It’s been two months since I began my elimination / detox diet in an attempt to heal my cystic acne from the inside out. To recap, the list of “NO” food groups includes:
- Grains (except 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa or 1/3 cup of cooked rice as of March 4, 2016)
- Starchy vegetables
- Fruits (other than a select handful of low-glycemic fruits deemed acceptable)
- Caffeine (except 1-2 cups of green tea as of March 4, 2016)
- Sweeteners (natural or artificial)
This might seem like a radical approach, but let’s consider the alternatives: accutane, or a blood pressure pill that may or may not work, and I would have to be on it for the rest of my life. I pick trying the functional medicine approach.
So, without further ado, let me take you through a timeline of my skin over the past three years, ending with my progress to date!
Summer 2013. I’m the one on the right. Note, no skin concerns to speak of. Sure, my skin was not perfect, but Proactiv was working pretty well, and I could cover the occasional blemish up with foundation easily. Proactiv stopped working, though, and my occasional blemish became more frequent…
Yeah, I’m a dork. But this is the best picture to see the quality of my skin, and pretty much the only photos to choose from, since I was always making a stupid face to detract from my skin. The picture was taken on July 4, 2014. You can see some blemishes on my chin, but overall not too bad. Still capable of covering up with makeup. Win.
My skin absolutely exploded between October 2014 and October 2015. I don’t have many pictures from this time (I refused to take them), but this is one from Summer 2015. We were on a 50 mile training ride as we prepared to bike from Cleveland, Ohio to Buffalo, New York. This is the closest I would let a camera get to my face. I know all you can probably make out are my two giant forehead pimples, but that was intentional. If the camera got any closer, you would see cystic acne all over both cheeks, my chin, and my neck. We took this epic biking journey later in the summer, and I do not have any pictures of us to prove it. Just of our bikes; my bike doesn’t have cystic acne.
I was devastated. I happened upon Dr. Hyman’s work and the Functional Medicine Center, and after crying for the majority of my summer break, I finally called for an appointment. Only problem? Booked until January and not taking any new patients. Yay waitlist.
So, even though I though for sure I had hit rock bottom, my skin progressively got worse. October 2015, here is where it gets gruesome.
*Please ignore my eyebrows, my general appearance was so awful, I gave up on everything…
I read more and more from Dr. Hyman and decided to take matters into my own hands and try the 10 Day Detox Diet. Basically, this was a mini version of the detox I am on now, with very specific meals to choose from over the course of 10 days. I’ll be the first to admit, I was seriously addicted to sugar. Though I didn’t have it every day, I could barely get through the 10 days (I cheated and shoveled raisins into my mouth when I got desperate) and celebrated with a gluten-free cupcake and pedicure after I “made it through.”
But, the changes were not great enough for me to keep with the “extreme” diet. I still stayed away from beans (convinced they were the culprit) and tried to avoid gluten, until I found myself eating a ton of bread and bagels and…
I got the call from the Functional Medicine Center in December 2015 and was fortunate enough to schedule an appointment for January 20, 2016. After a four hour appointment with Dr. Herbst and registered dietitian, Brigid Titgemeier, I began my pegan (paleo + vegan) elimination diet. As I mentioned before, it’s been two months:
So, there you have it. My skin is still not clear, but it has absolutely changed for the better. Additionally, and this doesn’t quite come across in pictures, there are only one or two actual pimples left on my face. My skin is smoothing out, and what is left behind seems to be scars or marks. I’ll deal with that later; I’m just thrilled to have found a way to heal my acne from the inside out. I’ve also maintained my 6+ pound weight loss over the past two months (a nice bonus of the diet).
I am absolutely amazed by the power of nutrition on my health. I would’ve described my diet as healthy in 2013, I went vegan in 2014, and I avoided “bad” foods like it was my job. But, something was off, and my body wanted it known.
My next appointment is April 27, and maybe my diet will be adjusted, or maybe it won’t. Sugar (and gluten, and alcohol, and coffee, and…) just doesn’t seem that important anymore…