woman with glowing skin in bathtub surrounded by citrus

Ready, set, GLOW! What (& why) to eat for skin that's radiant AF


In the beginning of my years-long quarter life crisis, I dropped out of the college in Illinois that I ended up getting my degree from and ran away from my life-plan and major to Napa, California. I was a broke emotional eater with a California-sized rent… and lots of emotions which I chose to avoid. How did I avoid them? My favorite way was brownie batter I kept stocked in my fridge and with Starbucks pastries. Getting a job at Starbucks saved my life back then – met tons of great people, loved working there, and holey moley did I need that cash. Napa-natives (and visitors, probably) are great tippers, so plenty of people had hands in the pot that kept me afloat. But yeah, I kinda overindulged in the delicious pastries that stared into my face every day. That face got pretty pimply with all the sugar I was consuming.

Adding severe acne to my life did not help my emotional state, but I already knew the power of nutrition in healing the body from my past experience getting off medication and in remission with Crohn’s Disease, so that’s where I started. Fortunately my body gives me other warning signs I’m on the wrong track health-wise before I get Crohn’s flare-ups, and I’ve learned (the hard way) to listen. In no-time, my skin had cleared up with loads of other perks to boot using only some of the tips I share below. That was just about ten years ago, and I’ve gotten a lot older and wiser since then. 

Pick and choose what feels most doable and exciting from the list below, dive-deeper if you’re so inclined, and let me know how it goes!

Remember, you’re sweet enough already 

Consuming artificial sweeteners, sugar, and simple (or too many) carbohydrates starts a cascade of hormones that hurts countless bodily processes. You know that cyst-like acne that appears most often on your cheeks or back? To clear that up, you need to get your hormones under control, and this is where I’d start.
Additionally, high blood glucose levels (broken down sugar from all the foods mentioned above) that you can’t burn through with activity gets stored – as fat and attached to collagen in the skin. Read: sagging skin and accelerated aging. 
But wait, there’s more! Habits that create whacky blood sugar levels create inflammation in your body. Again, this negatively impacts your health in a variety of ways, but where skin is concerned it not only prevents proper absorption from skin-boosting vitamins and nutrients, it also breaks down collagen and elastin in the skin.

ACE your nutrition profile

Sorry, that was my creative way to tell you to get vitamins A, C, and E on the daily. Nerd alert! Here’s what they each do:

  • Vitamin A assists in cell production and turnover so you can slough off the skin you created with less healthy habits and let your new, healthy skin shine bright (like with that glow). Bonus: vitamin A helps prevent sun damage. Find it in orange-colored foods, spinach, broccoli, and grass-fed butter.
  • Vitamin C is essential in collagen production. Combine it with vitamin E to better absorb both. This vitamin is water soluble, so any you don’t use right away gets peed out. Feel free to nosh on vitamin C laden foods all day long: strawberries, citrus (lemon water), broccoli, bell peppers, and tomatoes.
  • Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant found in a high concentration in your outermost layers of skin. Antioxidants in general protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals beat on us all day long in the form of air pollution, charred food, cigarettes and their smoke (even second and third-hand), fried foods, and chemicals that are in most everything. Coffee and chocolate are my favorite sources of antioxidants, but they’re also found in teas, herbs, spices, and like all fruits and veggies. Vitamin E is special, because it’s also moisturizing and healing for skin if you want to have more hydrated, plump skin. (You do.) You can find it in many nuts like almonds, avocados, mango, and salmon. 
woman with glowing skin in bathtub surrounded by citrus with words ready set glow what to eat for skin that's radiant AF
Are you on Pinterest? pin this image to help spread the goodness (& remember it later)

Dare to bare with the right minerals

The quick & dirty on…

  • Iron: Pregnant women are said to have a glow, because they have way more blood pumping through their veins than your average Josephine. Adequate iron levels make it easy for your body (via blood) to carry glow-creating oxygen throughout your body. Bonus: NOT being deficient equals more energy for you. If you’re not menstruating, I’d be especially careful not to go overboard here, because unless you’re bleeding regularly your body will just store any extra iron it doesn’t use. Plus, it can be a little constipating. There are drawbacks there #toomuchofagoodthing. Find this red blood cell helper in dark chocolate (yay), foods cooked in a cast iron skillet, green leafies, beef, and cashews. Consume iron vitamin C to increase absorption, and do not have with calcium unless you’re fine with blocking some absorption.
  • Zinc: This mineral is so critical for skin that a deficiency can give you what seems like eczema – only typical eczema treatment won’t resolve it. It helps you to slough dead skin without exfoliation, keep cell walls stable, and heal from wounds (popped pimples included, but don’t do that). Find it in shellfish, pumpkin seeds, and quality meats.
  • Selenium: Eggs, Brazil nuts, oysters, and chia seeds are a few foods that’ll boost your selenium intake. Selenium helps antioxidants do their jobs effectively. (Read about antioxidants above in the section starting with “vitamin E.”)

Play catch up

Low-fat diets are a thing of the past. It’s 2020 ya’ll. Keto is ~the~ diet trend right now. Fat is in, and for good reason. As far as skin goes, fats are an essential component to cell structure and will keep your skin supple and soft. Aim to have at least a little with every meal or snack, or you won’t be able to absorb the fat-soluble minerals (like A and E). Go for quality like grass fed and finished and organically fed meats (and the butters made from their milk), avocado, nuts, seeds and oils that aren’t heated past their smoke point. 

You can’t effectively apply collagen

It’s pretty much common knowledge these days that collagen is critical for skin health – improving elasticity and reducing the appearance of wrinkles. If you have beauty products infused with collagen, you’re getting played like a fool. Collagen is too large to absorb through the skin – you have to either consume it orally or at the very least, consume its building-blocks so you can make your own. Vitamin C and zinc play a big role here.
Notable note: Protein in general is great for skin. Make sure you’re getting enough. As a general rule of thumb shoot for about half your body weight in grams. If you weigh 140lbs for example, I’d shoot for a minimum of 70g protein daily. 2 scoops of collagen protein powder constitutes 20 of those grams, 3 eggs is about 18, and if you’re noticing broccoli has a lot of the components I recommend consuming on a regular basis, know it has about 2.5g per cup (chopped).
Of course individual needs vary depending on a huge variety of factors – which as a health coach, I can help you sort through 😉

Last but far from the least, seriously, drink up

Want hydrated-looking skin and lips? Skip plumping products and simply stay hydrated. Water will also help you to flush out toxins more quickly and effectively which can otherwise contribute to dullness and too much stress on your bodily processes for them to give a damn about how your skin looks. And what else? It basically helps every single thing in your body that’s made mostly of this shiz, so without it, I’m sorry but you’re not allowed to look radiant naturally, okay?
This is 1000% more important to invest yourself in than expensive creams, lotions, and serums. My face care routine is SO simple and cheap, but it’s my nutrition that does the legwork with skincare, therefore things stay smooth and supple.

Thanks for reading!

P.S. Check my next post in this series for more info on turning back the clock (or holding it up?) and shrinking anything saggy. 
P.P.S. Fun fact: It only takes about a month for skin to completely regenerate itself – sloughing off all the dead skin cells and replacing them with newbies. This means you’ll notice superfast results if you take this information seriously.

Tired of quitting

every workout program you start?

Been there! Here's my gift to you that'll help you understand why you've fallen prey to self-sabotage, how to regain control to change your habits, and what you need to know to create lasting motivation.