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To end what has kind of been a 3 part series on my skin ( 1. makeup made without coconut oil and 2. tips for battling hormonal acne), today I’m going to be talking about SUGAR and its effect on my face, buuuut you could really insert any dietary substance here. The truth is what you eat does have an impact on your skin, whether you like it or not! I have a feeling that this is going to be a long one, so to make it more organized and try and decrease my rambling, here’s what I’m going to cover: my history with sugar, my current relationship with sugar, is sugar realllly bad for you, deciding to cut sugar, what does my future with sugar look like, and tips for cutting sugar in your diet. SO let’s dive in.
The Back Story
I’ve always had a sweet tooth. I had dessert as a kid, but it was pretty much in check – nothing too crazy. My mom was sure to teach us about moderation and serving sizes. Do you remember your childhood favorite cosmic brownies? They come in a bar that divides into 2 pieces, but the serving size is only 1! How is a 5th grader going to just eat “half” of that brownie?! Setting them up for failure if you ask me. Same with Poptarts! They come 2 to a pack, but the serving size is only 1… who thought that would be a good idea? I digress. When I went to college, I would use sugar to keep me away when I was studying, in addition to drinking cokes. I had this beautiful desk with alllllll these drawers. One of the drawers was my dedicated candy drawer. I would keep it stocked with all the Jolly Ranchers you could imagine and just pop one after the other. When I got tired of that, I would fill it with bubble gum. I would chew a piece until it was no longer pink and all the sugar was gone, then grab another piece and chew until my entire mouth was the color of Pepto-Bismol and I needed to leave the library just to brush my teeth! My point in telling you that is I graduated from college 6 years ago this coming December and my life doesn’t look like that anymore. I really only ate sugar after noon and only when I craved it…which leads me to the next part.
My Current Story
You’re probably like QUIT HINTING AT A STRESSFUL YEAR AND NOT EXPLAIN WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT, but I probably won’t ever write about it in detail on here. The point is that this year has been a stressful one and it all kind of came to a head earlier this year, which caused lack of sleep, stress headaches, you get the idea. Often times I would get these headaches at work and with a fully stocked fridge of cokes and such you can imagine what ensued. My first inclination when I got a headache would be to grab one, because something about the sugar and the caffeine just did it for me. If you have migraines, this isn’t news to you. I don’t know the science behind it or if it’s just the placebo effect, but I probably had a minimum of 3 cokes a week. When you’re going from maybe 1 a month, to 12+ a month, that’s a lotttt of sugar. You literally crave what you eat. If you’re feeding yourself tons of processed sugar, you’re going to crave it. That’s just the way it is! Nick and I would probably go through a bag of gummy bears a week, on top of the other sugar I was consuming in things like wine and fruit. Something that didn’t help that I thought was helping was kombucha. Yep. Another thing where there are usually 2 servings in one bottle;) I started drinking 1 serving a day, 5 days a week at minimum. It’s something that is supposedly “healthy” for you, but did you know it’s literally tea brewed with sugar?! Most have almost 10 grams of sugar per serving! Anyway, my point is that I thought I was under control with sugar, but it all came tumbling down into one big, well, sugar crash.
What’s the health benefit of sugar?? Is the good stuff actually good for you?
First of all, I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist, though I have taken several chemistry, biology, and nutrition classes to kind of understand what is going on. Basically, there’s glucose which is used for energy, fructose which is stored as fat, and sucrose which is a combination of both and is table sugar, which has to be broken down. When you eat something like an apple, yes It has sugar (fructose), but it comes packed with other nutrients like fiber that kind of equal it out because it slows down the sugar entering your blood stream. But side note while we are talking about fruit, there is such a thing as too much fruit. I learned this in 2016 from a trainer when he was analyzing my food intake. I guess I always thought it was better than eating a cupcake and it is, but again there can be too much of it. He encouraged me to go down to half a banana instead of a whole banana in a smoothie, etc. It was really eye opening. Which brings me to another train of thought. You see all these smoothies at the gym – they have them at my gym! And hey, I’m all for a good smoothie, but I think some people don’t realize how much freaking sugar they have in them! Just like I’ve been telling y’all and reminding myself to read the labels on your makeup and skincare products, do the same with your food! Read the actual nutrition label! Also, when I was recently researching I found out that sweet potatoes aren’t really thaaat much better for you than regular potatoes. Here I am feeling bad about myself getting a russet baked potato instead of a sweet potato in the baked potato line, but in reality, they are pretty much the same. Now, it’s PACKED with vitamin c and a, which is awesome, but it literally has the same caloric value as the traditional kind. My thought for you here is make sure that the stuff people are saying is “healthy” is actually healthy and not just assumed to be. Andddd unfortunately, kombucha falls into that category as well.
The second week of August I went to see my beloved esthetician Amanda, over at Eleven Wellness. I’ve been seeing her for almost a year now, so she pretty much knows my skin. I go every 8 weeks, so she had kind of seen the process of my skin freaking out this entire year. Initially it was hormonal acne, but somewhere along the lines, it morphed into something else, but kept the cystic look and feel. This time she told me that she didn’t think it was hormonal acne and that they were actually REALLY DEEP AND INFLAMED CLOGGED PORES. Like omg. What? She kind of asked about my diet and we landed on sugar – mainly when I said I drank kombucha everyday. Oops. Anyway, so since August 8th, I started watching and really cutting my sugar intake. I stopped cold turkey on cokes even when I had a headache, I stopped drinking kombucha and I didn’t consume sugar except in fruit, wine, or ketchup for 6 weeks. Yep, that means I didn’t have chocolate either! If you didn’t know, sugar is actually an inflammatory food, meaning not only can it mess with your skin’s appearance, but also your weight/bloat. I think I forgot to mention that during this whole breakout time period, especially when it got bad mid-June, I would literally wake up and touch all over my face so I could feel where the next “cystic” zits were coming in and I wouldn’t want to cry as badly when I looked in the mirror. I say “cystic” because like I said, the majority of the ones I had in early August were really deep clogged pores and it was the worst “extraction” period of a facial I have ever had. My eyes started watering uncontrollably, it hurt so bad. Anyway, here I am rambling again, but around 2 weeks of cutting sugar, I woke up one Sunday and was like oh wow. I might be getting over the hump of this. In fact, that same morning, Nick noticed it as well, without me even asking his opinion. Funny how stuff like that works! Watch your diet people!
Am I going to cut sugar forever?
Short answer? Nope. I’ve reintroduced it here and there already. The only point of cutting a food group to see how you react is to reintroduce it and see how you do. In the end, I think I had just gotten a little out of control without realizing it. BUT I’ve also realized that it reallllly doesn’t make me feel all that great. If I have any sweets before noon, I will 100% get a headache. If I have too much at all, I will also get a headache. I think it just goes back to listening to your body, (unless it’s going crazy and requesting sugar!) I shot this blog post with a slice of cookies n’ cream cheesecake from Val’s Cheesecake here in Dallas. He is one of our favorite local artisans and truly does an amazing job. And YES. I ate it all myself. I ate it in 2 sittings, but it was all me. Sugar isn’t baaaad, but it can be bad. You know? We are headed to a wedding this weekend and I’m going to have some wedding cake. It might be only a couple bites, but I’m going to have some cake and I’m going to enjoy it. I also have a cookie collaboration coming up in October and I’m really excited about it!! So it’s still going to be part of my life, just in even more moderation than before.
Tips for cutting sugar in your own diet:
I think you should first take a look at where the majority of sugar is coming from for you and go from there! You might be surprised where you find sugar – one example is yogurt. It’s pretty unsuspecting, but most have sugar in the first 3 ingredients. Something that really helped me still have something sweet during this time period was keeping small fruits in the fridge. (remember, I didn’t cut everything! I kept eating fruit, ketchup, and wine!) My go-to is kiwi. It’s small, but big enough to actually enjoy, and pretty sweet! We also like to make green juices with pineapple, spinach, ginger, and lemon, which gives you the sweet, but also kinda cuts it for you. I have had kombucha 3 times since August 7th. I have switched to taking a shot of Apple Cider Vinegar w/hot water and cayenne pepper every morning for gut health instead. It’s cheaper and actually more effective IMO! I used to have ACV every morning, but since I switched offices last summer, I got out of habit. If I want kombucha, I’v been reaching for Health Ade, because it’s on the lower end of the sugar spectrum. Another thing that has helped is cooking food myself. I get to see and moderate how much sugar, etc goes into my meals. If you are a cocktail drinker, try drinking more straight beverages and not a bunch of sugared up drinks. Overall, just being aware of what you’re putting in your body is the first step. I like to know kind of what my whole meal plan for the day is, so I can make better decisions and not over indulge. Also when baking/cooking, I try to use things likes honey, maple syrup, stevia, etc to kind of soften the blow!
ANYWAY, that was a lottttt of info, so if you made it this far, thank you for reading! If you’re struggling with sugar, or maybe for you it’s dairy or gluten, you’ve got this. Keep trying! Make sure to have accountability partners who can help keep you on track. And of course if you fall off the wagon, just get back on. You will feel better and your skin hopefully look better too. I have so enjoyed getting all of y’alls messages about yesterday’s post. I love sharing and encouraging y’all where I can. Keep in mind you’re not alone and your identity is not found in your looks or how little or many acne scars you have. And thank the Lord for that!! I’ll be updating y’all on my “fall” skincare routine soon, because autumn begins Saturdayyyy! That post will feature what I’m doing differently to prepare for the cooler months, PLUS I’m going to share the products I have stopped using due to the fact that they contain coconut oil and what I’m using instead. Keep on smiling those beautiful smiles, y’all!
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