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179: The Best Diet To Fix Your Skin Rashes

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Have you ever wondered what is the best diet to fix your skin rashes?

There’s sooo many suggestions out there — which to choose?

Most people cycle through so many diet variations without  much lasting success leaving them frustrated and feeling like a failure.

And for many, the joy that food and mealtime used to have disappears.

You also begin to draw conclusions about how certain foods trigger your skin that might not be entirely accurate… ultimately placing too much blame on food.

As your diet becomes increasingly limited, other problems can pop up — all on the quest to simply fix your skin.

I’d like to help you avoid these pitfalls and better understand what role diet can play. I have a sneaking suspicion that you have been misled to believe that diet alone should be more helpful than it really is.

I invite you to keep an open-mind and join me as I share some valuable insights that I’ve gain from working directly on cases in my practice.

Or, listen on your favorite app: iTunes (Apple Podcasts) | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn | Subscribe on Android

In this episode:

  • Can diet changes alone fix chronic skin rashes? (my controversial opinion)
  • Recent client story using an elimination diet approach
  • Is there ONE diet that can really fix your rashes?
  • Do elimination diets cause more harm than good for skin problems?
  • What you should keep in mind when using diet as a tool on your journey

Quotes:

The overuse of elimination diets is incredibly troubling because it pits you against food which is, above all, nourishment.

Real-life consequences of overly relying on elimination diets have now created a trend of disordered eating and food fear that is alarming and harmful.

Diet food

The Best Diet To Fix Your Skin Rashes (FULL TRANSCRIPT)

Welcome back to episode #179 of the Healthy Skin Show!

In today’s episode, I want to talk about using diet changes on your skin rash journey to heal or at least better manage your skin.

I have soooo much to say about this topic because my opinion is rather controversial.

There are a few people who agree with me including several of my colleagues who work in this field like Christa Biegler, RD, Rakhi Roy, RD, Lacey Dunn, RD and Jennifer Brand, CNS (all of whom have been guests here on the show).

This the not first time I’ve talked about the pitfalls of the diet-only approach.

My stance is that diet has been way way way oversold as a tool to fix your longstanding chronic skin problems.

These incredibly strict diet changes have made for popular books and even diets bearing their names, but there are hidden consequences especially when they’re used for too long.

As you listen to this episode, I hope that you’ll keep an open mind and hear me out.

My intention IS NOT to make you feel bad for choosing to use diet as a tool to help your skin, nor that you should just give up on your journey entirely.

Remember that diet is just one piece of the puzzle for most living with chronic rashes.

If anything, I want to help put you on a healthier, more well-rounded path that will support your skin’s healing journey long term.

And most of all, I want you to avoid developing a seriously dysfunctional, fear-filled relationship with food that’s rampant in our community.

Healthy salad

”I’m So Afraid To Eat At This Point”

This past weekend, I met with a client whose diet was pretty much a mess.

It wasn’t because she didn’t have any sense of what a healthy balanced diet looked like.

It was solely because the practitioner she’d seen told her to remove so many foods from her already healthy diet that she had no idea what to eat anymore.

She was left feeling incredibly confused, but willing to be compliant as best she could.

The reality was that after a few weeks that these recommendations, and the way they were positioned, she became afraid to eat.

Before you ask — she didn’t see any improvements whatsoever from removing all of these foods.

Her itchy, hive-y, inflamed patches all over were still keeping her up at night costing her precious sleep.

So clearly something needed to give, but she didn’t know what and that was one of the main reasons that she wanted to speak with me — to get some guidance about what to do.

This client’s experience, by the way, is not an uncommon one.

I’d argue that I have conversations very similar to this more frequently these days.

Food fear, disordered eating patterns and even eating disorders are a growing problem amongst those desperate to fix their skin.

If you’ve really felt like your relationship with food has suffered the more you try on your own to fix your skin, perhaps it’s time to stop bouncing from diet to diet.

Because some hidden root causes that aren’t nearly as obvious may not be food-fixable no matter what diet you try.

{CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD MY GUIDE TO IDENTIFY YOUR NON-FOOD-FIXABLE TRIGGERS}

Cooking healthy food

Are There Any Diets That Can Fix Your Skin?

Despite the promises made about certain diets or books about your particular skin rash issue…

And even the stunning before-and-after photos claiming amazing success following a certain diet…

Diet and food remain just one of sixteen potential root causes.

The question rarely answered online by someone who’s had great success with a particular diet is what happens when they try to reintroduce other foods.

Their answer usually ranges from…

  • As long as I stay on my diet, I’m okay.
  • I’m afraid that if I try to add back in new foods, my skin will flare.
  • When I add back in foods I’ve eliminated, my skin will flare.
  • This diet is more convenient for me so I’m not interested in trying to add back in food.

I know because I’ve repeatedly asked this question of people who’ve experienced varying levels of success with diet.

I’ve also asked this question of clients who’ve tried diets that range from 100% vegan or plant-based to being carnivore with a varying degree of success.

Some believe that they’ll never be able to eat certain foods again — like legumes, citrus, oats, tomatoes or leafy greens (because of their salicylate content). The foods removed often aren’t true food allergies. But they’re convinced that these foods will always be a problem and need to be avoided.

Others believe that certain foods demonized by different groups or medical professionals are inherently bad for you (as if we can ultimately proclaim some trademarked diet as being the best for a certain skin condition).

Frankly — that’s absurd and fails to take into account your unique bio-individuality.

There is no one-size-fits-all diet fix for skin rash conditions.

And what may work for one person likely won’t work for someone else.

I’d rather see you address what’s actually driving the problem and ultimately get back to a more diverse diet than you stay in elimination diet jail.

Aside from the lack of nutrient diversity and the risk of developing nutrient deficiencies, the mindset associated with the overuse of elimination diets is incredibly troubling.

It pits you against food which is, above all, nourishment.

And it sets the stage for disordered eating patterns that can be incredibly difficult to break.

It’s not to say that an elimination diet based on your unique situation that’s used strategically for a period of time won’t be helpful at all.

But to just keep bouncing from elimination diet to even more restrictive eliminations ultimately does more harm based on my experience as a clinical nutritionist.

And if you’re a practitioner listening to this and have been encouraging elimination diets as the main tool to fix someone’s rashes (including those specifically created for Functional Medicine), I beg you to rethink this strategy.

This is just as much a part of the problem as random recommendations from well-meaning strangers online who suggest elimination diets.

We as practitioners have a duty to support people in meaningful ways that guide them towards better overall balance in their health and lives beyond the period during which we work with them.

And yet, how is it that the best tools many seeking help are directed to only push increasingly restricted diets without any exit strategy to get them back to eating a broader diet?

I know that these diet-based strategies are promoted in nearly every single health book on store shelves and by “health authorities” with millions of followers.

But the real-life consequences of overly relying on elimination diets have now created a trend of disordered eating and food fear that is alarming and harmful.

Buddha Bowl

If Diet Changes Haven’t Fixed Your Rashes Yet…

The painful truth is that if all your eliminations and diet tweaks haven’t yet made a substantial and sustainable change to your skin…

They likely aren’t going to be your saving grace.

Yes, diet matters.

But not at the expense of your personal sanity and health.

Your diet ultimately should be a unique reflection of who you are, your genetics, lifestyle, environmental stressors, nutrient needs, and health status.

It must honor the relationship that you have with your body’s fundamental nutritional and microbiome needs — given that your body doesn’t make most of the nutrients it needs to thrive).

It might not be easy or super convenient (which is a reason I’ve heard from so many people on carnivore).

And it shouldn’t be set in stone because as your body changes and ages, so will your dietary needs.

Elimination diets are only helpful when considered along with your body and health as a whole.

But they must also include an exit strategy to help you ultimately add back in foods that were removed (unless we’re talking about a true food allergy or gluten in the case of celiac disease).

If the idea of adding back a food you’ve removed makes you nervous or afraid…

Or if your first action step when you’re going through a flare is to remove more foods…

I encourage you to sit with where you are mentally and emotionally around food.

You are not a bad person nor should you beat yourself up that you are at this point.

What you are experiencing is adding more stress (physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially) to your plate.

Instead, I invite you to acknowledge where you are and recognize that there are likely other factors driving your rashes beyond food.

Start identifying foods that you could reintroduce.

Yes — you can absolutely take steps to find them and support your body in a more meaningful way.

But if you cannot begin letting go of the food fear or struggle with reintroductions, getting help is really important.

There are nutrition professionals like myself (and even my colleagues whom I mentioned earlier) who have worked to support someone struggling.

You are not alone.

As you can tell, I am very passionate about this topic so I ask that you share this episode in groups online and even by email to people you know who are deeply entrenched in elimination diets and struggling with their skin.

There are far more people in our community hearing the mantra to eliminate more food than those of us warning of the detriments and pitfalls of doing so.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic so leave your comments below so we can keep the conversation going!

Thank you so much for turning in and I look forward to seeing you in the next episode!

The overuse of elimination diets is incredibly troubling because it pits you against food which is, above all, nourishment.


Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS is an integrative Clinical Nutritionist and the founder of Skinterrupt. She works with women who are fed up with chronic gut and skin rash issues discover the root causes and create a plan to get them back to a fuller, richer life.


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