While topical products are necessary to get completely clear skin, this “Clean Eats For Clear Skin” diet that I have modified for my acne clients, as well as certain supplements and lifestyle changes, can go a long way in getting your acne under control.

Check out pictures of delicious meals and snacks for acne on our Pinterest board.

The “Clean Eats for Clear Skin” Diet

We already know that high-glycemic diets can be a problem for people who are acne-prone. But recent research now suggests that many people with acne could also benefit from a “real food” diet that is low in carbohydrates and high in good fats that keep your gut healthy and prevent an illness called “leaky gut.” Leaky gut can lead to symptoms such as chronic infections, bloating, gas, constipation, and even acne.

Foods to avoid:

  • All soy products like soy milk, tofu, tempeh, soy meats and soy sauce (read why soy is bad for you)
  • Cow’s milk
  • Peanuts and peanut butter
  • Sugars, especially white sugar, corn syrup and cane sugar, but also any natural sweetener such as agave nectar, rice syrup, date syrup, corn syrup, wheat syrup
  • Alcohol like beer and liquor with sugar “mixers”
  • Beverages
 like regular and diet soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, fruit juice
  • Cured, processed and smoked meats: 
salami, pepperoni, pastrami, hot dogs, lunch meat, bacon, spam
  • Glutinous grains, including white, wheat or spelt flour, white rice, white or wheat pasta, barley
  • Salty and soy condiments
 like soy sauce and tamari
  • Vegetable oils and unhealthy fats
: peanut oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, canola oil, margarine, shortening

Foods to eat:

  • Animal protein:
 grass–fed beef, pastured chicken and eggs, wild fish, anchovies, herring and sardines
  • Raw, aged, hard block cheese, goat’s cheese, and goat’s yogurt (in small amounts and only if dairy can be tolerated)
  • Unsweetened, carrageenan-free cow’s milk substitutes: goat’s milk, almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, hemp milk
  • All vegetables
  • All berries: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries
  • Nuts and Seed (except peanuts): 
almonds, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts
  • Omega-3-rich oils and healthy fats
: coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and macadamia oil
  • Fermented Foods: sauerkraut, kimchee
  • Sweeteners (in moderation)
: honey, dark chocolate

Clean Eats for Clear Skin Daily Menus:

  • Breakfast: Three eggs scrambled with spinach in olive oil OR 1 cup of flax granola with almond milk and blueberries OR smoothie with hemp protein, frozen blueberries, whole almonds, flax seeds, and almond milk
  • Morning Snack: bell peppers with hummus OR handful of mixed nuts OR Green Detox Drink
  • Lunch: Lime Chicken Salad with Black Beans and Avocado
  • Afternoon Snack: Celery with almond butter OR goat’s yogurt with blueberries and almonds
  • Dinner: Wild salmon cooked in foil with cauliflower rice
  • Dessert: Unsweetened chocolate carrageen-free almond milk OR 85% Lindt Chocolate OR chai tea with unsweetened almond milk

Recommended Teas:

For most of us, getting and maintaining clear skin requires a lifestyle change, and one of the most difficult habits is to reduce our dairy consumption. Cutting down on coffee isn’t necessary but if you can’t drink it without cream then you should try tea instead. Here is a list of teas to help make the transition from cow’s milk to dairy alternatives a little easier.

  • Chai: A blend of indian spices (cardamom, clove, ginger, cinnamon, black pepper), black tea, and traditionally brewed with lots of sugar and cow’s milk (but I opt for more acne-safe dairy substitutes like almond or hemp milk and sweeteners like stevia or a little honey).
 My daily staple is Cook’s Illustrated’s Chai Tea made without sugar mixed with a little goat’s milk. You can also buy pre-brewed chai blends and mix with your favorite milk substitute. I love the economy of this particular pairing–for less money and WAY less sugar than Starbuck’s Chai Lattes, I can make a healthy, dessert-style coffee substitute at home!
  • Yerba Mate
: If you need the mega-energy boost of coffee, yerba mate will do the trick! Yerba mate is made from the leaves and twigs of a nutrient-rich plant indigenous to South America. It has a somewhat bitter, grainy flavor that is definitely unique, but the alertness you get from drinking it can’t be beat. There are many good sources for Yerba Mate–one brand I like is Guayaki found at Whole Foods.
  • Green Tea:
 Green tea is anti-inflammatory, so if you have the big, red, angry type of acne, green tea would be a great daily addition to your diet. Black tea has the highest caffeine content. Mighty Leaf has good bagged selections and is easy to find.


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