The Edith Zimmerman Diet

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“I’d just come home from college for the summer; I was 20. I got a job working at Ben & Jerry’s. My skin was really red, which, in retrospect, I think was because I was using all these products all the time—and I have pretty naturally dry skin—and my skin was just exhausted, and had gotten kind of messed up from that. I was so miserable.

So, I was at my dad’s house, and I was just kind of Googling—it was just one of those days where you feel really shitty about yourself. Like, ‘I’ve got to fix this. It can’t last forever. What do I do? What did I do wrong? My skin is so messed up.’ I was searching this combination of terms—this was late at night, after I had passed by the normal websites—and I found this one that was called, ‘Doctor so-and-so’s Plan,’ I don’t remember exactly. It was just this catch-all for curing everything. It was like, ‘Dear readers: Inflammation is your problem and inflammation comes from carbohydrates, because the body’s not designed to burn through carbohydrates, so if you cut them out then you’ll cut out inflammation and all of your problems will go away.’ This was a cure for eczema, psoriasis, bowel problems… For anyone who was miserably Google-searching ‘problem’ and ‘help’ late at night, it was like, Ahhhh.

You just had to get rid of the inflammation, and the way you did that was to stop eating carbohydrates and only eat these two different kinds of fruit—only melons were ok—and vegetables, meat, and eggs.  Then everything will be perfect.

I mean, the website was in Comic Sans font—this was not an accredited doctor—with an electric yellow background and orange text. It was so bad, but I was like, ‘Oh my God, ok. I finally found my thing!’ It’s funny to think back on it. I bought this so hook, line, and sinker… but I don’t think I’ve ever subscribed to something since so completely, just because I learned from this experience. But at the time, I was like, ‘Ok, I need to completely change the way I eat! That’s why my skin is so messed up.’

If I found the site now, I’d think: That just sounds like another iteration of all the popular diets—no big deal. But back then all I ate was cereal, sandwiches, ice cream, and pasta. I didn’t eat any vegetables whatsoever. I was heavier, maybe 20 pounds more than I am now, so it kind of fit; it wasn’t weird. So I just decided to completely follow this diet-slash-lifestyle thing, and I had one last sub that night—white bread with mayonnaise and turkey—and I was like, ‘All right. That’s the last carbohydrate I’m ever going to eat… And then my life will be perfect.’

The next day, I forced myself to start eating vegetables. I hated them, they were all disgusting, but after awhile, I just started liking them. And then I started liking everything. My mom was overjoyed when I was finally starting to say, ‘Sure I’ll try this spinach!’ She was like, ‘Oh my God, what happened?!’ But then of course, on the other side of it, I was also saying, ‘Oh, no—no more cereal for me, no more ice cream, no more anything.’ And she was thinking, ‘God, did you just develop an eating disorder?’ And I was like, ‘No, no, no—it’s for my skin.’

On a normal day, I’d have eggs in the morning, vegetables and hummus in the middle of the day, and then that again sort of throughout the rest of the day. I ate no carbohydrates for three months, and nothing happened; nothing changed with my skin.

This was bad; it was weird. I lost 20 pounds in a month, and I started to feel this grossness at my core—when you don’t eat carbohydrates, it’s gross. My body was eating itself too quickly or something, and everyone was worried about me.

Yes, I worked at Ben & Jerry’s but I never once had a bite of ice cream, except on the first day when they make you try a taste of everything so you know what the flavors are. It wasn’t hard or tempting, because when you believe in something… I truly believed that this was the solution to my problems, and I was way more vain than I was interested in ice cream; it was so easy.

After three or four months, the diet-y thing crashed and burned. Eventually, I just decided it wasn’t working because nothing was really that different with my skin. Losing weight hadn’t been the intention; I didn’t really care about that. I’m not sure what made me stop—I think I just noticed that my behavior had gotten really weird. I’d taken the diet with me to back to college after the summer… At that point in the diet, you could start incorporating certain other fruits back in…and then I noticed I would be buying five whole fruits, and lining them up—an entire cantaloupe, a mango, an apple, a banana—and eating them all in a row, as a dessert. One, I was gaining a lot of weight and two, it would just hurt, because it was too much food to eat. I understood this isn’t what normal people do.

I think that once you start regulating the way you eat, you can never quite go back to, ‘Oh yeah, I’m a little bit hungry, I’ll just have something…’ It turns into ‘Now that I’m allowed these things, I have to have them all,’ sort of like a robot. For sure it was disordered eating, in retrospect. People were worried about me, but I was like, ‘No guys, really, it’s just for my skin!’ And it really was about my skin, but then I think it got braided in to weight, because when you get attention—‘Look how skinny you got! You look great…’—then it becomes attached to this whole other thing.

So, anyway, I went back to eating like a normal person for years, but incorporating all the nice, ‘crazy’ foods that I hadn’t eaten before… Like vegetables—I didn’t eat a vegetable until I was 20. And then, when I graduated college and moved to New York, I slowly started cutting out processed foods. I was probably at my heaviest—around 125, 130—and I’m 110 pounds now—but I started to think about what I was eating, and thinking about it as an all-one, unified process—like, what’s going on with my face isn’t separate from what’s going on in my stomach or how I’m moving around during the day or how I feel about myself, stress levels, etcetera. It’s an entire gestalt sort of thing. And then when you start thinking of what you’re putting into your body as having an effect on all other things, it just didn’t make sense to be putting in processed stuff—it didn’t seem logical.

The first thing I cut down on was cereal, which is my favorite food, just because it seemed like the thing to start with. Then, there was basically an entire new world. I was like, ‘Oh, wow, sushi! People eat sushi! Wow, it’s really good!’ or, ‘Oh my God, guacamole!’ Basically, anything that didn’t come in a bag or a packet. I eat a lot of produce and whole grains and beans. I eat a ridiculous amount of nuts—almonds, cashews, walnuts, peanuts.

I’d like to say that I can see results now that I have this routine, but not really. My skin isn’t perfect and not-red—I mean, it's still my thing, but it's much better than when I was younger...And I feel good about my intake; it’s easier. But I’m not a healthy person; I think of the way I eat now as the one thing that I’m doing OK in. I don’t exercise, I drink too much. What are the other pillars of self-preservation? I don’t sleep a lot. It’s sort one of those control things—you just need to be able to control one variable, which sounds kind of freaky maybe, but I think you create these rules for yourself that are sort of arbitrary, but they help. It feels really weird to talk about food so much; it’s not a huge part of my life, it’s just how I eat. Once it becomes something that you think about and plan for and worry about, which it did for me during that summer, then it takes over too much of your brain and your brain has to be doing much more important things.

And I wish I could say I feel more grounded or ‘sound,’ but I feel like shit all the time. [Laughs] I mean, I feel fine, but it’s not like I’ve achieved some amazing level of clarity. I think I’m treating my body nicely, and you read all of these studies about how the Mediterranean diet is the healthiest one and people who eat nuts live for a long time, and I like that kind of information. It’s a nice mental thing; I can pat myself on the back.”

—Edith Zimmerman, as told to ITG

Zimmerman is a Brooklyn-based writer and co-editor of the women’s website The Hairpin. Check out ITG's previous interview with her ('A Skin Thing') here.

Photographed by Emily Weiss in Brooklyn, New York.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • msenesac

    I love how honest she is about it (especially at the end)... Tells you that 110 pounds isn't the answer to all of your problems. I'll keep my size 6/8 AND the ability to splurge every so often.

  • Cay

    Awesome article. I remember doing something similar when my skin broke out, and I think that it actually made things worse (in my not-clinical opinion, probably due to the fact that being on that strict a diet added to my stress level).

    It's so hard to figure out what is "right" and healthy for you these days. Everyone is always touting some new diet--a few years ago it was no carbs, now it's those awful juice "cleanses" that, as any semi-decent nutritionist will tell you, actually just starve your body of nutrients. I feel like the best that you can do is go for the healthier options (veggies, whole grains) most of the time, limit the sugar, drink a lot of water, and get some exercise (even if it's getting off the subway a stop early and walking home every day) whenever you can. Anything else is going to make you go crazy.

    • beeswaxnoneofyour

      The concept of cleansing, juice fasting and detoxing drives me crazy. I drink a green juice daily that I make myself, because it's an easy way of getting greens on the go, but I eat a proper breakfast as well. If you eat relatively healthy, then there shouldn't be guilt about eating what you want as a treat. Also, I find getting older (late 30s), your body definitely makes it known what it needs to function (regular sleep and exercise, otherwise I get breakouts/super oily skin) and what it can't handle anymore (I can't eat sweets or drink much past early evening or I get a migraine the next morning, a box of chocolate and a bottle of wine at 11pm, while I could have done it at 25, isn't happening anymore). But I think there are few people in the world who are as real-life disciplined as some celebs/fashion people you read about, and I don't think that's a bad thing. We shouldn't feel guilty at going our own pace of living well, or guilty at wanting to enjoy stuff in the moment.

  • Christine

    "I think that once you start regulating the way you eat, you can never quite go back to, ‘Oh yeah, I’m a little bit hungry, I’ll just have something…’

    I think this is so true, and happens to many of us, even if we don't have eating disorders.

  • Jitka Mikulastik

    she totally described my situation - 20yrs old girl struggling with her look ( for me its not just skin and overall well being but also weight).
    and she is right! just let things go, and don't try too hard, sometimes its the better solution.

    • Gretchen

      I totally agree. I always wondered if this low/no carb thing was worth a try. But as Edith says "when you don’t eat carbohydrates, it’s gross". And in the end it doesn't change the way you feel. I think a lot of women are like "everything will change when I'm skinny/my skin looks better etc. I will be happy then" - but that doesn't work... As you say, just let things go, and focus on living life.

      • Ming

        No Carbohydrates is definitely not a healthy diet! Our bodies need carbs to function. Without carbs we waste away because our body goes into panic mode and begins to burn anything it can to create energy (fat and protein) and this can have a lot of detrimental effects because the body is not used to totally relying on molecules other than carbs to get its energy. The internet can be a good source of information if you know where to look, but unfortunately a lot of the time things posted on there can be rather misleading...!!
        But on another note, this was a great read. I am in the same predicament (I'm a university student) with flawed skin and am taking baby steps in learning that skin care (and self-care for that matter!) begins from within and not just from bombarding our exterior with the latest and greatest touted products - although those of course do help as well ;) !

  • natstar

    I like this post! it's so true..we probably all feel and think the same way-Thanks Edith

  • http://madein1987.com/ Janet

    One of my favorite posts! I love how honest she is and I think all girls "struggle" with this hole eating. You want to enjoy life, but at the same time you want to be healthy. I definitely think dieeting screws up your mind and just as what have been said above when you cut down on the processed and sugars you'll come a whole end!

  • VotreAmie

    I totally appreciate her candid perspective on dieting, and can completely relate regarding the things we do for our skin. It can get nuts and obsessive and ultimately unhealthy. Sometimes even finding balance doesn't make us feel like we've reached the perfection we were hoping for, and I love that she made a point to say she doesn't feel like it was some kind of miraculous transformation getting to where she is today. It's an effing battle field!
    x
    http://www.iloveublank.blogspot.com

  • http://lindsaysuejohnson.com/ Lindsay Sue

    The NYTimes ran a story yesterday about these people on a Greek island that live to be like, 100+. Researchers think, but don't know for sure, that it may be because of their diet (Mediterranean) and lifestyle. Its a long story, but I found it enjoyable and insightful.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/magazine/the-island-where-people-forget-to-die.html?ref=magazine

    In terms of my skin, I think what helped me most was to live an all around balanced life. I try to eat right, drink A LOT of water, work out, meditate/take time for myself to just BREATHE, and cut out negative energy/people, etc. Once I did these things, I found that not only was my skin better, my life was too.

    • Alana Z

      This was a GREAT article! Thanks for the link. And it just goes to show you that carbs (aka gluten as many here seems to be so against) and alcohol are a-ok. In fact they may be better than just ok - they are GOOD for you. Here's to 2 glasses of wine tonight with some good crusty bread and cheese.

  • guest X

    Wow, oh wow, I'm not sure what to say about this article. I mean, ITG has been getting a lot of mean comments lately and this isn't intended to be one of them but I REALLY hope girls aren't walking away from this thinking that it is "great nutritional advice" or an actual diet!

    Some things.. when she said that she was "On a normal day, I’d have eggs in the morning, vegetables and hummus in the middle of the day, and then that again sort of throughout the rest of the day. I ate no carbohydrates for three months, and nothing happened; nothing changed with my skin." I hope she realize(d) that hummus is made of beans, which is made of carbs, which IS sugar. Hummus is actually more carbs and fat than it is protein. Also, yes, she lost of ton of weight but that's because it sounds like she was extremely protein deficient. Honestly, eating hummus multiple times a day and some vegetables doesn't leave the body with much, since your body is still totally depending on sugars to keep going.

    And I'm sorry but it sounds like she knows exactly what she is doing to feel "like shit"? Not sleeping enough, drinking too much, not exercising... What kills me is that it doesn't sound like she really bothered to really understand how her diet affected her body and simply, randomly choose to do some things and not some other things? There is reason why people try to actually detox, if you're still drinking which you're eating "no carbs", that really negates the whole point.

    The only reason I'm really going off about this is because hey, I used to think this way. I used to believe that if I ate "multigrain" and no meat and semi-starved myself and used a million different expensive skin care products that my skin would get fixed. It never did and it only did because.. I legitimately stopping eating terribly and that was the #1 factor in my skin being less red and looking better than it has in so many years. Stop actually eating sugar (fruit, alcohol, all forms of gluten, beans..). Take it or leave it.

    • http://lindsaysuejohnson.com/ Lindsay Sue

      I felt the same when I read this. My skin looks like shit too when I don't sleep/drink too much/etc.

      I am not one to say what people should and shouldn't eat..but I mean...

    • ITGNick

      Hi guest X, I don't think Edith (or ITG) is advocating any kind of wacky diet--especially not one that made her feel a "grossness at [her] core." She's talking about her particular journey and personal approach to food/eating (living life?), which, of course, is complicated, as it is for many women (and men). Nick

      • Margaretawake

        When the title of the article is what it is, the blah blah blah diet, it is not difficult to understand why people would construe this as an article advocating a certain type of diet. As for the content of the article itself, it is long, it rambles, it's full of contradictory statements, it has the ability to misinform and misguide readers....in short it is extremely irresponsible journalism. And i realize that blogs are to some extent about navel gazing but this is ridiculous. Some poor girl is going to read that 20 pounds was lost and disregard all the other stuff saying that the diet was ultimately a poor decision.

        • Kath

          Spot on

    • Mary

      Sorry, Guest X, didn't realize that people have to be so black and white in their decision making. But I'll apologize on the behalf of her for being a human being.

    • Guest

      If you read the whole article she realised how messed up this diet was and is now trying to eat healthier.

    • Katie

      you just tore Edith apart for crazy diet advice (which she is more reflecting on rather than advising), and then end with the recommendation to stop eating fruit, gluten and beans? If one does not have Celiac's or a gluten-allergy there is NO reputable data out there to support the recommendation to eat gluten free. Beans are wonderful fiber and small amounts of alcohol are good for you. I really hope girls aren't reading your post and thinking: "that it is 'great nutritional advice' or an actual diet!"

      • Birdie Numnum

        There are a number of documented reasons to avoid gluten aside from Celiac. See any naturopath about any inflammatory condition and the first thing they will advise is cutting out gluten. I'm living proof it helps.

        • Katie

          I welcome evidenced-based research to support that claim - can you provide links to statistically significant scientific studies? While holistic medicine can be wonderful, it is largely based on anecdote. I'm living proof that one can have flawless skin on a gluten-based diet (seitan is quiet possibly one of my favorite foods - and it is PURE gluten).

        • Alana

          I don't know the last few naturopaths I saw (for acupuncture and cupping) also told me my spleen, liver and kidneys didn't have enough yin (or was it yang?) and a bunch of other mumbo jumbo and tried to sell me on more "herbal" pills than my Western physician and pharmacist have ever advised. I have to second Katie below - where is your hard evidence to support this claim?

    • Lemoni

      It's no guarantee. I did no carb sugar gluten meat dairy alcohol for a year, and I still had acne. I've had 2 derms in my life who both agreed that while eating shit wasn't going to help skin woes, cutting everything was just as likely not a fix, especially if you're prone to adult acne that didn't respond to treatment. There definitely is such a thing as having lifelong skin issues that can only be kept in check but never totally fixed by the big 3 things everyone thinks have to be a fix: drugs, diet and skincare. It's worth noting so some people out there don't drive themselves crazy depressed about it.

      • Katie

        It's definitely not a guarantee - my diet is about 75% carbs (fruit, sweet potatoes, beans and whole grains) and the rest a fair helping of dairy (hello yogurt - in the body AND on the face!), fat (raw virgin olive oil with everything) and fish or tempeh protein. My one bragging point? My skin is incredible. While I take very good care of it, I really have to thank my parents for my flawless complexion. Even though I like to think my skin is shining from the inside because I feed my body well :)

  • Nina R.

    I'm really confused by this post. She seems like a lovely young woman, but for all of her food experimentation, she isn't seeing any of the results she really wanted - nice healthy skin. I would recommend she try the Perricone anti-inflammatory diet. It is not crazy restrictive and is very healthy, both for your physical and mental health. I don't think his products are anything special but his books are great and have lots of good advice. He has one specifically for acne/young skin.

    • katie chambers

      I read the Perricone book about acne-prone skin just a couple months ago (it's called "The Clear Skin Prescription"). For those of you who're curious, his basic advice boils down to this: 1) If you drink a lot of coffee, don't. Drink green tea instead; 2) Eat lots of cold-water fish (he especially advocates eating fish as part of your breakfast/first thing in the day; 3) Take whole-food vitamin and mineral supplements; 4) Do yoga.

      Personally, I found that my skin issues weren't related to my diet; they were/are hormonal. Orthotricycline birth control and zinc supplements do it for me (along with the occasional swig of cod liver oil-- it tastes pretty wretched but it is very effective for skin troubles). :)

  • Libby

    I feel like this girl just gets it.
    So many places you look at when you have bad skin act like its entirely your fault. As if you're being punished by the 'Skin-Gods', but you look round at your friends who never have spots and eat way worse than you do and you just feel terrible! Thank you for making me feel better Edith.

    • David Cho

      I'd hit it.

  • Steph Lepane

    Reading about and trying different diets for my skin has driven me crazy. I am only now starting to see how much the stress of worrying about my skin makes it worse rather than getting better. When I am too busy to be 'vain', for example cleansing regularly and forgetting about it until night, I find my skin gets better.

  • Doutzen

    Wow. Maybe she should just be grateful for what she looks like. I mean, she's quite cute. Some people are super pale their whole lives. They wish for a bit of color in their face--some rosiness. I know there will be some preference as to how rosy one likes their skin to be.

  • Yulia Yakushova

    This is such an interesting perspective! I always thought it was a myth that American kids don't eat vegetables. Seems strange to me why one would deny themselves of pleasures of having a ripe tomato with sea salt flakes etc etc. I grew up being crazy about fruits and veggies, all my family member have great skin but hey, this didn't help at all! As with most things I started trying out many things at once: exercise more, sleep less (in my case it helps), drink 1.5l of water daily and supplements supplements supplements. I was looking to fix another health issue but my skin issue was maybe not cure but gotten so much better with few things: Zinc Chelate and, most importantly, Riboflavin (2 tabs daily). I used to take Oenobiol for skin (the green one) and it did wonders too but was too expensive so I had to cut it. This is when I started reading about supplements.

    • Hannah

      I'm American, and I still think it might be a myth that Americans kids don't like fruits and vegetables. All of my friends growing up would eat fruits and vegetables are snacks (either on play dates or what we brought to school for lunch), and one of my absolute favorite foods was roasted brussell sprouts! I really don't think "not eating a vegetable until age 20" is representative of a very much of America.

      This article made me cringe.

    • beeswaxnoneofyour

      I have to say I didn't know anyone either, growing up that didn't eat fruits and veg (I don't just mean potatoes or corn, I mean all veg types). I loved and still love all green veg (bar lima beans!) and eat them daily. I'm with Hannah - love brussel sprouts!

  • sallieforrer

    I think that a lot of young women who struggle with acne end up feeling like there is this thing in their life that is out of their control (their skin) and to compensate for that it can feel soothing to find something else you CAN control, like your diet. I've read so many conflicting reports about acne and diet, its hard to know what's what! I think, like all things in life, what works for one person may not work for another.
    But I do think that focusing on decreasing our stress levels, learning how to give up control, generally always has a positive effect, and this can mean working to find peace with your skin - to just let it be. Pimples come and go, your skin can be oily one day and dry the next, and maybe one day it will all even out. Taking it all one day at a time has had the biggest impact on my skin - even more than some of the crazy elimination diets I've tried or the burn-y creams I've applied!
    I really appreciate Edith's candid report on her skin struggles. I love all the ITG interviews and Top Shelves, but I've really found both of Edith's stories (this one and 'A Skin Thing') to have made the biggest impression on me. Thank you Edith! And thank you ITG!

  • Azrakun

    I like how humanly portrayed is her story - we all have our different journey with balancing food intakes & our well-being. I believe it should be about being properly informed on what is generally good for our bodies (and it is indeed possible even with overflow of all various information & misinformation) and then trying out different things within limits.

    I am in my early thirties now and I believe my skin is so much better then it used to be. Also I gradually lost over 10 pounds without even realizing it mainly due to limiting some carbohydrates (such as bread, pasta, etc). I try to eat proportionally always opting for more vegies then anything else. Certain habits have become such part of my life that at this point it would be hard for me just start overeating or eating 'bad' food on a regular basis. My body just simply don't find enjoyment in it anymore.. But then, I still have a long way to go...

    Thank you for sharing..

    http://www.azrakunworld.com

  • nicole

    She makes many great points.

    I would like to highlight two.
    I love how she talks about diet, control and the never ending consciousness. There is a a very fine line between these new age diets and eating disorders. Many new age diets are actually malnutritious and very restrictive both physically and mentally. They're marketed as "healthy." A lot of times, I see girls start out on a fad diet and then it becomes an eating disorder. But there is an easy way to hide it by saying it's "healthy eating."

    Secondly, skin disorders aren't always caused by what you eat! Sometimes diet can help but there are a lot of environmental factors. For instance, a lot of acne is actually cosmetically induced. Sometimes eczema and rosacea are exacerbated by the minerals and chlorine in tap water. It's not fair for people judge health based on skin (sure it's the largest organ but disorders and issues can be independent from other organs). Inflammation is sign that your body is working correctly.

  • http://sugarenthusiast.blogspot.com/ Kelly

    "I think that once you start regulating the way you eat, you can never quite go back to, ‘Oh yeah, I’m a little bit hungry, I’ll just have something…’"

    THIS. I've been calorie-counting for about a year and a half, two years now? Before that, I literally just ate whatever I wanted without putting a lot of thought into it. After I got to a place where I felt like I had a handle on things, I tried to stop counting for a while. I tried to eat "intuitively." But I just can't do it. There was no way to escape tallying things up in my head and it stressed me out that it *wasn't* on "paper" anywhere so I started back up. Even now, I stop eating when I hit my "limits" (I have an idea of how much I want to eat for breakfast, by the time I leave work, and by the end of the day). It isn't even about whether I'm full or not anymore. It's not intuitive at all anymore. I recently skipped calorie-counting for two weeks because I had catered work stuff and then a vacation that would have just been impossible to do. And after those two weeks I had gained 5 pounds. I totally lost the ability to self-regulate.

  • Melissa

    I just wanted to add that I enjoy the conversation that takes place afterward these interviews. We might not all agree, but they are always thought provoking. So in that sense good job ITG.

  • Sam

    Edith--how long have you been on (or should I say trudging through ;)) this dietary change for? If it's only been a few months, wait it out, it gets better. Also here's my two cents for anyone who has ever had to deal with bad skin, I hope it can some fellow ITG'ers out there.

    I was on Accutane twice, and both times the acne came back albeit less severe each time, and the oiliness came back 100%. Accutane is one of those things you can't be on forever (well, someone people take it low-dose for long periods of time, but I didn't want to do that) so I had to find other answers. Echoing Edith's piece, avoiding sugars and processed carbs is key (I always joke I eat like a diabetic but it helps A LOT). The other biggie was going on birth control. Yaz/Beyaz worked best for me but I'm currently on another brand and the results are fine/decent. For me it was a hormonal thing so the BCP kind of counteracted that, I imagine that if the issue is something else BCP wouldn't work quite so well. Now onto the finer points: I switched to a Japanese-based diet about nine months ago (not terrible hard for me, since I grew up on it, but it could be a little jarring for those who haven't). And I don't mean California rolls and tempura. I mean a true, peasant Japanese diet, incorporating wakame (seaweed), miso, natto (an acquired taste to say the least), matcha green tea, simple cooked vegetables and little bit of pork here and there. Does this mean that when I go to Capital Grille I'm going to order a salad? No, I'm going to order a steak bigger tha my face. But at home, I try to keep it Japanese as possible. My skin looks great nowadays but it took a while to see changes, I think the BCP alone takes a couple months to kick in. Anyway this is just my personal experience and my way is not for everybody for sure, and I can't even say that it'll work for anybody else (for example drinking water seems to help everyone--doesn't do shit for me), but I just wanted to put that out there. Having bad skin is one of those things you wouldn't think affects your self-esteem much, but it does. Good luck to everyone out there battling this.

  • Lila

    As someone who still has a roller-coaster relationship with food and self-image, I really appreciate this post. Thanks to Edith and ITG for providing such an honest article, about an issue that most pretend to ignore.

  • Guest

    I am sorry- but how is 110 pounds (56kg's) heavy?!

    • qui_c

      She didn't say it was! " I was probably at my heaviest—around 125, 130—and I’m 110 pounds now"

      125 or 130 was the heaviest she's been, she wasn't saying she's heavy now.

      The Hairpin is my favorite website, I think Edith is whip smart and hilarious, I think she has a really authentic attitude about food.

    • Anuschkarees

      110 pounds isn't 56kg, its about 50kg.

  • Cara

    She's a beautiful girl. I love how ITG are incorporating people's diet into their posts. When Edith meant that her skin was "really red" did she mean she had acne/rosacea/ezcema? Also, right now I have acne and read on a few websites about the healing powers of Tamanu oil. Has anyone tried it before?

  • Birdie Numnum

    Cod liver oil and gluten free is the secret to perfect skin if you suffer from inflammation.

    • Katie

      Do you have any data to support that claim?

      • Birdie Numnum

        Just a lifetime of living with3 auto-immune diseases, 2 of which affect my skin (all auto immune is inflammation). My data is my face, my nails, my skin. I also take flax seed, avoid casein...but the two biggest factors for my clear skin are gluten fee and cod liver oil. Period.

        • Alana

          That's called anecdotal evidence, not data. If it works for you, that's fantastic. The fact that you have three auto-immune diseases means your body is not working correctly - your immune system is literally attacking healthy parts of your body. For the rest of the world without auto-immune disorders, it makes no sense to cut out things that are bodies need. It's also inappropriate to make broad claims with no factual basis. Some people smoke cigarettes on their way to the gym, then run 5 miles on the treadmill (not kidding - I see this dude at Equinox EVERYDAY). Should a pre-gym smoke be a broad recommendation to others because it works for one crazy guy?

          • Birdie Numnum

            Inappropriate? Unclench. No factual basis, not quite, my dear. Go to any Ayurvedic or homeopathic doctor and the first thing they will tell you to do to reduce inflammation is eliminate gluten. Moreover, there is absolutely no nutritional deficiency created by eliminating gluten, so your body doesn't need it. If you are truly interested in gluten elimination and skin, read the book Wheat Belly. As for cod liver oil and its positive effect on a variety of skin conditions including acne is beyond well documented...a quick google will show you hard data and anecdotal evidence, which is still factual...not sure you get that, but it is cute how you pretend to differentiate. As fa as a gym smoke goes, sure he can recommend it. You have a choice to disregard it.

  • Guest

    My skin improved when I started cutting out a lot of processed foods and processed sugar and carbs. But, what made the most difference is cutting out soy and getting enough sleep, but especially cutting out soy. I think everyone's body is different, and if you can figure out which foods trigger your acne, you're good to go.

  • Ekaterina

    Hey everyone, so I' seeing a lot here about "no carb" or "no sugar" diets, or people talking about not eating fruit because it's high in sugar, etc etc, and I though I'd add a little clarity to the discussion. In chemistry speak there are only three types of molecules - amino acids (protein), nucleic acids (our good ol' DNA), and carbohydrates. There are different types of carbohydrates, like starches, fiber, and sugars. There are different types of "sugar", like sucrose (table sugar), fructose (common fruit sugar), high fructose corn syrup (we hear a lot about that), and glucose (absolutely essential for us to live), and many others which I won't bore you with here.

    Point is - there are carbohydrates which are essential to our diet, and carbohydrates that are very detrimental to us. The key is to know the difference. Quickly: Starch is good in moderation (think morning oats or potatoes with dinner, won't kill us unless you OVERindulge), fiber is great (fruits and veggies, nuts, beans, etc), and sugar, well... this is where it gets interesting.

    Our body requires sugar, because metabolically speaking, everything inside us runs on glucose! If we do a carb-starvation diet, our body will use the protein in our muscles to make glucose to power our cells. So we may as well eat it, BUT, our body also only needs so much sugar. If we eat to much, we store it. First we store is glycogen, and if that isn't used up quickly enough, then it's converted to fat.

    So back to all the talk about low carb/low sugar/no fruit diets. We evolved as both hunters and gatherers, meaning gathering veggies, fruits, nuts, wheat, rice, corn, etc. A healthy human diet should include all of these things. BUT in our modern day food supply, many companies add sugar to almost everything we eat, including things we don't intuitively think of as having a high content of the bad kind of sugar (hey all your orange juice lovers, juice your own at home!).

    Anyway, to add a little scientific credence to this, check out this video. In fact, anyone concerned about either their skin, weight, or general health should watch this. It's a little heavy on the chemistry for the non-science nerds out there, but VERY informative about what is wrong with most of the food available to the general public today:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

    • LilyT

      " In chemistry speak there are only three types of molecules - amino acids (protein), nucleic acids (our good ol' DNA), and carbohydrates."

      No, this statement is wrong- you are leaving out lipids (fats) which constitutes a large portion of what we eat. We get calories from lipids, carbs, and proteins, primarily.

  • kneelbeforetigers

    I *honestly* appreciate the wanted end goal of this article-- basically, giving one woman's POV of her struggle to get past her issues with food, self-image, and justification of the roots of acquiring 'beauty.' But I'm really struggling personally with how ITG is now posting on diet, food issues and self-acceptance when from what I've seen on the blog, there's been a pretty strong focus on models, It-girls, and a lot of women who are considered the traditional 'beauty ideal.' Now, I'm not knocking ITG's outstanding inclusion of all different ethnicities and racial backgrounds (because it is noted and appreciated!!), but as a woman who would be considered plus-sized or not-so willowy/model-like in the industry that you cover and participate in, I've not seen any representation of MY beauty.

    • Alana

      There was a fantastic article on Beth Ditto not that long ago.

  • missz

    I've been seeing a naturopath for my skin (incredibly dry/flaky) and I asked her what I should be eating, told her what I WAS eating (all bad, pretty much) and she basically wrote out for me a "healthy diet", which is not anything special but just what people SHOULD eat, ie, not much sugar and processed food, lots of vegies. No one had ever really taught me that before, that you should just try to eat healthily, and it's ok to have some nice treats sometimes. Its always so caught up in guilt, and stress, and wanting things you feel you shouldn't have. The best thing she said to me is - All that guilt and stress and worry and frustration over what you eat, or dont eat, or should eat, just let it all go, stop letting it crowd your mind, and just eat WELL.

  • http://rokderm.com/ ROKderm

    Gosh, what a girl! I've been trough the same sort of skin related diet change, after I came across a book by dr. Colbert called the high-school reunion diet, it kind of changed everything, my PMS went away, my hormonal acne (the reson for the diet in the first place) went away, and I was saved! I've been going on and off it now ever since, and so mu hormonal acne is sort of there all the time, in background, not so much as before, I just need to find the willpower to go back on the detox/anti-inflammation horse, and stay on it! It's hard though, and I salute Edith for her perseverance.
    Check out my giveaway: http://rokderm.com/2012/10/20/korres-all-i-want-giftpack-giveaway/

  • Linda Duquesa

    Eating only fruit is unhealthy. Eating no fruits is unhealthy. Ever heard about balanced diet? Not eating carbos will kill your body... Not doing sport is bad for your body. Its so easy girls, do sports 2-3 times a week, eat balanced and eat just the right amount of food, not more!

    I was taught what my body needs in the school in age of 10.. but yeah Im European ;)

  • Coline

    I'm confused as to what I was supposed to get out of this post. Her diet was unhealthy, she changed to a different unhealthy diet, and is now is just kind of healthy? And her skin is the same? Which btw, from the photos it looks like her skin is quite lovely.

  • http://twitter.com/rfarahmand Roxana Farahmand

    I have struggled to bring my "adult" (I am 22) acne under control....and I have tried so many different elimination diets to no avail...in some cases, my skin got worse.
    I believe for me it is a combination of environment, STRESS, and hormones...therefore, a lot of things that I cannot control. One thing that HAS brought much of it under control for me is double cleansing at night (once with an oil cleanser and the second time with something more "normal") and regularly moisturizing at night.
    And I completely agree with her statement on being unable to go back to eating "normally," and based on the responses to this post I am glad to see I am not alone.

  • courtney

    I honestly didn't get too much out of this article. I really enjoyed reading a well written piece but I have to admit I found it a little hard to believe after reading her article on making peace with acne some months back. The close up photos of that article were astounding sooo... what is this? If I recall correctly (not going back to the original article) she even said that she didn't wear makeup. That (to me at least) is the definition of having good skin!
    Regardless, I want to tell anyone else out there that's struggling that YES you can have a great life with ten extra pounds and the monthly hormonal acne break outs. It doesn't define me and it doesn't have to define you. Accept where you are and really observe eating a well balanced healthy diet. It pains me to my soul to hear people who refuse to allow themselves to enjoy fruit or as I like to call it "god's candy". I hope we all find what works for us.

  • Kath

    This was kind of a confusing read for me. I don't really see what the point of this was. I would have liked to read about someone whose diet had made positive changes in their skin. Or something from a nutritionist with a perspective on nutrtition and how it affects the complexion. It seems like the author does not believe like her diet helped her skin.....so why are we reading about it? Kind of pointless and rambling.
    For example, I believe that my diet, especially my daily smoothie with spinach, avocado, flaxseed oil, and green tea DOES make a difference in my complexion...that is one of the reasons that I drink it.

  • Alexandra K

    I would LOVE to see a Top Shelf post on Edith! And her hair is major... xoxo

  • Guest

    What is the point of the article????? The development of the eating habits of a 20something? Really?
    And btw, her skin looks great, she looks lovely. What is she moaning about?

  • Genevieve

    I loved this. It was honest, funny, a little crazy, and, I felt, a really interesting and personal examination of one of the most important topics related to beauty, which is how we FEEL about our looks and the (sometimes insane) things we try in order to change those feelings. I didn't feel like I needed to "get" something out of this in terms of advice or tactics. Just the opposite. It is a portrait of one woman's story about one aspect of her relationship with her body. As such, it was thought-provoking and bittersweet and just about perfectly done.

  • guest

    I have to say this is the most convoluted article full of misinformation and difficult to even follow.

  • Katerina Vorotova

    Great article. Thanks for sharing. Have you tried going to a dermatologist? They usually recommend very gentle products and maybe some prescription meds that might help. If you have acne, try Epiduo. Worked like magic for me. Don't use astringents or toners, ever.

  • hclsaltaicd

    I've had my own crazy journey with food (thanks to an exchange program to the US where I ate so unhealthy and gained a LOT). Now, I have a healthy approach to food. I am convinced, though, that food can heal sickness and solve some of our problems. Eating whole foods, lots of produce, beans, little meat, seafood, whole grains and NO sugar plus drinking a lot of water (no alcohol or other drugs) and sleeping 8+ hours a night and moving outside (you don't have to run a marathon, just take a nice walk) will make SUCH a big difference. When I tried to lose the weight I gained in America, I lived like that and I never felt better - clearest skin, SO much energy, great hair and nails, happiness and on top of that I lost all the weight I had gained. I am not as strict with my diet anymore, but I would never buy a snickers bar again in my life. And I will never again drink the cheapest wine sold at the gas station. Instead I'll indulge in homemade chips and a great dirty martini.

    Btw don't ever substitute low-fat products for the whole version. Since the introduction of low fat products people have gained even more weight. plus they don't taste as good and thats the most important part - it has to taste great!

  • hclsaltaicd

    I use juicing, too. I love it, especially because its a way to use up all the left over produce. I live alone and I used to throw away so much stuff!

  • Annie in CA

    When my boyfriend started some crazy new workout routine and diet, I started it with him (key word: STARTED :). For the first month, you are only supposed to have one serving of carbs per day. And sometimes, we didn't even have the one! This on top of crazy intense aerobic workouts (something carbs actually come in handy for) really messed with my system. Like, my menstrual system. I'm usually as regular as clockwork--and on the pill to boot--so missing my period was a big thing. It made me feel like I was depriving my body of something it really needed to function correctly. As Edith so eloquently put it, it's gross.
    I guess it works for some people, all that Atkins stuff and so on. But my body needs the carbs--and I feel like I'm not quite so prone to become a monster bitch if I allow myself a dinner roll, or some pasta, or ice cream. Now I just make sure I don't have all three in the same night! Cutting down, not cutting OUT, is the key I think.

    As for my sensitive, oily skin, I think eating very balanced is important. Lots of veggies, omega-3s and olive oil inside, argan oil and cleanser (and sometimes olive oil, too) outside. And nothing is better for your skin than making sure to drink lots and lots of water! The healthiest (and simplest) thing you can do for not only your skin, but your whole body.

  • Mariel

    Thank you for this great article!

    To keep it short:

    I am suffering under acne for almost 15 years, it all started with puperty. Over the years I tried many things. And I am still trying.
    The worst part is when you reaching your twenties and also have to start worrying about sun protection (there is not that much great acne skin care with spfs in europe..) and wrinkles. And this daily struggle with balancing between fighting pimples and dry patches in my face sucks so much.

    My self confidence is undeniably linked to my skin. The world around me is always making compliments for my complexion, because over the years I learned how to fake an almost perfect skin with makeup.

    The biggest problem for me is that everyone is different and magic tricks might only work for one person. And it is a combination of a lot of things - nutrion, hormones, supplements, skin care, sleep, stress... and so on.

    The best skin I had was when I was freshly in love with my ex-boyfriend at 21. I had lots of sex. I was very active with university stuff and spending time with others and from time to time forgot about my skin (I wasn´t spending too much time in front of the mirror or was nervously scratching my pimples). I took the pill. I had a acne skin care without spfs. I had some creams from my dermatologist. I started drinking green tea every day. I got diagnosed with lactose intolerance and was on this strict diet - no lactose. I bought lactose free products and (because it was quite expensive) ended up reducing my intake of dairy, cheese. no nuts, except for coconut. I thought I am also gluten intolerant and ate only gluten free stuff for a while, later only whole grain carbs, mostly spelt.
    I lost weight and my skin was 95% perfect.

    So I am still wondering...what was the key, the magic trick, in this combination?
    6 years later I am trying to recreate this or to find the secret...

  • http://twitter.com/TexelBootychamp Texel Bootychamp

    ....that's awfully judgmental considering women are half the population and i'm sure an awful lot of them have more pressing concerns

  • Henriette

    Could ITG do a spread about skincare for psoriasis? I sometimes struggle with it during stressful phases and am still searching for the right products...

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