Image: @MeditateKate via Instagram
Image: @MeditateKate via Instagram

When you see women with beautiful, flawless skin, do you stop to ask them about their skincare regimen? This happens all the time, and surprisingly often times the answer has nothing to do with what products they use, but what they eat. There are entire populations of people who never get acne, and research has shown that these populations are people that eat low-fat, unprocessed, starch-based and primarily plant-based diets. Simply being a vegan isn’t going to solve your skin woes, however. The secret to banishing acne through diet is to focus on lowering your fat intake and eating mostly unprocessed food. If you struggle with severe acne, here’s what you need to do to find clear skin again.

Pass on the animal products

This doesn’t mean you have to be vegan forever, but just while you clear up your skin try eliminating animal products from your diet. Focus on clean, whole foods, like whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. You’ll especially want to stock up on sweet potatoes for their skin-boosting vitamin A.

Eat more unrefined starches

Starches are low in fat, low in calories, and they are very satiating. Try having mashed potatoes with a vegan gravy made from vegetable broth. The myth that starches will make you fat is just that—a myth.

Go oil-free

For the time being, eliminate oils from your diet. Oils are high in fat and saturated fats. They are loaded with calories, and they are processed. Your skin will feel less greasy after removing oils from your diet, and you will quickly see your acne start to fade away. Instead of using oils, use vinegar, vegetable broth, or wine to sauté your foods. You can even bake with applesauce instead of oil.

Avoid high-fat plant foods

Again, just until your acne has cleared away, then you can reintroduce things in moderation. High-fat plant foods like nuts, nut butters, seeds, olives, coconuts, and avocados get 70-95% of their calories from fat. Skin and a high-fat diet don’t mix well. If you want to clear your skin up, stick to a low-fat, vegan diet until you see the results you want.

Most importantly, stick to whole foods

Whole foods don’t have long lists of miscellaneous ingredients—they are minimally processed. Avoid foods like white rice, white flour, white bread, cakes, cookies, potato chips, and other processed foods. Try making kale chips with nutritional yeast or dipping crunchy veggies like red peppers into hummus to satisfy your cravings.