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Bazzo

Restricted Diet for 4ish Months, Finally Seeing Some Success but not Out of the Woods yet

Hello all, I'll start this post off with a quick background on me. I have suffered from acne since I was 12, and Seborrheic dermatitis since I was 18. More recently of January this year, I developed some digestive discomfort with a very loud stomach, and used to have issues with bowel movements although those have calmed now. I think it might be important to note that my Seborrheic dermatitis appeared a couple of months after starting at university, where my diet and drinking habits deteriorated compared to when at home. I'll also just mention that this is a purely anecdotal story and I acknowledge that - I don't claim to be particularly knowledgeable when it comes to diet and acne, and some things I say that look down on certain foods are purely personal experience or speculation based on things I have read online.

 

Anyway, during September I went on a hardcore elimination diet for a month, eating only chicken, broccoli and cauliflower for that time. Unfortunately, I didn't notice any reduction in symptoms at this time, or so I had thought, until I spent a week eating normal food again only to experience the worst breakouts of my life. One thing to note is, sometimes a reduction in symptoms can happen so gradually you think it isn't happening because you are still getting new spots, even though it may be less than before. Through that time for a couple of weeks, I then changed my diet to include only fruit, vegetables, meat and fish. I found however, that I would get a rash on my legs any time I ate a meal containing tomatoes, potatoes or red peppers aka nightshades. From October 7th to today, here is the list of foods that I've eaten on my very restrictive diet:

 

 

Meat:

Pork, Chicken, Bacon, Sausage, Turkey

Fish:

Prawns, Salmon, Cod

Vegetables:

Broccoli, Cauliflower, Carrots, Spring Onions, Pak Choi, Leeks

Miscellaneous:

Eggs, Mushrooms, Garlic, Salt, Pepper

Things I didn't include:

Dairy, Gluten, High sugar foods, Anything processed, Nightshades, Fruit (This one I was just paranoid about the sugars, and I don't like fruit anyway. It might be fine and might not, I really can't tell you)

 

It is only 9 weeks into the diet (I say only, it feels like a lifetime when you're there), that I started to notice improvement. I now have not had a new spot in 14 days, perhaps a little longer. Although my face isn't clear yet due to some hyperpigmentation and acne marks (Idk what to call them, they are like scars but much smaller, like tiny dot indentations), it is definitely the best it has ever been, and I imagine it will only continue to improve. I have linked before and after pictures below, although I think it's hard to see quite how bad it was before in a photo. Just trust me, I was a flaking, spotty, reddened emotional mess.

 

If anyone is interested in starting a similar diet, I'll write a list of things below that will help you to stay on track, as well as talk about a few problem foods that I thought would be healthy, but in fact were causing me to break out, as well as a few universally like foods that also might cause you problems.

 

  1. Even when being restrictive, I would still choose something you can realistically stick to long term. I knew for myself that as long as I had meat and fish, I could stick to this for a while, since I do love those foods even if I have to eat them with a lot of vegetables. If I had gone vegan, I would not have stuck to this long enough to see improvements, and I know that for a fact. I would say don't worry about the quantities of food so much, for me it is more about avoiding processed poison than it is getting in 10 portions of vegetables a day. That's not to say only eat bacon and eggs, but you don't need to critique every single portion. Remember, this won't be a fad diet if it works, but a lifestyle change.
  2. The early days are the hardest. This is for a few reasons. Keto flu/Sugar withdrawal symptoms, a lack of built in discipline, a lack of improvements in skin or even more breakouts because of detoxing (I really, really hate this word but there's just no better way to describe it). If you've failed to commit to diets before, it is because they are front loaded in terms of difficulty. It is not because you are some kind of failure. I will say, that dieting is hard, but also easy. It is hard because it takes hundreds of times saying "No" without a single slip up, but it is easy in that anyone can do it if they want it enough. You all have it in you. I had failed to even go just dairy free for 2 days before, sometimes you just have to get the dud attempts out of the way first.
  3. Social pressures are VERY REAL. People will give their opinions on your diet, just like they give their opinions on your acne despite never having had to deal with it. Try to remember that they have good intentions, even if they are ignorant. I had 100x more comments on my diet now than when I was eating bagels and pizza all day, it's a very strange phenomenon that people think you need constant carbs or you'll just fall flat on your face halfway through the day. That might be true for the first week, but not forever. Also, know that there will never NOT be a special event at which you will be encouraged to cheat at. Birthdays, parties, xmas, easter etc. Eating out is a real struggle too because you can't tell what goes into a meal, sometimes it might be smart to just fill up before going out. 
  4. You can read success stories on diet for motivation, but don't get too downtrodden with having a target time in mind to be clear by. Sometimes you will read people saying "I just cut out dairy for two days and my lifetime cystic acne is gone!" And good for them! It can take a lot longer than you think though. I had constant thoughts that if diet were the cause of my acne, I'd have seen change by now, and only stuck to the diet for as long as I have because I was and am just that desperate for clear skin. Please don't be put off by timings until you've given this a really good shot, some people take up to six months to see results. Ice cream will still exist after that time, and you'll feel better eating it guilt free if you find diet isn't related to your acne.
  5. Check family allergies. My mum, in hindsight, had eczema that was triggered by oranges and tomatoes. Lo and behold, tomatoes broke out my skin. If you have a relative with skin conditions, ask them politely if they have any food triggers they know about.
  6. Sometimes universally healthy foods are your enemy. It sounds ridiculous that tomatoes and potatoes and any kind of rice will give me acne, but it just does. I have read some posts with foods like these, and I'd say eating for healthy skin can be different from eating for healthy weight. Please just be overly cautious and eliminate things that are a "will it won't it" for causing your acne, it'll play on your mind if you don't
  7. When cheating comes to mind... You will be tempted, it just will happen. Probably multiple times. When this happens, click a mental pause button in your head. Go to the nearest mirror, maybe by excusing yourself to the bathroom, and take a real good close look at your skin. If you're like me, this normally results in self hatred, and for once, that's a good thing. When I see my skin, I remember that there's no point destroying all that work for momentary happiness. I'm not going to bed that night, thinking "I'm so glad I gave in and had that cookie". If this somehow doesn't work, just force yourself to stuff your face with compliant food. Maybe just eat half a roast chicken by yourself, go crazy. By the time you've finished, you'll be so full that cheating is no longer nearly as appetising, and you'll have a good few hours to just mull it over, probably ending up glad you didn't cheat.
  8. A lot of foods have sneaky ingredients in. Gravy contains gluten. Gluten free stock cubes have all kinds of sugars in. A tiny bit of soy sauce really can cause havoc. If you're buying stuff like this, read the label VERY carefully, but I just wouldn't bother.
  9. Your meals might not really resemble 'dishes' anymore. They'll probably just be "x meat with y vegetables". You can look up recipes online, but sometimes it just won't be the complex mix of flavours you are used to. This gets easier over time, but it's quite saddening in the beginning. Personally I just trudged through it as it was easier than spending an hour cooking every meal.
  10. Dieting for skin is harder than dieting for weight, because you really don't know if it will help. Even now, I recognise that food is not the cause of many people's acne. It's just how it is. When you diet to lose weight, you know that countless scientific studies have proven you will see results if you keep at it. For acne, it genuinely just might not help. This is the biggest struggle by far for me, that I could be doing everything right and all for nothing. Just know it can take a long time, and maybe it won't help, but maybe it will. Sometimes you've had acne for so long that it just seems like you know you'll have it forever, and that reading threads like this is just for 'other people' who got lucky. Four months ago, I believed I would never leave the house, never make new friends, never have a life past my skin. I have been there. Really. If you are ever struggling with motivation, PLEASE send me a message. Now that I have found my cause (At least I am 99% sure with the way things are going), I want nothing more than to dedicate my time to helping people who are struggling with the same thing. You won't be a bother, if anything I'd love to have people to talk to about my skin, since I've always been too embarrassed to mention it to my clear skinned friends.

 

As for products and routine, I wash my face twice a day with just water (Soap triggers my Seb Derm, unfortunately), dry gently with a towel, and moisturise with Avene Cicalfate Repair Cream (You can find it on the UK Amazon), which is basically a moisturiser but it has a nice thick texture that isn't very oily. I don't think the products are what made the difference since I'd been using the cream long before the diet, it helps with redness and flakes but isn't a cure all by any means.

 

That's the run down of my discoveries, once again I know that this won't help everyone but I'd encourage you all to give diet another try if you have no other routines you haven't tried. What are your experiences with diet? I'd love to discuss some similarites/differences with you all!

Acne Before.jpg

Acne After.jpg

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