We know that everything we put in and on our bodies has an effect on how it functions. We sat down with nutritionist Maria Marlowe to pick her brain on how to eat right, clear up your skin, and feel amazing while doing it.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started in nutrition?
I never grew up dreaming about a career in health or nutrition, but after realizing how deeply food impacts our health on so many levels, I now can’t imagine doing anything else. In a nutshell, I grew up on a standard American diet of processed foods and found myself struggling with a number of health problems, most notably acne and a weak immune system in which I was always getting sick. I was also 20 pounds heavier in high school than I am now. The acne bothered me the most, and I tried everything (dermatologists, over the counter creams, prescriptions, facials, etc.) to make it go away, to no avail. Eventually, I was tipped off by a college classmate that it may be my diet to blame. Willing to do anything at this point, I researched it more, changed my diet, and my skin cleared up. I was so in awe of the affect that food had on the skin that I fell down the nutrition rabbit hole and have never looked back.
What is your top tip for someone who is trying to eat healthier but is overwhelmed with all the “health food” options?
Listen to your body! One person’s food is another’s poison… so don’t just follow whatever the latest food fad is. If you have any minor health concerns, such as headaches, low energy, skin issues, or digestive issues, it is a good idea to keep a food diary to start drawing the connection between what you eat and how you look and feel. I also suggest working with a health coach or other wellness practitioner who can hold your hand and guide you through the process, cut through the confusion, and help you find the healthiest way of eating for you.
We crave comfort food in the winter time. What’s a cozy, “feel good” recipe that we can make at home?
For a winter comfort food recipe you can feel good about, try the Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese recipe on my website. Free of gluten and dairy. It’s a favorite!
What is one food people consider “healthy” that really isn’t doing us any favors?
Diet soda. It’s worse than regular (which isn’t good either, obviously!). A University of Texas study found that drinking two cans of diet soda a day increases your risk of obesity by 54.5% (compared to 32.8% for those who drink the same amount of regular soda). The paradox with diet food is that, generally, the more you drink or eat of it, the more weight you gain!
We’d love to hear more about your unique approach to helping treat acne through food.
There are many different possible causes of acne, with some of the most common being malnutrition, improper diet, poor digestion, hormones, stress, and pollution. You can have multiple causes, and they all feed into each other. For example, your diet has some influence over your hormones, or if your digestion is compromised, you may not be absorbing the nutrients you need, even if you are eating them. When someone comes to me with a history of acne that won’t go away, I assess their entire current diet and lifestyle to pinpoint the possible underlying causes, and then offer suggestions and recommendations for bringing the body back into balance to clear up the acne. These include adding or removing specific foods, as well as self-care practices, dealing with stress, and natural beauty product recommendations. In my EatBEAUTY guide, I help people be their own body detective, and give them the tools and road map to do this on their own.
What are some of your top tips for incorporating acne fighting foods into your diet?
1. Avoid sugar and highly processed foods. Numerous studies have shown that a high glycemic diet, one filled with large amounts of sugar and highly refined foods, such as bread and pasta, increases risk of acne.
2. Incorporate more fresh vegetables and fruit. These provide the nutrients and fiber our skin and digestive system need to look and work their best.
3. Drink adequate water! Yes, we all know this, but how many of us actually drink enough?! Aim for at least 2.2 liters of water a day.
You can read more about Maria and reach her at her website mariamarlowe.com. Photo courtesy of Maria Marlowe.