Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands – and then eat just one of the pieces. ~Judith Viorst
Every day, every meal, every bite… and I never missed out on dessert.
You’re talking about one of the former biggest sugar fanatics on the face of the planet: me.
That was until I found out how badly sugar can ruin your face when it comes to breaking out and acne.
That’s right, I used to eat some form of starch everyday whether it be bread, rice, pasta, noodles, fettuccine, etc every meal. I loved starch even more than I loved to eat steak, chicken, and fish. Given a choice, I would’ve picked a plate of noodles, ravioli, or spaghetti over chicken or steak any time, any place.
And when dessert was available (which was quite often at my house) I would devour everything. Our refrigerator always, and I mean ALL THE TIME, had some form of dessert. Ice cream, Haagan Daaz, Vanilla, Mint Chocolate Chip, cheese cake, See’s Candy, there was never a time in my childhood when dessert wasn’t a part of a deal.
To some of you, this may sound quite surprising because by society’s standards I am not considered overweight. But the odd thing is that I can probably out-eat most of you. I can eat as much or more than most of my friends that weight 200 pounds and up. I love eating, adore buffets, and to make matters worse, am addicted to binge eating.
Yet body NEVER gained weight no matter how much food I ate, how much dessert I had, or how much I binged. My friends hate me for this. But I loved it because it allowed me to eat whatever, whenever, and however much I wanted without worrying about weight gain.
So when I found out that I had to cut sugar and starches out of my diet because they were linked to acne, I cried harder than anyone else (COLLAPSE CRY).
In fact, it took me close to 15 months to finally break my sugar addiction. On and off, on and off, I went back and forth. Sometimes I would be able to control my urges for a long period of time. Other times, I would suddenly lose my grip on my will power and let temptation take over.
And mannn… did it take over. A dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts in less than an hour, baskets upon baskets of bottomless fries at Red Robin, entire… you get the point. And it wasn’t only my food, I would eat other people’s food if they couldn’t finish because I always felt like they were wasting perfectly good stuff. I didn’t care, I had no shame, I was… hungry.
The next day, I would always see the effects: increased sebum clogging my pores, reddened cheeks, a few budding little red pimples. And I always regretted it then vowed never to repeat the same mistake again!
But I would have all sorts of excuses like, “it’s been awhile” or “one little piece won’t make a difference” or “you earned it.” The point was, my mind was looking for a way, any loophole possible so that I could get my hands on this toxic food. It took me years to finally go back and “reprogram” my brain to not NEED to eat sweets and starch.
Sometimes I still do have a little for taste, my friends may peer pressure me into eating a certain food, or it might be a special occasion but it wasn’t easy to get to this point where I’m at now.
THE 3 STRATEGIES I USED TO STOP MYSELF
Strategy one: There would literally be times when I would be standing in the sugar and candy aisle at a grocery store and mentally debate whether or not I should buy a particular bag of candy.
“Don’t do it!”
“C’mon, if you buy you’re just going to have a little bit…”
“It’s bad food!”
“a little piece once a day won’t hurt…”
“Why would you want to tempt yourself like that? Don’t buy it!”
“Man, it looks so good though!”
“This is ridiculous, you shouldn’t even be having this discussion. Legs! Make Ray walk in the other direction, we’re taking this ship by force!”
And that’s usually when I just walk away. Because when you’re staring at temptation in the eye and it’s dangling it’s bright red ball of sparkly yarn string in front of your eyes, it’s hard to remember your real goal: clear skin.
But the minute you leave, it’s like that cloudy storm subdues and you can concentrate on what you were originally at the market to buy: kefir =).
So that’s my first trick, to interrupt the bad food angel and physically start walking and leave the vicinity of temptation. Just leave. Don’t even let yourself buy the food. It’s a lot harder to walk to your refrigerator and grab some ice cream if you have to get dressed, put on your shoes, get into your car, drive ALL the way to the market, walk to the grocery store, find the ice cream, bring it to the cashier’s, pay for it, put it in your car, drive all the way back, get into the kitchen, take out spoon, and then eat it.
See? Even that was exhausting, just thinking about it. It’s really a different story if the food doesn’t even exist in your pantry. Just, flat out, don’t buy it!
My second strategy was to use comparative thinking. What this meant was that I would think of the reason why I wanted clear skin and then compare it with the satisfaction from eating this particular food. Which do I want more?
My reason for wanting clear skin free of break outs was that I wanted a beautiful girlfriend. That’s right, in my terribly confused head, I somehow linked having clear skin with having a good looking girlfriend. Not that guys with acne can’t get girls, but I just thought if I didn’t want a girl with acne, why would she want a boyfriend with a face covered in pimples?
So every time I would debate over whether or not to eat a certain toxic food, if I could remember the two choices, I would always choose the girlfriend and put the other food away. To me, the girlfriend was the choice that I really wanted and when compared with, “Which one do you want more: a beautiful girlfriend or this strawberry cupcake” the decision seemed almost ridiculously obvious.
And for those of you who chose the cupcake… that’s cool too.
Finally, my third and last strategy would be: just eat it!
This one sounds crazy. But I think, what ended up being one of the best ways I learned to control myself was seeing the effect of what I ate over the next couple of days.
When I ate certain foods and then watched as it tore my face apart the next morning and over the next few days, it definitely made me think twice before scarfing down some more refined carbohydrates and desserts.
When a giant red pimple begins to pop up on your nose the next day, and you know that it was probably because of the ice cream you had before, you’ll start unconsciously making the connection yourself.
Some people’s bodies react differently, you can’t see results as clearly as my body. Some people get fat, others have internal damage, and some even may wake up with failed organs one day in the hospital. I understand my body is a different case, if I eat bad food, I’ll see the effects the next day on my face. And you can bet that I’ll start caring after a while if every time I have cheesecake I turn into Rudolph the red nose reindeer the next morning.
Some people may eat bad foods for 20 years and not have a single pimple because their bodies are rotting and becoming inflamed from the inside. Smoker lungs, kidney cancer, colon polyps are all examples of things that might not be that obvious externally. In a way, I’m thankful that my symptoms are light compared to those who may not be able to see the effects as easily as my body shows me.
Therefore, my last piece of advice would be just to go at it and eat the guilty pleasure foods. If one can’t learn from trial and error, then he or she will just have to learn to live with acne.
Just remember, don’t be so hard on yourself. I don’t consider myself weak in will power, but it took me quite a while to train myself to be able to look at a table of my friends eating their lasagna, pasta, dessert and to not feel a thing while munching on my fresh salad. I just think to myself, they’re not even aware of internal damage they’re doing.
By all means, I am not saying that you can never enjoy yourself in the future. But what I am saying is that if someone like me, who used to love sweets more than any other food, can stop then you can definitely cut back too if you want to save your skin.
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Ray Wang | Certified Alternative Nutritionist
For over 10 years, Ray battled and eventually cured acne himself. He's tried it all: ProActiv, creams, antibiotics, herbs, doctors ... He now shares his story.More about Ray