for 8 months. And I just thought what did they actually do with my other admissions, they are all things I could do myself. All they do is force you to eat, make plans, give you encouragement, and stop you from any inappropriate behaviours. And they do it unhealthily and fast, which I always struggled with. So I decided I was going to mirror hospital and do it myself, but do it with healthy food at a slower rate, and as everyone knows I have anorexia it was easy to find the support when I needed it. They may force you to eat but its still you doing it, the power comes from us not any nurse or doctor or whatever.

And I wrote all my motivations out, the little things I want from life, and stuck them on my wall. I think it hit me that I was about to turn 21 and had spent more of my life sick than well, and that all the good experiences I could have had were gone and I did not want to miss any more. Its bloody hard doing it on your own, as I have plateued majorly as the truth is you do need a lot of food to put on weight, particularly for us. For me I have had 12/13 years of treatment trying to tackle my issues and define why I have this, but I think I just have to accept I don't need to know, it wont make it any easier. Forward and not back.

If your thinking that now I highly advise you consider a gap year. I don't know what treatment is out there for you, but you could do day patient, get a weekend job, save up and then go travelling the summer before uni so you have something to work towards. Then you would feel you havent 'wasted' a year, I don't reccomend doing it on your own as it is very hard and you need a lot of determination to do it. My main motivation at the moment is that I am going to Guatemala in Central america on an animal refuge to volunteer for 4 weeks, they cook all your food and you eat with 15 people every day. Its such a challenge, but in a very good way.

As for acne, because I just got put on dianette they want to give it a few months before any antibiotics. I use duac once daily from my doctor, but thats all hes given me at the moment.

do you feel you are at a point when your ready to change? I think something has to click, you can have all the best treatment in the world but if your not in the right mindset it is just pointless. q

This is so true, every time I was hospitalised I was in completely the wrong mindset and got myself through it by fighting the system or going along with it so I could go back to the way I was when I left. I had a break from therapy after I was discharged from the ED unit because I (unwisely) discharged myself from my outpatient team, but last summer I chose to see a different therapist and it's so much more helpful because it's my choice, and I'm not being forced to go. That's why I really never want to go into hospital again, because I can just see it becoming a never-ending cycle of admission and relapse until I learn to cope with it myself.

Thank you so much for sharing this, it's really made me feel a lot more hopeful about the future. I think everyone needs a reason to eat - and without it, recovery is pretty much impossible. I hope that yours sustains you and you can put this hellish illness behind you!

On an acne related note, I went to my GP yesterday and told her how down I was feeling about my skin - she suggested Dianette without me even mentioning it! So hopefully this will work, although I've scared myself by reading loads of horror stories on here about acne coming back worse when you stop taking them. However I know my hormonal imbalance is due to my weight and nutrition rather than a constant state, so we'll see! Fingers crossed x

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