I’ve sadly suffered from acne all of my life.

Zits pop up during the most unfortunate times (hello, picture day!) and make most mornings stressful. I’ve slathered on every cream, gel and potion I could find, to no avail, so I was in for a surprise when I met Registered Dietitian Nutrisionist McKel Hill, MS, RD, who is also the founder of Nutrition Stripped.

Hill shared that she has been an acne sufferer and that surprisingly, diet has a lot to do with your breakouts. I had been treating my acne problem topically all of my life and it was time to look at my diet and see if that was the culprit.

McKel Hill drinking smoothie

(via Nutrition Stripped)

Foods to Avoid

Smoothie avocado

(via Nutrition Stripped)

Before you commit to a complete diet makeover, take a look at what food sensitivities or intolerances you may have. It’s best to try and eliminate these food for clear skin. According to McKel, typically dairy and gluten are culprits.

“Refined sugars, trans fats and processed foods of any kind can cause a cycle of hormonal imbalance and imbalanced blood sugars which may make acne worse,” McKel tells Sweety High. She also recommends we look beyond food and pay attention to anything causing stress in your life. She also believes sleep is just as important as diet, so make sure you get enough shut-eye every day.

Acne Fighting Foods

Pecan tacos with avocado

(via Nutrition Stripped)

Now that we know what foods to avoid, we wanted to hear from McKel if there were any other foods we should try to intake more. It turns out that whole foods which are nutrient dense and rich in anti-inflammatory compounds are our best allies. She explained that acne is a combination of inflammation, imbalanced hormones and excess oil, amongst other things.

McKel’s top picks for skin health are foods rich in zinc, selenium, magnesium, vitamin D, E, A, C, omega-3s and protein. Examples include pumpkin seeds, organic whole eggs, wild caught salmon, flax seeds; fruits and veggies including carrots, oranges, butternut squash and sweet potatoes; and Vitamin C-rich foods including bell peppers, citrus, strawberries and kiwis. Time to stock up our fridge!

Food Myths

McKel Hill with pineapple

(via Nutrition Stripped)

We’ve all heard crazy myths about how food can cause breakouts. I personally know I avoided chocolate for so many years only to later learn it was 100% okay to eat it in moderation. According to McKel, eating high-quality dark chocolate can actually be good for your skin! Can you believe that? Chocolate contains magnesium which is one of several minerals important for preventing acne. A good rule of thumb for chocolate is getting a version that is dairy free and contains no refined sugars. A second crazy myth McKel busted for us had to do with consuming fat. It is widely believed that eating fatty foods will cause you to break out. Not true! Actually, consuming healthy fats at each meal is vital to helping your body absorb nutrients and keeping your cells and hormones happy. Try her veggie sushi rolls for a recipe rich in healthy fats.


After following the above tips, if your face still feels like it needs a little extra TLC, check out THESE tried-and-true face masks!