going keto the acne-safe way

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going keto the acne-safe way

by kerry watson

the ketogenic diet, also called the “keto” diet is made up of high fat, moderate protein and very low carbohydrates. a basic ketogenic diet aims for a daily intake of 75% fats, 20% protein and only 5% carbohydrates. the ultimate goal is ketosis, a state when the body shifts metabolism to become efficient at metabolizing fat for energy instead of glucose. if, after reading this post you get inspired to try an acne safe ketogenic diet, this online keto calculator is a great resource for keeping track of your macronutrients. there is also a great guide and free recipe book on this site to help get you started on the diet.

(photo taken from www.perfectketo.com)

at least one study has shown that a ketogenic diet may have the ability to improve acne [1]. the understanding that high glycemic and high sugar diets can worsen both inflamed and non-inflamed acne lesions has become more widely accepted. it makes sense that by following a ketogenic diet, spikes in insulin are reduced and this may improve acne in people who are susceptible to breakouts triggered by sugar.

keep in mind that, like all diets, the keto diet is not going to be the best option for everyone. if you have any gallbladder or fat digestion issues then this diet is not for you. for most people, this is a safe and even beneficial lifestyle change. when our ancestors relied on a hunter-gatherer diet most of them spent a good part of each year in ketosis, especially those in colder climates when hunting was the only option during the winter. ketosis is not something new and our bodies have already evolved to tolerate and even thrive in this state.

before embarking on a ketogenic diet, do a little research to first make sure you know what to expect. start here for everything you want/need to know. just remember, unlike other ketoer’s you are doing it the acne-safe way which means, no dairy, soy or coffee 🙂 there are plenty of alternatives available so you won’t miss a thing!

my personal keto journey:

i decided to try this diet for many reasons. i have tried for years to lose weight with diet and exercise without much success. i have a chronic pain condition consisting of back, neck and shoulder pain and inflammation along with migraines. i also have had problems with blood sugar both too low and too high. after being on the keto diet for about 9 months now, i can say that it was one of the best decisions i’ve ever made 🙂

i don’t count carbs or calories. I just stay away from foods that contain more than 3-6 net carbs a serving and that has kept me in ketosis with no issues. click here to learn how to calculate net carbs. i’ve lost 15 pounds and my chronic pain flare ups are about 80% better than when i started. i don’t use any testing to make sure i’m in ketosis. i can just kind of feel when i’m in or out of it. there are subtle body changes that i can feel.

for folks who aren’t complete nutrition nerds like me, it might be a good idea to get some keto strips to test your urine to make sure that your body is getting and staying in ketosis. just keep in mind that these only work in the beginning because as your body becomes fat adapted, it releases less and less ketones in your urine as it becomes better at burning them for energy. however, in the first couple months these strips can help you make sure that you are staying in ketosis.

also, it’s easy to over do it with foods that are low carb. if you eat too many servings of low carb foods, the carbs will add up quickly. one example is nuts and nut butters. be careful to stick to very small quantities of these! look up the carbs in a single serving and see how big that serving is and go from there. you have to be really diligent with staying under 30 net carbs a day for this diet to do what it’s supposed to.

unpleasant symptoms are common at the beginning of embarking on a keto diet. personally, i was very tired, headachy and felt like i was walking through mud a lot of the time. these symptoms are known as the keto flu. this happens because glucose tells the muscles to hold onto water and electrolytes. without a steady glucose supply, these are flushed from the body pretty quickly. to combat this, especially in the beginning, it helps to supplement your electrolytes:

here are some guidelines:

  • supplement sodium 5000-7000mg
  • supplement magnesium 300-500mg
  • eat potassium rich foods 1000-5500mg a day or get this or this supplement
  • drink lots of water! you will be peeing a lot for a while until your body becomes fat adapted. this process took me a couple months but it’s different for everyone.

here’s my guide of tips and recipes to get you started:

breakfast 

– keto porridge:

  • 3 tbsp almond meal
  • 1 tbsp ground flax meal
  • some salt
  • couple droppers of vanilla stevia
  • tsp of ghee
  • 1 tbsp almond milk or coconut milk (optional)
  • 3/4 cup water

cook on medium low until it thickens a bit. the drop an egg in it and stir it up and into the porridge well until it cooks then add a couple frozen berries. sometimes i skip the berries to be super low carb 🙂

– project juice blue moon smoothie with no dates and then i stir in my own vanilla or plain stevia drops added (so good!!). i get this at least once a week on my way to work 🙂

– hard boiled egg, lamb sausage link or patty from whole foods pre-made and baked in the oven and avocado. or some organic bacon and avocado.

i like to save the bacon grease and bake these in it later for an amazing snack!

– i’m also loving poaching a pastured egg in bone broth and eating/drink both together with a little ghee and salt.

– since the weather has been so hot i’ve been having more salads for breakfast. i make a super large salad a couple times a week and keep it in a big container in my fridge so i can also grab some when i need a snack or a quick meal. i just keep it undressed and add dressing as i eat it. i also keep lots of hard boiled eggs around so that those are ready to go as well.

lunch

– often from postmatescalibur has organic beef lettuce wrap burgers (no bun) that are super yummy. and there are a few poke bowl places that have raw fish over kale or lettuce with acne safe toppings. instead of getting their sauce, top coconut aminos on it yourself to ensure it is acne-safe.

– if you are in the mission, mealmade delivers keto friendly meals. my favorite is this one.

–  leftover dinner or this keto bread (crackers) with tomato and avocado and bacon OR salami on it. instead of parmesan cheese, try using daiya shredded cheese. Also, I just found these at Rainbow. they aren’t amazing but they fit the bill for a pizza craving with some sauce, pepperoni and veggies baked on ’em.

– remember, any sandwich, burger, hot dog or taco can be enjoyed in the form of a lettuce wrap. so get some romaine leaves washed and keep them at the ready in your fridge. you won’t miss the buns and bread especially once you see your skin clear up and those extra pounds melt away 🙂

dinner

– i eat lots of low carb salads with some kind of yummy meat. i make this recipe at least once a week using various spice mixes

– of course i have lots of cauliflower rice and different stir fries and one pot instant pot meals over the cauliflower rice. i used to make the cauliflower rice from scratch using my cuisinart but now it’s so mainstream that you can buy it frozen at whole foods or trader joes!

– i really love this recipe. you can make it dairy free with kite hill ricotta and daiya shredded mozzerella instead of the dairy cheese it calls for. nobody will miss the pasta noodles.

– zuchini noodles are easy to make. you just need a good spiralizer like this one. here’s a recent turkey meatball curry dish i made to go over baked zucchini noodles.

– i don’t have a grill and i hate cleaning frying pans so i make lots of burgers in the oven and they always turn out great. here are my amazing baked bison burger and baked curried turkey burger recipes:

baked bison burgers:

  • 1 lb ground bison
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika powder

directions: preheat the oven to 375

char the jalapeno using a burner on your stove (gas works best). when it’s all black let it cool then peel the skin off under running water. then chop it up and remove seeds unless you like things super hot. chop the jalapeno up into a fine dice.

mix spices, bision and jalapeno together well in a bowl and form 4 patties. put them on a parchment paper lined baking pan and bake them in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes turning once.

baked curried turkey burgers:

preheat oven to 375

  • 1 tbsp indian spice (can get a pre-made one or use recipe below)
  • 1 lb ground turkey thigh meat
  • few springs of cilantro

indian curry spice recipe: 2 tbsp onion powder, 2 tsp garam masala, 2 tsp coriander, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon. 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

mix 1 tbsp spice mix with the 1 lb of ground turkey and form four patties.

put them on a parchment paper lined baking pan and bake them in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes turning once. make sure the internal temp reaches at least 165.

top with cilantro and enjoy.

these books have some of my favorite recipes:

the keto diet cookbook: the slow cooked beef korma recipe is a big hit! try it over cauliflower rice.

primal blueprint:  pork fried cauliflower rice and the asian pork lettuce wraps are my personal faves.

the keto diet: i’m super excited about this non-dairy keto cookbook that one of our awesome clients told me about. here’s a photo of my book. you can see all the tags hanging out marking all the recipes that i want to try.

dessert

  • about 1 tbsp a day of almond butter on a few squares of low carb chocolate.
  • some of these ice creams are low carb.
  • avocado pudding sweetened with stevia and/or monk fruit (instead of dates) is a good option too. try to eat lots of avocados because they are loaded with potassium (more than bananas!)

libations:

for alcohol, i stick to vodka mixed with la croix 🙂 there is also this hard cider that is low carb at whole foods. it tastes like super yummy kombucha. read the label though, not sure they are all low carb.

here’s a couple tips for those nights out with the crew:

  • make sure you drink at least 3 quarts jars of water during the day.
  • take extra electrolytes during the day (sodium, potassium, magnesium) and take a b-100 complex capsule or tablet before drinking, and then again before bed and then in the am when you wake up. this will prevent a hellish hangover.
  • remember to go easy on the alcohol while on a low carb diet. it will hit you harder and faster than you are used to.
  • also, check out our blog post on hangover prevention.

1.) Paoli A, Grimaldi K, Toniolo L, et al. Nutrition and acne: therapeutic potential of ketogenic diets. Skin Pharmacol Physiol.2012;25(3):111-117; PMID: 22327146.

the ins and outs of pcos and acne

pcos, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, is complicated. it’s an endocrine condition that affects 8-20% of women of reproductive age worldwide1 and it is characterized by at least two of the following three symptoms: cysts on the ovaries, elevated male sex hormones and/or absent or irregular periods. pcos is a highly misunderstood condition whose symptoms manifest differently among women. many women with pcos gain weight while others have thin body types, some have acne and regular periods while other haven’t menstruated in months. because almost all women with pcos test high in androgens (male sex hormones), many symptoms include infertility, male-pattern hair loss, oily skin and acne along the jawline, and facial hair growth. these symptoms can be frustrating to deal with because they are persistent and can often make women feel like they have no control over their bodies. but these symptoms appear for a reason. and usually that reason is that our bodies are chronically stressed and something about our lifestyles needs to change. women with pcos are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes, hypothyroidism and cardiovascular disease, so acknowledging these signals from our bodies is key to keeping ourselves healthy for a lifetime. 

 

what causes pcos? 

  • genetics – while pcos is not a genetic condition, per se, predisposition to pcos can be passed down through generations. those who are exposed to higher androgens by their mothers while in the womb are also at greater risk of contracting pcos later in life.

  • stress – both physical and emotional stressors can contribute to pcos. some examples of physical stressors include over-exercising, eating foods you are intolerant to, not eating enough and constant blood sugar issues. many women who suffer from pcos are stressed to the max in their everyday lives – they take on extra work at their jobs, juggle familial responsibilities, endure harrowing breakups and family stress and then often criticize themselves for not working or trying hard enough.

  • blood sugar imbalances – this is one of the most common root causes of pcos and often stems from excessive intake of refined sugars and carbs, or the standard american diet. it often leads to weight gain and involves chronically elevated blood sugar. these blood sugar imbalances cause systemic inflammation in the body and directly influence the production of testosterone, which then inhibits ovulation and fertility.

  • over-exercising and under-eating – our society places a tremendous amount of pressure on women to look a certain way. many women internalize the pressure to be thin and spend years of their lives under-eating while engaging in excessive (usually cardio) exercise. high-intensity exercise always causes testosterone spikes, but they are usually temporary, subsiding when we refuel our bodies with calories. but when women exercise for too long without replenishing their energy stores, their hormone balance starts to suffer.

dealing with facial hair growth and acne

if you struggle with facial hair growth, you are not alone. this can be particularly frustrating if it accompanies hormonal acne – they often show up in exactly the same places along the jawline and chin. because of the cultural expectation that women maintain hairless faces, this type of hair growth can be embarrassing – but there is absolutely nothing wrong with you, there is no reason to feel shame, and there is no reason for you to change in order to appease the people in your life. having pcos is hard enough without having to navigate gendered cultural expectations.

if you are a client here at sS and you to decide to undergo laser hair removal or electrolysis, we just ask that you wait at least two weeks between those treatments and our acne face treatments – we don’t want to stress your skin out too much! if you have hair on your face that you want to remove by shaving, try the tinkle razor, which we sell in the clinic. these razors are more gentle than conventional razors. as for waxing, we don’t recommend it! the heat can be irritating to the skin and who knows what kinds of comedogenic ingredients are lurking in those waxes! 

if your doctor diagnoses you with pcos, they will most likely send you home with a prescription for one or both of two medications: metformin for insulin regulation and spironolactone for decreasing testosterone levels. it is entirely up to you whether you decide to take these medications or not, and whatever your decision, here are a few herbal, dietary and lifestyle changes to implement to keep pcos symptoms under control (and, as always, ask your doctor before making any major changes to your health plan):

  • two cups of spearmint tea each day has been shown to reduce free testosterone levels in women with pcos and has resulted in reduced hirsutism with none of the side effects of pharmaceutical-grade drugs.2 

  • 400mg of saw palmetto, a plant native to the americas, has been found to inhibit the 5-alpha reductase enzyme. the inhibition of this enzyme helps reduce the conversion of testosterone to dht, which is the male sex hormone that leads to oily skin, hair loss, acne and facial hair growth.3

  • balance out your blood sugar by reducing your consumption of refined sugars and carbohydrates – ditch the morning cereals for eggs and greens; instead of a sandwich at lunch, try a salad with tuna or grilled chicken. and pasta for dinner? no way! zucchini noodles will do the trick. eat plenty of good fats and protein and aim for three square meals a day to get your blood sugar on track and to give your digestion a break.4 and supplementing with chromium picolinate has been shown to decrease insulin resistance in women with pcos.5

  • dial in your digestion. take a test to determine any foods you might not tolerate or try an elimination diet to get to the bottom of any digestive woes. this is hugely important because digestive distress is another physical stressor on the body that can ultimately contribute to elevated cortisol and testosterone levels. similarly, make sure your elimination is on track – we flush excess hormones out of the body through our stool, so eat your fiber!

  • practice stress management. this is absolutely huge. take up meditation, improve your time-management skills, see a therapist to work through emotional stress, start a gratitude journal – do what you can to reduce chronic stress in your life as this is often the root cause of pcos.

  • cut the coffee. this is a double whammy – not only does coffee contribute to acne, but it also elevates cortisol levels and contributes to systemic inflammation. instead, try green tea, which has a healing effect on the skin due to its high anti-oxidant polyphenol content.

  • ease up on the exercise. instead of intensive cardio like running or hiit several days a week, switch these out for yoga, walking or light swimming. this will give your adrenal glands a break and will allow your body to more readily recover from stress. 

  • sleep. give your body a chance to do its healing work by getting a solid eight hours of restful and uninterrupted sleep each night. try to make this a priority – this can have a huge impact on the health of our hormones!

  • find a support group near you to work through your emotions around pcos. it’s a tough condition to deal with so finding support in different areas of your life can be a huge relief. 

 further reference:

8 steps to reverse your pcos by fiona mcculloch

paleo for women

pcos diva

pcos awareness association

soul cysters

footnotes

1. sirmans, s. m., pate, k. a. (2014). epidemiology, diagnosis, and management of polycystic ovary syndrome. clinical epidemiology. 6, 1–13.

2. grant, p. & ramasamy, s. (2012) an update on plant derived anti-androgens. international journal of endocrinology metabolism. 2012 Spring; 10(2): 497–502.
3. hudson, t. (2008) polycystic ovarian syndrome (pcos). dec 8, 2008.
4. liepa, g.u., sengupta, a & karsies, d. (2008) polycystic ovary syndrome (pcos) and other androgen excess-related conditions: can changes in dietary intake make a difference? nutrition in clinical practice. 2008 Feb; 23(1):63-71.
5. rabinovitz, h., et al. (2004) effect of chromium supplementation on blood glucose and lipid levels in type 2 diabetes mellitus elderly patients. international journal for vitamin and nutrition research. 2004 May; 74(3):178-82.

clear skin: back to school edition

september is right around the corner and we all know what that means. at the first signs of brisk mornings and fallen leaves crunching beneath our feet, we know it’s time to pick up some last-minute supplies and head off to school once again. we have a ton of clients who attend high school or college, or who take night classes here in the bay area as a step towards a new career. whatever your educational status, we’ve got some tips for staying acne-safe while hitting the books. 

first things first: schedule your face treatments. if you are moving away for the school year, get yourself into the clinic for a treatment asap! our estheticians are popular and their schedules book up fast, so try to make your appointment for a face treatment sooner rather than later. if you’re sticking around the bay area, but you know it’s going to be increasingly difficult to make the trek to the clinic because of rigorous school deadlines, try to book your appointments in advance and away from more hectic times like finals and midterms. coming home for the holidays? think ahead and make an appointment as soon as you buy your plane ticket. that a way, you don’t have to worry about booking an appointment at the last minute when you’re already in town. 

okay, what about caffeine? caffeine is okay in moderation, but our number one rule is: no coffee. not only can the particular acids in coffee (including decaf) contribute to acne, coffee causes cortisol spikes that can throw your hormonal and adrenal functions off kilter. i know it’s tempting to chug some fortified espresso beverage just to push through that 3am essay-writing frenzy, but there are so many other caffeinated options out there! matcha is nearly ubiquitous these days, so try to find a cafe that offers this delicious brain booster. chai tea lattes with almond milk are another great option. i know that it can be difficult to abstain from coffee while studying to be the world’s next best lawyer/philosopher/doctor, but you can do it! i stopped drinking coffee cold turkey smack dab in the middle of my graduate program, and it wasn’t easy at first. but after the adjustment phase, i found that my energy sustained much more evenly throughout the day while consuming only green tea. after a while, i didn’t need any stimulants and i could focus on my work much more intently. try it out!

if you don’t have a hot plate for boiling water, invest in an inexpensive electric kettle. make your morning matcha, stow it away in a hydro flask and skip to class with boundless energy! in the evening, sip on some tea with calming herbs like lemon balm and chamomile to bring your cortisol levels down.

how about food? i bet you are wondering how to cook an acne-safe meal in your dorm room when you only have a microwave, maybe a hot plate. this is where trader joe’s comes in. if you lack the space and tools to prep veggies, grab a pack of tj’s mini carrots, some pre-spiralized sweet potato or zucchini, saute them in some ghee or pop them in the microwave with some tj’s chicken thighs and you’ve got yourself an acne-safe meal in minutes. grab a handful of trail mix to snack on throughout the day or become a cheese-less sandwich master. if you have a freezer in your dorm room, stock up on their inexpensive organic frozen vegetables. pair their frozen riced cauliflower with a dairy-free vegetable curry or steam some frozen spinach in the microwave to serve over brown rice pasta with tomato sauce. get creative! their packaged frozen meals can be helpful in a pinch, but watch out for hidden dairy and soy in the ingredients. you can also save some extra cash by heading to your local natural grocer and hitting the bulk bin section. stock up on snacks, granola for breakfast (with almond milk, of course), rice, dried fruit, etc. 

just remember: when you live in a dorm, canned food is your friend. if you’ve got the space, keep some essentials on hand for when you are too busy to cook a huge meal. if you have access to a dining hall, use it! most colleges offer fresh vegetables and grilled meat, tacos, even dairy-free pizza – tons of acne-safe options if you look for ’em! but if you prefer to cook for yourself, you might need a couple of gadgets to get the job done. scour amazon for a magic bullet if you are a smoothie person, invest in a hot plate if you prefer sautéing your veggies to microwaving, or better yet, get an instant pot, which allows you to do everything from sauté to steam to slow cook!

but school is stressful! yes, school can be a deeply stressful environment. it’s quite romantic to dream of the academic atmosphere steeped in late nights, bottomless espresso drinks and strict deadlines. but this high-strung lifestyle is anything but acne-safe. managing your time and practicing self-care are essential for maintaining both your sanity and your calm. why is stress management so important? because stress, like coffee, causes our adrenals to churn out more cortisol than we need floating around our bloodstreams. this creates an inflammatory state in the body while elevating male sex hormones, like dht, which contributes to oily skin and acne. so check your stress at the dorm door! if you are getting ready to endure a particularly stressful time, take some zyflamend (the herbal supplement we love that combats systemic inflammation). find the time to take up a relaxation practice – look into free or sliding-scale yoga and meditation classes on campus and try to get rid of those nasty procrastination habits. waiting until the last minute to complete papers and to study for exams can lead to unhealthy behaviors that are not great for the skin, like skimping on sleep, relying on caffeine to stay awake and eating foods with dairy. schedule extra time for essays and projects so that you don’t run into these stressors. 

exercise and community are also important for stress-reduction. join a club or a sports team to get some extra social time in if you are feeling overwhelmed. combining socializing and movement in one go can be a huge time-saver – take a yoga class with a friend or go on a hike with some classmates to talk about midterms. and if you go to the gym, remember to pack travel sizes of your sS products for your gym bag so you can rinse off after working out. school is stressful, so always contact student mental health services to chat with a counselor for some help wading through the difficulties of student life. check out this post for more stress-relief tips!

 

how do i take care of my skin? stocking up on skin products before you leave for school is always a good idea. but if you forget, or if you just don’t have time to make it into the clinic, remember that you can always order products online through our website and have us ship them to you. so easy! if you are moving to a colder, drier climate for school, stock up on extra moisture – hydrating cream and safeguard spf40 will do wonders to keep your skin glowing throughout the darkest months. and if you’re lucky enough to be heading to a warm place with lots of sun, try a lighter sunscreen like tizo2 or tizo3 – these products will help soak up any extra moisture on your skin leftover from hot and humid climates.

questions while you’re away? if you find that you need some extra help from your esthetician while you’re gone, never hesitate to email her – we are always happy to answer skin questions and troubleshoot issues from afar. we love the virtual popzit appointment! and remember to always check back on our blog and instagram for new info related to clear skin and tips for leading an acne-safe lifestyle. it’s a great resource – if you’ve got a question about acne, chances are, we’ve written about it! 

stay healthy, stay clear and enjoy the school year! 

wild night? tips for overcoming a hangover the acne-safe way

have too much to drink last night? we’ve all been there. while we recommend drinking in moderation, leading an acne-safe lifestyle doesn’t mean that you have to skimp on socialising and forego the nightlife altogether. and while we definitely do not aim to encourage an overzealous participation in nightlife until 6am every weekend, we know that we all stumble upon a wild night from time to time…and with a wild night often comes the dreaded hangover – the headaches, fatigue, nausea, poor sleep, disturbed digestion1 and the total inability to be around other humans.

unfortunately, the hangover is your body’s way of letting you know that you took it a bit too far last night and that it needs some recovery time. the positive sides of eating a well balanced and acne-safe diet far outweigh the one negative, which is that you might end up feeling a bit more sensitive to alcohol’s effects than you did when you were loading up on mac & cheese, frozen pizza and cheeseburgers before you realized that the standard american diet was actually hindering your journey towards clear skin. generally, the “cleaner” our bodies are, the more sensitive they can be to stimulation. but they are also much more capable of handling stress, fighting infection and keeping us well. so here are some acne-safe tips for helping keep the hangover in check, and better yet, for preventing it in the first place!

hydrate
we’ve all heard this one before: drink plenty of water before, during and after your big night out. alcohol’s diuretic effects take an extraordinarily dehydrating toll on the body as we flush essential electrolytes out via our urine. ever wake up with a splitting headache that makes you want to spend the day on the couch with the real housewives of new jersey? or do you wake up completely lacking the energy to even move from the bed to the couch? or are you afraid to leave the toilet’s side because of that gnarly nausea? these are signs that your electrolytes have left the building, so boosting and replenishing their stores throughout the night and the next morning are huge steps in the fight against the hangover. not only should you drink AT LEAST one (large) glass of water for every 1oz of alcohol, we also recommend sipping on beverages with naturally-occurring electrolytes like coconut water (no added sugar) and mineral water (with magnesium, potassium, sodium, etc). drink these luscious libations all throughout the night between your cocktails – you won’t even remember that they’re alcohol-free and you’ll be doing your head a favor.

be beverage-smart
what about alcohol? what should you drink to stay acne-safe and to avoid a debilitating hangover the next day? well, white russians are out for obvious reasons. we are huge advocates of any low-sugar clear liquor and recommend avoiding anything with added sweeteners, colors or strange chemicals. wine and cider are okay, but they are full of natural (and sometimes added) sugars, so be careful about ingesting too many of these. if you really gotta have your apples, there are more and more low and sugar-free ciders on the market these days, like the probiotic ones by 101 cider house.

if you find yourself at a swank cocktail bar, you might be lured in by their infused simple syrups, but if you have the option, try to go for natural fruit sweeteners instead. tequila packs a natural sweetness so it can be enjoyed with a simple combination of tonic water and lime. add citrus, add bitters (and ease your digestion in the process), and get creative! order a gin and tonic and add a splash of coconut water or an herbal elixir of elderberry that you had the foresight to stash in your bag before leaving the house. the bottom lineKISS (keep it simple, stupid!)

slow down
no need to pound 5 drinks over the course of one happy hour. pace yourself and take a break between drinks by going for a walk around the block, walking to grab a bite or a coconut water, or just by getting outside for a breath of fresh air. plus, the more slowly you drink, the less money you will spend and the better you will feel in the morning, both physically and financially.

eat all the food
because we absorb alcohol through our stomachs, and because alcohol can upset both the stomach lining and gut microbiome, eating a substantial dinner before running out to the bar is essential. get your vitamin b6 from a dinner featuring poultry or beef and stock up on vitamin c in the form of bell peppers, citrus, dark green vegetables, and tomatoes. these vitamins can help detox the alcohol from your body, so try to plan your meals throughout the night and the next day around these star nutrients. if you really don’t have time to eat a full meal, pack some snacks, preferably ones with tons of fat and/or protein to balance out your blood sugar and to prevent your insulin from running haywire – things like epic jerky bars, justin’s packets of almond butter, an avocado, or even a handful of trail mix. drinking caffeine the next morning can also help to reduce the size of those pumping blood vessels in your brain and can bring your headache down. but stay away from the coffee! the bottom line: don’t skip meals when you know you will be drinking. eating well-balanced meals for dinner and breakfast the next day will help prevent and ease any signs of a hangover.

address your inflammation
at some point during the night, take a zyflammend to keep your inflammation in check. alcohol has an acidifying effect on the body as it zaps hydration from our cells, causes our hormones to fluctuate and generally stresses the body out. if you’ve ever woken up from a night of drinking with no appetite or with an inability to recall your conversation with that fly bartender, your inflammatory response was most likely on red alert. do what you can to mitigate these inflammatory effects by eating alkalizing foods like green vegetables and avocado, and by calming your body’s stress response with some soothing herbal tea before bed (if you remember, that is). the bottom line: alcohol is highly inflammatory – take this into consideration if you deal with inflamed acne and either avoid alcohol for a while or cut back.

never leave the house without charcoal
while drinking alcohol, pop 1-2 activated charcoal pills. charcoal is a powerful tool for detoxing the body and can be a great sidekick to the liver, which already has to work double time in the presence of alcohol. charcoal binds to toxins in the stomach and helps remove them from the body before we have a chance to absorb them through our blood streams.2 in previous posts, we’ve discussed the importance of detoxing excess hormones, like estrogen, from the body, but this task becomes herculean when alcohol is involved. just one drink of alcohol can elevate estrogen levels in women by 10-15%, which puts an extra strain on the liver as it frantically attempts to process and detox the extra hormones.3 so give your liver a break by drinking slowly over the course of the night and by consuming some charcoal alongside your alcohol. it will bind to both the alcohol and to any other nasty ingredients that may have crept into your cocktail, and it will help flush them out of your system. bonus: charcoal is great at expelling gas and decreasing the bloating that can often accompany a night of drinking. just don’t consume charcoal within an hour of any other supplements or nutritious foods.

take magnesium
we love this potent miracle mineral! magnesium is an essential electrolyte that is involved in over 300 bodily processes, so it’s extra important to stock up when you’ve had a night of raging at the bar. you can either take it before bed in supplement-form to help you get to sleep (it’s also a muscle-relaxant), or you can eat tons of magnesium-rich foods throughout the night and for breakfast the next day. if you didn’t already run to the store and buy a grip of coconut water after tip #1, do it now! and then make a breakfast with a huge bunch of leafy greens, a handful of almonds and pumpkin seeds, a banana, some avocado and…dark chocolate (watch out for added soy lecithin, of course).4

magnesium is also important to take after a night of drinking because it helps synthesize tryptophan into serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that elevates our moods and staves off depression. alcohol can cause temporary boosts in serotonin but ultimately has a dampening effect on the neurotransmitter, causing it to drop to a level lower than before drinking.5 so taking magnesium at the end of a party night can help protect against those hangover blues. bonus: magnesium aids in digestion by activating the enzymes that help break down food and it sends you into a deep, tranquil sleep.6

sleep it off
ever wonder why you wake up so painfully early after a night of drinking, when you need the extra sleep the most? alcohol can be extremely disruptive of sleep, especially rem, which is the deep, dreamy restorative sleep cycle, as well as, the later stages of sleep.7 this is known as the rebound effect and it occurs because the sedative qualities of alcohol wear off as the alcohol becomes metabolized by the liver.8 because of this, for every drink you consume, you should wait that number of hours before trying to fall asleep. so if you have three drinks by 8pm, you would (in a perfect world) wait until 11pm to get to bed in order to give your body a chance to adjust and re-balance itself.9

move your body
if a wild night of drinking left you feeling out of sorts, lethargic and totally bummed out, get up and move your body. i know it’s so tempting to lie around in bed all day, nursing your hangover with self-pity and pedialyte, but your endorphins are begging to be activated after being depressed by hours of alcohol consumption. endorphins, like serotonin, help us feel good. they are released after physical activity – but don’t take it too far. a simple 20-minute yoga session or a brisk walk around the neighborhood can do the trick. just remember to hydrate!

what about going out if you don’t drink alcohol? you can still party with the best of us! just reach for a sparkling water or kombucha, or better yet, find a bar in your area that serves kombucha on tap. sip on some tonic water with lime and bitters or bring your own herbal syrup to make a luxurious alcohol-free cocktail that will tempt even the most hardline mixologists. we love bringing our local bay area syrups by taproot to the bar and pouring a couple spoonfuls into a glass of seltzer. so refreshing and healing!

if you do have a wild night out, have fun and don’t stress. worrying about how much you are drinking while you are drinking will only increase your cortisol and lead to elevated systemic inflammation. so have a good time, drink wisely and in moderation, and take care of yourself the next day!

what are your favorite hangover cures?

footnotes

1. mayo foundation for medical education and research. diseases and conditions: hangovers. accessed august 2017.
2. hultén, b.a., et al. (1986) does alcohol absorb to activated charcoal? human toxicology. 1986 may; 5(3):211-2.
3. balanced bites podcast (2017) self-love & adrenals, stress & alcohol, hormones & birth control with dr. jolene brighten. episode #302; june 29, 2017.
4. dr. axe. (2017) top 10 magnesium-rich foods plus proven benefits.
accessed august 2017.

5. pietraszek, m.h., et al. (1991) alcohol-induced depression: involvement of serotonin. alcohol and alcoholism. 1991; 26(2):155-9.
6. abassi, b., et al. (2012) the effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. journal of research in medical sciences. 2012 dec; 17(12):1161-9.
7. roehrs, t. and roth, t. sleep, sleepiness and alcohol use. national institute on alcohol abuse and alcoholism. accessed august 2017.
8. mann, j. (2017) 8 ways that booze messes with your sleep. sleep junkies. accessed august 2017.
9. wolf, r. (2017) wired to eat: turn off cravings, rewire your appetite for weight loss, and determine the foods that work for you. harmony: new york.

our favorite acne-safe restaurants in san francisco + the surrounding bay area

at skinSALVATION, we love to eat.

we love to grocery shop, cook meals at home and enjoy meals that are prepared for us by loved ones. we love to go to the neighborhood restaurants where they know us by name, and join year-long waitlists to have fine dining experiences. we love eating food that fuels our bodies and teaching our clients how to choose foods that will fuel theirs.

we consider cooking at home to be the most acne-safe option because it means that you have complete control of what goes into your food. often times when you eat out, there is hidden dairy, soy and cloggy cooking oils in dishes that you wouldn’t expect.

however, we recognize that we live in a mecca of some of the world’s most wonderful restaurants, so we’ve begun a list of some of our personal favorite places to eat acne-safe food. this list will be updated as we remember gems that we’ve experienced before and as we explore new restaurants.

note: not everything on these restaurant’s menus is acne-safe. make informed eating decisions by asking your server if dishes contain dairy or soy. they are happy to tell you and may be able to make substitutions to accommodate you.

pro tip: when a friend or a date asks you out to dinner, offer to cook for them or suggest a restaurant from this list where you know you’ll be able to find something to eat that fits your dietary restrictions. you can check out the menus online ahead of time and even call to ask about ingredients so that you already know what you’re going to order before you get there.

 

DINING OUT FOR DINNER IN SAN FRANCISCO

bar agricole has a seasonally based menu chock full of locally grown produce and sustainable meat options. all of their dishes can be made dairy + soy free and the “farm-to-table” restaurant just received another 3-star rating from michael bauer (esteemed food and drink writer for the sf chronicle for over 28 years!). be sure to try a handcrafted cocktail and the $1 pork sausages, served with gut-loving sauerkraut, during their daily happy hour from 5pm to 6pm.

trou normand is the sister restaurant of bar agricole and their made-in-house charcuterie selections are among the best the city has to offer! the protein-heavy menu favors us carnivores, but the citrus salad around this time of year is delicious and vegan, dairy + soy-free.

minas brazilian hosted the skinSALVATION team for our new years dinner and we pretty much ordered one of everything on the menu. they were very accommodating about making dishes dairy, soy and gluten-free for us.

llimon rotisserie has amazing roast chicken, sides + ceviche that are dairy + soy-free. they do have a few dishes on the menu that include soy sauce as indicated on their menu.

tin is a family-run restaurant that serves traditional vietnamese fare. we love to start with the fresh spring rolls, sans peanut dipping sauce, and follow it up with a steaming bowl of phō. perfect for these gloomy san francisco days we’ve been having!

turtle tower speaking of phō, turtle tower is know for this broth based soup, boasting some of the best freshly-made noodles. be sure to ask if they add soy sauce to any of the dishes that you order and if so, ask them to hold it.

*tip: bring your own bottle of coconut aminos in your bag when you dine at asian restaurants. you can add your own instead of soy sauce!

 

DINE IN OR TAKE OUT FOR LUNCH + DINNER IN SAN FRANCISCO

la taza has a huge menu including many great salads, which you can order without cheese. the kale con quinoa with steak is a staff favorite!

mateo’s taqueria is an upscale taqueria located downstairs from skinSALVATION. we love that they use organic ingredients and will make anything without cheese or crema, just ask for, “no dairy.”

staff favorites: guacamole (ask for no cheese!) + horchata made with almond milk. although horchata is a sweet cinnamon rice milk, it’s often mixed with dairy milk to make it creamy.

mau has delicious + nourishing broth as the base of many of their dishes. their staff is very knowledgable and can tell you if any of the dishes contain soy (a hard feat in many asian restaurants).

gracias madre takes a vegan approach to traditional mexican dishes. we LOVE that they use cashew cheese in their dishes, making them dairy AND soy-free.

burma love is a great burmese restaurant in the mission. some of their dishes contain soy so be sure to ask before ordering. staff favorite is their tea leaf salad (ask them to hold the peanuts to keep it acne-safe).

 

EAT IN THE EAST BAY

teni east kitchen makes an amazing burmese chickpea tofu for those of you who are missing the traditional soy dish.

burma superstar is the east bay mama restaurant of burma love. same rules apply.

mission heirloom is a beautiful paleo restaurant for meals and treats. their brazilian waffles (with cheddar cheese) and their coffee drinks are the only items on the menu to steer clear of. many of their dishes contain coconut oil, which can be problematic for many of us who are acne-prone but is okay in small amounts.

enssaro ethiopian is gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free and you get to eat it with your hands! the meat sampler and veggies sampler are both amazing.

 

DELIVERY

darn good food

mealmade delivers delicious paleo meals for lunch and dinner in san francisco. a staff favorite is their orange chicken with cauliflower rice.

methodology is a subscription based paleo meal delivery service. their delicious + healthy meals are perfect for people who don’t have time to meal prep acne-safe food for the week. use promo code SKINSALVATION to get 10% off of your first week.

sprig lists all of their ingredients and nutrition information on the website + app so you can check if dishes contain dairy or soy before ordering.

munchery allows you to add filters for things like dairy, gluten and eggs. you have to double check ingredient listings to be sure that there’s no soy added.

good eggs delivers organic groceries, prepared meals and snacks from stores across the bay area.

instacart delivers groceries, prepared meals and snacks from stores in your area like whole foods, bi-rite, and rainbow grocery.

postmates delivers food from a TON of restaurants in the bay area. some of our favs are:

  • roam artisan burgers, which can be ordered without dairy, and even without a bun!
  • pica pica maize kitchen, which makes gluten-free peruvian style arepas. be sure to ask for yours without cheese!
  • project juice, which has a ton of great soy-free and dairy-free prepared meals. their coconut crepes with cashew cheese + blueberries are a staff fav!

 

SWEETS + TREATS 

wholesome bakery makes cookies + cupcakes free from the top allergens including: dairy, soy, gluten, and eggs. their thin mint cookie sandwiches are a staff fav!

dandelion chocolate makes beautiful dairy-free and soy-free chocolate.

sidewalk juice makes great veggie juices + smoothies. some of their smoothies contain dairy, soy milk or sherbet (super high in sugar!) but they will gladly sub almond milk for you! staff favs are the green energy juice (ask for it without apple + add extra lemon if you’re on candida cleanse!) and the blueberry almond smoothie (ask them to leave out the fro-yo).

boba guys will make any of their delicious boba drinks with almond milk instead of dairy!

 

 

 

 

this article was written for you by liesse + chelsee.