4 Foods that Cause Hormonal Acne

4 Foods that Cause Hormonal Acne


The truth: So do hormonal breakouts. 

After trying diet after diet, it can seem like an endless merry-go-round just to find an acne solution. If one diet manages to stop the acne storm, it’s only a temporary fix. The moment you get off track, the breakouts come back with a vengeance! How do I know? 

It happened to me. 

It’s common for people to jump off track, life happens, stress takes over and you want the comfort foods (I know, trust me).

Pizza, coffee with sugar and cream, chocolate, and ice-cream…I literally had a stash at home filled with comfort foods. Usually following a clean diet, I had given myself permission to go a little crazy, because I needed something comforting, something good among the stress of running a business, being a full time mom and running a household all in a pandemic. 

The problem? After a few consecutive months of healthy, beautiful, and glowing skin (all thanks to my diet), my hard work disappeared! Seeing the first few pimples show up on my jawline after a few weeks of comfort foods, I was mortified! It was like all of my hard work went down the drain.

That is when I realized I needed to do some serious research about hormonal acne and find out everything I could to combat it. So here is a crash course on hormonal acne, the trigger foods, and the all-natural remedy that saved my skin! 

The Science Behind Hormonal Breakouts

For a few years of my life, hormonal acne was a constant battle. After living with problem skin for the majority of my mid to late 20s, I realized that food played a huge part in my hormonal acne story. 

Here is a short explanation of how it works.  

When certain trigger foods are consumed, they send signals to our glands to create hormones (like stress hormones or sex hormones). If there is an excess of these hormones produced, they signal the oil glands in our skin to start creating sebum (oil). 

The bad news: Bacteria love sebum, and together, they create the painful and frustrating acne cycle we have all come to hate. 

The good news: All-natural skincare & a healthy diet can help eliminate the bad bacteria and save your skin from the acne cycle! Here are four foods to avoid if you’re dealing with hormonal acne! You’re welcome in advance!

Dairy 

As much as you love the cheesy goodness piled on top of a pizza or your weekly milk-filled Starbucks frapp, dairy is a major no-no. 

Dairy includes staple products like milk, cheese, butter, and yogurt. 

Here are two reasons you should think about throwing them away today!  

  1. Cow’s milk negatively impacts our bodies by increasing the insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1). IGF-1 plays an essential role in tissue growth and development. In other words, the body starts producing more cells, which can lead to more oil on the skin’s surface that can block pores. 
  2. The hormones fed to cows can disrupt the normal functioning of our bodies. These hormones help stimulate increased milk production when injected into a cow. When we drink milk, our endocrine system identifies these hormones and responds with an overproduction of oil.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, skimmed milk is worse than regular milk.  Why? 

Sugar and whey protein are added to skimmed milk for creaminess and taste. These additions can most definitely cause inflammation in our body and skin. So, now that I’ve scared you from ever using dairy products again, there are surprising ways around it!

Dairy Substitutes:

  • Milk- can be substituted for almond milk (my fav), oat milk, and coconut milk.
almond milk
almond milk
  • Butter- can be substituted for olive oil and coconut oil.
  • Cheese- much more difficult to substitute, cheese can be replaced by cashew cheese, pesto, or just recently I found vegan cheese at Walmart and Winn-Dixie from a brand called Daiya (they have cream cheese, cheddar like cheese slices and even mozzarella).
  • Ice Cream- can easily be substituted with coconut cream, almond milk, or cashew milk. If you want to make it at home, you can find recipes online for ice cream made out of bananas, peanut butter, and dark chocolate (highly recommended). 

Refined Carbohydrates

Oh, refined carbs! Who doesn’t like a hot bread bowl with fresh-made pasta! Just thinking about it makes me hungry. 

Refined carbs are generally separated into two groups: 

  1. Refined grains
  2. Sugar

Refined grains are foods that were once rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but overprocessing has stripped them of their nutrients. For this reason, refined carbs are sometimes called “empty calories.” Another fact is that they are also high on the glycemic index. This means that they cause a rapid spike in glucose once they are consumed. This spike can lead to our old friend IGF-1 and the same acne cycle mentioned above starts all over.  

Here are a few examples of refined carbs with very little nutritional value.

White bread 

Pastries

Pasta

Breakfast cereals

White rice 

White potatoes

Salad dressings

My advice is to stick to the carbs that will provide you with an abundance of nutrients. While that might seem like a lot to handle, have no fear, there are still some good carbs on the list. The good carbs include:

Sweet potatoes (which I’m obsessed with!)

Whole grain bread

Brown or wild rice 

Homemade Healthy Chicken Burrito Bowl
CHIPOTLE + BROWN RICE= PERFECTION! WATCH OUT FOR YOUR CHEESE INTAKE THOUGH! (Tip: Pass on the cheese and if your ordering for home just top off with Daiya Mozzarella cheese)

Legumes (chickpeas and kidney beans) 

Whole-grain foods (oats or barley)

Fruits (apples, oranges, or bananas in moderation) 

Sugar

After every dinner, I had to have a high-sugar dessert to wash down my solid food. The problem was that I was consuming sugar EVERY DAY! 

Sugar is one of the biggest foods to avoid if you’re dealing with hormonal acne because of its effect on insulin levels. As discussed above, insulin spikes lead to excess cell growth and oil production on the skin. It also has oxidative properties that are associated with many cardiovascular diseases.

Colorful sweets
CAN SOMETHING THIS GOOD, BE THIS BAD?! THE ANSWER? ABSOLUTELY!

Here is a breakdown without the sugar coating (see what I did there?).

The almost 2 trillion dollar food industry has kept us stacked with products that our digestive system can’t handle. Why? Food has evolved quicker than our bodies. The challenges, reactions, and abnormal side effects of our digestive system can usually lead back to the modified, overly processed foods we eat. 

Food full of artificial sweeteners presents one of the greatest challenges for our bodies. It simply cannot digest it properly or use it as energy. 

So what is the bodies’ response to this problem? It kicks the artificial sweetener out through urination and excessive sweat which can cause inflammation and clogged pores that lead to acne. 

Sugar doesn’t sound very appealing now, does it?

Here are some of the main foods that you should consider removing: ice cream, cakes, candy, soft drinks, and flavored yogurts. 

Will this be an easy process as you push sweets out of your diet? 

No. 

I even struggle from time to time, but the trade-off is so much sweeter! To have clear, glowing skin, weightless benefits and to slow down on foods that aren’t good for your body anyway is what I call a win-win. 

Here is a little advice to keep you on track!

Get rid of the super sugary things that you have in your secret stash at home. Why? When you start craving them, you won’t have them around to eat! 

If the cravings last for a long time, have a dark chocolate bar at home (85% and higher). Dark chocolate can act as an anti-inflammatory agent, and increase your blood circulation, which will deliver more oxygen to your skin. Always pay attention to your skin, however. If inflammation, redness, excess oil, or breakouts occur, leave that chocolate at the door! 

Switch to water or the occasional flavored water. Increased water consumption is very important for a healthy complexion, and flavored water can give your taste buds the little bit of flavor it has been craving. 

Does this include stepping away from alcoholic drinks, too? 

Unfortunately, yes.   

Drinks like mojitos, margaritas, cocktails, and other alcohol-infused beverages are full of sugar. Your best bet is to exchange all of the fancy drinks for red wine (my favorite), which is the most skin-friendly alcoholic drink out there. 

Another option is to look for cleaner alternatives like margaritas made from agave over simple syrup. Natural fruit juices over those with added sugar are also an excellent choice. 

Little tweaks like this have helped me keep my skin clear no matter the circumstances. 

Fast Food  

While technically not a food group, fast food is a mixture of all the foods previously mentioned. Fast food is loaded with weird fillers, cheap oils, and highly inflammatory sugars that can lead to hormonal acne. 

While this may be discouraging and seem like a lot of foods to avoid, a well-rounded diet is crucial to your hormonal acne journey!  

By slowly eliminating these foods from your diet, you can see what your trigger foods are and tweak your diet accordingly. 

Defeating Hormonal Acne For Good

For a couple of years now, I started eliminating the foods above from my diet. Dairy, sugar, and refined carbs- I got rid of it all. I was able to see my specific triggers. No more blind breakouts for me! I knew exactly which foods were the issue.  

This first step in my clear skin journey was essential in helping manage and regulate my hormones. The next step was finding something that would help the damage that had already occurred on my face.  

I ditched the traditional acne cleansers and started experimenting. I started seeing that the best ingredients for clear skin were often left out of traditional acne products. I soon realized that an effective skincare product needs good nutrition to boost good bacteria and start healing inflammation. It also needs to eliminate the bad bacteria, gently exfoliate, and balance excess oil.

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