Dear Jenna is a feature on The Paleo Project. Similar to an advice column, Dear Jenna was created by the questions I receive from readers. Topics include Paleo, crossfit, relationships, writing, photography, friendship, family and the like. It’s written in the style of Dear Abby with the candor of Carrie Bradshaw. Want to be featured on Dear Jenna? Send me an email at paleoblog(at)gmail(dot)com with the subject: Dear Jenna
When I discovered your blog and was reading the “About” page, I noticed a comment about allergies and hormones, but nothing further on how they relate to each other. As a longtime struggler (at least it feels like a longtime) I was wondering if you noticed a correlation between sugar and hormones? I recently noticed it, when I gorged a bag of vegan chocolate one night and struggled the next week to calm my skin and moods down, during that time of the month.
I like to preface all of these posts with a little disclaimer that I am not a certified nutritionist, there are about a million scientific things that I couldn’t ever delve into here, and if I did, I’d probably have a much different readership. All of my Paleo advice comes from one place: my personal experiences. That being said, I happen to have a lot of experience with: troubled skin, hormonal imbalances and mood swings, capital M, capital S.
I don’t know too much about your skin, or what your breakouts are like, but here’s a glimpse at what mine have ALWAYS been like:
(That’s really hard for me to continually share, but if it helps, then I’ll get over it…)
Since as long as I can remember, breakouts have surfaced on my chin and jawline. After five years of paying really close attention to my skin, my moods, my hormones, my cycle and my diet, here’s what I have learned:
I attribute a lot of my skin issues to my past. This is really self-diagnosed, BUT, I believe that a lifetime (18+ years) of poor nutrition, harsh antibiotics given to me by so many dermatologists to “treat” my breakouts, an influx of hormones due to too many different birth control pills prescribed by doctors to “treat” my hormonal imbalances, paired with my bad habits of picking my face and using strong, oil-stripping face washes, led me to where I was when I started this blog: a complete hormonal mess, addicted to sugar, with bad skin.
I’ve spent the past three years working to reverse this damage through a change in my diet, a change in my skin care routine, and a complete elimination of foreign toxins.
I don’t know why they don’t tell you this when you’re growing up, but food directly impacts how you feel. It’s a simple concept, and yet, I don’t remember one doctor or one teacher ever telling me this. Why? Why was the only option, EVER, to take some pill? Not once, was I ever encouraged to change my eating habits, never mind asked what my eating habits even were. They were sugar. And cheese. And bread, by the way. No vegetables. No vitamins. No organic anything. I believe my breakouts were/are directly impacted by the ingestion of dairy, (which if not raw and unpasteurized, is filled with hormones) as well as sugar (which completely controls and destroys my mood). When I first started eating Paleo, I thought I could follow the 80/20 rule, as encouraged by many practicing Paleo nutritionists. However, this is no weight loss game for me. This is purely about making my skin and moods better and ultimately, living a long and healthy life. So for me, I feel very strongly that only 100% Paleo will work for my needs. And not for 30 days. Not for 45 days. Forever. This is a hard reality, but one I’m willing to accept. I also take fish oil everyday and vitamin D drops in the winter to promote healthy skin and balanced hormones.
The last part of my clear-skin-care formula is the actual treatment and care of the skin. Growing up, this was actually the only aspect I thought about when I thought about breaking out: of course, I just need more products. I need more face washes. More spot treatments. More sun! More masks. More toners. New moisturizer! Different makeup! Scrubbier scrubs! I mean, this went on and on and on. I can’t even tell you how much money I have invested in the skin care industry, but probably 40 billion dollars.
It was so frustrating that some friends didn’t even use face wash and had normal, GLOWING, skin. I admit, I completely over did it. I was young, unsupervised, and had my own money, so of course, it went straight into the consumption of shit-to-put-on-my-face-that-would-ultimately-ruin-my-face, face stuff.
Now I follow the Oil Cleansing Method, a completely organic, natural, non-invasive, non-stripping skin care method that I began in August, which you can read about here. I still follow this every single day. I still stand by it.
James makes fun of me because everything on my bathroom vanity could easily be used in the kitchen. I use olive oil and castor oil as my face wash, raw honey to spot treat, apple cider vinegar as a toner and jojoba oil as my moisturizer. But it works. For me. Bottom line. My skin is not perfect. I still have scarring. I still get random zits. I still use foundation. But it’s changed. I’ve changed.
I can’t speak on behalf of anyone else, but I’ll tell you this: Paleo has positively impacted my life, in every aspect. When I give it 100%, I find it gives that right back to me, and then some. From my skin and hair to my mood and happiness, to the way I am in relationships with James, family, friends and myself. I hope this answered your questions, but more than that, I hope it inspires you to really take the time to pay attention to whatever it is that ails you.
As always, your advice for Lindsay, your personal stories and your encouraging comments are welcome!
Thank you, thank you, thank you,