Stop Judging – A Message From A 10 Year Acne Sufferer

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 šŸ™‚

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.

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19 thoughts on “Stop Judging – A Message From A 10 Year Acne Sufferer

  1. Love your blog, and yes agree people should not be judge mental even if they are trying to help. One never knows what one is going through or how they feel about themselves. I have a mother who is very very tiny, so if I put on even an ounce of weight she would notice and comment, hard to keep quite when she patted my tummy a few days ago while on holiday to NZ, and I am not that big. People judge her for being tiny, and she in turns comments on others being bigger. She is 4ft 11inch and 42 kg. My point is let’s love each other how ever we look. And I have always considered you to be one beautiful young woman. Keep your blogs coming. Great read while waiting to board the plane at Christchurch airport to fly back to Sydney

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  2. It is really crazy that what we eat can have such extreme effects on our bodies. I am noticing that my tolerances to certain foods are not quite what they once were. I used to say that my digestive system was my BFF and I could eat whatever I wanted and not have any issues with anything, but sadly that does not seem to be the case anymore… Not that I restrict or anything, but heavy creams are a big no, and that is new.

    Anyway, I can’t relate to this exact problem, but I can relate to judgy idiots. You just power through and know that you are beautiful and loved.

    But I’m really happy for you that you have found something that works for your skin, even if it is so difficult to stick to. Hope is a good thing!

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    • I know, right? It’s crazy. I never would have dreamed that grains would make a difference to my skin.

      Yes, you can relate to judgy idiots! I saw that comment that someone made on your blog. How rude. You’re not fat at all. Is he blind??? You post pictures of yourself all the time and so anyone can clearly see what you look like and you’re so far from fat.

      I’m just glad i can still stuff my face with potato chips. I would be so sad if i couldn’t eat potato šŸ˜¦

      Thanks for your lovely comment! šŸ™‚

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  3. Fantastic post Laura, I’m so happy for you that you don’t have to feel the pain anymore. Funnily enough when I picture you (in my head when I read your blog I see you actually talking to me, I’m weird but you already know that) I don’t picture you with any acne at all, just your big smile and kind eyes :). Interesting that grains is the issue, this is a bad comparison but Athena my dog can’t have grains or her skin does the opposite, uncontrollably flakey as it goes so dry, the amount of dandruff is impossible to imagine. I feed her grain free now, but same as you the occasional rice mixed into a meal does not seem to cause a problem.
    The best thing about grain free…. potatoes! potatoes are the best carb anyone, chips yum, mash yum, baked yum, roasted yum, hash brown yum, you can even make bread with potato!
    When I did a three week detox in highschool and only ate fresh fruit, veg and fresh unprocessed meats that was when I first became aware of my dairy intolerance and how much internal pain it was causing my body.
    I get bad acne on my back that seems to pop up once a month, I have assumed it is hormonal since the pill cleared it up but perhaps I should try an elimination diet. The pill was having adverse affects elsewhere so I decided to stop taking it and the thing I hate most now is the painful big welt acne that I have again.

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    • Thanks Melinda šŸ™‚

      And that’s so sweet the way you see me šŸ™‚ And i love that when you read my blog posts it’s like I’m talking to you! That’s what I’m aiming for!

      That’s really interesting that her skin gets really dry. I think it could be the same kind of concept – it just reacts in different ways depending on your body.

      Oh yes, i know! Potatoes are my favourite food. I would have been so unhappy if they were a grain.

      It’s so interesting how many people have dairy or gluten intolerance these days. However do you hear of many having a vegetable intolerance? It really makes you wonder a) what they are doing to the food and b) are we really meant to be eating those kinds of foods. Are you still able to have A2?

      If the acne is hormonal then it could definitely be caused by something in your diet. I believe the acne i have is hormonal because i took a contraceptive pill that was really light and the acne went away however i was getting my period when i wasn’t supposed to so as a contraceptive it didn’t work. The stronger pills were too strong plus as you said, it gave me other side effects that were awful. Even if you give it a go and see, there’s no harm in trying. Also another thing i noticed. When i first started eating grain free, i was really strict and when i got my period it was so much lighter and completely pain free. In my whole life I’d never had a pain free period. I’m not 100% certain, i have to monitor myself for a bit longer but I’m also wondering if the grains are causing bad PMS and period pain etc.

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      • Yep I have the A2 milk ok but I do think my body prefers no dairy at all but I don’t get severe symptoms with A2, if I were to have a lot, say 1 litre I do feel bloated, heavy and lethargic and ‘off’. I use A2 as the lesser evil because too much soy does muck with my hormones badly. The main reason I haven’t tried a vegetarian diet is because without soy it becomes very limited and I don’t think I would stick to it.
        Kel will have to send me some grain free bread šŸ™‚ I normally have sandwiches for lunch but I’m thinking I might swap to salads and see what happens.
        Also you might already know this but if you miss rice you can make cauliflower rice. I think it takes a bit of trial and error to get it right and tasting good but I know lots of people who swear by it. Made from cauliflower obviously so no grains.
        Don’t forget quinoa is a seed not a grain too, I looove quinoa and cook with it all the time now, I’ve bought some purely quinoa cookbooks which are great. Quinoa pancakes however…. lets just say that one will need Kel’s help. ick.

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      • Oh ok. I have noticed they’ve been bringing out more A2 products – no cheese yet though!
        I couldn’t go on a vegetarian diet. I’m sorry but there is nothing like a quality pork roast.
        Haha! He is wanting to perfect the recipe and sell it in the shop. I’m not sure it would last so well if we posted it though…
        What I’ve been doing is having all my sandwich ingredients with a baked potato. You can bake a few potatoes in advance so you don’t have to bake one every night and then you just put your sandwich ingredients in a container and at lunch time put them together. At first it might sound weird, especially depending on what you eat on a sandwich but when you try it, it’s really yummy. And it’s filling. I find salads just don’t fill me up enough. And potatoes are actually a super food. It’s just when you pair them with lots and lots of butter, or cream, or sour cream, or oil!
        I’ve never heard of cauliflower rice! I will have to look into that.
        Yes, we just bought some Quinoa so i am interested to cook with it.
        Haha! Well he has made buckwheat pancakes and they are alright. They aren’t as light and fluffy like wheat ones but if you think about it this way, they are so healthy you could have pancakes for breakfast every day if you wanted to! Just as long as you’re not having ice cream and maple syrup on them šŸ˜‰

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  4. Oh you are beautiful! And the judgment people have dealt with is ridiculous.
    What is wrong with our race? Sometimes I feel being a dog would be so much easier!
    Anyway, I have suffered cystic acne for years and found what my boys didn’t like was dairy. Cut it out and my whole body was better incl my skin šŸ™‚ now I am able to do the sneaky and have some every so often, which is a nice treat!

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    • Aww, thank you Jacki šŸ™‚

      I’ve heard that dairy can cause cystic acne. If the grains didn’t work i was going to try that next however i seem to be fine on dairy. I’m glad that you’ve found the answer to clearing your skin. However i don’t remember your skin being bad at school – i just remember your big smile and how welcoming you and Rach were to me šŸ™‚

      Thanks for commenting!

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  5. An insightful, wonderful post, Laura. I’m sensitive to the issues you raise in how we perceive and respond to others and to the judgements so many of us make. My husband is a Type I diabetic and I could write a book about the inane, if well meaning at times, things people have said, ie, what did you do to get this, eat a blueberry pie and you will be cured, well, just take a shot and you will be fine. All this to say, I think I understand and am truly sorry for the hurt people cause.

    Good luck in your grain free endeavors. I’ll be thinking of you. Penny

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  6. Oh my. I’m giving a (virutal) hug right now. I hate that you have to deal with any of that negativity. You’re so pretty, dear! You’re rocking my world with the food categories – veggies a carb? buckwheat not a wheat? sheesh. I would say you should post some recipes on how I would even begin making it delicious (y’all would be the ones to do it), but I doubt we could find most of the ingredients here.

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    • Awww, thank you! *virtual hugs back*
      Haha! Yes, i have no idea why buckwheat is called what it is. Maybe the ‘b’ was originally an ‘f’ because the people who couldn’t eat wheat found something they could eat instead šŸ˜‰
      Yeah, i would be curious to find out what you can and can’t get over there. What sort of dishes are native over in Belgium anyway?

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  7. Pingback: Molasses Whoopie Pies Filled with Italian Buttercream | The Chef and the Waitress

  8. Pingback: Grain Free AND Dairy Free? Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That! | The Chef and the Waitress

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