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How Eating Clean For One Week Improved My Acne-Prone Skin

Would you change your diet if it meant achieving your skin goals? Here one writer shares how eating cleaner put her on the path to a clear complexion.

When I first found out that what I eat might affect my acne, I was in middle school. I ignored it and prayed otherwise. Since then, I’ve made various, temporary lifestyle changes in the hopes of improving my skin. Like in high school, I started drinking green tea like a maniac because I heard it can be good for acne. 

While my acne is better now than it was when I was younger, it’s still not totally where I want it to be, so recently I decided to give clean eating – think reduced added sugars and a higher intake of fruit and veggies – a try.

I chronicled my first week eating clean. Read on below to find out what I ate and how it affected my skin. 

Day 1

In the spirit of transparency, I ate an entire pack of Peeps last night. “It starts tomorrow,” I said. Well, I woke up with a huge, juicy, and deep pimple on my jawline – safe to say food definitely affects your skin, yeah? My new sidekick served as greater motivation to start clean eating and to bid her adieu sooner rather than later.

Today, my diet primarily consisted of scrambled eggs, an apple with peanut butter, a pasta salad, a green juice, and a grain bowl with sweet potatoes, black beans, and corn. At the end of the day I craved something sweet, so I had a few dark chocolate covered almonds.

Day 2

When I woke up, I noticed my pimple sidekick had begun to diminish in both size and redness, so I took that as a solid win for clean eating. Though I am lactose intolerant and typically avoid dairy, there were cupcakes at work today, and well, what’s a girl to do? I ate the cupcake and one green juice, hoping it would counteract it. Of course, my stomach was extremely irritated that I let dairy enter my system, but I’m hoping my skin won’t be. Luckily, the smoothie shop nearby was having a deal, so I decided to get myself a huge smoothie packed with avocado, banana, spinach, kale, and dates. This held me over for a shockingly long time, so for dinner, I had leftovers of my grain bowl from the night before.

Day 3

The cupcake was definitely a bad idea, because I woke up with another sidekick right above my lip! This was not as large as the previous one, but even that one was continuing to shrink in size and reduce color. Not only that, but the usual texture around my jawline was starting to diminish, too! This was the boost I needed to keep going on my kick. Much to my delight, I noticed a brand new item at Trader Joe’s – a jumbo size of their classic cold-pressed green juice. I grabbed it to hold onto for the remainder of the week, so I could be sure I was hitting my greens goals each day. Surprisingly, drinking a green juice helped to curb my sugar cravings, which made sticking with clean eating even easier. Since even a little bit of dairy was making me breakout, I decided to cut out all dairy (except for eggs!) for the remainder of the week. Since the smoothie held me over for so long, I kept it simple and had a brown rice salmon avocado roll with a miso soup. A simple roll like this one is packed with good fats, which are supposedly great for skin, so it felt like an easy decision.clean eating acne

Day 4

Yesterday was the first day I feel I truly had no added sugar or dairy, and my skin saw the payoff. I have oily skin, but it was less slick than usual when I woke up, and I even noticed a reduction in the look of my pores (which is a huge concern for me). I know that sugar and dairy can exacerbate both issues, I just never thought the effect was as strong. 

RELATED: The Pore-Minimizing Solutions That Work

Since I felt I was doing such a good job, I decided to treat myself to a Sweetgreen Shroomami bowl for lunch. I paired my bowl with an apple and peanut butter, so I was able to keep half of my salad for dinner. 

Day 5

Each day I have more whole foods, and the more my skin appreciates me. Today I woke up with minimized oils and pores, and I noticed the texture around my jawline was nearly smoothed out. On top of that, I began seeing a change in the texture on my forehead, as well. Overall, my skin is beginning to look less irritated and red. I sautéed some spinach, boiled some eggs, and went about my day. The eggs held me over for quite some time, so my lunch was a small Trader Joe’s salad accompanied by some green juice and salted cashews. Dinner today consisted of the grain bowl I had previously in the week – it’s super easy to make, nice and healthy, and I’m lazy with recipes, so it always fits the bill.

Day 6

This was my day off of work, so I decided to treat myself to a huge juice and fruit salad. The juice consisted of beets, carrots, turmeric, ginger, and apple, and the fruit salad was packed with watermelon. Not only did my body feel incredibly hydrated afterward, but my skin looked so, too! I ended my day with yet another grain bowl. I went to bed with a full belly, and hopes of clearer skin.

Bottom Line

From eating clean, my skin looks less oily, my pores look smaller, and most of my underlying redness has gone away. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t cut out all sugar, but at least now I know what to expect with my skin if I’m going to indulge in sweets. Suddenly devouring a pack of Peeps doesn’t seem quite as worth it. 

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