© 2013 jen

Skin Series – Part 3: How Food Affects Your Skin

For the last few weeks I’ve been talking about different ways that I’ve improved my skin over the last year.

I talked about my skin care regime and how exercise has improved my skin along with my health. Finally, I’m going to talk about the biggest factor, and in my opinion the most challenging one to stay on top of: what I eat.

I was diagnosed with celiac disease a year ago and have been gluten-free for a year now. I don’t struggle with eating gluten-free. I love to be g-free, but I still sometimes get sick and I don’t know why. This is the biggest reason that I’ve started eating as extremely healthfully as I have. It wasn’t that I was trying to make my skin look healthier. It was that I was trying to heal my gut and in the process my skin came along for the ride.

My skin was really quite miserable for a while there. This was one of many signs that confused me about my overall failing health. I didn’t know why I had huge dark circles under my eyes all the time, or why my complexion, which had always been so ivory, was turning a yellowish-brown. I had weird rashes around my mouth off and on for years and about a million other symptoms in my body: asthma, joint issues, muscle aches, dizzy spells, anxiety and depression, anger issues and so much more.

IMG_2055-2-1024x682This is when my digestion started to shut down. I could barely stand up.
I was weak all of the time. You can see how miserable I felt. It’s all over my face
and in my far away look. I look dull and unhappy, because I was.

As it turned out, I was terribly malnourished because of the celiac disease. My body couldn’t process food anymore, so I could gain weight, but I couldn’t absorb the nutrients in my food. Food from my digestive system was leaking out of my gut into the rest of my body, which caused very extreme inflammation and various health issues. One of the signs was that my skin looked dull and sickly but it was not just my skin – my entire body was very, very sick.

There was no more ignoring my health. I had to get real about what was going on. Not only did I need to change my diet, I  had to change my relationship with my body and with food. No more eating food just because it tasted good. I had to learn how to care for my very sick body. I had to find THE best foods for healing.

Learn more about inflammation here.

As I began to change my diet, I started finding foods that made me feel better. As I continued to eat them, I noticed a marked difference in my eyes and skin, but it wasn’t just superficial results that I noticed. I realized I was thinking more clearly, feeling calmer and happier, and my chronic health issues were clearing up. Changing my food changed my life!

Today I’m going to share with you the foods that I think saved my life, and my skin.

IMG_7993-2This is me today. Feeling so much better and it’s reflected in my skin.
My internal world was chaos when I was eating foods that didn’t agree with me.
Now there is a sense of calm internally and you can see it in my skin and face.
Can you see the clarity in my eyes? Can you see my happiness?
It doesn’t even require a smile to be seen.

How To Change Your Skin (& Your Life) For The Better

1. Green smoothies – I started drinking these because I was trying to increase my veggie intake, but after a few days of drinking them I noticed that my face was somehow brighter and radiant, and so were my eyes. I remember looking in the mirror one day and thinking, “Why do I look so much more aware and more alert?” Answer: green smoothies. People get passionate about green smoothies. Read various testimonials about green smoothies here.

My green smoothies contain:

  • Romaine lettuce – a handful
  • Frozen berries
  • Lemon juice
  • Pear or Apple

Did you know that romaine lettuce is the most nutrient-rich lettuce you can eat? I started using it in my smoothies because my stomach couldn’t tolerate raw kale (my digestive system was too weak) but now I prefer it as the “green” in my smoothie. Read about the benefits of romaine lettuce here. You won’t believe how much protein, calcium and other nutrients are in this leafy green.

Notice, there is no protein in my smoothie. I usually eat some nuts after my smoothie. This is because fruits break down in the body faster than protein does, so if I eat the protein after, I’m less likely to have a swollen belly, which is related to my body working too hard to digest my food.

Did you know if your body isn’t used to processing vegetables it’s best to slowly increase your intake so as not to shock your system? It’s true!  So, if you’re new to green smoothies and you don’t eat a lot of veggies, move slowly into your green smoothie routine.

2. Bone broth – Again, I was working on my stomach when I started drinking bone broth, but after a week or two I was noticing how my skin looked younger and somehow fresher. Fine lines were disappearing from my face and my stomach was feeling great! The reason? Bone broth has collagen and gelatin, which actually does make your skin, hair and nails healthier and adds a glow to the whole body. I make bone broth weekly and drink it pretty much daily.

What makes bone broth bone broth is more than just using the bones to make broth – true bone broth has some apple cider vinegar added to it, which helps release the micro-nutrients from the bones. I have a recipe for bone broth here, but if you’re in a hurry and don’t have any time or very little extra veggies, here’s my quick and dirty bone broth recipe.

Bone Broth:

  • Chicken bones- The bones and all the weird parts of the chicken
  • Vegetables– Any veggies I have around: carrots, celery, parsley or whatever is available. Veggies only need to be cut in half. No need to make them bite sized, because it will all be strained out later. Bone broth is a great way to use parts of veggies that you wouldn’t ordinarily eat: celery leaves, broccoli stems, cilantro stems or really anything that you’d normally just throw away or compost can be used in bone broth – no waste!
  • Onion– All of my broths have an onion in there, because I really think it helps with the flavor. I quarter the onion (again, no need to make it bite sized).
  • Fish sauce– Instead of salt I add fish sauce, because it retains its taste better than salt does. I don’t measure the fish sauce. I just tip the bottle and let a little fall in and call it done. If I were pressed for an exact amount I’d say maybe 2-3 tablespoons.
  • Apple cider vinegar– I tip the bottle on this one too and probably add 2-3 tablespoons, although only 1 tablespoon is necessary.
  • Water– Then I fill up my crock pot with water.

I add all of these ingredients to my crock pot and put it on low. Then I cook the broth for at least 24 hours. Next I strain out the veggies and chicken parts with a strainer and put the broth in mason jars. I freeze some and put some in the fridge.

To get the chicken bones, we cook a whole, organic chicken. This is the recipe that we typically use, because it’s easy and delicious – roasted chicken with vegetables. We have leftovers from this and usually make either quesadillas or soups out of the chicken and veggies so that we’re not eating the same foods every day. Soups are great because I have my own homemade broth at all times.

I also have reduced my dairy intake, I do my best to avoid soy at all costs, and I eat as little grains as I can, while upping my vegetable intake.

Here’s a little cheat sheet for why soy is not good for you.

Not everyone needs to change their diet in the exact same ways that I have, so I’ll just say that if you lower food allergens, up the veggies, and get some bone broth (or if you’re a vegetarian/vegan some other sources that have similar affects as bone broth), your stomach and skin will LOVE you for it!

My new diet has been life-changing for me. I think these foods are the biggest reason that my skin looks really radiant from the inside out. The exercise and face washing have certainly helped, but the food I eat is creating the canvas of my body. You cannot have a beautiful painting without a good canvas and the same is true of the skin.

I hope you’ve found this helpful. This series has been a year’s worth of reading, experimenting, tasting, healing and growing. I know that many people don’t have the time or the extreme sickness that requires pretty much starting over and rebuilding yourself from the ground up. I know that most people cannot devote the amount of time that I have to these various natural remedies and health aids, which is why I wanted to share with you what I’ve learned. Also, some of you have been asking me, because you see how much I’ve changed over the last year. I’m living proof of the success of these natural measures, so if you’re feeling off and cannot put your finger on it, start wherever you can.  Feel free to use this series as your springboard back to good health and more radiant skin.

 Wishing you good health! xoxo




  1. Posted December 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm | #

    I can say I will be drinking bone broth as regularly as I can now. My nails are very “crack prone”, so I could use all the help I can get to reduce their snagtastic features. Thanks for the post!

    • Posted December 5, 2013 at 2:43 pm | #


2 Trackbacks

  1. […] Depending on the day and my appetite, I try to eat a really good breakfast. I try to avoid sugar and grains first thing in the morning. Most of the time I feel like my body needs some protein and depending on how my digestion is going that day I might want to drink a smoothie too. I often make smoothies with frozen fruit (usually mango and pineapple), some fresh fruit (bananas, pears) and often I’ll add some greens to my smoothie. My favorite green to add is romaine lettuce.  Here’s a blog post I wrote about how to change your skin through diet and exercise, where I also mention the great benefits of romaine lettuce. […]

  2. […] Thai soup that my whole family loves. It cooks up fast and it’s really easy to make. I use bone broth that I make myself instead of the suggested low sodium broth in this […]