The question has entered the minds of every acne-clearing enthusiast. Which do I choose, clear skin or pizza? Freedom from acne, or freedom to drink beer?
Luckily, it’s a question that doesn’t need asking.
You can have a cheat meal or a whole treat day once every two weeks, and still be free from pimples. You can’t eat whatever you see without thinking, but with the secret, advanced strategies, you can easily indulge occasionally.
In this article, we covered the top 5 indulgences for acne which are moderately skin-friendly. In today’s article, you will learn how to eat whatever you want and dramatically minimise the damage.
Here are the ten secrets which every acne patient should know.
One – don’t skip healthy foods on the day
If you’ve had treat days in the past then you’re probably familiar with the mindset. If you’re eating so many unhealthy foods like baguettes, pasta and cake then what’s the point in eating your plateful of broccoli for lunch? It seems kind of superfluous. Your day is already firmly in acne-causing territory, so what’s the point of keeping the routine healthy stuff in place?
Don’t make this mistake. If you eat fruits and vegetables on a daily basis then you shouldn’t relax on a treat day.
Broccoli itself is a good example because it contains an anti-inflammatory compound called sulforaphane. Sugar is the most inflammatory substance in the plant kingdom, so if you enjoy an ice cream but keep the broccoli in place, the damage to your skin will be minimised. If you eat pomegranate seeds every day then the huge antioxidant count will deactivate the free radicals found in burgers.
The list goes on. Focus on adding in tasty foods, not on removing boring but beneficial ones.
Two – use natural topical treatments
If you’re a veteran of clearing acne naturally then you probably have one of two stances on natural topical treatments. You’ll either deem them to be unnecessary and time consuming, because diet is the real cause of acne, or you’ll consider them to be an extra bonus weapon.
Regardless, topical treatments really shine on the day of a cheat meal. They are perfect for the morning of a cheat day, to keep the chances of a pimple outbreak low, or to apply right before you go to bed after a cheat meal.
You could spend five minutes applying raw honey to all your active pimples to ensure that a sugar overdose doesn’t redden and inflame them. Alternatively, you could cleanse your entire face with grapeseed oil the moment you wake up. With the high levels of vitamin E, any acne caused by pizza, rich beer, burgers or fries will struggle to gain a foothold.
The best option will be the soothing natural treatments. From my experience, and from the science, the biggest side effect of a full scale cheat day is a short term increase in inflammation. Your existing acne reddens and becomes more painful, and the surrounding areas may gain newer, tinier pimples. Your best friends are therefore anti-inflammatory topical treatments like aloe vera and raw honey.
If you stand against topical treatments and have zero patience for them, a treat day is one instance where you should change your mind.
Three – enjoy it!
Routine is death. Nothing is worse than monotony, and the lack of scope for anything new, exciting and challenging. Breaking the routine is one reason why people crave a cheat meal, in addition to the desire for their favourite junk food.
The answer for your acne is to make your cheat day count. You don’t want to regret forgetting your favourite food. Eat the foods you really love, or maybe try something new; don’t just eat a slice of bread with cheese on top.
Eat a full scale Italian pizza with ham and the finest cheese, or a giant plate of fish and chips. Forget about overpriced, fancy rubbish that fills a small circle in the centre of the plate. Follow your instincts for maximum pleasure. The goal for acne is to minimise the temptation for another cheat day. If you haven’t made the most of the excursion then you’ll want more, and you’ll get more acne. Your discipline might break down further and further.
After three weeks of an acne-friendly diet, you may seriously desire a delicious treat meal to break the routine. However, I usually find that once I’ve had a pizza or a feast of ice cream, I suddenly get excited about following the acne diet again. I begin to look forward to the discipline and the scope for improvement.
Keep the variety strong and never let your life get monotonous!
Four – keep your antioxidant levels in check
Back on the subject of healthy foods, it’s particularly important to keep your antioxidant supply high.
Many junk foods work by increasing free radicals and depleting your antioxidant supplies. A box of fries from the fast food dealer is cooked in cheap soybean oil which is reused time and time again. Takeaway pizzas use cheap oils instead of the traditional olive oil. Keep your intake of fruits and vegetables high and your acne defences will stay in place.
It’s lucky that the greatest antioxidant supplies taste great anyway. Depending on your weight, dark chocolate might be off the list, since it’s high in antioxidants but too calorific if you’re already stuffing your face with junk food. However, coffee, raspberries, strawberries, pomegranates, and sweet potatoes are all delicious and rich sources.
A giant plate of raspberries could become part of your treat day. They contain next to no calories as well. If you lack the money to buy organic raspberries regularly, but love them nevertheless, save them for a cheat meal.
Five – maximise the pleasure to damage ratio
Do you want to eat some sugary chocolate? You might as well make it organic and completely free from vegetable fats like palm oil. Pizza is hard to make healthy, but even sprinkling extra oregano on top will add antioxidants while delivering the classic Italian pizza flavour.
Eating a pineapple pizza will add some vitamin C; a pepperoni pizza will add free radicals from the cured meat. If you prefer the first flavour, the way forward is clear.
You want to ruthlessly eliminate any ingredient or choice that doesn’t add to the pleasure. Say that you’re enjoying a big plateful of harshly fried eggs. What does frying the meal in soybean oil add to it? Nothing, because soybean oil has no flavour, and in fact, actually gives them a stale taste.
Fry your eggs in coconut oil and not only will you enhance the flavour, but your acne will benefit, because coconut oil is rich in antibacterial lauric acid.
There will be further avenues for improvement in whichever meal you choose. Add honey to a mug of coffee instead of white sugar, flavour a homemade batch of cakes with cinnamon and ginger. Eat a grass fed steak rather than a downmarket one – the taste and richness of flavour will go through the roof.
Well produced foods, particularly well-raised animal foods, often taste better than the cheaper version. Keep thinking and come up with your own tricks.
Six – use the hormetic effect
You should keep a cheat meal clean as much as you can, but with that said, there’s a great reason to eat a plate of pure acne every few weeks.
There’s a health principle known as the hormetic effect, or hormesis, where acute stressors enhance the body’s defences. Think about a tough workout in the gym. Pounding out the deadlifts or cycling on uphill setting for forty minutes hardly feels like a good thing by the end of the day. Your legs ache, your muscles are stiff, and the exhaustion is extreme. Yet by the next day, your muscles have grown and your fitness has increased.
The principle of the occasional burger or pizza follows the exact same pattern. Ingesting countless unhealthy substances in one short burst can stimulate your body’s defences, and put your body in a more vigilant defensive state for days afterwards.
One of the acne-causing toxins formed by frying soybean oil or sunflower oil is 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal (4-HNE). It’s born from a reaction between omega 6 fatty acids (linoleic acid) and existing free radicals in the body. Excessive 4-HNE causes acne by depleting antioxidants; if your second home is Burger King you’re in big trouble.
But according to this study, a short acute intake of 4-HNE stimulates the release of anti-inflammatory compounds, and increases the production of the antioxidant glutathione. This happened in a similar manner to ingesting anthocyanins from blueberries, which are widely praised health-giving compounds.
Hormesis had taken effect; the acne defences became stronger. A short sharp shock can be good for your skin to swat complacency aside and keep your body on its toes.
If the call of McDonald’s is just too strong then as long as you restrict it to once a fortnight, you have nothing to worry about.
Seven – have a clean cheat meal
If you’re having a cheat day you don’t have to gravitate to the most damaging foods for acne available. There’s pleasure to be found everywhere.
If you’re a big fan of omelettes, then you can make them safe for acne with ease. Use coconut oil for cooking, add traditionally cured ham to the middle, and if you can tolerate dairy, use organic mozzarella cheese.
If you love fries then you’re in luck; they’re so simple that you could rob the local zoo and train a monkey to make them. Cut organic potatoes into tiny thin slices, shake them around in a covered glass bowl filled with extra virgin olive oil, and cook for 30 minutes in the oven. McDonald’s will be furious that you’ve discovered this recipe.
Let’s be honest, pizza is one of the greatest substances on planet earth. Pizza should be a member of the elemental table, or added to the 32 essential vitamins and minerals if only for the pleasure it brings. However, a bucket of organic strawberry ice cream with added honey is a sweet and delicious treat yet still somewhat natural for acne. It won’t break your grain recovery cycle, the wheat withdrawal stage where you’re waiting months for your gut lining to heal (see my eBook).
In the first few months of an acne-clearing diet, I’d recommend sticking to these clean cheat days, with a pizza or burger maybe once a month. Once your body has strengthened sufficiently, you can relax and up the pizza dosage to every two weeks.
Eight – ingest some prebiotics
Probiotics are not to be confused with prebiotics. Prebiotics are compounds which feed your existing healthy gut bacteria and allow it to diversify, whereas prebiotics are foods containing live strains of yeasts and bacteria themselves.
If you take a heavily concentrated, fast acting probiotic right before your cheat meal, you will significantly enhance the digestion of unhealthy acne causing substances.
For example, the protein gluten is very challenging to digest. Gut bacteria can ferment it only slowly, and many bad bacterial strains use it to multiply. Take a supplement or down a bowlful of rich yoghurt and your cheat meal will be easier to digest. You will minimise both bloating, digestive discomfort and acne. One recommendation on the internet is to eat a glass of sauerkraut before every cheat meal.
You can come up with inventive combinations – for a sweet desert you could add honey and raspberries to a bowlful of bio-live natural yoghurt. The bacterial strains will be already be in place. You could eat this right after a homemade pizza, or the moment you get home from a burger joint.
Nine – plan the cheat meal
Don’t let the relief from the monotonous diet be your downfall. If you’ve been following an acne-friendly diet for weeks and then suddenly declare a treat day, it’s tempting to grab every last food you’ve been missing out on and have a vast feast.
My recommendation is to never have an out of control runaway train of food bingeing. You should always be in control. You don’t have to write a 5 page essay listing every last detail, sucking the fun out of everything, but you should know the rough plan.
For instance: I will visit an Italian restaurant, eat a giant ham and pineapple pizza, drink however much wine I fancy, and eat the tastiest dessert they have to offer.
Or: I will cook a batch of chocolate muffins, give two to my friend, freeze five of them, and eat one in the morning and one in the evening. For lunch, meanwhile, I will eat my favourite sandwich, a crusty baguette loaded with ham.
Always make a plan! A cheat meal is more enjoyable within hard limits anyway, because you’ll savour every last bite.
Ten – take an NAC pill
Finally, n-acetyl-cysteine is an excellent solution for rapidly increasing your antioxidant defences independent of your food intake.
NAC increases your liver’s production of glutathione by supplying the amino acid cysteine. This has two key benefits. Firstly, the glutathione is a powerful antioxidant and will deactivate the free radicals from junk food.
Secondly, glutathione-s-transferase is a potent detoxification agent. An NAC supplement will take care of any rogue toxins that happen to be in your cheat meal. American breads contain bromide as a texture enhancer; the glutathione will detoxify it. Apple juice contains arsenic; NAC removes the threat.
Pop an NAC pill in the morning and your glutathione defences will be in place by dinner time, ready to form an armour against acne, which will be breached with extremely difficulty. The best brand is this Thorne Research N-Acetylcysteine (NAC).
Selenium and magnesium are also supplements which strengthen glutathione, but they take weeks to act. The solution? Make sure that your levels are already optimal. Two different teenagers could follow the first nine strategies on this list to the letter, but the one following an acne-friendly diet would eat his cheat meal without a pimple in sight.
Furthermore, the glutathione is just one example. The longer you’ve been on the clear skin train, the less your skin will feel the pain.
You now have the systems and strategies to have both clear skin and a pleasurable life.
If all the foods you love happen to be acne-friendly, then excellent! You don’t need these strategies. If you love to eat junk food, then it’s very easy to be acne free at the same time.
The choice is yours. The point is that no matter what choice you do make, you are free to move forwards with worrying and without derailing your progress.
Thanks for reading!