Those who know me well, know I have suffered from Cystic Acne since I was about thirteen years old (that’s over ten years now). Cystic Acne (or Nodulocystic Acne, which is it’s proper name) is one of those horrible skin diseases that not only is extremely painful but seriously damages ones self esteem as well.
The difference between regular Acne (Acne Vulgaris) and Cystic Acne is that not only do you suffer from outbreaks of pimples and blackheads etc. but you also suffer from cysts and nodules as well, which are larger and they sit deeper under the skin causing immense pain. Also with nodules you can’t “pop” them to relieve the pain and pressure as they aren’t necessarily filled with any pus, they are just extremely inflamed follicles (not that you should pop anything on your face anyway!)
The stigma of having acne because you eat a bad diet has gotten a lot better, however people still give me judgmental looks. Over the ten or so years I’ve had various comments made to me by complete strangers that i need to stop eating so much chocolate etc.
That really hurts. Especially when you’re a teenage girl, trying to determine her identity in life.
It’s hard listening to girls who have perfect skin, crying over the one, tiny spot that they have on their chin, that they’re so ugly because of it. What does that make me? With a face full of huge, angry lumps? Hideous, that’s what.
Trying almost every remedy known to man (antibiotics, the pill, injections, facials, diet changes, extremely expensive skincare, Proactiv, herbs, Tea Tree Oil, toothpaste! The list goes on), giving up so many things, spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars and feeling SO guilty about it because there are starving children in Africa and people with Cancer and I’m just a really vain person because I want to be able to look in the mirror and not cry.
While at night, it hurts to sleep, to lie on my back or side because of the cysts covering my back and shoulders. When I wake up in the morning my bed and my pajama top are covered in blood from the cysts that have been torn open during the night. And again with the guilt. It doesn’t matter that I am in constant pain; emotionally, mentally and physically. It doesn’t matter that I tell myself no man will ever love me, let alone want to touch me because of how awful I look, and how vile I am. That people don’t want to hug and kiss me hello because they might *shudder* touch my face. My condition is shallow and vain and I have no reason to complain, especially when I brought it upon myself eating those chips, that piece of chocolate. If I was a good little girl I would be fine.
No matter how many scientific results are produced, the stigma that you have acne because you have a bad diet continues to live on. How many young girls feel the way I did? Or even young boys? Or even adults?! And how many of those who judge, have perfect skin? It makes me so angry. How dare you? How dare you assume my lifestyle and tell me to stop eating chocolate or chips when I would give them up in a second if it meant my acne would disappear.
And the people who are only trying to help, complete strangers who offer advice and tips. I filled my car up with fuel once and the service station attendant told me to eat a Persimmon every day and that would clear my skin. I know they are only trying to help but it makes it worse, it reminds you that people truly can see how bad your skin is. I would prefer if we just pretended that my skin was normal.
Anyway this post was not meant to turn into, well basically a rant. It was meant to be about how I have suffered for all of these years and then how one day Kel and I decided to do a detox.
Of basically EVERYTHING! Fruit and vegetables only. No fat, oil, sugar, carbohydrates, protein, dairy, no nothing.
Day 1: We were supremely optimistic. Veggies were super yummy!
Day 2: By the end of day 2 we felt like we’d eaten all the fruit and veggies we had as many ways as possible. Raw, baked, boiled, char grilled and steamed.
Day 3: By day 3 we just wanted something that had a little bit of cheese on it, or a sliver of meat. Or some olive oil!
We were planning at least a week but we reached breaking point. At least we achieved being able to cut down the amount we ate of various foods. We appreciated much more even a small amount of cheese etc.
Anyway during our three day detox my skin cleared up. However I didn’t know what from, or if it was in fact everything that I had given up. I talked to my naturopath about it and she suggested it could be the grains. Secretly I thought that was silly, I mean why would grains do anything to my skin? If it was anything it would be oil! Anyway after a couple of months I decided I had nothing to lose by going grain free for a week so I did. And I could have cried. My skin started clearing up almost immediately. What was it about grains?
Now I’ve done some research however I do want to do more and I don’t by all means think I’m an expert on this subject. From what I’ve read, grains, which aren’t really meant to be digested by humans in great quantities like we do, changes the hormonal level in your stomach somehow, and the bacteria and such, and so therefore if you are susceptible to acne, the increase in hormones causes your body to create more oil etc. which in turns creates acne. As i said, i am no expert and of course because it’s a natural remedy there is no scientific evidence to back it up. However if my skin clears up for good, do i really care?
Now going grain free is a huge lifestyle change. Even bigger than gluten free my friends. No wheat, rye, barley, spelt, oats, rice, corn. And I don’t believe in no carbohydrate diets. Low carbohydrate maybe but not no carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are what feeds your brain and you need them. Maybe not white bread but certainly carbohydrates. Did you know most vegetables are carbohydrates? They are just complex ones so it isn’t just a sugar rush to your body. So all you who pride yourself on a no carbohydrate diet better only be eating dairy and meat otherwise you’re kidding yourself.
Anyway I did some more research and apart from having almond flour cakes all the time (yum) buckwheat was a savoury option. Yes that’s right, buckwheat. It’s not a grain my friends, nor is it even remotely related to wheat. It is a seed and part of the rhubarb family! Anyway I started making bread with buckwheat from some recipes I found online. However you require some kind of binding agent as buckwheat doesn’t contain gluten. I believe gums and the like are evil so eggs it was.
And boy were those breads disgusting! That’s why you put sweetener or fruit in cakes, to cover the egg flavour. Imagine eating what tastes like a slightly rubbery, thick, bready omelette that’s been sitting out of the fridge for a couple of days. I ate it but the future was looking dismal. That’s when chef Kel stepped in. And now I have a beautiful grain free bread every morning for breakfast with my cup of tea. However I will let him tell you about that 🙂
So I am endeavouring to eat grain free. I have been now for four months or so however in that time I have relapsed plenty. I’ve noticed that if I’m super strict then my body can tolerate a certain amount of grains occasionally without it releasing the cysts. When i push my body too much though (like i have for the past month – I’ve been eating wheat almost every day), my skin flares up and the horrible fear that comes with it that it was all too good to be true and i was just lucky for the past however long. When it’s happened over the past four months or so I’ve gone back to being super strict and subsequently my skin has cleared up again. The past couple of days my skin has flared up badly (like i said from eating wheat almost every day) and again i am gripped in the fear that it’s all too good to be true. I want to keep at it and see what my skin is like in another six months or so. I feel like then i will know for sure whether this is a long term cure.
I’d also like to point out that I truly believe that acne is a symptom of something my body is unhappy about. That’s why i never tried Accutane. I felt like all it was doing was attacking the symptoms and not the real problem. Why is my body feeling that it has to create excess oil? Also I have had friends who have taken it and i have had very mixed reports.
So from now on we will be doing a variety of recipes both grain and grain free. Kel has decided to eat grain free as well as it’s easier than cooking two different versions plus he wants to be wheat free (not grain, just wheat because really wheat is the root of all evil).
Also I’d just like to say that when I first started the grain free diet I didn’t know what else to eat for lunch so I had chips every day. And chocolate. And my skin never looked better. Obviously that’s not a nutritional way of life and i didn’t keep it up but basically to all those people who told me I’d been eating too much junk food, bite me.